Game Balance: A Critical Issue in Designing Top Titles

September 2, 2021

Have you ever played a game without any failures—from start to end, like taking candy from a baby? Or a game where you couldn’t move past the first level because someone created a game for magicians who knew some hidden mechanics? If your answer is yes, you’ve played bad games. Bad, unbalanced games that do not have an audience.

The game market is growing, so it’s essential to not just make a game, but something that will attract users and provide them with unique gameplay. And a balanced game with a reasonable number of characters, who follow a balanced number of challenges, is an efficient way to gain more players, monetize games quicker, and perform fast ROI.

Issues making games fun matter whether we speak about mobile game design, online gaming, or the development of console games. This is where game balance becomes a critical feature that helps achieve higher player satisfaction.

Mark Brown, the founder of a popular Patreon project “Game Maker’s Toolkit,” unveiled a lot of game characteristics to create top titles. Game balance was among them. In his YouTube tutorial about perfect game balance, he mentioned that some companies even had special departments to deal with the game balance concepts. Because, for example, for such complex games as League of Legends, it’s crucial to balance item stats, champion strength, and general game interactions to keep the community happy.

eCampusOntario, a professional educational platform, initiated research about game balance design and provided a valuable insight into its modern vision. They stated that any game testing process should be evaluated by:

  • how easily experienced players accomplish goals, and
  • at the same time, how possible it is for newcomers to succeed.

Both parties should be satisfied with the gameplay. And this is how game balance works.

What Is Game Balance

Imagine a game, where you come across a task for your character, complete it, and it doesn’t have any impact on your character’s level of possessions. It means you spend effort for nothing and end up disappointed. It’s an example of what game balance is: game challenges should lead to any improvements or leveling up, gameplay should have reasonable flow, and the number of characters should be balanced. Game developers test game challenges to be neither too complex nor too easy to keep users involved and interested.

A positive “flow channel” lies between hard game challenges causing frustration and easy ones boring the players. That is the very issue for game developers to be focused on in the creation of an involving game.

Once a business owner outsources game design, be ready to pay attention to a game design document, and think of game balance as a key success factor. The more users are happy with a game flow, the more players stay involved, and, hence, the easier it is to gain an ROI and scale your game monetization.

A Gamasutra blog for gamers illustrates the concept of game balancing with the slang phrase “Dude, AWP is so imba!” Where AWP is the weapon in the famous shooter Counter Strike, the possession of which is a benchmark of users’ satisfaction. This kind of weapon is treated as “high risk, high reward” due to its movement speed. Users like using the AWP, and its availability is about game balance, too. Because the AWP was introduced alongside other kinds of weapons to provide players with enough choice for struggle. It’s a live example of how game balance can be reached in practice.

When sophisticated game users are playing the game, and comment about whether they are doing too well or too poorly, the issue of a game balance arises. If we explain game balance mechanics via a game with two players, it means no character has any unfair advantage. Popular game Magic: The Gathering illustrates this challenge. When players pick cards, they have equal access to them, and only playing skills influences whether they obtain more or fewer cards. The difficulty is adjusted for every player.

Game Balance: Different Issues To Pay Attention To

DDA (dynamic difficulty adjustment) is an approach to game design targeted at creating a dynamic difficulty balance. The objective of the DDA concept in game balance is to consider players’ skills and experience to make the game interesting and involving both experienced users and newcomers.

Canvas, a web-based learning system, describes the following key features of the game balance depending on the game type:

  • Learning your TA (target audience) is a perfect tool to range the difficulty (pacing) in a single-player game. You just need to know for whom this game is designed (adults, youngsters, professional players). You’ll find a proper game balance after understanding what your audience needs.
  • In asymmetric games, where users start playing with different resource levels, game balance is reached via comparing the difficulty level of the starting positions.
  • In strategy games, we need to think about balancing hard and easy ways to victory following a variety of the players’ paths.
  • In games with a variety of valuable objects such as magic swords or strength liquids, the developers should think about objects’ ratios (value and price).

Three basic issues help to balance the game—concerning strategies, objects, and pace value:

  • counting (using mathematical algorithms to estimate the game parts value);
  • applying your intuition as a game developer (and experience in game design); and
  • using game testing to learn the correlation between the game parts.

How to Reach a Perfect Game Balance for Better Game Revenue

In this brief blog, we introduced the key issues for you in reaching the game balance:

  • Educate your developers to identify the relationships between game objects and systems.
  • Make only one change at a time in game mechanics while testing the game.
  • Use tools to track game balance issues.
  • Decrease the effectiveness of early turns for the first players to make the game fairer for all the participants.

As you may see, a sophisticated “game balance” concept consists of plain issues. The only thing is to consider them, test often, apply your own instincts and intuition, and engage experienced developers.

A perfectly balanced game provides fun and satisfaction for the users as they treat it like fair, hard enough with a reasonable number of challenges to level up.

We’ve mentioned three basic ways for the developers to balance the game: math algorithms and measurements, experience and intuition, and game testing. Innovecs expert team usually combines them to provide you with a really state-of-the-art game product. And even if you have some doubts about whether game balance contributes much to designing a top title, you are always welcome to contact us for a detailed consultation.

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