What makes a video game popular

Avery Bleau, Guest Writer

With the development of COVID and a lockdown being put into effect, many people have turned to video games to pass the time. Video games are a great way to interact with others without being in person and they are a fun activity to end your day with. Because of this, many video games have become more popular or even famous for the number of people playing them. 

There are types of video games for all people of every age. Mystery, action, adventure, RPG (role-playing game),  BRs (battle royal), etc. All of these games are consumed by the public and judged by them accordingly. Many aspects of games have become popular and favored by people, which has led to many video games’ success. 

The top 5 most popular games of recent years from 5th to 1st are Minecraft, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Spider-man, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Grand Theft Auto V (5). Many of these games share aspects and features that may be why they are so popular. 

Metacritic is a reliable and fairly popular media review website that has user scores and critic scores. 

Minecraft has a 93%, based on 33 critic votes and an 8.1 out of 10 for user scores. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate also has a 93% but from 99 critics and an 8.6 from user scores. Spider-man has an 87% critic score based on 116 votes and an 8.7 user score. Red Dead Redemption 2 however, has a 97% critic score established by 99 critics and an 8.6 user score. Lastly, Grand Theft Auto V (5) has a whopping 97% critic score from 66 critics and an 8.3 user score. 

Both critics and users agreed that these games are popular and enjoyed by many. So the question I asked is why?

According to Scott Desmarteau, a casual video game enthusiast, “the graphics, game mechanics, and storyline are the most important parts of a video game. A good video game needs to be fun to interact with and use, have a fun engaging story, and look like a good official game.” He plays video games such as Minecraft and Fallout 4 and loves to play them time and time again. 

Alex Brown, another video game player, said “Good storytelling and fun, intuitive gameplay are the most important parts.” He agreed with what Scott had said and continued to elaborate that “keeping me interested in the game and wanting to play it, is integral to a good video game. If the game isn’t fun to interact with, no matter how good the story, it will make the game worse.” 

Statistics from Forbes.com reveal that ⅔ of gamers prefer to play by themselves which makes a good story and mechanics even more important because it’s only the player and the game.

Both of these people play video games often but not all the time and don’t have endless hours to waste on boring games. So they only keep and play fun games. Clearly, a big part of a video game’s popularity is its interaction with the player and the story that the player experiences. As well as its looks and modern graphics. 

However, these aren’t the only reasons why video games become popular. Many people judge video games based on their own merits and if the game feels “right” to them. 

Another student at Ludlow High School and frequent video game player, Ethan Daubmann, responded by saying “The characters and the amount of the time the game has been out for are important. The characters need to have a good design and style, and have a good backstory to match.”

To elaborate, he means that characters need to be engaging and cool or fun to look at all the time. They need to have a good background and personality. Characters that have good growth throughout the game or change throughout the game are most entertaining and engaging to see. 

When Ethan stated, “the amount of time the game has been out for is important,” he meant that some games have problems when they first come out. Many games nowadays are rushed by the owning company to finish and have issues when the game is initially released. 

Games such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Fallout 4 were launched extremely buggy and were somewhat unable to recover from the horrible start. Cyberpunk 2077 became a laughing stock and is a game that I see people rarely playing anymore even though it just came out in December 2020. 

Unfortunately because of incidents like these and others, the majority of people are too scared to preorder games and instead choose to wait until the game is out for a little while and most bugs are fixed, then buy it. 

Now I’ve only talked about what makes a video game good and popular but what about, what ruins a video game? The three video game players I interviewed all responded similarly by mentioning the story and graphics, but each had a different part as well. 

Scott believed, “that pay to win games are bad as well as grinds that require an unrealistic amount of time to complete.” He meant that having more money than other people shouldn’t decide if you do good in a video game or not. He also doesn’t have all day, every day, to play the game just to get a little bit farther through it. The game has to be reasonable and not force you to be on it 24/7 or you suck. 

Alex informed me that, “a toxic or bad community,” are also important. For instance, the video game Fortnite, which used to be popular among our age, has a toxic community and isn’t as fun to play because of it. That is the reason Alex stopped playing that game even though it was pretty fun to play. 

Ethan told me that, “poor or bad mechanics and a general feeling of being a bad game,” are what makes a game bad in his opinion. If the game is hard to interact with or just has bad controls then it makes the game way less enjoyable. The game should have a user-friendly system and make me want to continue playing it. 

Some games may not have a glaring problem with them but most people have come across a game that just doesn’t vibe with them and feels wrong to play. That is the deciding factor for Ethan and a new video game. 

So as you can see there are many different reasons a video game can become popular or unpopular and it is ultimately up to you, the player, if the game does well and it is a success.