Dozens of movies with director’s commentary come out every year. It’s almost shocking to see a deluxe version of a movie that doesn’t have commentary with it. But video games have so little developer commentary in comparison. According to Wikipedia, which is admittedly not the most reliable source, only 26 games have ever been made with audio developer commentary. It’s certainly missing a few games from the list, but even if it has less than half, that’s an insanely small number of games.
Video games probably have even more to talk about than movies. Games are usually much longer and have to consider everything the player can do, not just what’s on screen. The issue is certainly not a lack of content to talk about in commentaries. If anything, making a commentary track for an entire game could be too daunting and too large a task. Even if not every game has commentary, seeing more than few a year would be an improvement.
In the past five years, there have only been six games with audio developer commentary on that list. It’s not quite that bad, since among these titles are Day of the Tentacle Remastered and Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong, as well as Mark of the Ninja in text form. However, that is still very few games, and so few developers are putting commentary into their games.
Developer commentary gives an insight into the game like nothing else does. It shows the player how the creation of their experience was formed. Pieces of the game you would never think about often have a specific and intentional purpose, and commentary lets everyone see that. It gives you a new appreciation for games you’ve played before. Whether you want to be a game designer or just love learning about it, developer commentary gives a fascinating insight into the minds of the developers and the background of the game’s creation.
At the very least, AAA studios should be providing commentary for a decent number of games. A few companies are clearly in favor of more commentary in games. Six of the games on that list are by Valve, and their commentary is high quality and consistently interesting (at least for Portal and Portal 2 – those are the only two I’ve played with commentary myself). All three games thatgamecompany has developed have audio commentary; flOw, Flower, and Journey. Several remastered versions of old games recently have added commentary also. I would just like to see more of it.