Sometimes certain features are expected by the general player population. Mark Darrah, former Bioware general manager, calls them “table stakes”, as in they are stakes required to play at the table. These kind of features might not actually be popular or particularly good for the kind of game we’re building, but the expectations are there among players, and the game’s reception will take a hit if we don’t include them so leadership decrees that we must spend the resources to build them.
This is often why we’ll spend a lot of resources on a particular feature or mini game even if it doesn’t really add a lot to the intended game experience. One of the most common complaints about Street Fighter 5 at launch was the lack of story mode, even though fighting games like SF5 live and die by the long-term multiplayer, rather than the single-player content. We also see this phenomena manifest in expensive minigame features like driving or stealth subsections of games that aren’t primarily about driving or stealth. The fiction of the game suggests that there should be driving or stealth segments, so they’re table stakes even if they aren’t very good.
It’s a little odd because it’s these sorts of invisible pressures tend to be invisible with hindsight. Darrah’s example of a table stakes feature was adding mounted movement to Dragon Age Inquisition. They really only added mounts in DAI because it was expected of their contemporaries and players expected them. However, the feature didn’t really work well in DAI - the player lost out on the follower banter, they didn’t actually move all that much faster than when on foot, the player would constantly stop to pick up loot and gather resources while exploring, and so on. The DAI player experience without mounts would likely have been totally fine, except for missing the expectations of the time period. Were the game to be released today, we’d probably be fine with it not having mounts in it. But back then, mounts were considered table stakes, so they did it.
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