Tell Us: How Long Is A Game Of String?

By Richard Cobbett on July 21st, 2011 at 5:00 pm.

Ah, Homefront. About 38% of Homefront, if memory serves. Probably should have added a spoiler warning...

A few years ago, games were mocked for ‘only’ being ten hours long. Now, increasingly developers aren’t simply coming in under that on a regular basis, but potentially aiming even shorter – as seen in this Develop 2011 session written up by Gamespot the other day. Some are arguing the audience doesn’t have the patience to last for ten hours with a game.

So how long should games actually be? How much do you insist on getting for your money?

We’ve got a weird split at the moment, where games that cost £35 or more can be finished in a single play, while 59p in the Apple App Store (other App Stores are available, but they suck) can while away hours, days, weeks or years. And that’s not counting MMOs, free-to-play games, or whatever interactive pyramid scheme dressed up in pretty graphics is taking Facebook by storm this second. For this though, I’m thinking of regular, commercial games, of the kind you might download from Steam or buy in an old-fashioned gaming shoppes.

It’s not an easy question, not least because every genre comes with its own expectations. An all-out action game might be deemed acceptable at eight hours, while there’s armed revolt (or at least, dice rolling to symbolise armed revolt) if an RPG comes in at just 15. And I don’t think there’s a specific number that applies to every game, for all people. One of my least favourite arguments is taking the cost of a game, dividing it by the number of hours, and comparing it to the price of a cinema ticket or a coffee or similar. The experiences are too different, not least because the film you’d have watched at the cinema has been edited down so that you don’t have to watch Batman trudging around Arkham Asylum for two hours looking for a giant green question mark or whatever. Two hours of a film is a complete, coherent experience… at least, ideally. Two hours of a game is usually much less directly satisfying – there’ll be awesome high points, yes, but likely many more forgettable moments, especially given the amount of repetition not simply accepted in, but directly built into the average game’s core mechanics.

When games were huge of course, there were many, many more of those. Mazes thrown in to artificially lengthen areas. Puzzles that didn’t give a damn if you were stuck waving a mouse cursor over every pixel for the best part of a week. Role-playing games utterly reliant on grind, or which abused the ability to use simple tile-sets to make dungeons so big, it’s a wonder the planet underneath them had enough space to fit them in. There’s definitely something to be said for focus, and for knowing you’ll be able to sit down with a new game and actually finish it.

At the same time though, £35 is a lot of money… Hmm. Tricky…

EXCITING VOX-POP QUESTION TIME!

Ignoring the obvious answer that a game should be ‘as long as it needs to be’, what kind of minimum length do you currently expect for your money? At the same time, how long is too long? Are there any games out there that you’ve been meaning to play, but ultimately avoided because you knew they’d be too much of a time-sink, no matter their cost? Go!

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219 Comments »

  1. Hatsworth says:

    I can’t give you a number, but quality definitely trumps quantity for me now. I have too many games to play already. Gone are the days of loving jrpgs as a kid. The act of having unlockable difficulty settings just to “add replay value” is something I loathe. Why make me play through an (in my eyes) inferior version of the game before I can play the good one? Pretty disrespectful of their customers’ time imo, and utterly pointless. Most recently I encountered this in Trine. Should have downloaded a savegame.
    Multiplayer games on the other hand I generally tend to take pretty seriously or not at all, hence they need to be good enough and have a viable competitive scene to support hundreds of hours.
    ITG(In the Groove) has also become a timesink for me due to its insane skill ceiling, limitless content and its positive side-effect of making me slightly less morbidly out of shape.

  2. Kamos says:

    I’ll pay a few bucks for a crazy experimental indie game that only lasts an hour or so. And even if it ultimately sucks, I won’t feel cheated. I’ll tell my friends “yeah, I played it, it had some good ideas but kinda sucked.” It’s worth it because I don’t have to sell a kidney to try it.

    Now, if I pay 50 bucks, it damn better last forever. Yes, I mean it, FOREVER. I don’t throw away my board games after X hours and I don’t feel video games should be disposable either. If a game becomes unusable after X hours, it is either not a very good game or not a game at all. And by games lasting forever, I don’t mean grinding levels, repetitive gameplay type of forever. I mean game mechanics that I’ll be coming back to for years to come. Not quick time events, not an immersive scripted story, not the eye candy crap that is so easy to mistake for the game part of the fucking GAME.

    Multiplayer mode (specially co-op) is possibly the cheapest to build non-disposable gameplay a dev can conjure. Multiplayer only games deserve absolutely no slack. They are already taking the easy route. I felt ripped off paying full price for Left 4 Dead. And before someone says, ‘herp derp did you honestly not get your money’s worth of fun?’, no, I didn’t. I should still be playing it, I *would* still be playing it if Valve hadn’t managed to make my friends give up on it and buy – the irony – Left 4 Dead 2.

    So yeah, forever. Unless my harddrive catches on fire.

    EDIT: the internet did some crazy stuff to my post. Thus, I edit it.

  3. _serenity says:

    At least 25h for a RPG, 15 for shooters/action. And it needs to have a good story or I’m not buying it. The only too long game is a boring game :/

  4. Gabbo says:

    I don’t care how long a game is, so long as the game mechanics remain fun and keep me involved in the story. Even the worst story can be entertaining if the gameplay it’s attached to is fun. Preferably a game should be able to muster around 12-15 on the low end.
    There are exceptions to this going both ways: games whose mechanics don’t hold up long enough to finish the narrative on one side, and games that have short narratives and leave you wanting more game when its done on the other.

  5. tikey says:

    I never thought about it but I’d say a each hour a game entertains me is worth one working hour.
    That’d put it around 5 U$S an hour. So I’m mostly getting my money’s worth by only buying during sales.
    (DX:HR is going to be the exception, I’m probably going to preorder it)

  6. Inglourious Badger says:

    weeeeeeell, that’s a good question isn’t it.

    What’s an ideal length? Like you say it’s a meaningless question. If you’re enjoying yourself you want it to last forever, if you’re losing patience it needs to wrap things up. I would say Amnesia had a perfect length for that game, I’d got over the fear (enough to see ‘behind the masks’ anyway) and was satisfied the game had explored enough of the no-weapons mechanic that I was ready for it to end when it did, even though in hindsight it’s a lot shorter than most games. Plus it was cheaper to start with. The right price for the right length. If Deus Ex had ended after 8 hours? I’d be livid!

    The thing is there is a point where you feel short changed. There’s nothing worse than getting really into a game, reaching that sort of peak enjoyment that in my experience of FPSs and RPGs usually comes 10 or so hours into the game and then it be taken away from you. It’s a horrible feeling that removes alot of whatever enjoyment you had whilst it lasted. If a games going to be that short it needs to be cheaper and I need to be forwarned otherwise I’m going to be disappointed. Anything over 15 hours nowadays and I’m satisfied, but under that threshold it often jars.

    Games like Portal and Gravity Bone are hailed as masterpieces but imagine the reviews if you they cost £35? They’d have been 70-80% “it’s good but not THAT good” the conclusions would read. Available for free(ish) you’re not expecting anything so can enjoy those precious few hours for what they are. I’m not saying all short games need to be free, but there’s a sliding scale of price to length that needs to be followed. If you get your multiplayer FPS fix from Battlefield then CODBLOPs would be
    about £6.50 on this scale, methinks, and until it’s that cheap I’m not going to pick it up.

    A couple of games that have come out recently I’ve been putting off until they’re cheaper, Bulletstorm being the first one that springs to mind, purely because it sounds too short. I was keeping my fingers crossed it would be Steam saled, but I guess I’ll have to wait a bit longer to play what sounds like an excellent, fun, but too short game.

  7. Brian Rubin says:

    I guess it depends on the quality of the story/gameplay/presentation. If I pay $50 for a ten hour game that’s freaking amazing, I won’t mind so much. However, if I pay $50 for a ten hour game that’s repetitive and doesn’t have much depth, for example, I’ll be a bit upset. I guess it’s not just length but the quality of the game within as well.

  8. Inglourious Badger says:

    .

  9. golden_worm says:

    All games should be twice their length from the mid point, unless it’s a Free 2 Play game, which should last until just after you decide to put down real money, and then stop abruptly to make you think about what a silly boy you’ve just been.

  10. Inglourious Badger says:

    .

  11. Myros says:

    I think something like borderlands got it about right. Decent length with built in replay value.

  12. Daryl says:

    I’m less concerned about the length of a game and more concerned about whether or not I will ever want to play the game again. That is a major problem. So few games are worth going back and playing through again. Off the top of my head I can only think of a couple of games that have come out within the last 5 years that I think I’ll pick up 10-15 years down the road.

    Take a game like Super Metroid. I can beat it in about 5-6 hours, but it’s so good that I don’t care how short it is. I can beat Mega Man X in about 45 minutes. Again, classic game so I don’t care. I enjoy it every time (I realize these aren’t PC games but I’m just using them as examples). Compare that to a game like Fallout 3 that I spent about 40 hours on, but towards the end it was boring because I was so powerful that nothing could threaten me. I don’t think I will ever play that game again. Could I spend another 40 hours on it? Probably. But it has no replay value to me, so I don’t want to play it again. And that is on the “very long game” side of the spectrum these days . A lot of these 6-10 hours games that I’ve played give me little incentive to ever play them again.

    And also when you throw multiplayer games that I’ve played over the years into the mix, like UT2004, CS:S and WoW it makes it even harder to put that money down. I can get a near-endless amount of replayability (sometimes hundreds of hours). So for me, it’s more about whether or not I feel like I’m going to get value out of a game. I feel so jaded because I can’t pick up the big titles expecting a good game anymore. I won’t buy a full-price game unless it has the word “Valve” somewhere on the box.

  13. propjoe says:

    I also make the deliniation between types of games. From story-heavy, linear games, I expect about 10 hours. For open-world games, at least 30. For other games, anything goes. I picked up Terraria in the Steam sale and have already out 25 hours into it, and I’m completely hooked. Others (someone mentioned VVVVVV, a perfect example) can satisfy completely in much less time.

  14. Stephen Roberts says:

    I abandoned EVE Online for the third time in as many attempts at playing it because I simply do not possess the free time in my life that the game requires monthly cost requires.

  15. Navagon says:

    I expect at least 8hrs from any full price title. Although it would have to be one hell of a well crafted 8 hours to justify the outlay. Of course that’s not to say that a more average gaming experience should be a over-long. Nobody wants to plod through artificially bloated mediocrity.

    That said, I very, very rarely buy games on release these days and thanks to the internet I don’t think that I’ve spent £35 on even a special edition in a long time.

  16. metalangel says:

    It really is a piece of string. I’ve played through the notoriously short campaigns of stuff like CoD and Homefront several times over, as they’re enough fun in places you want to go back and see certain bits again (like the AC-130 level or the Golden Gate Bridge).

    On the other hand, I’ve spent 150 hours on Fallout 3, and at least 50 or so on Skies of Arcadia and really became invested in the whole thing as a result.

    On the flipside, I put of playing Skies of Arcadia for eight years because I KNEW I’d have to be prepared to invest a lot of time into it, and wanted to ensure I could devote that time.

    Likewise, I love stuff like Transport Tycoon (and OpenTTD) but I then dread stuff like when I’ve got tons of money and have to painstakingly lay long routes and plant lots of signals and also sit around waiting for the new vehicles I know are coming to frigging be invented already (the vehicle packs manage to offset this somewhat).

    So, I’m fickle. I’m put off buying some games because I know they’ll be short, but other times it doesn’t matter to me, especially if the price is right. Other times, I hate stuff for their padding.

  17. gwathdring says:

    I guess one of my biggest issues when it comes to price is replay value. Sure I might really love playing the game, but if I play it once and then feel like the experience is over … I’m just not sure I can justify even eight hours of temporary satisfaction for $60. I don’t like going to theaters any more for the same reason. I don’t want to pay $10 to see a movie for 2 hours when I might not even like it when I could instead rent three movies for the same price and then buy one movie for $10 to $20 if I enjoy it and watch it numerous times over the years, sharing with friends and so forth.

    I don’t think I will buy another video game at $60. Ever. When something comes along to change my mind, I’ll eat my hat. For $60 I could by two discounted expansions to Arkham Horror, or a lightly used but perfectly functional copy of Descent. For $60 I could hop on a train to go visit my out-of-state girlfriend while we’re home from college. There are a lot of things I can do with my money that are simply better investments–while I dearly love video games, I’ve played enough one-time games and own enough replayable games that I simply cannot justify $60 purchases unless the game stands out like the sun in the sky. Portal 2 stands out less than that, but stands out all the same (perhaps Vega or Betelgeuse). Because I’m going to play co-op with one of my close friends, It’s a social affair, not anonymous multi-player or lonely single player. This makes it worth more than it would be otherwise to me. I didn’t need more single player Portal; as I expected from reviews I ultimately enjoyed the writing, voicework and visuals but was too disappointed by the puzzles, pacing and story flow to find the experience worth the money I paid. But there’s co-op left. I can now play mods with more interesting puzzles than even the nastier community maps for Portal 1. I’m looking forward to the Summer DLC whenever that gets out. I project being satisfied with the sale price I paid for the game of about $24.

    Conversely, while less visceral and immediately satisfying, I’ve gotten more entertainment value out of Spacechem and Frozen Synapse neither of which I am far into at all. The former I feel bad for having bought at sale price and the latter I am happy to have bought at full price (about what I paid for Portal 2, really). I bought two copies of Minecraft at beta price, because I wanted my friend to have one and I wanted to put more money into that game. I’ve gotten so much joy out of it, and it’s different from anything else I’ve played.

    I really want to love big budget games. The first and last game I ever pre-ordered was Mass Effect 2. There are big budget games I would have been willing to pay something closer to full price after I plucked them out of the digital or retail bargain bin and loved them to pieces… Arkham Asylum comes to mind. But as with films I simply can’t justify spending money I don’t have to on experiences I can’t trust to enjoy when there are many more things I can buy and do that I can trust. And other than my mistaken judgment with Mass Effect 2 which came immediately after I finally played and finished Mass Effect 1, no game has made me feel $60 excited with any sort of certainty looking forward, and only one or two have looking back.

    I respect that games are expensive to make. And as such I respect that to an extent the high prices relative to things I enjoy as much or more (books, movies, camping trips, CDs) cannot be helped. But I’ve had a lot of fun, and will continue to have a lot of fun with the games I already own. Furthermore, as the industry ages, it’s the less expensive games that I’m enjoying the most thanks to the innovation and variety found in the indie scene. Both due to market tradition and consumer habits, big budget games dump a lot of their budget into things I don’t care about–graphical power, obtuse marketing, CGI cutscenes. These are things that have never changed my opinions on the game or brought games to my attention that would have otherwise passed me by. With much of the games price point decided by factors irrelevant to my enjoyment of the game, I’m beginning to realize I’ve been paying too much for too little. I hope something in the industry changes so that I can enjoy more games in the future without spending what I feel is too much. Either way, game length has never really been a deciding factor.

  18. gwathdring says:

    Huh … I wrote a long response, and it showed up in the comment ticker but not on the page …

  19. Sinnorfin says:

    Games should not concern themself about gametime.. Its the content and ‘play’ that matters..
    Lets take DoomII, it’s really not that long..but it does worth a lot more..and thats what counts..
    Lets take any of the best of classic games..
    As far as it’s about averaging out game length in certain hours, its getting further away from being a game and towards being a movie where you do some arm exercise meanwhile.

  20. Kid_A says:

    A singleplayer game should be precisely as long as it takes to tell its story.
    A multiplayer game should be something I can drop in for 10 minutes or 2 hours of, again and again. And it shouldn’t have its servers shut down 2 months after the next yearly update. *cough* EA *cough*

  21. Inglourious Badger says:

    .

  22. Valvarexart says:

    As long as it isn’t tedious is my answer! I do appreciate long games, but not time-fillers. 10 hours is fine if it is intense, but if it’s still intense, I’d rather have 50. The Witcher 2 did it pretty well except for the ending.

  23. Tams80 says:

    Length + perceived quality = perceived value for money.

    There may well be other factors and sub-factors, but this is what I believe it boils down to.
    Below is the rather obvious, but the Internet often requires the obvious to be stated:
    Too long + bad quality = very bad value for money (worst, as more of a player’s time is considered ‘wasted’).
    Too short + bad quality = very bad value for money.
    Too long + good quality = bad value for money.
    Too short + good quality = bad value for money.
    Suitable length (for genre) + bad quality = bad value for money.

    Suitable length + good quality = good value for money.

    This is oversimplified and each factor can vary to different degrees. A suitable length varies from player to player, as does how good the quality of a game is (which is possibly a more influential factor and is also composed of various components). This subjectivity is what of course causes great problems for all objective lines of enquiry. One factor can also make up for the lack or excess of another. For example a long/short game (for its genre) can be perceived as good, if the quality of the game is very good. If a somewhat poor quality game is a suitable length, then it may still perceived as good (NB there seems to be less leeway this way around and a poor short game is probably going to perceived as better than a long poor game).

    There will of course be exceptions. A really good quality game may not be considered too long, even if it is long for its genre, though it could be argued that this is just the quality of the game making up for it being ‘too long’.

    I could add more, but to be frank (I am NOT Frank) I can’t be bothered, though not finishing does irk me.

  24. luminosity says:

    I don’t mind games being short, 2, 3 hours is fine. However if it’s that short, it needs to be reflected in a cheaper price. Asking a full $50 for a 5 hour game is ridiculous.

  25. Iskariot says:

    Personally I never pay a dime for any SP game that offers less than 8 hours entertainment. But even games between 8 and 12 hours I only buy for bargain prices of 10 bucks or less. I am willing to pay retail prices for a game that offers a minimum of 12 hours solid SP entertainment.

  26. Strontium Mike says:

    Hi, as been said it’s subjective if you’re into a game and it’s really good then it can be 200 hours and still too short. If the game is rubbish or you hate it, it can be 2 hours long and still be too long. I played Far Cry and hated it, by the time I rescued the journalist and got on the helicopter and flew into the sunset I was really glad it was over. Only it wasn’t I wasn’t even a third of the way into the game, that was quickly uninstalled and donated to charity, Far Cry 2 on the other hand I’ve played 3 times on the pc and once on the 360 I wish they had done some single player dlc or an expansion pack I really love that game.

    What really gets my goat though is not the length of the game but the features, I’m an unsocial git and only play single player, if I pick up a £60 game with 6-8 hours single player fine. But when I find out that most of the weapons, vehicles or abilities in the game are multi player only that’s like rubbing salt into the wound. Also games that only have checkpoint saving, it’s so blatantly obvious to stretch a game out, if you could save where you liked how much shorter would these games be?

  27. kud13 says:

    game should give me at least 20 hours. I game very sporadically, and it takes me a while to get through each game (esp since I like exploration, and mostly play games that have some kind of exploration aspect to them)

    Deus Ex clocks in around 35 hours pure gametime, if you explore everything. Add another 5-10 due to trial and error trying diffferent stuff, and that’s how long a game should be.

  28. Ateius says:

    I find it depends mostly on genre. I’m fine with a shooter being roughly 10 hours (8 is roughly!) because I can only shoot so many mans before I get tired of shooting mans. An RPG I expect 30+ hours from to explore the story, setting and characters, and also so I can become a god amongst men seated upon my money-throne. A large open-world sandbox game I expect to have enough content to keep me entertained for 100+ hours.

    How much of those given playtimes I will actually play depends on how well the game is made, in terms of polish (I’m not having fun if I’m battling too many bugs), mechanics (controls, any sort of inventory/level system, etc) and setting (all those non-mechanical aspects of a game: plot, lore, characters, aesthetics, etc etc).

  29. malkav11 says:

    A game that I can finish in a few evenings play is fine by me – actively preferable, in fact, assuming this doesn’t truncate things overmuch. However, I’m not going to pay $60 for said game. $15 seems more reasonable. Perhaps $20 or $30 if the concept and gameplay particularly appeal.

  30. jstar says:

    To be honest it depends how good the game is. Games like Modern Warfare etc I can’t even bring myself to finish at their current length of 5,6,7 or however many hours long they are. I find the wack a mole enemies popping up everywhere unbelievably boring. Multiplayer though I will play for 100s of hours.

    If the story is intriguing I will want to keep playing, and if the gameplay requires thought I want to keep playing. These wam bam full of action explosions everywhere boom boom games get boring very quickly. For me they show a total lack of understanding of what makes playing a game exciting.

  31. harvb says:

    I suppose the money aspect of it is important, but I tend not to think about it unless I feel ripped off. If I buy a sandbox game like Dungeons of Dredmor then I expect shed loads of play time even though it’s cheap. It feels cheap, in its own way, and I have no problem paying that. Same with Torchlight, although it cost a few quid more and had higher production value.

    Dragon Age was a humphin’ great game for it’s price tag and I had no problem paying that for for it either. It felt worth it to me. I never did get around to finishing it, instead preferrring to just blat about with different characters for fun. I never set out to finish it and I never once felt cheated.

    Now look at Homefront. Oh my god was that short. And I don’t think it ever really felt complete, not in the same way as, say, the COD/Modern Warfare games which it clearly apes. That, to me, was way, WAY too short.

    So I don’t think you can put a dollar value on play length, but there should be meaty content there. Paying £30 for a game I suppose I’d want a good 20+ hours of single player plus multiplayer, if we’re talking top-ranked well-advertised built-up games. Or maybe longer single player if there’s no multiplayer. I’ll pay less for less.

    And we demand more co-op damn you (but that’s an article for another time, I fear).

  32. mickygor says:

    I don’t particularly care how long the game is. What matters is whether I can just pick up and play, little bits at a time, and whether I’ll enjoy it. I hate open world games, so I never did get enamoured with the whole 1000000+ hours thing people obsess over these days. I also think that the entertainment’s worth the money, regardless of how long it is. If nothing else, I spend my money as a mark of appreciation to the developers.

  33. Milky1985 says:

    For me a game should be about £1 an hour, so a £40 game should last me 40 hours ( this includes multiplayer etc), if the game is exceptional and a lot of fun then 20 hours is enough.

    This is an average for a months worth so some games get a free ride if a FF game comes out (as my £40 FF13 purchase has so far lasted me 70 hours, and its a fun game so its VERY good value for money)

  34. wellsaidted says:

    Length doesn’t really factor into my purchasing decisions. Cliche ahoy, but it really is quality or quantity. Applying some arbitrary “minimum length” is baffling to me. Obviously this kind of mentality gives developers scope to create games of any length, but as long as the story or mechanics follow a satisfying arc which concludes well, I’m happy. Better to have a few hours of gold than 200+ hours of killing respawning kobolds and assorted tomfoolery.

    Also, and quite apart from that, why on Earth include: “(other App Stores are available, but they suck).” It’s not that I necessarily disagree with the sentiment (well, I do, but that’s not the point), but that it’s a completely random, immovable and isolating thing to say in the middle of an otherwise lovely piece. And I’m over-thinking this clearly. Bye!

  35. itsallcrap says:

    I don’t mind games being shorter, so long as they don’t charge as much.

    About £1 per hour seems good.

  36. bildo says:

    simple answer to a simple question. A game should be at least 15-20 hours long to justify spending $60-$50 dollars on it.

  37. Chorltonwheelie says:

    I got Homefront as part of the THQ pack in the recent Steam sale. After I’d finished the excellent Metro 2033 then again as Ranger I thought I’d fire Homefront up and see if it was as bad as the reviews suggested.

    Four and a half hours later I’m sat looking at the end credits that seemed to go on longer the game itself. If I had paid full price for it I’d have ran to THQ’s offices and demanded a grovelling apology with a full refund.
    How on earth did they think they could get away with it? Well, we all know they didn’t but the episode shows us they would if they could such is their contempt for us. A four hour campaign is the act of a company of swine. We should all point at them and boo.

  38. Kablooie says:

    I think we should continue to mock and attack expensive games less then five hours in length, especially FPS. Otherwise they keep shaving away more and more, or moving more and more resources to DLC they want extra money for. Also remind them that cutscenes are not replacements for depth and complexity.

  39. deu5 says:

    I take Bethesda RPG’s as prime examples of ideal game length… If I complete my first playthrough in under 30 hours, I’ve rushed it.

  40. wodin says:

    Thing is when I see a review and it states the SP game lasts less than 10 hours I think to myself what a rip and don’t buy it…yet 95% of games I’ve owned I’ve never finished because I became bored….I always ahve great expectations I think when reading about a gameb before purchase and many do blow me away for a few hours but eventually I get bored and move on…

    So maybe between 8 and 12 hours is a fair amount of time…

    Above I am mainly talking about SP FPS and RPG’s. When it comes to wargames like Combat Mission or flight sims like Over Flanders Field Phase 3 I’ve put in hundreds of hours and always go back for more…

  41. MadMatty says:

    easy- the better the game, the longer i´d wish it last.

    Didn´t mind Cargo! Quest for Gravity´s 8 hour game, but if theyd pushed it up to 20+ i think it´d be almost in the same leage as Beayong Good and Evil.

    Some games are better suited for longevity tho, like the old Elite games-

    i thiink i usually prefer about 20 hours, but id rather have a good 8 hour one, than a long-winded turdy one.

  42. Onaka says:

    I base my time requirements on price, an hour of entertainment can at most cost 2 euros. So a 50 euro game needs to entertain me for at least 25 hours for me to even consider buying it.

  43. Gvaz says:

    I want fucking 50 hours in a game unless the game can’t satiate itself for 50 hours in terms of it being fun and overstaying its welcome.

    I paid $45 for the witcher 2 and played it for 44 hours and could see myself playing it for double or three times that.

    I paid $5 for JC2 and could get easily ten times that number in fun.

    I paid $35 for Bioshock 2 and just felt ripped off, though that was more of “overstaying its welcome because it’s not System Shock 4″

  44. bill says:

    I’m too late here, so no-one will read this. But:

    Six hours

    Now that i’m older, i tend to find 6 hours is the sweet spot for most games. It’s enough time for you to learn the mechanics, get settled into the game, but it’s not long enough for there to be too much repetition and padding, or for boredom to set in. I’d go down to four, and up to eight or ten at a push.

    Clearly some games (multiplayer, 4x, etc… ) are limitless. But for story based games I think 6 hours is the sweet spot. (and I don’t think there needs to be this artificial boundary between RPGs and Action games. A 6 hour RPG would be fine. Better even.

    Most games are too long

    I can’t say that i’ve ever played a game and thought “Wait! That game was too short! I was ripped off!”. Which is strange, as it seems to be a very common complaint on the internet. But those people are clearly strange.
    In all my years of playing games, I have dozens that I haven’t finished. I have zero that I felt ripped off due to shortness.

    Of course, back when I was a student there were a lot less games, and I had enough free time to work through and 80 hour game in 3 days…. but there still tended to be way too much padding.

    Repetitiveness vs freedom vs scripting vs story

    As you mentioned, an inherent part of many games is repetition – games are made of learning the rules of how things interact and learning to optimise your results for those rules. But with the recent trend towards heavily scripted cinematic games, i think that the length is growing closer to that of movies as they have less repetition.

    Of course, there is repetition and repetitiveness. Games are based on repetition (at least non-cinematic ones), but repetitiveness is never good imho. It’s a difficult balance to strike, between giving the player enough freedom and repetition to learn the rules and excel under them, and making them grind through repetitive filler content.
    Freedom is an important element in that – freedom is often based on repeated rules, but the more freedom and flexibility you have, and the more tools at your disposal, the less the repetitive it feels.
    (eg: deus ex is at it’s core pretty repetitive, but it never feels like it as you feel you have lots of flexibility in your approach. Brothers in arms has the same core gameplay, but feels repetitive as you have no freedom of approach).

    There are very few games that wouldn’t benefit from a good editor. But that doesn’t mean they should all be reduced to fully scripted short interactive movies, just that I don’t need to fight my way through 500 guards to get to the crystal – 5 guards with more depth of combat/ai/options would be more interesting.

  45. bill says:

    where did my long and amazing post go? Down the cracks?