With games becoming more mainstream and more people gaming than ever before, accessibility in video games has become a concern a lot of people have as they think high difficulty gate-keeps people from enjoying or finishing the game. The common argument being that everyone has the right to play/enjoy the game and high difficulty only allows skilled players or people with time to learn the game. The argument is that people should not have to work for their entertainment. The average age of a gamer in 2020 is 34-36, and people at that age have responsibilities that take the majority of their time. Another point against high difficulty is that hard games become even harder for people with disabilities as they already struggle to play the game.
Games as a whole have changed with them having a large budget and a large marketing push, indie games being the exception. Hard games are not a new concept they been a thing since the NES, with games like Contra, Battletoads, and more. Nowadays hard games are tiles like Dark souls and Sekiro shadows die twice which has made from software the people known for making hard games. These of course are not the only difficult games one can play but are a good example of difficulty preventing people from trying them.
The argument for difficult games is that games being hard is what gives the player a sense of accomplishment which is absent in an easier game. Which is also why we like underdogs as we like those who have overcome the challenges they face. That being said there is a difference between good difficulty and bad difficulty. Difficulty which is fair and well balanced can make a good even better on repeat playthroughs. But the difficulty can be off-putting even if done well as no one wants to just die endlessly in games. When Difficulty is the only thing people mention about a game it can take away from the other aspects of the game like the story, the game world the soundtrack, and more.
Both sides have reasons for wanting games to be more like how they would like and that’s fine as games should be for everyone. But instead of making games easier, games should have a way for people to remap their controller so it’s easier for them to play. While a lot of games allow you to remap the controller, it is not the norm. For some games, the high difficulty is what people come to expect, and so becomes part of their identity for better or for worse. While some games go overbroad with handholding the player through the game which ruins the experience.
Sekiro Shadows’ die twice was criticized for not having an easy mode for people struggling with the game. This is where an easy mode may ruin the experience as the game is fairly balanced in difficulty. The need for hard games is more of a need for less hand-holding and balanced difficulty. Bad difficulty is very is easy to do for example say you’re playing a shooter, bad difficulty would have the enemy be a bullet sponge and not have a smart AI which reacts to the player forcing them to play better.