Whenever someone makes a statement like “video games are better the second time you play them,” my gut reaction is “nuh-uh!” That’s exactly the claim Kotaku’s Kirk Hamilton has made, and I’m trying to check my instinct. My contrary side flares up because that sort of statement has heavy implications: Every game you didn’t play more than once? Yeah, you didn’t get nearly as much out of it as you should’ve. Your life is a wasteland of games you didn’t play twice. You lost out.
And yet… damn if I have a hard time contesting the claim. If I list off my favorite MMORPGs, I liked them better the second time around. Star Wars Galaxies. Guild Wars 1. City of Heroes. Non-MMOs too. The Elder Scrolls games. Diablo. The Sims series. And so on. There are a few exceptions — Guild Wars 2, for example, was a superior design at its launch — but not many.
Then again, maybe that’s just survivorship bias: The games that really sucked weren’t the kind I’d play twice to begin with. I already filtered them out of the contest. And when I did go back, I understood them better, knew what to avoid, knew what to expect, and benefited from their continued development, be that patches for MMOs or mods for everything else.
What do you think? Are MMOs better the second time you play them? Which MMOs do you think were better the second time? What about non-MMOs?