Irresistibility & New Approaches to Development

In Brief

  • A game which has a higher number of irresistible optional choices will be replayed multiple times.
    • Hence, it can contain half the number of levels that a full game would have.
  • The time saved by not developing all the levels can be used to create the irresistible optional content.
    • This allows irresistibility to occur in a game without added cost.
  • The deleted levels can be released later as an expansion pack.
  • This maximises profits, as the expansion pack will be less costly to develop in contrast to a full game.
  • Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles are both successful Sonic games that used this approach.

Irresistibility and development efficiency

Sonic 3 & Sonic & Knuckles were originally intended to be a single game with 12 levels.

Development troubles caused the title to be split into two separate games that contained six levels each. This was significantly less than the 10 levels in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Sonic 3 was released in February 1994 with Sonic & Knuckles following seven months later in October of the same year.

Despite having a lower level count, the two halves sold exceptionally well. This success can be attributed to high levels of optional assets, which compensated for the missing levels.

Hence, an efficient method for creating individuality is to create a game that has a small selection of levels but a high degree of optional assets. The time that is saved by creating fewer levels can be utilised to create the optional content.


Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles may have had less levels than their predecessors,
but they offered more choice in the form of multiple routes. This choice made up for the missing levels.

Optional assets and extended profits

As demonstrated by the success of Sonic 3, players greatly enjoy optional content. They will happily pay extra for the levels that had to be cut from a game in order to create the optional assets.

Developers can produce the extra levels at a later date and release them as a new game, just as Sega did with Sonic & Knuckles. The second game allows for a higher profit margin, as the core assets for the first game can be reused. Examples of these re-usable core assets include the game engine, the core game play mechanics, player characters, control systems and GUIs.

The extra levels can be released through digital distribution systems, such Xbox Live or Sony EDI. This allows for a further increase in profit margins, as it removes the expenses associated with manufacturing and distributing physical products.

In short, as Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles demonstrate, creating optional assets not only allows for greater individuality and a more satisfying gaming experience, it also enables developers to maximise profits on a single product.

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Irresistibly: Ensuring choice does not cause wastage Choice from the Perspective of Developers Methods for creating irresistibility


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