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The Increased Addictiveness of Today's Video Games

This is a guest post by Miles Walker, a freelance writer and blogger who usually compares car insurance deals over at CarinsuranceComparison.Org. His most recent review looked at the best car insurance quotes.

Video games have always held some addiction, but now more than ever that addiction is growing. People are spending more time than ever playing the games, and game designers are constantly finding new ways keep it that way. Their efforts have a been a complete success, and some games have true addicts, addicts who play 24 hours a week or more.

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Visual enhancements

Video games have come a long way since a certain duo of Italian plumbers started showing up in people's houses in the late 1980s. By leaps and bounds, video game graphics have become alarmingly sophisticated. Each graphical improvement increased a game's possibilities and added more depth to video games. Designers began thriving on this depth, making games with more achievements, unlocks, levels and secrets. For the gamers, this meant more to do and significantly more time needed to complete the games.

The online element

Video games changed forever around the turn of the century. The next couple of years saw the release of Sony's Playstation 2 and Microsoft's Xbox, and more and more games started being played online. Designers realized that games would become much more addictive if people could play their games with others over the Internet. Since then, that has more or less become a video game standard.
The online element had another strong effect on the addictiveness of video games: interaction. People started beginning to build personal relationships with other gamers. The designers capitalized on this revolution by introducing the possibility of clans (online teams made up of friends who play other online teams) and tournaments. This fueled competition and game sales like never before.

The WoW epidemic

Blizzard's World of Warcraft is quite possibly the most addictive game of all time. It is without a doubt that Blizzard's design, marketing and execution were near-flawless. Players are allowed to roam a vast and ever-expanding world seeking fortune and glory for their virtual adventurers. These types of games are classified as MMORPGs, or Massive-multiplayer-online-role-playing-games, and could take hundreds of hours to complete.
Unlike most video games, World of Warcraft charges a continual prescription fee, and even has prepaid service cards for sale in many retail stores. The game is so popular, that people are actually purchasing virtual goods in exchange for real money. Although the trade is unlikely to last, people were even making a living by leveling up characters and selling them. One account in particular was sold for $9,990.00. These third parties (completely unaffiliated with Blizzard Entertainment) were selling World of Warcraft accounts and gold.
Since the release of the initial World of Warcraft game in November, 2004, Blizzard has released three large expansions, each a year or two apart. Expansions are sold separately and install new worlds, items and quests to games people already own. This provides people with feelings of incompletion, urges them not to get left behind and online friends to discourage people from quitting. This marketing plan is absolutely genius: an addictive game that is an alternative to reality and has no foreseeable end.

The addictive market strategies are spreading

Other major players in the video game world are following the example. Microsoft's latest system, the Xbox 360, sports multi-player for nearly every game, a continual subscription fee for online play and offer trophies for certain in-game achievements. Microsoft points can be purchased with prepaid cards from retailers or right over the Xbox with a debit or credit card. The points can be used to purchase expansions, bonus map packs or even games via direct download.
In many ways, video games became addictive on their own. As the technology became more advanced, so did people's fascination with them. On the other hand, designers are now marketing gaming to be as addictive and expensive as possible. They take advantage of video game's addictive nature and take advantage by building expansions onto games and charging extra money for additional but related content.

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