A lot of hardcore gamers will tell you that “graphics don’t matter,” and that the gameplay is the most important part of a game, which is true, to some extent. But Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli feels differently, saying that people who feel that way about games should” play Crysis and tell me they don’t matter.”
In an interview with X360 magazine, Yerli said that he feels a game’s visuals contribute more to the experience than the actual gameplay or story, saying, “It’s always been about graphics driving gameplay,” Yerli said. “InCrysis 3 it’s the grass and the vegetation, the way the physics runs the grass interact and sways them in the wind. The better the graphics, the better the physics, the better the sound design, the better the technical assets and production values are-paired with the art direction, making things look spectacular and stylistic is 60 percent of the game.”
Personally, I disagree with Yerli; while graphics do matter to a certain extent — if they didn’t, we’d all still be playing Atari 2600 games — I still think that gameplay is and will always be substantially more important than visuals. Games are an interactive medium, and if you’re more concerned with how a game looks rather than how it plays and how the player interacts with its world, than maybe you should stop making/playing games and go make movies or paintings.
Similarly, while Crysis and its sequels are indeed very pretty games, they’re only going to look good until somebody creates a game that’s more technically advanced; once that happens, nobody’s going to care about Crysis’ graphics. Meanwhile, a game with genuinely good gameplay will still be worth playing ten or even twenty years later: they may look primitive by modern standards, but I think I’d have more fun playing through Half-Life 1, Sonic 2, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or even the original Pitfall again over playing through Crysis 1 again. I beat Crysis 1 when it originally came out, and I honestly can’t remember anything about the experience other than it looked nice (at the time.)
Yerli’s comments also ignore the rise of lo-fi indie games, which lack the fancy bump-mapping and bloom lighting of Crysis but are arguably just as successful and are rising in popularity. If graphics were genuinely as important as Yerli says they are, I doubt games like Minecraft would be as popular as they are today.