Updated: Apr 5, 2019
At the moment, there is currently a lot of argument around the game Sekiro: Shadow's Die Twice, mostly around the difficulty of the game. Many complaints include the lack of an easy mode restricting players from enjoying the game. It is true that an easy mode would make the game more accessible, but there is a whole different side of the story that people are missing, and that is who Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was made for.
It starts with From Software, and while history of the studio goes back to when the studio was founded in 1986 in Tokyo, Japan, the purpose of this story will start with a game called Demon's Souls. Demon's Souls developed by From Software, published by Atlus, and was released February 5th, 2009. Demon's Souls was arguably one of the most difficult games on the PS3, and with an estimated sales of 1.83 Million Units, it was clear that there was an audience for difficult games. Its high difficulty was its biggest appeal, and was the main attraction as to why people played Demon's Souls.
While Atlus did not continue to pursue Demon's Souls as a franchise, From Software saw the appeal of high difficulty in video games. Video games where there was one difficulty setting, and it required the player to learn from their mistakes in order to pass to the next challenge. From Software would then work with Bandai Namco to create the Dark Souls franchise. Darks Souls was released on September 22nd, 2011, and received an estimated sales of 2.4 Million Units. Dark Souls II was released on March 22th, 2014, and received an estimated 2.5 Million Units. Dark Souls III was released on March 24th, 2016, and received sales over 3 Million Units and still growing. In between Dark Souls II and Dark Souls III, From Software worked with SONY to create an exclusive for the PS4 called Bloodborne, was released on March 24th, 2014, and received sales of 3.11 Million Units
It was clear that there is an audience for difficult games that require the player to learn and grow with the game. A quote for creator Hidetaka Miyazaki "
The basic approach is to let players experience a sense of accomplishment through overcoming difficulties. And setting a relatively higher difficultly level is actually only one of the answers to meet that goal." Miyazaki has grown an audience of people who agree and love the sense of accomplishment, and the sales show.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice's sales are no different, as after two weeks on the market, and while sales numbers have yet to be released, Sekiro has sold better than The Division 2, and is Steam's Biggest Launch of 2019. All of that comes from pleasing the current fans of Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne, and creating new fans who are growing to understand how valuable those accomplishments are. It is a mutual relationship between creators and fans that is rarely seen in the industry.
However, not everyone is pleased, as there are people who bought Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice who are having trouble getting past the first boss. Enough complaints on the internet to warrant the question, "Should Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice have an Easy Mode" An easy mode would make the game more accessible, and allow other people to enjoy the other aspects of the game such as the beautiful environments, the compelling stories told, and the world that Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice creates. The problem though is that is not what the audience, the people who have been supporting From Software and Miyazaki from the beginning, want.
When an easier difficulty is offered, that sense of accomplishment goes away, and if that sense of accomplishment goes away, maybe the audience will also go away. There is a problem with the difficulty of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, in that people who cannot defeat the first boss are closed off from seeing the rest of the game, but the answer is not creating an easy mode because that affects the people who support that difficulty.
Miyazaki compares playing video games to cooking, in that it takes time to gain experience. "The approach I’m taking is like a stew, in terms of the cooking. It takes time. It’s different from, like, fried food. Stew needs a certain number of days, right? So it’s based on the accumulated experience, so… I hope at this point you understand some sort of nuances that I have…"
Life is about time and experience, and growing that experience over time. It is understandable that people do not have time to play video games and grow that experience, but for the people who do, they come out stronger, and that is the difference. Video games are entertainment, but they have grown so much into culture that they are more than something to occupy your time. People are able to learn and grow from video games, and that is something Miyazaki wishes to continue.