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On every first-person-shooter game I've played I've noticed that the 'automatically reload when empty' game mechanic is always used:

enter image description here

I've always found it annoying, and so do many others:

and many more results.

Is there a particular reason why this specific game mechanic is extremely common in first-person-shooter games?

A couple of possible reasons why:

  • Makes it easy for new players
  • Using the same mechanics as other games makes it easier to learn your way around the game
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ For the same reason that "not having to press space to breathe and not suffocate" is a game mechanic so commonly used. It's annoying to have to reload manually, the pause of reloading handles the game pacing, and it doesn't add anything to the experience of actually playing strategically. \$\endgroup\$ – Patrick Hughes Oct 4 '15 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PatrickHughes It may be annoying to reload manually, but as shown in my question it's also annoying for the game to reload automatically for you. It'd be good for game developers to include a setting to turn it off, but however it could also introduce an imbalance as well. \$\endgroup\$ – AStopher Oct 4 '15 at 19:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is just a comment section, I didn't do the edit; this is an opinion question and those are my very specific opinions on why it is a very common mechanic. An observation to consider, but most certainly not worth being a full answer =) \$\endgroup\$ – Patrick Hughes Oct 4 '15 at 20:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PatrickHughes It's fine, I guess that Gamedev.SE has different rules on what edits are allowed as opposed to SO (where I'm pretty active) :-). I guess that it can work both in and against you in different situations. \$\endgroup\$ – AStopher Oct 4 '15 at 20:04

This type of dumbing-down happens in most genres of games. It's the same reason that most packaged foods are bland: because they are trying to find the middle ground that appeals to the widest audience. Anytime you make something appeal to the average, you end up with something average.

Most FPS games are not made for technical accuracy. Most are made to be mindless shootem-ups, made for mass consumption. While some players may not like the auto-reload, they are a minority and when it comes down to dollars and cents with a target demographic of probably 12 to 18 years old, who is the developer going to cater to? The abundant, trigger-happy gamers who get their kicks from simply blowing stuff up or the hard-core few who get their thrills from perfecting advanced tactics? It's a very different experience. Most gamers don't like having to think too much.

Simplifying the mechanics also helps to level the field between new and advanced players, which makes it more inviting to new players. This is especially true for tournament style FPS games.

If you want more realistic mechanics, then don't play games like CoD. Try games that have a lot more depth instead, like Rainbow Six.


Well, I suppose, in most cases, it doesn't hinder the player to have an automatic reload. In the gif you've provided, the player simply runs forward, interrupting the reload. Not having automatic reloads would just require the player to notice they are out of ammo. It would be a very small game design element.

  • \$\begingroup\$ As proven by my search in my question, the automatic reload does hinder the player somewhat. Not saying this answer is incorrect, it'll be better if there was an answer which better explained the mechanic. \$\endgroup\$ – AStopher Oct 4 '15 at 20:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @bob The only hindrance of an automatic reload that I can see is unwillingly announcing to your opponent that you are out of ammo, only really coming in to play in niche situations between experienced players. Seems they catered to the common situation between common players. \$\endgroup\$ – Willy Goat Oct 4 '15 at 20:19

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