When I fell in love with Chrono Trigger, I fell hard. So hard, I decided to spend my summer getting every available ending, all 12. Luckily with New Game+ I was able to retain my high levels and stats, so replaying the game for a different ending wasn't too painful. Yet, by the end of that fateful summer I had been lured away by many another RPG; I only managed to beat Chrono Trigger 6 times. Afterwards, I realized that while on paper the idea of giving RPGs extra content only available on a second play through is cool, it is also very idealistic and somewhat overrated.
Almost everyone I know would never dare to complain about extra endings and content in an RPG. Again, I myself think it's a cool idea. But, I also think that for the average RPG player, extra content only serves as a lure for a purchase. Only a small percentage of the players actually utilize the content. For example, say I went and purchased Final Fantasy X-2. As most of you know, FFX-2 offers 3 endings. One of the endings is a standard ending that everyone views. One is often referred to as the "Perfect Ending" because you must do practically everything there is to do in the game in order to obtain it. A common survey of most FFX-2 players would most likely indicate that the average player completed the game and then either put it away or barely attempted to achieve the "Perfect Ending." Basically, the option to get a different ending, though a novel idea, served no purpose in the end.
This is a common incident that occurs in the RPG genre of video games. Most video games barely take up more than 20 to 30 hours of a playerís life, but RPGs often require much more time. Having played 50 to 70 hours of a game, I know I'm not exactly quick to replay it, especially when there are other new RPGs to be played. Whereas I've played a semi-short game like Metal Gear Solid more than 3 times in the period of maybe a year, I've only played through say, Final Fantasy X, twice in a period of 3 years.
Basically, two things come to mind after analyzing all of this. First, should developers even bother to create extra gameplay that can only be experienced by replaying an RPG? Personally, I think their time is better spent tweaking the first play through. It takes a lot of time and effort to create a video game; to spend time on extra content is to spend less time on the main game. This, to me, sounds illogical and expensive. Second, most game reviewers and critics comment on the average game's replay value. Generally, itís considered good (and at times necessary) for a game to have a high replay value. But should this apply to the RPG genre, as a whole? In my opinion, no. As usual there are exceptions, but for the most part there are not enough hours in the day to replay every RPG that comes my way, simply to get a "Music Box" or character art.
I already know a lot of people will disagree with this editorial. But keep in mind that I don't have anything against replaying RPGs and I have been known to do so often. This editorial takes a broad view of the RPG genre, and concludes that extra or bonus content is fairly unnecessary and, as a result, I don't think developers should bother with it. I don't think "replay value" should be a scale on which an RPG is measured. I am not saying that I don't think it's practical to replay an RPG, and I am not saying that games shouldn't offer extra content. But if you have to replay a game in its entirety just to reach some "goodies", how often is anyone going to utilize it?