If you aren’t familiar with the RPG genre, then you must have been living under a rather large rock. Role playing games are generally large scale adventures in which a vast majority of the choices are up to the player. The player steps into a new world where they have a lot of control on the outcomes. Games like The Witcher 3, Skyrim and even Zelda : Breath of the Wild have all graced the world of video gaming with much acclaim. But as video games evolve and new genres become popular, are RPGs becoming smaller in scope?
We live in an age where online compatibility and multiplayer functionality is an important aspect to a game. In fact, the FPS genre places less emphasis on the campaign modes and a lot more onto the multiplayer functions because that is what is going to bring the playerbase back again and again. RPGs are a different sort, what keeps the intrigue and interest is usually the vastness of the world, and all the assorted activities and quests that exist in said world.
Since RPGs bring people in based on the scope of their respective universes, it would be an unwise move for developers to make them smaller in design. In fact I would argue that while many RPGs are growing bigger, the main quests are getting smaller. This in many ways is not the fault of the developer but a side effect of the market. As gamers, we we want more to do, built into the game from the start, more secrets, more exploration and more reward. No matter how long the main quest of an RPG is, it will eventually become dwarfed by the sheer amount of side quests that are inevitably going to exist.
A good solution to this problem could be having multiple main quests in most, if not all games from the RPG genre. Take Skyrim for example. The Elder Scrolls series is famous for the sheer amount to accomplish and to do in the game, and Skyrim is no exception. Whether you are hunting down Alduin the World-Eater, in order to save the universe or are battling in the Civil War that has divided the land, or even are fighting off the Silver Hand who are hunting down the Companions, there are multiple large scale quests to complete.
Another solution to this would be the release of continued expansions that provide additional quests and greater rewards. For the longest time, the video game industry has been doing this, in the form of DLC. Both singleplayer and multiplayer games alike have been blessed with consistent DLC packs to keep the player entertained and engaged with new content. But in todays day and age with everything being online compatible, it is now easier than ever for new content to be delivered. Looking at two of the most popular RPG type games out there, Elder Scrolls Online and World of Warcraft, they both release updates and expansions quite consistently and so keep the playerbase entertained with new and updated quests and enemies.
But here is the thing. The larger the world, and the more that is added, the less meaningful and deep the interactions with the majority of characters becomes. This goes for RPGs that are created large, such as the Witcher 3 and Skyrim and those that are designed to be expanded upon constantly like WoW. RPGs are only going to get bigger, because we, as gamers want them to be bigger. But that always comes at a cost.