What is the most important thing about a multiplayer game? Balance seems to be a common perception. Balance may be the key to fairness, but is it really a benefit to sustainability? When you look at multiplayer games like Dota, League of Legends or Overwatch. You’ll realize that these games have regular patches which involve the rebalancing of characters. The addition of new characters or in the case of Symmetra a complete overhaul of her skills. These adjustments to the modifications are crucial to keeping the game alive.
Multiplayer games are intentionally designed to be unbalanced. It’s important because it drives players to play in a certain way and encourages players to experiment and discover strategies. Most importantly, it creates conversation and interest. The more you talk about what’s happening, the more you play. Ultimately that affects how long the game survives. When you think about the game, you come out with new ways to play. Which you’ll try out in the game.
How do developers keep you hooked? In games, there will always be dominant strategies to be discovered. When Overwatch first came out Bastion was the best. The amount of best Dota characters have been changing so often I haven’t been able to keep track. What to do to break against the annoying OP combos? Well, then comes more discussions. Your friends, teammates, forums all talking about how to beat the winning combinations. Creating new strategies, testing them and then having it all change again.
Patches are scheduled often and with them usually, come changes in the metas. Old strategies become useless or inefficient, while new ones find their way into the spotlight. Hopefully in time to keep the interests in for the players. Giving them the ability to explore new things again, which leads to new ways of playing. The game is not boring or the same old thing anymore. There is something new here to discover. New ways to play the game, and new things to discuss. Keeping the hype of the game alive and boredom at bay.
This creates a sustainable environment for multiplayer games, as seen in most successful multiplayer games where patches and changes are no strangers. The longer the game lives, the longer the flow of income.