Although gamers are often lumped together as “people who enjoy playing videogames”, there is often a lot of variability in the types of things people like to do while playing. Most have a preferred genre, and even within genres a preferred style of play.

How We’re Playing Fallout 4

Take Fallout 4 for example, a recent release in the open world action-adventure genre. Even among the staff at Quantic Foundry, we quickly discovered that we played the game very differently. Nick was mostly uninterested in the campaign story, and once out of interesting things to explore, lost the motivation to continue playing. Nic followed the Minutemen quest line and never got to the main campaign, even though his kids (who watched the intro) kept bugging him to find and save Shaun. I enjoy poking around here and there, but find the structure of a campaign to be preferable. After a long day of work, the incredible amount of options provided by a title like Fallout 4 can be almost overwhelming without some additional direction.

We quickly discovered that we played the game very differently.

Today, we’re taking at look at how gamers approach action-adventure games, specifically in terms of preference for open world freedom versus more linear campaigns.

A Quick Word About the Data

In addition to the Gamer Motivation Profile, we have research surveys that gamers can participate in. These surveys tackle a variety of game preference questions, and we can link gamers’ responses back to their motivation scores. 1,082 gamers participated in this research survey. In the survey question about open world action-adventure play style, 13 respondents indicated they were not familiar with this genre, resulting in 1,069 valid responses.

Most Gamers Balance Open Exploration with Completing Campaign

Action-adventure play styles (prioritizing open word activities versus the main campaign) show almost zero variability between women and men. A surprising finding here is that only around 11 percent of gamers prioritize the campaign. Roughly 55 percent chose an “In-Between” approach while about 34 percent leaned toward open world activities. On one hand, it makes sense that an in-between approach would be popular as it allows players to experience both styles of play as they see fit. However, it is interesting to note that in other analyses, such as our look at FPS role preferences, players actually avoided mixing up their style and expressed a preference for either close-range or long-range.

Gender x Open World

Younger Players Prioritize Campaign

Younger players tend to prioritize the campaign while older players prioritize open world exploration (or a balanced approach). Perhaps as people age, they may have been exposed to more of the thematic elements that tend to get used when building cinematic, linear experiences. These may not be as engaging the second time around, which would lead more experienced (and likely older) players to look for more organic (open world) experiences. Alternatively, perhaps older gamers value games differently. They may see the higher replay value or longer overall play time of open-world exploration to be more attractive than a campaign that loses some of its luster after the first play through.