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The Challenges of Developing and Maintaining Forever Games

Forever games, a relatively new genre and business model that aims to monopolize players' attention over an extended period of time, present unique challenges for game developers. Diablo IV, an action RPG that debuted in June, has already begun its second “season” of new content. This constant demand for new content requires developers to work nonstop to keep up with player expectations.

Rod Fergusson, producer of Diablo IV and veteran game developer, explains how studios manage these brutal schedules. The industry has shifted from releasing a game and moving on to working on patches or expansions. Now, studios need to have dedicated teams for creating new content, bug fixes, and expansions. This leapfrogging approach ensures a steady stream of updates to keep players engaged.

The advantage of forever games is their predictability and stability. Studios can continue working on a game for years after its initial launch. However, it also means that developers may be working on the same game for several years, which can be mentally taxing.

Gaming habits have also evolved. Players now expect longer investments in games, treating them as hobbies and lifestyles. This shift in player behavior comes with a sense of entitlement, and developers have to manage player expectations better. Constant feedback from players through social media platforms can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate.

Forever games also face the challenge of balancing the needs of long-term players with those of newcomers. Catering to everyone's preferences simultaneously is nearly impossible. Developers must make strategic decisions to prioritize certain player groups while hoping to attract new players to replace any disenchanted long-term players.

The key to success for forever games lies in having a long-term vision for the health of the game, adapting to player feedback, and maintaining open communication with the community. By managing expectations and providing transparent updates, developers can mitigate potential backlash and ensure the longevity of their games.

Sources:
– Gamescom demonstration and interview with Rod Fergusson, producer of Diablo IV