Game Balance: A Pivotal Issue in Game Design

Unique, well-balanced gameplay is essential for success. As a developer and designer, you must find the “sweet spot”. You need the right number of characters with just enough challenges to keep the player engaged and having fun while moving forward at a reasonable pace.

Game balance is a crucial aspect of any game design. Have you ever played a game that was either too easy or too difficult to progress through? It can be frustrating to play a game with zero challenges, where victory is guaranteed from the start, or one that seems impossible to complete no matter how much time and experience you have in gaming. These types of poorly balanced games are inferior and poorly designed, and ultimately, they fail to attract and retain an audience.

The game market is growing, and so is the competition. Unique, wellbalanced gameplay is essential for success. As a developer and designer, you must find the “sweet spot”. You need the right number of characters with just enough challenges to keep the player engaged and having fun while moving forward at a reasonable pace. These are critical issues to perfect in order to monetize games quicker and improve the ROI of your game. 

Paying attention to what makes a game ‘fun’ is important whether you’re talking about mobile game design, online gaming, or the development of console games. Game balance is a critical feature that helps achieve higher player satisfaction.

Mark Brown, the founder of a popular Patreon project, “Game Maker’s Toolkit,” has unveiled several game characteristics needed to create top titles. Game balance was among them. In his YouTube tutorial about perfect game balance, he mentioned that some companies even have special departments to deal with game balance concepts.

For example, for a complex game like 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, conducted 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 two factors:

  • how easily experienced players accomplish goals, and
  • how attainable it is for newcomers to succeed.

Both parties should be satisfied with the gameplay.

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 or items. You spend time and effort for nothing and end up disappointed.

This is one example of what game balance refers to. Game challenges should lead to improvements or rewards. Also, 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 engaged and interested.

What Is a Game Balanced

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 evolving game.

Game Engagement Issues

Gamasutra blog for gamers illustrates the concept of game balancing with: “Dude, AWP is so imba!” This slang phrase for “imbalanced” stems from the game Counter Strike and is often used in competitive games.AWP’ here is a particularly powerful weapon in the game. This kind of weapon is treated as “high risk, high reward” due to its capabilities. Some users like using the AWP, and some will ban it as part of their house rules. Its availability demonstrates an important lesson about game balance – you can’t make everyone happy. Sometimes finding balance in your game comes down to opinion; ultimately, users will let you know if you’ve missed the mark or not. 

Another test of a balanced game may be when sophisticated gamers comment about whether they are doing too well or too poorly. A balanced game would mean no character has an unfair advantage. 

Popular game Magic: The Gathering illustrates this challenge. When players pick cards, they have equal access to them and only playing skills influence whether they obtain more or fewer cards. The difficulty is adjusted for every player. 

In 2022, Innovecs Games posted some write-ups concerning Metaverse gaming, modern game development trends, and the NFT phenomenon. Doug Dyer, our former VP of Gaming and Entertainment at Innovecs Games, commented on blockchain’s contribution to gaming and how the gaming Metaverse is functioning.

Among the examples of the top titles illustrating the game development techs, Doug mentioned Roblox’ balanced gaming Metaverse concept:

“It is a platform with thousands of individual games within the Roblox world. So, the Metaverse is one big Universe. You have your avatar, a digital representation of yourself running around this world. You can move this avatar from sitting on a digital seat watching a movie, to playing a game. In Roblox, you create this digital representation of yourself and play thousands of games. That’s what the Metaverse is: that’s you going to the digital shops, making your character look like you, buying what you need.” 

Is the existence of the Metaverse described above possible without deeply engaged players? The foundation of user engagement is game balance. Challenges should match the players skill level and avatar items and strengths should be helpful and simple to utilize during gameplay.

That’s what game balance is about. And Innovecs’ development team’s expertise covers all the aspects of game development: from graphics to monetization and post-release support; from issuing a variety of game genres to making your initial game vision and idea balanced and catching for the players.

Whether you’ve decided to develop a game from scratch or to release a new piece of Metaverse gaming, contact us to learn more about the crucial, and sometimes tricky, issue of game balance. 

Game Balance: What Really Matters?

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 for both experienced users and newcomers. 

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

  • Learning your TA (target audience) is a perfect tool for judging the difficulty (pacing) in a single-player game. When you decide for whom the game is designed (adults, youngsters, professional players), you’ll have an easier time finding the proper game balance. 
  • In asymmetric games, where users start playing with different resource levels, game balance is reached by comparing the difficulty level of the starting positions. 
  • In strategy games, balancing a variety of difficult vs easy paths to victory is important to consider.  
  • 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.

What Elements Comprise a Balanced Game?

The platform conducted a meta-analysis concerning the components of a balanced digital game that fosters player retention. Such a game ‘absorbs’ players in three ways: 

  • creating a state of immersion, where players can design their own world, creating a sense of connection and affection for the game; 
  • establishing a flow state, where players are totally absorbed by the gameplay and have a balanced feeling between skills and challenges; and 
  • meeting the core needs of the players: mastery, autonomy, arousal, a feeling of connection, diversion, or fantasy. 

Before starting the development process, considerable attention and intent goes into planning the game concept, prototype, and a balanced rule set. 

How to Reach a Perfect Game Balance for Better Game Revenue

In this brief article, we have introduced the key issues for you in reaching an ideal 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 can see, a sophisticated “game balance” concept consists of many complex issues. Game dev teams must consider them, test often, apply their instincts and intuition, and utilize experienced developers. 

What Is a Balanced Game

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 teams apply all of the necessary strategies to provide you with a state-of-the-art mobile game. If you’d like to understand more about how game balance contributes to designing a top title, you are always welcome to contact us for a detailed consultation.

If you need assistance in building a product from scratch or supporting the existing one, drop us a line to discuss details, and we will reply within 24 hours.