The "Death of Adventure Games"

One of the games that I have played recently, that is the most closest to “adventure game” style, is Deponia. But it lacked in quality, animations and controls. Anyway, it’s a good adventure to play.

I don’t think this is the right explanation. Game publishers follow the market. They give people what they want. If they stop doing adventure games, is because people prefer other things. The market is telling us that there is something wrong with adventure games, but it does not tell us what. It’s up to us to figure out.

So the right question is: why do most people not like adventure games?

The answer can’t be that “people don’t like puzzles”, because that would not explain the success of Prof Layton, Machinarium, or Limbo.

So I think the best explanation so far is: most people who like puzzles do not like to read a lot of text, and most people who like to read a lot of text do not like puzzles.

Another possible explanation is that puzzles disrupt the pace of the story and the nature of the story in a way that breaks the story too much.

I think the shortest definition of adventure game is: a game where it is possible for the user to be stuck because they don’t know what to do to move forward. If this situation can happen often enough, then it’s an adventure game.

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I’ve observed many people having different definitions of the general expression “adventure game”.

Just have a look at the opinions in this very thread. I consider Machinarium an adventure game, but other people don’t. Some people consider Gone Home an adventure game (because it has puzzles) but most people define it as a “walking simulator”. I don’t consider hidden-object games as adventure games, but some people do.

The expression is generic to the point that everyone has his/her own definition of it.

Other times the simple word “Adventure” is used to classify games that are not “adventure games” as we intend it. For example, have a look at the following statistics:

It is clear that the category "Adventure"used in this research doesn’t contain “adventure games” as we intend it.

I know people who consider “Rise of the Tomb Raider” and “adventure game”, in the sense that it’s a game focused on… adventuring around… I guess. :stuck_out_tongue: I don’t know for sure what they mean, I just know that on Steam the most popular user-attributed tag for that game is “Adventure”.

So… it seems to me that when the word “adventure” is associated to the word “game”, confusion arises in the magic land of semantics. :slight_smile:

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My point is that, when addressing the survivability or existence of an industry in general, you do not have to be as precise as you aim to.

It is clear to everyone that “adventure games” as a growing and thriving industry died sometime in the 1990s, regardless of whether or not a straggler which can “technically” fall under the category survived here and there.



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That’s a good definition! :smiley:

The Telltale experience leads me to think people do LOVE stories but are easily frustrated by puzzles. Telltale Games, at first, tried reviving the click-and-point adventure game. It went quite well with Sam and Max, Tales of Monkey Island, the Wallace and Grommit series, and other titles around that era. But around the Back to the Future seasons they started simplifying the puzzles. Then Walking Dead came and it was no longer about puzzles but about choices and branching narratives. I’m guessing this was to reach wider audiences.

On the other hand, you have the bastardized evolution of adventure games, which is the hidden object genre, which is normally generously sprinkled with puzzles of all kinds. But they’re usually very easy because they are designed to be casual games.

I’m a fan of both narrative AND hard puzzles, the harder the better. I sure hope adventure games make a comeback, I was completely delighted by Thimbleweed Park. It was like a delicious chocolate cake.


I’m not sure the story is needed. Gobliins does not have one, but it’s clearly an adventure game. A very good one, by the way.

Also the “beautifully designed settings” are not needed… a text adventure is still an adventure game.

exactly. Many people love stories and are frustrated by puzzles. Many people love puzzles and don’t want story. Very few people want both. (like us, unfortunately)

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I find this plausible. When marketing people look at the charts to figure out what kind of games sell most, adventure games weren’t on top. So they didn’t put money into development of adventure games. Hence there were less and less well produced adventures on market. Which meant the charts showed the adventure market was declining…


It wasn’t that adventure games were declining. DOOM pulled in a huge and very different kind of player. Adventure games continued to sell to the same number of people, but DOOM and more action games started to sell in huge numbers. DOOM didn’t cause adventure gamers to stop playing adventure games. End result is the same as you said above, but for a different reason. :delores:

Adventure game also started to get stupid, which didn’t help them attract a new audience. The newer TellTale games (love or hate them) did just that, attract a new audience.


But wasn´t it an adventure game, though by the time Doom came out that was the best selling game of all time (Myst)?

DOOM came out before Myst and Myst was an odd case. It got mainstream coverage and sold to a huge group of people that didn’t play games and never played a game again. What “killed” adventure game isn’t black and white, but (IMHO) It was being over shadowed by a new type of game that proved to be hugely popular with new players.


Yes, I was trying to say (I think…) that adventures didn’t sell worse than before, but worse than action games, which years later (do to market forces) evolved to a situation where there was no good adventure titles and hence no sales. This was around 1998-2000, I think.

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The most common criticism I know of, from people who do not like the adventure genre at all is lack of replayability. Once you´re done with it you never play again. I always find it diffult to argument along the lines of “but you watch movies also multiple times because you keep noticing new stuff or enjoy special moments”. People who prefer action games want to keep the challenge up, because the learning curve is different for situations where you can still fail mulitple times, even though you know what to do. In an adventure game once you remembered the solution you breeze through it on repeated playthoughs and it might become boring, if it´s always exactly the same.

That´s why I prefer adventure games that are less streamlined. Before Thimbleweed Park I played a lot of new games that let you do nothing but exactly what the game needed you to do. Coming from something like Maniac Mansion which was way ahead of it´s time in that respect that was always very dissapointing.

Is it possible to find (rough) data about the number of people who purchased adventure games in the eighties/nineties and those who buy them today?

I agree with the fact that there has been a huge influx of new gamers who were interested in other kind of games: this phenomenon has decreased the percentage of gamers who buy adventure games but not their number, that’s clear.

But I would expect also to observe over the years an increase in the number of people who bought adventure games, just because there are more people on the planet or in a country.

If I have to think to the two genres that were huge in the 80’s and 90’s and now have disappeared I think about point and click adventures and combat flight simulators. I am not going to discuss the latter because it would be grossly off-topic. For the former I agree to some extent to what Ron said, other genres that were simply not possible in the 80’s due to a lack of technology took over starting from the late 90’s on.

Looking at few of the most successful games of all times (GTA, Red Dead Redemption, Elder Scrolls, Witcher 3) I think that people still love stories, but probably don’t like puzzles and getting stuck without knowing what to do. One of the few bad reviews I read about TWP was from someone who didn’t like puzzles at all and was complaining that TWP was visually gorgeous, but just a way of getting stuck on a puzzle after the other.

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During the arcade rooms golden era adventure games were the real alternative to all those platforms, action games that we call now MAME. There were good platforms titles and some original games (for computer) but until middle 90’s I don’t recall a game that could give you the immersive gameplay level of the adventure games and Lucasfilm games have really made the difference for me in terms of gaming happiness. Then came out first person shooters. I remember also an original game called Postal and lately Diablo. Also 3D started to appear at decent level (Alone in the dark), simulators… but in fact I never played Doom for example, even if it was the coolest game among my friends back then. So I think there isn’t a real death of adventure games, as in movies, there isn’t a real death of a genre. Then each opinions and tastes are different (like those who like RPG and board games, card games and the ones who like FPS or maybe someone who likes everything!) :slight_smile:

Also someone can explain me why “Walking Dead” game series of Tell Tales are so popular :slight_smile:
in terms of gaming experience, who ever tried those… ok the original series is not bad but the success is because of the series of what, i’m kinda confused…

I have no idea if I love these games because I enjoy logic puzzles, or if I enjoy logic puzzles because I grew up loving these games. I played them all during my formative years, so it’s really hard for me to tell.

I did end up going down a career path of software development… Just wondering if others in this thread (who are obsessed enough about these games to belong to this forum) are in creative and/or analytical fields.

I might be reaching for a connection here because I’m an elitist bleephole, but I could see why it makes these games more of a niche market.