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Meat Boy dev: Games are too easy

Plus, explains free DLC move.

Modern videogames are far too easy, the developer behind fiendish Xbox Live Arcade platformer Super Meat Boy has complained.

"I think a lot is missing now in games with regard to the feeling of achieving something," Team Meat co-CEO Edmund McMillen told Eurogamer.

"I'd say that the majority of games can be beaten pretty easily. And that's a marketing strategy - there is a reason why games are easy now. And I think with that easy difficulty, comes this emptiness. Things just aren't as memorable as they used to be and you don't feel like you've achieved anything."

McMillen and the other half of Team Meat, Tommy Refenes, went on to explain how they're hoping to redress the balance.

"With Super Meat Boy we've kind of looked at that and thought, 'how can we bring back the feeling of accomplishing something, where you actually feel good because you've done well and it's not like a hand-holding thing?'.

"We thought about how we could make it difficult but not frustrating. So we went through and chopped it up. We removed lives, kept the levels really tiny, made sure the player was rewarded after they finish a level, both visually as well as through unlocking things in the game."

McMillen also explained how the focus on challenging yet rewarding gameplay carries over to the Achievements.

"We tried to avoid the obvious ones, like the ones you get for beating chapter one, chapter two and so on. Like, duh you did. The reward for beating chapter one is getting to play chapter two! I don't think giving someone a little medal for doing something that you're supposed to do is really much of an achievement.

"We tried to use the Achievements to encourage players to do things they wouldn't normally be doing, like trying to unlock hard to find characters, collecting unlockables, 100 per centing the game and so on."

It looks like the pair have struck a good balance. Eurogamer's Tom Bramwell awarded the brilliant, brutal platformer a meaty 9/10.

It wasn't just easy games that were in the firing line during our discussion though. The duo also leveled their sights at the current DLC culture.

"I'm not for that stuff. Like unlocking another coat for your character in Street Fighter IV – it's already in the game but you just pay to unlock it. That's super-questionable. I'm not a fan of that stuff. I understand the business side of things but I'm not a business man and I think it cheapens the game.

As reported last month, Team Meat will duly be offering extra levels post-launch for free. McMillen explained the reason behind Team Meat's generosity.

"I could give you a bunch of different reasons why we decided not to charge for it but one of them was that I was in hospital early on in development to have my gall bladder removed and a lot of people donated a lot of money – I had a $50,000 hospital bill. The coolest thing to say would be this is a way to give back to the people who helped out."

Super Meat Boy launches on Xbox Live Arcade on Wednesday, before heading to Mac, PC and WiiWare later this year.

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About the Author
Fred Dutton avatar

Fred Dutton


Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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