While playing Blur the other day with a friend, we got to wondering what stats and behaviors the game tweaks to adjust difficulty. Then we thought, "Wouldn't it be great if games allowed players to mix and match the stats how we please?"
For example, the settings which affect difficulty in Blur (regardless of which the developers coded into the Easy, Medium and Hard options) include vehicle speed, vehicle durability, collision damage, powerup strength, powerup frequency, mod availability, and number of laps.
Perhaps I'm mistaken, but it seems a fairly simple system of checkboxes and sliders (ala Oblivion's difficulty slider) would enable players to tailor gameplay to exactly their preferences.
Some players would turn off collision damage. Some would create endurance races with many laps or quick one-lap competitions. Others might make powerups available but scarce.
What's wrong with this scenario? I'm basically describing a detailed cheat mode... the sort that was extremely popular in Goldeneye 64. Such options do not eliminate appreciation for the developers careful balancing. They simply add further ways to play the game at very little developer expense.
Almost any style of game can benefit from such options which exponentially expand gameplay customization. This feature would simultaneously open the game up to more playstyles (potential consumers) and encourage players to keep their games for replay (discouraging trade-ins).
It's a no-brainer.