Ultimately: It’s a matter of opinion.
I don’t think there’s any arguing this point. It’s also important to point out that a good game isn’t necessarily a successful game, and vice versa.
However, German board Game designer Wolfgang Kramer points out these criteria which must be considered when designing a game:
A new must be new, although this can simply be a new arrangement of old characteristics.
“The more a game makes its players want to play again, the better the game.” The same game played twice should never be the same.
Repetition in gaming results in a bored player.
There should be an equal chance of winning or losing, and in the case of multiplayer games, each player should have equal chances.
There should be no way for any player to determine the winner before the end of the game! (Obviously, this article was originally written in relation to board games, but can be applied to electronic gaming. This seems far less likely in single player digital games, but still applies.)
Every player should be involved in the game until it is nearly over.
“Nothing kills players’ interest as easily as long periods of inactivity while they wait”.
The player must have a certain amount of control over the progression of the game. This is related to the choices the play makes.
“The title, theme, format, and graphics of a game must give a unified impression.” This is think is vital.
The value of a game is judged on its visual and functional quality.
Certain types of players expect certain things from the games they play, so if a goal is supposed to be reached through strategy, the player cannot arrive at that goal by luck.
The amount of tension should vary.
“It is an advantage for a game to start quickly and be easy to learn, and the clearer and simpler the rules, the better.”
A short game should be simple and employ a short list of rules, whereas larger games are allowed to be more complex.
A good game will stay with us all our lives.
A good game makes us long to play it again.