Why Are Open-World Video Games Suddenly So Popular?

The Blind Eternities forum

Posted on Jan. 24, 2023, 8:51 p.m. by DemonDragonJ

Most early video games had very linear storylines (if they had a storyline, at all), but open-world video games, in which the player may approach the challenges in any order, seem to be very popular, recently, which is certainly not a problem for newer franchises, but even long-running franchises are starting to embrace this model, so I wonder why it is so popular, and if it shall become the standard model for video games, from this point forward. I have no problem with open-world games, but I hope that companies shall still make other styles of games, as well.

What does everyone else say about this subject? Why are open-world games so popular, recently?

Delphen7 says... #2

It probably has to do with Breath of the Wild, which was (and honestly still is) very popular upon its release. Since it did so well, Nintendo started venturing into other areas, namely Pokemon. Eevee/Pikachu and Sword/Shield also seemed to be very well received.

Now if I were a small[er] company, and I saw a big name company Nintendo doing very well with back to back games that were open world, open world would probably suddenly become my best friend.

So I'd say it's a cascading cycle of they keep being well received, so more and more developers are making them.

January 24, 2023 10:44 p.m.

Necrosis24 says... #3

I wish I could give you something backed by data but unfortunately I have no such thing. Personally I think open worlds have actually been very popular for a long time from GTA, World of Warcraft, Skyrim, Minecraft, etc. Although they play differently, in general they all provide an expansive world to explore that allows the player to travel in whichever direction they please and take on quests they come across. It provides a lot of freedom, which some players love and some hate.

I think one of the main driving forces of open world games is the development in hardware and graphics. Thus, allowing developers to create larger and highly detailed worlds which provides a more immersive experience for the player. So now AAA companies can create top sellers like Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War, Spiderman, Assassins' Creed, and the list goes on. It is a bit of a feedback loop I'd say. These companies create these fantastic open world games which drives demand which drives supply and it keeps going until the player-base gets tired of open world games, or when developers have nothing new to offer. But given how many times I have replayed Skyrim I personally don't think I'd get bored anytime soon.

On the other hand indie developers tend to develop more linear games in the rogue-like and metroidvania (Hollowknight, Blasphemous, Hades, Celeste) genres because it is the more realistic approach for a small dev team without millions of dollars to spare. We also get some life-sim and farming-sims like Stardew Valley and Undertale.

So as long as open world games are profitable AAA studios will keep churning them out given they have the resources to do so. While on the other hand indie developers will bless us with the more linear style and niche games.

January 25, 2023 12:02 a.m.

Caerwyn says... #4

Probably worth noting that open world games (which, while popular now, are hardly new - Link to the Past was a 1991 open world game) are trying to emulate the feeling of adventure from D&D. In a lot of regards, story-based video games developed out of tabletop gaming - it just took a while for computer memory and capabilities to be able to make something that more closely resembled the exploration and open world nature of D&D.

January 25, 2023 12:09 a.m.

pinecone2k3 says... #5

It’s also worth noting that there are certain concepts that gamers have gotten used to, over the decades (turn-based combat, loading screens as you change areas), that were implemented in older games mainly due to the limitations of the available technology at the time those games were made. As tech improves, developers aren’t forced to rely on these limitations as often, resulting in more fluid gameplay that can have an open world feel, even if that’s not what the developer is actively trying for.

January 25, 2023 6:33 a.m.

Last_Laugh says... #6

Suddenly?!? Every other game since GTA3 is open world lol.

January 26, 2023 5:23 p.m.

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