When it comes to drawing and holding the participant’s attention in the long run, video games are pretty much peerless in their execution. From their exquisite audiovisual presentation to their intuitive gameplay mechanics, games are capable of creating a multi-layered and unique bond with the player that compels him/her to remain in the game’s virtual world, allowing him/her to develop a solid relationship with the title in question as well as a strong mastering of it.
This effect, known as longevity or replay value, is what gives a video game its legs, and is heavily responsible for the player’s overall enjoyment of the virtual experience since the aforementioned bond between the game and the participant is one that slowly builds and matures over time. With that knowledge in mind, the designer can equip his/her game with the kind of features that can hook gamers for months on end, leaving a huge impression on them in the process.
Over the past few decades, developers found new ways of turning their games into real time-sinkers and/or adventures that are so incredible and captivating that they warrant another playthrough. From the multiple narrative outcomes in the Witcher games to the unlockable costumes and weapons in the Resident Evil series, video games present players with several incentives to relive the adventure in a brand new and interesting way.
When the designer builds a game with quantitative and qualitative value in mind, the virtual experience is transformed into something that has the potential of being endlessly enjoyable and replayable. And a game that manages to accomplish that feat in its vanilla (i.e. original) form can be indicative of a self-sustaining product that can easily rest on its laurels and offer a complete experience to the player from the outset.
I’ll prove my point by giving you several techniques that the designer can take advantage of to “bake” longevity into the vanilla game. For each technique, I’m going to include an example of a game that gets that particular replayability aspect right.