I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to play games for over 20 years. I’ve seen the good (Zelda, Diablo, UO), the bad (half the n64 library) and the ugly (Contra’s difficulty, FF’s downward spiral). Through it all, the only binding factor is fun.
When I’m playing I don’t think “Am I having fun?”, since I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t. Sure, there are games that take a while to get going (Kingdom Hearts 2 I’m looking at you) and some games that go through bad patches (Deus Ex:HR) but are in their essence, great games. Rarely do I find a game so bad that I just drop it completely. I guess that’s why I buy so few games, I only play the ones I know I will want to play.
Certainly back in the day there were more crappy games. They cost next to nothing to produce, there were no aggregate review scores and the internet didn’t let people play the game before release. We have better quality today but in the same token we have more games to chose from. To set themselves apart, the games focus on niche areas – harvesting, Smurfs, combat, FPS and so on. It’s easier to find a game that provides your type of fun but at the same time, there are dozens more games that you simply will not touch because they have no appeal. I think I played 75% of the SNES library and I have a grand total of 6 PS3 games.
It’s interesting to see a game that aims for the most sales and the most diversity while also appealing to their base crowd. MMOs fit that rather well since they require thousands of players together in order to succeed. It’s also interesting to hear the people complain about the game going one way instead of another, while still playing it. How MMOs will work in the future is another post entirely but it surely seems that the persistent online game world (Farmville counts) is the way to ensure maximum fun (since everyone wants some social aspect) while piecemealing in the niche products. Kinda like Jello with fruit inside.