Should games be easier and more accessible to those who just want to have fun with little challenge, or should we all be forced to conform to a set level of difficulty on a game-by-game basis? A few developers tossed in their opinions this week.
Getting the ball rolling was Hidetaka Miyazaki, the creator of the brutal action RPG Dark Souls. One would think that a man who had been praised with creating games that refuse to hold your hand would be proud of this distinction, but in an interview with Metro he claims he doesn't want his games to be labeled as "difficult," but rather "satisfying."
"Having said that, however, it is true that Dark Souls is rather difficult and a number of people may hesitate to play. This fact is really sad to me and I am thinking about whether I should prepare another difficulty that everyone can complete or carefully send all gamers the messages behind our difficult games."
Needless to say, many fans of the series felt betrayed by the addition of an Easy Mode to a game branded by its bone shattering difficulty.
On the other side of the planet, Assassin's Creed 3's Alex Hutchison took a different view on Easy Modes and stated in an interview with Edge that "A lot of games have been ruined by Easy Modes."
"It's like if I picked up a book and it said 'Do you want the easy version or the complicated version?' We can simplify the language, you know; we can make it two syllables."
Rather than making an easy game or a brutal game, Hutchinson claimed that balance was crucial for making a video game, and that they are focusing on a leveled experience that everyone can enjoy without sacrificing their original game plan.
The last voice came from Epic's Rod Furgusson in an OXM Interview, where he claimed that sweaty palms were a must in play tests.
"We wanted to bring back the terror of year one, and that's what we're trying to do in Judgement – it's only a few weeks after E Day, these things are all new to us and we're really scared of them, what does this all mean? So we've changed [the Locust's] power and our health to make them more lethal – one Wretch can take you out so it's a lot scarier. It's that whole idea of feeling more cautious and feeling overwhelmed."
Epic is working the difficulty of a video game into their story, the Locusts are a strange and new threat to humans and much more difficult during the events of Gears of War 3 when Delta Squad has nearly a decade of experience fighting the beasts. It's a cool idea at best and a weak excuse at worst, but I'm willing to believe they are out to create something grueling.
So, how about it? As gaming gets bigger and expands to more audiences, should its content become easier and more accessible to a wider base of players, or harder and more exclusive to the niche vocal crowds? Should developers stubbornly force gamers to play at their chosen level of difficulty as well, or give them a choice?
Is easy mode a plague on the industry, and does its mere presence lower a game's value overall? If someone is breezing through an Easy Mode in Dark Souls, does it make their experience any less legitimate than yours if you are getting whooped at every corner?