How Popularity Culls Potentially Great Games

Jeffrey McGee
5 min readMar 18, 2022


I said it before and I’ll say it again: I really liked Gigantic

Everybody knows of the phenomenon when a game becomes too popular, so popular that it complete dominates the competition and prevents other aspirers from having a piece of that sweet pie called success. Some games manage to do it before they are even released, like how Overwatch did to Battleborn. It’s as they say: “First come, first served”.

I often talk positively about League of Legends and its features, even though the game isn’t perfect (not to mention its community). However, one thing that it managed to do that I frown upon is something that wasn’t directly its fault and how the game’s astronomical success prevents other MOBAs from being discovered, causing all of them to wither and eventually disappear. This mainly happened because LoL came around when there weren’t many MOBAs to compete against, and being the first in a genre usually gets the most attention. So it became so popular that everyone already got used to it to the point where they didn’t want to invest time in other games of the same genre, even if they were good. People who haven’t started playing MOBAs won’t give the chance to check out new MOBAs because their friends have invited them to play LoL, and now they’re addicted too. That being said, I don’t really care that most of them died because they didn’t do enough to differentiate themselves from the usual format of the genre. Still, as discussed in a previous article, I will severely miss Gigantic.

That’s just one example of how a single game can crush the ambition of its competitors, and it’s even more complicated with online games because they have to be maintained constantly, as opposed to offline standalone games, the popularity of which is decided upon their release. And yes, even offline games can be crushed by successful juggernauts. I’m thinking particularly about roguelikes right now…

Adore, Atomicrops, and Arboria, just to name a few

I’ve noticed that there has been a surge of roguelikes coming around recently. Of course, it could be just me since I liked them, but recent titles such as Hades and Returnal (the latter of which I have yet to try out) have set a new standard for roguelikes everywhere. What I noticed then was that suddenly, there are a lot of random roguelikes selling themselves as early access, which, in most cases, means a buggy mess with half of its features not yet implemented. But if someone is impatient enough, no amount of glitches will get in the way.

There are three roguelikes that I find particularly fun. Atomicrops, an action-packed farming simulator of sorts; Adore, which allows you to catch monsters and have them assist you in battle; and Arboria, an in-depth adventure “Trollz-like” that I have yet to discover more of because I’m still playing it. You could say that all 3 of these had varying degrees of quality in their design, but I, personally, enjoyed all of them and hope to see more of them. However, that doesn’t change that I don’t know how much hope they have for greatness because of the current competition among roguelikes.

Arboria seemed to have received good reviews, but I don’t hear anyone talking about it. Adore is still in early access and will probably die before it is released (which is a shame since I like it). Atomicrops just doesn’t seem to get enough attention, probably because it doesn’t do enough marketing. I don’t know the cause for these games’ lacklusterness, but they deserve more attention (Arboria, at least).

More marketing, maybe?

Since these aren’t online games we’re talking about, several factors contribute to an offline game’s lack of popularity that isn’t “League of Legends”, and most of them eludes me. However, the simplest solution is to market your game better and do it more often. Although that just means that whoever’s making that game will have to spend more money, it’s just a matter of what they prefer more: a cheaper production or a successful game.

But I’m not here to talk about making games popular; I’m here to talk about what to do with the phenomenon where one game’s success inadvertently denies the opportunity for other games to become just as successful. Of course, this is just what happens in a world where no one has time for anything, so what little time they have goes to the most surefire project. But what do you do about it? If you asked me, then I would tell you that I’m still working on a solution (a proper one, at least).

In all honesty, there isn’t a standard solution that I can come up with to properly deal with this problem because “get rid of League” is not an option. Being a fiction writer, the first solutions that pop to my mind are the supernatural kind, such as spiking major water supplies with a love potion that makes everyone infatuatedly play the game. Of course, these ideas are not practical or realistic, for that matter. Regardless, I don’t think I’m the right man for the job on this one.

And because of that…

I need you to give me an answer for me. I request this because I assume you know better than me on the subject, whoever you may be. But if you’re reading this, then I suppose you read the article until this point (assuming you haven’t skipped most of it), so it’s probably not wrong to ask you what to do with this. After all, this is what I use this section for.

In Conclusion…

So this has been a general discussion about the problems caused by the popularity of a single game and how it affects other games. I don’t usually do these anymore, so it was nice for a change. I still wish I could concoct that love potion, but I have to snap back to reality.

With that being said, it is already evident that I don’t have a solution for this. But when you think about it, it’s not really a problem since it’s just games being popular and enjoying success, and it is none of their fault other games in the same genre has dwindled and died. It also happens in other media, which teaches you that this is all part of life and what life is exactly… I have no idea (a different discussion for a different time).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to play Arboria because that’s the thing I’ll be writing about next… so expect it.