Alex Hutchinson, lead designer for Assassin's Creed III, recently told Edge that easy mode can often "ruin" games. To be clear, he isn't saying that easy mode "always" ruins games, he simply states that if it is not done correctly, it can take away from the spirit of the game, and change it into something else entirely -- often times, an inferior product.
For instance, he gives the example, "if you have a cover shooter and you switch it to easy and don't have to use cover, you kind of broke your game." The Assassin's Creed series already circumvents this issue by historically offering a standard difficulty level, but allowing players to nab optional objectives for 100% completion, like "don't take damage" or "stay undetected the entire level."
As someone who has a penchant for difficult games, I'm honestly torn on this one, as I think it should be on a case by case basis. You guys already had a very well spoken debate on this in a recent Dark Souls post, and I think both sides of the argument have their merits.
I've always said that major action games should include a Devil May Cry-esque "easy automatic" mode so that non-fans can get acclimated to the mechanics, and eventually work their way up to higher levels of difficulty. Specifically, I think that technical games should have easy modes.
But for exploration-based games like Demon's and Dark Souls, I believe that the ability to select an easier difficulty would in fact ruin the experience. At the end of the day, both of those games are not particularly hard.
Playing them on a lower difficulty would cheapen the experience, as the Souls series is made on forcing you to always be on your toes, expecting danger at every turn. Allowing players to instantly take that aspect out with an easy mode option would take away the sense of accomplishment you get from conquering a tricky portion of the game for the first time: and you can never get that back.
To some degree, I think that applies for Assassin's Creed, but I never thought the series was honestly all that hard anyway.
What do you think? "Yay" or "nay" for easy modes, as a general rule?
Easy mode often ruins games [Edge]