Do Endless Games Trade Satisfaction for Replayability?

As online multiplayer has increased in popularity and variety, and as small flash and mobile games have become easily accessible, endless games seem to have become quite common. First I should clarify my meaning of “endless.” Though some games are truly endless, like MMO’s in that you could play them forever and the game never ends, I’m more specifically referring to games that do end, but don’t have an ending. These are games where the only way out is to fail, die, or quit, otherwise the game would go forever. Some of the popular multiplayer examples of this class of games I’m referring to as endless are Call of Duty’s Zombie mode, Halo ODST’s Firefight mode, and other so-called “Horde” modes. On the flash game and mobile game end there are many games that are arguably endless; any auto-run games such as Canabalt where the player helps a character avoid obstacles while running non-stop and jumping games like Doodle Jump all continue until the user fails, quits, or the time runs out (if applicable). All these endless games tend to have great replayability but often seem to provide far less satisfaction than games that end.

I find that a large part of feeling accomplished at anything is completion, whether it’s a part or the whole of a project. Endless games subject players to a lack of the great feeling of completing a game. There may be minor feelings of accomplishments after beating certain levels, getting certain scores, or surviving certain challenges, but never that feeling of being truly done. Variety in games is certainly not a bad thing, so I wouldn’t say endless games shouldn’t be made. I’ve had my own share of fun with a variety of endless games. But I worry that they are becoming to popular and people are forgetting (or never learning) how good it feels to complete a “beatable” game. I would like to propose to game developers that while optional endless modes are great for a change of pace, the core of games should be beatable and completable when we desire them to be, so we aren’t infinitely stuck with that feeling of “I could have done better.”


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