Skyrim - Why is it such a succes? (Sorry!)

First of all, sorry for yet another Skyrim thread, I was just genuinly interested in this, and didn’t want it to drown in the 7 other threads we have.Oh, and its sure to sink into obscurity in a day or two

My Gf has been talking about this game. My eldest daughter talked about this game with her friends, even though she doesn’t play games pretty much at all, pretty much everyone I know has been talking about this and I have to wonder why.

Oh, I love the game as much as the next guy, I mean, around 85 hours by now I have put into the game, and is steeling myself to wait for when the dlc comes now to not overdo it.

But why is it so successful? Sure, its good, but other RPG’s have done quite alright lately in the open world arena (Two worlds 2, Divine Divinity and such are both great games in the genre), but what sets this apart, so much that it has shipped what, 7 million units? Thats gotta be some sort of record for RPGs right?

The marketing was pretty intense of course, even here in Denmark - lots of TV spots at the right time, which isn’t cheap, but other than that, I really have no idea why its so successful - I do hope other game companies take note, and start developing more in this genre, since its probably my favorite, even though its somewhat of a cliché by now.

So help me, Obi-wan-Q3t - What did they do right?

They’ve created an alternate world that you can step into without having to put up with the smacktards inhabiting every MMO.

It provides a strong RPG sandbox that everyone knows will have an industry-professional grade modding community that’ll actually develop it onto a tripl-A+ level game, for free, once the toolkit and editors are out.
So, for $50 it makes a very appealing product. And the RPG crowd is not as small as some had thought.

Oblivion was the most successful Western fantasy RPG of all times, I believe. That kind of success drives up sales for the sequel.

As for why both games are so successful – well, for once Oblivion and Skyrim are available on three platforms, with AAA production values and advertising budgets. And while RPG grognards might moan and groan about a generic fantasy setting, there are actually very few games where you can go out adventuring in a Tolkienesque world, especially on consoles. Most games tend to have modern or futuristic settings these days. Is there any open-world game with a comparable setting that’s not an MMO?

Lastly, the fact that the games are not very challenging and easily “broken” in the sense of becoming super-powerful with some stats grinding is probably also a plus to a more casual audience, even though grognards are likely to complain about it.

They have iterated for two decades and finally found the formula to bring hardcore RPGs to the masses.

And they have done so brilliantly.

This is the Ultima 4 of the modern generation. And that is not hyperbole.

Plus, the whole dragonborn-angle makes it immediately accessible to pretty much everyone - much more so than, say, some hogwash about interdimensional gates to the plane of oblivion. (FUS RO DAH is also somehow immensely memifyable. Whoever came up with it must have gotten a big fat bonus.)

Notwithstanding crappy QA on the patches, Skyrim is a stunning achievement for RPGs. It has a far better realised world than the previous Elder Scrolls games, better even than the Piranha Bytes games for world design, interactivity and immersiveness. Also, stripping back the RPG system was absolutely the right thing to do in order to make the game more inclusive and appealing outside the core RPG crowd. Character progression feels very natural and organic, and you can make a perfectly good character just by picking up the game and playing however you like, without really having to think about builds or min-maxing. I find that it’s simply a joy to spend time with it, without the game getting in the way of itself. Few games these days hold my attention like that.

Neither has the accessibility or the writing that Skyrim has. Skyrim is pretty easy to just pick up and play and it then has deeper mechanics (in the crafting and such) for those who want to delve deeper.

I’d like to add that during bad times people desire escapism. When there’s a recession, the entertainment industry tends to do all right.

Skyrim doesn’t have the “writing” of a story-centric RPG, imo. Which isn’t just my BW fanboyism, one could as easily cite the Witcher series. Unless you mean writing as in (iterative) world creation etc. That isn’t to say it doesn’t have good writing, incidentally, or better than those other titles, but at the same time Skyrim has been more successful than CRPGs with better writing and a story-centric rather than sandbox focus.

Most of the reasons I’d cite have already been mentioned. Built-up credibility from TES/(FO3/NV) series as a whole, the prior exposure of a big cross-platform audience to Oblivion, good marketing and good things to market with (lovely visuals, dragon fighting) and, post-release, good word of mouth about how it’s “just fun” and the best version of the Bethesda formula delivered to date.

Welcome Avatar, onward to thy quest for the seven virtues. As a reminder to thy sagacity thou shouldst not forget :

Thou shalt not have a PC interface.
Thou shalt fight in cut and pasted dungeons, without as much as an embranchment, lest you get lost.
Thou shalt kill dragons and be killed by bandits.
Thou shalt climb a mystic mountain to see old farts give you a tutorial about thy powers.
Thou shalt carry a shiltload of stulff and spend hours crafting daggers.
Thou shalt not end a quest without killing at least a few dozen monsters in one of the mysterious cut & pasted dungeon.
Thou shalt meet boring NPCs without any personality, and listen them talk to thou about thy exploits, and thy heroism, or thy destiny, and try to give a damn.

Skyrim is alright. Ultima 4 was genre defining.

I wonder how much, if any, Game of Thrones popularity as a tv show and the new book has to do with Skyrim’s success. Skyrim has a cold, wintry look, ties deeply with dragons, but is not low fantasy (though to me it looks more gritty than Oblivion).

I wonder if Bethesda thought of that at all in the design of the game?

Yeah, I don’t think it’s being unfair to Skyrim to disagree with that one. It may endure on peoples’ roster of great RPGs and it may influence the genre, but Ultima IV was too huge a game in the heroic age of PC gaming for that comparison to work for me.

Even the wights look pretty much like the ‘Others’ described in the books (blue glowing eyes).

It’s huge, it’s beautiful and they fixed the glaring gameplay issues that plagued earlier iterations in the series.

I am stunned by the amount of content in the game.

It’s a great game.

More than asking why Skyrim have this success, you would have to ask why Oblivion was a success. Because the popularity of this type of games in modern games is defined by Oblivion, Skyrim is just the new game of the company who made million sellers like Fallout 3 and Oblivion, therefore is logical that is also a million seller.
You can say the same for Fallout 3.

The one game that didn’t have a precedent (for the audience) was Oblivion. Why Oblivion was such a success?
I think the key was a very big very open sandbox experience which connected very well with the dozens of millions of GTA players (GTA was the most played sandbox game in the past consoles) in the new audience, combined with very good graphics from when the game was released in 2006, more if we consider the size of the game and that rpgs for that year didn’t usually have AAA production values (ME was unreleased in 2006).
Add that it was the first game of that type to land in the new console generation, usually the ones who land first and reach popularity in each genre have a head start and a snowball effect produces raising their popularity even more.

Ironically, even it was the “first to release”, that doesn’t mean the company were inexperienced in this type of genre, even if most people didn’t played their past games, they are doing these Elder Scrolls games for decades, in a very iterative process.

Also, Morrowind was a decent seller in the previous Xbox, i think maybe that produced a seed in the Xbox 360 audience, that helped Oblivion popularity at first, until it sprouted in the far reaching mainstream audience.

In conclusion:

-Open, huge sandbox RPG without emphasis on a linear central quest unlike other games.
-First to release in a new generation of machines.
-AAA production values.
-Iterative process in the series, improving the game’s quality (though imo this applies more to Skyrim than to Oblivion)
-previous game that provided a hardcore fan following, increased awareness in the press, and helped the game go viral.

Of course, Skyrim being the successor of Oblivion, and being better in both game’s quality, graphics and art, and being even bigger and having a good marketing campaign (that trailer!), its success was clear.


My daughter is more a JRPG fan and only portable ones at that but she plans on getting herself a TV and 360 (after school/weekend job) to play Skyrim even though she has no idea what the games are about. Why? Because that’s all everyone in her circle at high school have been talking about.

Brilliantly indeed. I would not call its simplified combat and skill systems hardcore. You don’t even need to read the manual to get right into the game. It plays like an action/adventure game and that’s how they hook you in. But hundreds of hours of stories and quests, dozens of dungeons and areas to explore and lots of “tinkerability” via crafting systems is definitely not meant for casual gamers. Though in another brilliant twist, Bethesda makes it all very easy to access.

I think it is more than the setting. Both me and my brother (and we’re old married guys with grown kids, living several hundred miles apart) are in love with this game, emailing to compare experiences without “spoiling” as we are both playing similar builds and planned to take similar paths, yet our experiences have been completely different (“you got WHAT? I never saw that person, but did you happen to do the xxx quest? No? So how did you get the Guild armor? Really? I didn’t even see that approach. etc.”) Which I think testifies to the truly open world environment, that two people intentionally trying to play relatively similar paths end up with completely different weapons, companions, and overall experiences.

And neither one of us is into Orcs, Trolls, etc. In fact, we both rejoiced at RDR, because we just aren’t into the whole fantasy setting. Yet we are addicted to this game.