Sid Meier, the creator of the Civilization franchise, says that video game companies could lose their audiences if they continue to heavily focus on different kinds of monetization tactics such as microtransactions and NFTs.
In an interview with BBC, Meier explained, “People can assume that a game is going to be fun and what it needs for success are more cinematics or monetization or whatever – but if the core just is not there with good gameplay, then it won’t work.” The point is that games need to be fun, first and foremost. Gameplay is critical in order to keep players happy and engaged with the product.
Over the years, games have shifted business models and now some rely on microtransactions as well as in-app purchases. Recently, some companies, such as Ubisoft, have embraced NFTs as a new way to make more money despite strong backlash from the gaming community.
Meier said that figuring out gameplay is relatively cheap and doesn’t require as many cooks in the kitchen compared to all of the aspects that go into creating a game. As a result, the importance of gameplay and game design themselves can be overlooked. He further explained, “I think we need to be sure that our games continue to be high quality and fun to play — there are so many forms of entertainment out there now.”
He also said that companies shouldn’t expect continued growth all the time, noting that trends in the entertainment space constantly change. “There are lots of other ways that people can spend their leisure time… I think the way the internet works, once a shift starts to happen, then everybody runs to that side of the ship,” said Meier.
To him, the gameplay is what makes video games a unique medium for entertainment. Once companies start thinking that games are just investment vehicles for further monetization is when they lose sight of what really matters: making games fun.
Meier’s focus on fun seems to have worked as Civilization continues to be a popular video game franchise with a core gameplay that goes back to the very first game in the series. Read IGN’s review of Civilization 6 here.
George Yang is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @yinyangfooey