Written by Erik Kubik, kube00 Thursday, 01 December 2011 08:00
The biggest reason behind this is to keep gamers hooked. The idea here is gamers see how well everyone else is doing and the levels they have gained. The people who have achieved a higher level may have better equipment and weapons, or have unlocked new characters and other fun bonuses. Suddenly, the low-end gamer feels the urge to try to achieve this high-level of progression. We want to keep playing so we can prove ourselves. By the way, it doesn't matter what genre of game, gamers have seen an XP system in just about everything from FPS games to racing games to platformers to music games, and a whole host of other genres.
For the developers and publishers this is a great tool to make money. Players could buy DLC to make sure they are on par with the elite gamers and therefore keep playing the game. I also think its a way to pad some short games. Add a leveling system and some perks and people may want to spend more time and play the game several times.
Call of Duty Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3 are great examples. The better a gamer does in the game the better perks and weapons they have. Thus they become a better killing machine. I can just see the next big thing, double XP for a week if you buy this map pack. Suddenly Activision has turned this need to level and compete with one another into a gigantic money making opportunity. Or has it already happened? Look at the new service known as Call of Duty: Elite, which merges social networking integration and player progression. There are competitions and DLC within the service. As a gamer this can only help you achieve the higher level to show off to your peers.
I am sure as games progress into the next generation this trend will continue. Game developers seem to be fascinated with this and it keeps a lot of gamers playing their games. Personally, I think gamers could do without this stuff in a lot of games and go back to just making things fun.