Fable 3 Created So That Anyone Can Finish It, Is Example of Metric Fetishism

As if perfect counter-point to our post about Team Meat’s belief that not all games should be easily finished by everyone (as well as the general theme of pandering to the masses in sequels,) we have a few quotes of choice from Fable 3’s lead game designer, Josh Atkins, describing the philosophy behind Fable 3. In an interview with Game Informer, Atkins described Fable 3’s audience as follows:

“Every Fable game has been made with the intention that anyone can pick up a controller and be successful, and Fable III was no different. Our goal was to create an accessible and easy to understand game that very casual players could experience and, most importantly, finish.”

This comes to no surprise to Fable 3 players, who found many of the traditional RPG systems previous Fable games employed either gone or majorly streamlined. Make no mistake, these changes are metrics fetishism at it’s finest, “As Peter Molyneux has mentioned in the past, we had statistics that indicated many of our users were not using a substantial amount of the features we created in Fable II. Therefore, after many tricky discussions we came to the conclusion we should simplify a set of our features in an effort to ensure they would be clear and usable by players at every level” says Josh Atkins.

I will not begrudge a company for wanting to expand it’s userbase. But when you take a game that works, and make it worse because numbers show that people ignored the feature, doesn’t mean you should get rid of it. You already spent time developing the feature, so it’s not as if it’s wasted development time going toward it. Getting rid of it means you are getting rid of what another established userbase finds enticing, meaning you are excluding people with your choice: and wouldn’t the bottom line dictate that this is a no-no? ‘Mainstream gamers’ (sorry to use the term) are already playing the Fable franchise, so it’s clear that previous systems did not push that audience away.

But really, the tragedy behind metrics fetishism is less risks are taken because there is concrete data to support ‘safe’ choices. Why take a risk when the numbers don’t lie? As the number of ways to examine player’s actions increases, the more numbers will become deified within the industry. Franchises like Fable, Dragon Age and Mass Effect may just be the tip of the iceberg.

Besides, should all games really be easily finished by anyone?


  1. Sounds like Google engineering. All by the numbers, with less flair for the creative design.
    I guess it’s somewhat refreshing for developer to at least admit that they did this or that based on what the numbers tell them. Of course what the numbers won’t tell them if a feature they removed due to lack of use was appreciated. Going by raw numbers with no context behind them, just assuming a feature is to obscure or hard to use, will start to put them in trouble.

  2. This reminds me a lot of Mass Effect 2. It lost all appendages from ME1, both the good and the bad ones.

    People complained about the Tank feature? Remove it. Planet exploration? Remove it. Hidden loading screens? Remove it. Quantity of random quests? Remove them.

    Luckily, Mass Effect is about plot. Everything else is replaceable.

    • The difference is that Bioware is working on some of those aspects you mentioned: they do plan on bringing vehicles sections back, and its in those sections that you have world explorations. Download the firewalker pack, it’s free.

      Also I am of the opinion that the random quests improved dramatically.

  3. Tom

    Designing by the numbers is perhaps the stupidest method to do it. A feature that is not used a lot may not be used because it is too difficult for casual gamers, but this does not mean that it is a negative experience for them! Just because I don’t understand how the random number generator in Golden Sun works, or how to IV train in Pokemon, doesn’t mean I enjoy the game any less. It means I may never completely break those two games, but that’s okay.

    I feel the requirements for a casual gamer and a hardcore gamer (god, I hate these terms) are different. Someone who doesn’t play a million video games (besides not playing Fable III, because why would they? Call of Duty just came out!) needs to feel like they’re doing things correctly. This can be done without destroying features important to other people. Children play Pokemon, unaware of the complicated mechanics. Older people play Pokemon, knowing how to make powerful Pokemon, and then fight them competitively. This is not bad. All games do not have to be designed so that everyone can get 100% of the value from it. They should be designed so anyone can enjoy them. Sure, people less interested may miss mechanics, or not complete the game, but so what?

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