How to make a game longer without boring the pants off everyone

Add an arcade side-game like... Resident Evil 4

Resi 4 is one of the best games ever made. It doesn't need anything to make it longer because the impact it makes and impression it leaves will never fade. But let's say, for argument's sake, you only have the money for one game a year. Would you get enough enjoyment from simply replaying the story over and over? Perhaps not. Perhaps it would lose its appeal. Just a little.

Enter Mercenaries mode. Like Bayonetta, it adds a ranking system to your play, but unlike that game, it takes the action of the frantic combat and turns it into an arcade-like action fest. And with some of the most punishing score targets of any game of its ilk.

Above: That grimace on Leon's face is more about the dropped score multiplier


Instead of… Assassin's Creed

Which lets you go back into the game to finish collecting feathers and artifacts. Woo, and indeed, hoo.

Above: How much do you really care about feathers?



There are so many ways you can play Pokemon games after completing the standard quest, but let's pick one that offers the most reward. Breeding.

There's simply no other game that's as deep as Pokemon with the same mass appeal and it's all because of things like this. Noobs will find it cute when a Pokemon hatches from an egg. A master will choose the right parents, teach the offspring the right moves and even make sure it only fights certain types of enemy, all raising invisible stats and boosting key areas as much as possible with each new level.

Some will even create whole family trees until their Pokemon are champion thoroughbreds. That's just awesome. You can even keep hatching Pokemon in search of shinies. But, like I said, it's still cute when they hatch.

Above: Did you read our Top 7 births in video games? Then you'll know why I made this many Piplups


Instead of… Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing, which forces you to come back every day, to pay off your mortgage before giving you an even bigger room… so you can pay the mortgage off that. Oh, or there's turnip growing. Do you like turnip growing? There's a lot of that to do, complete with selling them for profit... which you can give to Tom Nook. Sigh.


Release amazing DLC like... Red Dead Redemption

Cool stuff, post-launch is going to keep people playing. Fact. Zombies seem to be the 'in' thing to put in, even into seemingly straight-laced games like Call of Duty: World at War and even Rockstar's cowboy epic, Red Dead Redemption.

Above: Hmm... those rainclouds won't let the sun through. More sunflowers! Oh wait, wrong game...

So why not go with it and add zombies to every game, new or old? Let's just go back to Animal Crossing for a sec - that game's drip-feed of new content virtually dries up completely as you get further into the routine. Something drastically different is needed to make the game longer. I stopped caring - my town is now overgrown with weeds (I know how long it takes to clear those) and I really can't be bothered to clean them all up when I know the 3DS version is on the horizon. But you know what would get me back into it? Zombies. Imagine zombie Tom Nook. Or zombie Celeste. Or zombie Brewster... OK, that last one's not so hard.

Above: "Brains..." "BRAINS!" "Brains" "Braaaaiiins" "BRAINS" "Brains" "Coffee?" "BRAINS!" 

But zombies aren't the only amazing feature you can release via DLC to add many new hours of fun to an old game. It can even be as simple as adding a celebrity, like Pain did with its David Hasselhoff DLC. Put it this way - would the following video be quite as funny if it was anyone else but The Hoff in it?


Instead of... Fallout 3

Fallout 3 is a great game and brilliantly entertaining for countless hours on its own. But something went wrong when it came to making DLC for it. Some of it was dull. Some of it was broken. None of it was as good as Oblivion's DLC before it (Horse Armour excepted, of course). Worse still, there was a lot of it. Operation Anchorage was awful, The Pitt was way too restricted and short-lived, Broken Steel refused to install on PCs... and as for Mothership Zeta, I think our review header says it all:

Case closed.

04 Jan, 2011


  • RicePuddingUK - January 6, 2011 3:51 p.m.

    Point Lookout for Fallout 3 was excellent, I spent a whole evening on that DLC and was immersed, I loved the quest involving the Chinese Agent
  • NightCrawler_358 - January 5, 2011 9:22 p.m.

    I definitely agree with skyline19, zombies are an easy addition that can add hours of gameplay. Even though i don't really care too much about them, achievments and trophies are fun to collect.
  • philipshaw - January 5, 2011 12:52 p.m.

    Great article and some great examples used here, at least AC has got better with their side missions
  • FauxFurry - January 5, 2011 6:33 a.m.

    You didn't include one of the most critical tricks of the trade used in recent(enough) days to extend a game's run time, not least of all by Bethesda Softworks: Let somebody else do it for you by way of mod tools. Maybe that oft-repeated phrase about 10,000 monkeys at 10,000 type writers (over 10,000 years or so) being able to produce the complete works of Shakespeare might actually have some merit after all,though the bright fellows in Bethesda's fan community needed far fewer keyboards and quite a bit less time to outshine the efforts put into what is contained in the retail package. Hundreds of talented tinkerers who may or may not have worked at a single PC or multiple PCs in tandem(each of which has the Elder Scrolls Construction Set installed)spending over 10,000 hours of unpaid labor on producing mod content turned humble Morrowind into one of the deepest,most vibrant game worlds ever developed and it only cost Bethesda a freebie software disc. Compared to that,challenges that yeild unlockable costumes and extra characters seems like a comparatively paltry means of prolonging a game experience. One obvious no-no left off of the list is pure,unadulterated, mind-numbing, finger-straining,life draining Level Grinding, Square-Enix's favorite vice/over-used crutch which leaves many of their games nearly completely lame. How about trimming a cinematic cutscene or 20 and reducing the graphical complexity a shade then putting in a few extra in-game missions and activities here and there,instead?
  • V13Dragongal - January 5, 2011 4:33 a.m.

    Great list. Love the PvZ reference xD
  • kachigop - January 5, 2011 4:32 a.m.

    Hah. I got the Plants Vs. Zombies reference. I am pleased. Good article.
  • civver - January 5, 2011 3:07 a.m.

    A bunch of zombies better than Fallout 3 Broken Steel. Yeah, sure. Most of these are just repetitive slogs. The first one did seem appealing though.
  • quincytheodore - January 5, 2011 2:56 a.m.

    Holy mother of pearl, Is that ALL Pure Platinum for real? I've spent dozens of hours, along with bits of my sanity, for all Platinum on Normal and (almost) Hard.. It almost takes inhuman reflexes for Pure in Hard.
  • BurntToShreds - January 5, 2011 2:44 a.m.

    Treasure hunts are subjective. I've read a lot of comments on message boards about how the Triforce hunt from Wind Waker was irritating.
  • rybell - January 5, 2011 2:42 a.m.

    i personally loved the broken steel dlc for fallout but i had it on the ps3 so no problems with it also, i loved all the extra crap in assassins creed 2. it kept me playing till i got all 1000 gamerscore points. then i realized my xbox isn't connected to the internet and that kind of ruined it for me
  • mrtimmy - January 5, 2011 1:51 a.m.

    I agree with thedonut. I put more than 200 hours into Monster Hunter and I still haven't beaten every monster. DAMN YOU FATALIS!!!!!
  • CandiedJester - January 5, 2011 1:27 a.m.

    Agreed. Also, if you make a game where you get to rid the world of evil, make sure there are a lot of little things to make pretty again, too, like Okami. Instead of say, Twilight Princess, where I am pretty sure, if I remember correctly, once you clear a portion of the map of evil it is all cleared. Also like Okami, put in a lot of treasures to search for, and things to dig up, and etc. I am on Okami mode because I just discovered how amazing this game is. You were all right! Maybe I should buy the "PLAY OKAMI" t-shirt now. Haha. :]
  • Jrm21 - January 5, 2011 12:54 a.m.

    Good list but breeding? seriously? I've never even heard of that
  • EroticInvisibleMan - January 5, 2011 12:29 a.m.

    And I of course meant GTA4
  • EroticInvisibleMan - January 5, 2011 12:29 a.m.

    @Skyline There are so many zombie mods fr GA4 it's not funny.
  • Overlord153 - January 4, 2011 10:31 p.m.

    I think unlocking God Hard in Vanquish was a pretty good way. After beating the game and feeling like a total badass uyou see the screen you unlocked God Hard. So you think "how hard could it be i'll just try it out for a few minutes." It's amazing that you can get past Act 1 mission 2 without dying 7 times in the first 8 minutes.
  • garnsr - January 4, 2011 9:04 p.m.

    I played the GotY fallout 3, so the DLC was just part of the game for me. I'd probably have been disappointed if I had to fire up the game just to play them, but as missions I just ran across they weren't bad. I don't think getting different medals or scores drives me to play any more. Sometimes that sort of thing just makes a game seem more gamey.
  • bobbybroccoli - January 4, 2011 9:01 p.m.

    I was so happy when I finally got all 242 stars in SMG2.
  • Spybreak8 - January 4, 2011 7:57 p.m.

    That's funny, the green stars in SMG2 sound exactly like the orbs in Crackdown. You can hear them nearby and then bam collect-a-thon!
  • Innounci - January 4, 2011 6:46 p.m.

    i feel as though every game could use a breeding feature like pokemon to extend gameplay... :3

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