I'll be the first one to admit it. The cheats/secrets section on GameFAQs is my favorite part of the website. Let me rephrase that. It used to be my favorite. Nothing brought more joy to me as a youthful game enthusiast than to log onto GameFAQs, click over to the game I was currently playing and discover all the goodies it had to offer. Back then, it sometimes wasn't enough to just play through the game as thoroughly as possible. Many things would inevitably be missed along the journey. Better still was the thrill of realizing how much the game truly had to offer once you had beaten it for the first time. Was there a secret ending? Or maybe an unlockable for successful completion in a given amount of time? I can only describe the sensation as opening a wrapped present on a birthday. Or a box of chocolates, if that cliche is your cup of tea.
Each game I bought was an experience, with its own universe packed onto one disc (or in some cases, two or three discs). I reveled in new costumes acquired, got drunk off of euphoria in unlocking debug menus and became as giddy as a Japanese school girl after inputting a cheat for big head mode. It is a feeling I can nary describe to someone who didn't grow up with a controller in his or her hand. The cheats and secrets sections in GameFAQs used to be a treasure trove of easter eggs, cheats, tweaks, hacks, skins, modes, and anything else one could think of. To put it another way the video games I speak had substance. Like biting into a juicy cut of beef without so much as a single shred of fat. Much to my dismay however, those days have unfortunately come to an end. I don't know what exactly happened. I cannot pinpoint when it all changed. Perhaps it didn't start at one single point but instead shifted gradually, over time. There is no mistaking it at this juncture however; something has been lost with the advent of the seventh generation of video games. What do I speak of you ask? Replay value.
Replay value is described as being the aspect or quality of a video game which gives the gamer an incentive for continuous play after after completing said game. I have long suspected that replay value has been one of the few underlooked and undervalued trait of a truly remarkable game. Boy, do I hate being right, especially in this day and age. What constitutes as replay vale now is something I still question with each passing year. No one seems to care that more modern video game titles have little to no replay value. Every thing is, to put it bluntly, completed for its own sake now. Did you finally beat that final boss on hard difficulty without using any continues? Congratulations, here are 50 Achievement points! ....Wait what? Don't I get a new game plus? No? How about a cheat for infinite ammo? Nada? Okay, then surely there's a mission select at least right? NOT EVEN THAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
I ask this of you dear readers. Where has all the replay value gone to? What happened to the days when I could purchase a game for $60 and continue to play it for weeks (maybe even months) afterward? Today there has been nothing but an influx of "one and done" video game experiences. Gone are the incentives for playing a game through multiple times. Gone are the goodies you can unlock to mess around with in post game. I click on the cheats/secrets section now and all I see is the same. damn. thing: a list of Trophies/Achievements! Why SBAllen doesn't just rename the section to better reflect this is beyond me, because I see no cheats any longer and I certainly do not see hide nor hair of secrets any longer either. Sad to say, it seems that Achievements and Trophies have all but killed the replay value star. At this point I'd be grateful for self-indulgent concept art which some developers seem to love putting in as extras these days. And I hate it when concept art is used for such purposes.
Publishers keep groaning at the thought of their games sitting on the shelves in the used section at GameStops around the country. I have a solution! Instead of complaining about the second hand game market, make sure the games you publish or develop have better LONGEVITY. Keep the player playing until he is bloated on gaming goodness. So much for that "problem." And if you are going to develop a game that instead of focuses on a linear one-time cinematic experience, don't sell the game for a whopping $60! Who wants to spend that much money on a game they only play through a single time? I sure don't, let me tell you.