RPS Asks: Why And How Often Do You Finish Games?

'The game ended an hour ago, I just haven't had the heart to tell him.'

On a recent episode (mp3) of Start The Week, a BBC Radio 4 discussion programme, poet and publisher Michae Schmidt says: “It would be nice if we didn’t read books to finish them, but if we read books to enjoy them and be in them. There’s such a joy in reading. A lot of books now are constructed so that you– they aspire to the condition of film now, and not to the condition of music any longer.”

While convalescing in front of my computer at the weekend, I found (without remembering how) this Tumblr in which someone logs every game they finish. A noble idea, but I consider how many games I could put on a list of my own. This year… maybe two?

This is, in part, because there are a lot of games which cannot be finished. Even discounting multiplayer games, I might have played a hundred hours of Football Manager this year, but there is no end in sight. It’s also not always clear where the finish line is. I finished Watch_Dogs’ storyline, but I haven’t finished all of its side quests and collectibles. Have I therefore not completed the game?

As sales fill our libraries with untouched games, there’s also an increasing amount of talk about “backlogs”. A crushing weight rests upon our left shoulder of the games we haven’t got to yet, while our right shoulder bears the weight of those games we’ve started and not yet finished. Games themselves encourage this way of thinking: achievements, ranks, worlds and features that only unlock according to your progress. The very notion of “progress” through games being a desirable thing talked about alongside, you know, “enjoyment”.

It strikes me that singleplayer games aspire to the condition of film, yet most people treat them as music. I don’t mean only that campaigns and storylines are over-reliant on cutscenes or traditional character arcs, but that more broadly these games seem to want to drive you towards a finish line. Yet most people still don’t reach it.

So:

Do you finish games? Is it a problem that you or others don’t?

Should or could singleplayer campaigns be constructed differently, in a way that might better capture our desire to “enjoy them and be in them”?

Does our future lie in The Forest-style plot-as-endgame sandbox experiences?

163 Comments

  1. BooleanBob says:

    Every game unfinished is a personal failure. This is why it is important to be very careful about which games you start. This is why it is very important never, ever to start Bit.Trip Runner.

    • Bradamantium says:

      That damn game is still sitting in my “In Progress” category on Steam after two years. Painful to see every day, a constant reminder of everything I’ll fail to accomplish before I die.

    • Viroso says:

      Do it like I do, when I can’t finish a game I write the game itself off as a failure, so it’s not on me. With Bit.Trip I thought “wow, I don’t like this game because it’s more like a music game and a paltformer, but you have to literally guess what the next move will be, so that’s poo poo”. Then I quit.

    • Gibster says:

      “Every game unfinished is a personnel failure” Then I’m loosing massively at life. There is something so wrong about that viewpoint because what about games like Kerbal Space Program, games that you can never technically finish?

      • BooleanBob says:

        Those games are obviously traps designed expressly to lower your balance of personal successes against failures. Their developers are devious misanthropes who harbour a passionate hatred of their own customers.

        • Phendron says:

          Play shouldn’t be treated like work.

          • scatterbrainless says:

            Exactly: work is imposed upon you from the outside, whilst play is elected by your own free choice, making failing at play that much more of a personal nadir.

    • JuiceKup says:

      Mmmm, I feel much better knowing how I’ve succeeded where so many have failed.

    • kalirion says:

      I started, played, and beat BIT.TRIP Runner, so there!

      Of course I didn’t try going for 100% completeness as I’m not insane.

      Also the sequel, though that is far less of an accomplishment, what with the mid-level checkpoints and all. Even 100%ing it is within reach, though it would require replaying the whole game again on Easy and Normal difficulties, and I have absolutely 0 desire in doing that just for some achievements. Seriously, why do some games not unlock lower difficulty achievements when the requirements are reached on a higher difficulty???

    • Chuckleluck says:

      Ok, be honest here. Raise your hand if you’ve completed Minecraft’s end legitimately.

    • evileeyore says:

      Depends on you definition of “finished”. Every single game I start I finish, as in I get to a place where I am done with this game, whether it be the “designer’s designated end point” or where I decide the game is no longer worth my time.

  2. zproc says:

    I don’t remember when was the last time i finished a game. I don’t remember which game it was. Maybe i never finished any game?

    • GameCat says:

      What if every game have secret prologue ending that no one knows about it, so no one really ever finished any game?

  3. Soulstrider says:

    I try to finish all games I play, I only don’t if I don’t find them fun at all (which is rare since I tend to be always pretty well informed about the games I buy) or if some stronger reason prevents it (never finished King’s Bounty despite loving it due to the fact that my pc broke and lost dozens of hours of progress) .

    Sometimes it’s a bit annoying this policy since I want to try new games but want to finish what I am playing first, this just happened recently while playing Valkyria Chronicels 3 which took 80+ hours to finish.

    Also I never have a backlog of more than 1 or 2 games, since I only buy stuff that I know I will play in a near future, currently mine is just Banner Saga, Shadowrun and the most recent Ace Attorney.

  4. Fenix says:

    I have a Backloggery.com account that I still update, so I guess that shows my opinion on the matter. If I start playing a game, I will almost always finish it. Exceptions are broken/buggy beyond help games or really, REALLY bad games.

    I personally don’t want to leave games without extracting as much fun as I can out of them, which means for some I will schedule multiple playthroughs. Which also explains why I am so behind in clearing my backlog (currently at 2010).

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I’m like that as well, but I’m currently at 2007. I have started to play The Witcher 2, so that’s a leap forward, but only temporary, since after that I intend to play some 2008 games. I also have quite a few classics over at GoG that are unplayed.

      I generally only play one game at a time (preferrably one with strong mod support) and then play that game to completion, doing absolutely everything there is to do in it, unless it’s awfully boring/tedious. I might finish a game, but I rarely feel finished with it and I don’t want to either. I like coming back to it after a while and never buy games that I’ll tire of after a few playthroughs. I have a few games with a few hundred hours put into them and lots of games that I haven’t even installed yet.

  5. Yachmenev says:

    People are doing the backlog thing wrong just. A backlog game is a game that you intend to finish, and want to finish, not every single game you bought. I have probably more then 50 unfinished games, but only 5 games I consider backlog games. I want to play through South Park: The Stick of Truth, and the latest Ace Attourney game, and a couple of more.

    But if I finish Arma II, a bunch of Daedlic Adventure and the three Kings Bounty games I’ve gotten through Humble Bundles? Don’t care at all about them. They were bought just to eventually try them.

    And I always buy 2 or 3 games each Steam sale just for the sake of participating, often smaller arcade like games. They don’t go in the backlog either.

    As for games that can’t be finished, they’re backlog games if I really really want to play them, but feel I don’t have played enough.

    Those who people who don’t care if they finish any game at all, I kinda wonder if they actually know what they like though.

    • khamul says:

      I have played all the way to the end of Risen, then given up at the final battle. Similarly Might & Magic Legacy. Reaches a point where I know what I need to do, but it is sufficiently precise and fiddly to move on that I just don’t have the energy and Oh Look! Over there! New Fun Thing!

      I don’t have time to kill. I have moments to relax in, and not many of them. I don’t really want to use them doing the same thing over and over and getting frustrated: I can do that at work.

      When a game uses a difficulty spike to make the ending powerful, it had better have enough story to carry me across it. And yeah – most of the games I’ve completed have been the ones that don’t spike in difficulty. Games with a truly powerful and compelling story can be counted on the tentacles of one hand.

      The problem a game has with a compelling story is player agency. It’s possible to write a novel that is carried by its plot, but it’s hard, and generally results in something bombastic – call of duty, if you like. Where the power in a story comes from typically is in the characters, their development arcs, and relationships. We’re social animals – we want to see these things get resolved. Put player agency in the mix, and that’s incredibly hard. How do you tell the player about their own character? How do you build a character that will relate in a plausible and powerful way to one that’s undefined when you write the story?

      In the absence of a gripping emotional context, a game is a study in mechanisms and challenge. Why not stop when that ceases to be fun?

      Also, I’ll just note that typically books and films don’t get harder to read/watch as you go on. James Joyce excepted. I wonder if the percentage of readers that started but didn’t finish is greater for Joyce than other writers…

      • Doganpc says:

        Last game I finished was Tomb Raider and it was entirely because I was hooked on the story. The combat became secondary to the fact that I had to see where this was going. That game evoked feels, it made you weak, strong, accomplished… it was pure willpower that I didn’t finish it all in one go (14hrs 71% completion). Tomb Raider felt good to play and I was itching to get off work and back into that story.

        Currently playing AC4:Black Flag and the whole AssCreed story mission is so…. bland. Now that i’ve gotten to the Black Flag part the game is coming along nicely. I may not finish the story in that one just cause it hasn’t made want to. Hell, the *spoiler* isn’t even *spoiler* yet somehow manages *spoiler*. On top of that his appearance, words and actions in the game world conflict with the storyline cutscenes I’ve seen so far. I pretty much don’t give a fuck about the main character as he’s just a tool for me to play Grand Theft Galleon with.

        • Volcanu says:

          Couldn’t agree more. I’m periodically dipping in and out of Black Flag – and it’s great fun when your sailing your galleon around, attacking ships and potshotting people with your pistols and upgrading the Jackdaw.

          But any time I feel like I ought to do a story mission it’s just such a snooze fest. Don’t even get me started on the FP modern day bits where they force you to do appallingly bland things like ride a lift and ‘sign for a package’. I mean seriously, why put that garbage in there? I have no great desire to find out how the story ends – it takes itself faaaaar too seriously and forces you to do too much of all the worst bits of the game- namely the so called ‘stealth’ bits.

      • jezcentral says:

        I gave up at the final boss of Wolfenstein: The New Order. It will sit on my hard-drive until I finish it, but I may not be bothered to do it for months.

        I wonder what metric Valve use for whether you have completed a game or not. (It’s not getting all achievements, as far as I’m aware). Single-player campaign last achievement?

    • TheMightyEthan says:

      Any game I pay money for goes into my backlog (unless I start it right away), and then comes out when I feel I’ve played it enough to be done with it. Sometimes that means I just play it until I decide I don’t like it, or until I decide it’s okay but I’ve lost interest (*cough*Child of Light*cough*). For games I like this means I’ve played it at least through to the end, or with never-ending games (like Civ V, which I have ~350 hours in) whenever I feel like I’ve played it enough. I always take a game out of my backlog once I “finish” it if it’s something with a defined ending, but sometimes I’ll keep playing after that point anyway. Hell, sometimes I’ll buy a game, put it in the backlog, then take it back out again a year and a half later when I realize I no longer have a desire to even try it.

      Games I get for free (gifts, PS+, etc) don’t go into the backlog unless I start them but then abandon them for something else while still intending to go back and finish them.

  6. Thankmar says:

    I want to finish at least games that are important in a way or another, for me or in the development of gaming. That is quite some weight sometimes. With the broad appeal now, there so many interesting choices, for which the available time is just not enough.
    Maybe thats why the Roguelikes are becoming more popular, because you just don´t have this enormous hunk of singleplayer, but instead many matches which are completed in one or another way in much shorter time.

    • kalirion says:

      Depends on the Roguelike. My successful ToME run a couple years back was probably over 50 hours long.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Adam Smith says:

    I am a completionist but very rarely play games that have a formal ending. This may explain the dark hollows around my eyes and the fact that I am becoming a dusty phantom in my early thirties.

    • Michael Fogg says:

      What, you play mostly competitive online stuff?

      • Premium User Badge

        Aerothorn says:

        No, he plays mostly sandbox or procedurally-generated-campaign games (strategy, roguelikes, etc.)

        • kalirion says:

          You can finish a procedurally generated / roguelike / roguelite game assuming it has an ending.

          In the original Rogue that meant climbing down to the lowest level of the dungeon, recovering the amulet, and climbing back up. I’ve never even been able to get close.

          I considered Rogue Legacy “beaten” when I killed the final boss in the original difficulty. NewGame\++ doesn’t count.

    • WiggumEsquilax says:

      In future decades, be sure to let us know how you finished Europa Universalis.

      • VoidedWarranty says:

        I like setting random goals to achieve regardless of the impact it would have on my country. For instance, in my last game I played as the Ming, I roleplayed an irrational, sadistic hatred for Tibet. I would go to war with them, steal their money, break their alliances, impose my religion on them, and eventually put them out of their misery by forcing them to be my vassal, integrating every other vassal I had to show them what awaited, and then finally integrating them and leaving their culture so their people would forever remember the horror.

  8. plugmonkey says:

    Do people really feel crushed by the weight of their unplayed games? Seems like really weird reaction to me.

    When I want to play a new game, I have dozens on my Steam account I get to choose from. I find that liberating. It’s great!

    ‘Crushing’ was being 12 years old and looking at my meagre selection of half a dozen games – none of them new – and knowing I was probably going to have to do something else, like go outside or some such horror.

    • Yachmenev says:

      Well, there are some people who waste A LOT of money on Steam and similiar services by buying hundreds of games and then barely play any. That weight can be uncomfortable. :)

      • plugmonkey says:

        Well, I *spend* a lot of money. I’m not sure I waste a lot of money though, as the enormous library of choice gives me great pleasure.

        On topic, of the 278 games I have listed on Steam, I have played roughly 141 (some for literally only a few minutes), and of those I’ve finished about 41. So, I’ve played roughly half the games I own, and I’ve finished around a third of the games I’ve played.

  9. djbriandamage says:

    I finish games where the story hooks me and/or the core loop doesn’t bore me.

  10. almostDead says:

    I finish hardly any games. I find, most commonly, something digital switches in my brain, during the course of a playthrough, and goes ‘what the fuck are you doing, this is crap’.

    Game endings are an issue in and of themselves. I can’t remember ever being impressed by an ending, such that getting there was worthwhile, but then, I am much more interested in gameplay than the stories games tell.

    I am, for the second time, trying to slog through a heavily modded Fallout New Vegas. I just run out of gas and enthusiasm. But, again, I can’t really get into a story, I can get into atmosphere and heart pounding combat moments or intense stakes strategic or tactical turn-based gameplay. I also find I have a very good memory for events in games like Fallout, and subsequent playthroughs are duller because I remember exactly what is happening, and I don’t find alternative choices deviate from the core experience enough.

    A very interesting question.

    • Matt_W says:

      This is totally my reaction. Over the last couple years, I’ve been noticing I’ll get part-way through a game and suddenly I can see the matrix. It’s like all the game’s systems become transparent and gamey and it breaks immersion and I can’t bring myself to play anymore. The latest casualty is Skyrim, which I’ve tried several times to get into (because it must be good, right? Everyone on earth plays it.) But I just can’t because all the quests are boring, the environments blend together, and there’s too much reading. (I love reading fantasy books, but Skyrim’s writing is boring and derivative and distracts from the gameplay.) I mean, there’s just not that much game there. For all of its huge, open world, there’s not that much variety in the things a player can do.

      I have been trying to figure out what it is about a game that can capture and hold my interest. Until 5 years ago, i would have said it was a compelling narrative. But, the games I’ve lately enjoyed and played the most have no intrinsic narrative (Kerbal Space Program, Better Than Wolves), or have a narrative that’s incidental to the gameplay (SpaceChem, Dark Souls, XCOM, Distant Worlds.)

      • almostDead says:

        A wonderful explanation.

      • Gibster says:

        I have to agree. To me there are two types of fun that I personally enjoy, the accomplishment fun in games like Kerbal Space Program and the the general fun in mechanics in games like TF2. There’s also a third type of fun that trumps them all when you can get it, it’s the. “Holy crap did I just pull that off!?” that normally reserves itself to multiplayer games like War Thunder and TF2 but can also be found in sandbox games as well. To me, story lines don’t fit into any of those.

    • DrGonzo says:

      One of the reasons I like New Vegas so much is because of how different each playthrough is if you make different choices. Also has a great ending that feels like your actions actually have a decent impact.

      Generally I agree with you though, although I do finish games myself, it’s often a relief to finish it as it’s finally over.

    • plugmonkey says:

      Exactly this. I’ll suddenly realise I’m feeling compelled to continue, but I’m not actually having fun, and then I’m done.

      I used to get stuck in compulsion loops a lot more when I was younger, but now the switch comes to my rescue, and it is absolutely a sensation of waking up to “what the hell are you doing”?

  11. Gap Gen says:

    I tend to finish games with a clear linear story (like Wolfenstein: TNO), while I rarely 100% games like Saints Row with a lot of side-quests, although I did do most of SRIV because flying around was quite fun. And like you say, many games aren’t designed to be completed.

  12. Shuck says:

    I used to be pretty obsessive-compulsive, at least when it came to finishing games and seeing all the content, but I just can’t, anymore. My game backlog has made it impossible. Now I rarely finish games, and things like ranks and achievements are completely ignored. The idea that games need to be 40+ hours long seems perverse. Plus, if I hit a section that requires too much repetition to get though, has too much grind or filler, or that’s obtuse to the point of being annoying, I’m increasingly willing to uninstall the game at that point. I used to just set it aside to come back to, later. Now, I just don’t have time for that kind of nonsense.

  13. Drayk says:

    I try to finish the games I start. It hasn’t always been the case but I started to keep track of the games I play in 2011. I did that mostly because my backlog got a bit out of control

    The List has 4 categories:

    The Trash bin: games I wont finish or sometimes even start.
    The Completed list: Games I say I am done with (Usually it means I completed the main Story/quest, but I nearly never play a game 100%.
    The ‘en cours’ list: Games I’ve started and I must still finish. Sometimes they end up in the trash bin.
    The Backlog: Games I still haven’t started but plan to play at some point.

    The list helps me when I am tempted to buy a new game. It reminds me that I already have too much to play. During the latest Steam sales I only bought Blood Dragon thanks to that list.

    I have something like 30 games to complete + more than 10 games I supported on KS.
    I am set for more than a year of gaming.
    But now Wildstar eats my gaming time…

    • BattleXer says:

      A game has to grab my attention for me to complete it, and unfortunately there are only a handful of games every year that manage to do that. I do read up on all things games daily, weigh the opinions of reviewers and metacritic users alike on the game that I do consider worthy, and end up buying most of them anyway. If I was was to actually only buy the games that I was really interested in, I’d save a lot of money – but wouldn’t we all?!

      So far this year I have only ‘completed’ 2 games: Wolfenstein:TNO and STALKER:COP.
      Wolfenstein was always going to be a day-one purchase for me, and I’m glad I took the plunge. It could have been shit. But I loved it. I played 2 playthroughs and some extra time trying to get some additional achievements.
      Stalker had been kicking around in my backlog for quite some time, and thanks to the Complete Mod I finally managed to re-install and actually finish it. However, after finishing the main quest and all open side quests, this endeavour ended after about 25hours in…

      I still have Metro:LL and Sniper Elite 2 hogging HD space since forever. Both have been started, and will be finished at some stage. But in the meantime there are other distractions…

      Games like Sleeping Dogs or How to Survive I bought on a whim. I played a few hours in either, I enjoyed myself, and ended up uninstalling them, knowing I would not ever return to finish them. I’m ok with that.

      And of course there are the purchases that I regret: Space Hulk and Kingdoms of Amalur. Not going back – ever.

      I guess, ‘completing’ games, for me is ‘to be done’ with them. Whether that is after 1 or 2 playthroughs or after 30 minutes of frustration or unwillingness to invest another minute into something that doesn’t work for me.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      Hah, I recently categorised my list too and ended up with almost identical categories. I call ’em “Meh”, “Finished with this” and “Unplayed” with the uncategorised list functioning as the equivalent to your “en cours”. I also have an additional category “Not Cooked Yet” for early release stuff which I want to wait longer before playing.

      My games are divided roughly equally between played and not played, with the other categories comprising relatively few titles. Of the titles in the “Finished with this” category, only two are actually ‘completed’ in the traditional sense rather than just stuff I am finished with for other reasons. Those being 10,000,000 and Brothers (don’t get me wrong I loved Brothers but I don’t think I want to wear the experience out by playing it again), and there are quite a few which I have finished, but which I am not finished with…

      In terms of actual play-time, most of the stuff I’ve been getting into either doesn’t have an endpoint or has one which is far enough away that it isn’t likely to end my play any time soon enough to worry about it (Anno 2070 continuous, Spacechem, FTL).

  14. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I don’t think it’s a problem that people don’t finish games, more that games do not seem to be as compelling as they used to be. For me this may be a boredom factor, but it seems to be VERY much like books. I don’t read a lot, and books I do start I rarely finish. But occasionally I pick one up and can’t put it down.

    XCOM EU was the last game that did this for me, and I think the difference is it combines great gameplay, a well defined progression, and clear inducators of how far along in the game you are. It’s challenging but feels like an end is in sight. It’s very much opposite to when I always used to explore every inch of open world games, and I may have overwhelmed myself with this self imposed rule. Nonetheless, sometimes its nice to have a sense of a time limit, at least for a campaign.

    Aside from that I tend to put hours into open ended games and then feel like I’m done. X3 and ETS2 are prime examples – just being in them is reward in itself. Theres room for both I think. And yes I have a large sale inflicted backlog but it’s “games I wanted to try but only for a few quid”.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      I don’t think it’s a problem that people don’t finish games, more that games do not seem to be as compelling as they used to be

      There’s a lot more games than they used to be – now they’re competing with many more others, rather than just with whatever you’d otherwise be doing with your free time

  15. benjamin says:

    I consider a game finished when the main quest is completed. I normally do finish games. The exception being Prince of Persia Sands of Time because the first boss battle was too hard. Fail.

  16. Martel says:

    I suppose technically for me a game is finished when I uninstall it, whether or not I completed it :)

    I tend to complete games that have a closed story (completed Tomb Raider last night) but in no way do I even care about 100% type things.

  17. altum videtur says:

    Because my life is so empty and perfunctory that finishing games and books is the only sort of success I can ever experience

  18. DarrenGrey says:

    This is why I play roguelikes :) They’re entirely designed around replayability, with a completion being a rare thing that might take years to achieve. Games designed to be played, to be enjoyed in the moment, rather than to be endured for the story or the spectacle.

  19. Phoibos Delphi says:

    I don´t have a Tumbler, but I keep a little list of the games I´ve finished. Counting only my PC era I finished about 25 Games… but own nearly 700 on Steam… damn those bundles and sales :-)

    On the other Hand I like Racing and Strategy Games the most, but they are hard to really finish, because they are very repetetive. How often can you be enthusiastic about a new map or car when you always use the same units or drive on the same tracks?

    Right now I try hard to finish Assassins Creed (yes, the first one), but signals of boredom are starting to be unignorable… there I go again…

  20. Rao Dao Zao says:

    I always finish games, in the sense of finishing their storylines. Things like Skyrim, I’ll muck around and do side quests and stuff and then, when it starts to get tired, blitz the end of the main story — that gives me the sense of completion that means I can leave the game, even though it’s not 100% “finished”.

    So for me the main story is key. Side quests don’t really count, but obviously a good game will keep me enthralled in the side quests for longer before I hit that “time to advance the main story” threshold.

    For linear singleplayer games, there’s no question that I’ll finish the game, unless it is abysmally bad. Even mediocre games deserve the chance to elevate themselves, and ditching something after the first five minutes because it’s not instantaneously gratifying is a grand way to miss out on the good stuff.

    On the flip side, I’ve never managed to complete Thief II because I suck at stealth, and this is a crushing weight on my shoulders. One day… :(

  21. Hunchback says:

    I am glad to hear i am not the only one not finishing most games i play!
    I very rarely fully finish a game, but when i do it’s very satisfying and it means the game is SPECIAL and has REALLY interested me enough to finish it. Such games are rare nowadays, but it might be i am getting older and cynical and just don’t enjoy most games the same way i did back when i was a teen. Quite often i install a game, launch it once or twice to see what it’s like and uninstall it… I don’t really feel bad about pirating such games, since i rarely spend more than 2 hours combined in them, and consider playing them pirates as playing demos.
    And games i REALLY like i always end up buying officially, to support the devs, because i’ve really enjoyed their product and spent a lot of time with it.

  22. melnificent says:

    My steam collection 551 games is a litany of (mainly) unfinished and unstarted games. It’s a testament to my failure to control my spending on “cheap” games and bundles.

    However, I have just completed Valiant Hearts which is a truly excellent game and the story did make me cry a couple of times.

  23. KevinLew says:

    I stopped buying bundled games simply because it would give me a bunch of games that I’d never play or didn’t want. Right now, there’s not a single game that I buy or play that I don’t eventually try to finish. If I can’t finish it, then it’s often because the difficulty curve is too far above what I can do and I can’t do anything about it.

  24. damaki says:

    I seriously do not care anymore about finishing or not a game. I only play a game when I enjoy playing it. If I do not enjoy it anymore, I quit. I got bored with Half-Life 2 uninteresting boat thingy, got bored with Dishonored, and did get bored with so many games. I’d rather play half a good game than fully a lame 1 player campaign (Battlefield 3).
    When I was a kid, with limited budget I used to finish my games, again and again. Now, I do not have time for the boring stuff anymore. Gimme fully enjoyable games with no fluff. I do not care about the difficulty as long as it is good and not too repetitive.

  25. Klydefrog says:

    I very rarely finish games, I often don’t finish books either actually, or TV shows. I consistently finish films but I assume most people do. I’m quite happy with that though, I’m generally content to play a game until I lose interest and hate to feel like I’m slogging through a game just to see the ending or get my money’s worth, to that end I’m glad that nowadays I can just watch the endings of games on YouTube rather than pushing through them.
    I often finish handheld games when I’m on long journeys with nothing else to do and I’m generally pretty glad of that, I’ve played some brilliant DS games through to completion recently. The last game I actually finished was Steam World Dig, I think, and the last non-handheld was probably when I finally got around to finishing Mass Effect around this time last year.
    Having said all that, there are a lot of games that I do want to finish and wish that I would just get on and do so, but I tend to spend time the vast majority of my gaming. I tend to play games like Football Manager compulsively, even though I think I find that a less rewarding experience overall because it never really comes to a satisfying conclusion, even if I engineer a narrative to it myself. I guess you could say that, unlike Miroslav Klose or Karim Benzema, I’m simply not a finisher.

  26. FalangaD says:

    The music vs. film analogy is great. The only problem is that it turns rogue like games to the gaming world’s equivalent of Jazz.

    • mukuste says:

      How is that a problem — that’s a pretty neat analogy!

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        It even fits with the “that’s not jazz/ a realroguealike” whittering you hear from people* whenever certain games or music are mentioned.

        * I say people, it might be one person posting under several names. People do get so very obsessed over what is allowed to be given certain labels.

      • Falanga Druzi says:

        what i meant was: jazz sucks. rogue like do not…

    • HadToLogin says:

      And I completely don’t get it. Little help, please?

      • Drakedude says:

        Please?

      • SuddenSight says:

        Improvisation plays a significant role in Jazz music. Not all jazz (or “jazz” or w/e) features improv, but almost all jazz musicians do improv, and there is a long tradition of improvisational formats for jazz.

        The comparison to rogue-likes, or procedural death labyrinths (it’ll catch on, right?), is because both mediums feature improvisation or “randomness” to a large degree, but always within certain constraints (the jazz scale and tempo, or theme and difficulty restrictions in video games).

      • frenchy2k1 says:

        The comparison would come from movies being a certain experience prepared to be enjoyed once. In my case at least, I tend to only watch most movies once and a few several times, most often to share it with friends/family if I really enjoyed them and as such don’t mind watching them again.

        On the opposite, music is designed to be experiences multiple times, replayed again and again. It is very rare that you would enjoy a piece of music only once.

        To place that in gaming context, some games would be closer to movies, especially anything that would only really be enjoyed a single time due to either a story (point and click adventure, single player FPS …) or mechanics limitation (puzzle games…) and some would be closer to music, designed to be enjoyed multiple times, regularly (most online games, allowing human opponents to make every match fresh or long running strategy games or sand box games or rogue like or…).

        In his analogy, rogue like is similar to jazz, which is a type of music often improvised, similar to the random generation in rogue like games.

        I like this analogy. I enjoy both types of games and although I often finish the first type (I recently completed hexcell and bastion), boredom sometimes prevents me from reaching the “end” (I never completed skyrim, although I sunk 90h+ in it). Music-type game, I enjoy as a safe place for me to retreat, like the 150h+ of TF2 on my steam account or 260h+ of crusader kings 2 can attest (I have never been able to “complete” a Crusader Kings 2 game, as patches have always broken my save games in the middle).

        Lately, with sales and bundles, I have so much choice in gaming that I had to start listing what I’ve bought just so that I do not buy duplicates (which I still do because of bundles). Great time to be a gamer, especially on PC. I enjoy finishing games I start, but I have no qualm bouncing off games, even lauded ones (I can not get into Dark Souls for example. I understand the mechanics and why it captivates people, the necessary exploration, the skill-based combat, but I just do not enjoy the difficulty and the time sink required to actually enjoy it).

  27. derbefrier says:

    I don’t finish many games. Its mostly because I get bored with them before that happens. Games have a knack these days for showing you all their tricks within the first few hours of gameplay so then there’s really only a couple reasons to keep going. The story and the mechanics. First person shooters are the worst offenders. The story usually sucks and there isn’t much depth to them anymore. That means even games like the new wolfenstein, which I truly enjoyed for about 5 hours is just sitting in my library now waiting for a rainy day. RPGs seem to keep me entertained a lot longer. I usually beat them eventuallt though it may take me 6 months. Right now I am playing Divinity Original Sin and I love it. Will I beat it? I hope so.

  28. Napoleon15 says:

    I held off finishing the original Deus Ex for nearly, and I’m not joking, a decade or something, just because I enjoyed the game so much that I didn’t want it to be over. Every year or two I’d pull it out and play through until I got close to the end, and then I’d turn it off, uninstall and delete my saves. Eventually curiosity did get the better of me and I finally played it through to completion, an act which, unlike I had feared, does not stop me from continuing to play through it every now and then.

    That’s kind of sad, but it is my favourite game of all time, and one that made one of the biggest impressions on me in regards to what games can be.

  29. ran93r says:

    I finish the ones I can’t stop playing, I don’t have any hard and fast rules and I very rarely look at an unfinished game as wasted money. More often than not, I have played them a great deal, I just never got around to finishing it off before something else shiny came along.

    Just looking over to my peasant-station shelf I can see 28 unfinished games (out of 30). My PC list looks a lot better than that, I’m sat in front of this thing a lot more and it gets more of my precious time but I’m just as guilty as anyone else of having a Steamfull of games I haven’t even installed, let alone finished.

    I have only just forced myself to finish The Witcher 2 after a couple of false starts when it was originally released. I loved the game, loved the setting, was happy with the combat, it ran fine on my PC… I just couldn’t be bothered to sit still long enough to finish it. Dishonored on the other hand, finished in a few sittings and then I blazed through all the DLC.

  30. Warped655 says:

    You beat/complete a game to its conclusion or when it absolutely is not worth it anymore at the outset. In my experience, if I ‘take a break’ and start other games (except multiplayer games, those seem to be an exception for me) I end up not playing the game I originally started and broke off from. When I eventually decide to jump back on the horse, I realize I’m totally lost or out of practice and need to start over. Starting games over is fairly boring for me since I have to play an initial segment that I likely already have a semi-decent memory of and it ends up sucking away time for playing the other collection of games in my backlog.

    So for me, its either beat the game in one go (which is what I do for the most part), or start over and slog my way through the beginning again to get myself back up to speed on the story and game mechanics. Some people might decide that they are just done with the game, but if the game is fun enough for you to have played a decent chunk in the beginning I feel like its a waste. Perhaps its the sunk cost fallacy?

    I use Backloggery (though I occasionally forget to update it). So yeah I beat games. There are caveats of course, games I don’t enjoy I don’t bother with even if I’ve bought them. It occasionally happens when I get a game in a bundle on Steam or if I see a game in the 1-5 dollar range and interests me and turns out to be a dud. Another caveat of course is do I ‘beat’ a game or do I ‘complete’ a game. I always ‘beat’ the game at a minimum (IE – play through the main story or campaign, usually on the hardest difficulty I can manage) I consider a game complete of course when I’ve outright exhausted everything fun in the game. If there are extra things in the game to do and I did not find those activities fun I don’t care. Its still ‘complete’. Imagine you have a bag of chips and a handful of the chips are those gross burnt pieces, do you eat them in order to say you finished off the bag? Probably not. The bag is finished when you’ve eaten all the tasty chips, not ALL the chips. Some game parts are just not worth it. The game is basically 100% in your case if you’ve beaten all the fun parts. That is my philosophy and it protects me from obsessive 100% per game perfectionism that would get in the way of my obsessive backlog completion-ism. The latter of which might be just as unhealthy behavior, but at least I escape a feeling of being trapped in a game that I’m stuck on, ensures variety of experiences, and allows the money I’ve spent on a game to be unwasted and is overall a more steady mental reward.

  31. Blackrook says:

    I don’t finish games, and this doesn’t bother me.
    As long as I feel I’ve had reasonable playing time and enjoyed it, I’d rather play something
    new and different than slog on to the end just to see some boring cut scene.
    Any game I finish I would class as too short.

  32. Mr.Snowy says:

    Very very rarely.

    This even goes for games that I like a lot. AC: Black Flag, unfinished. Watch Dogs, unfinished (I know I am on the final mission, but…). Skyrim, endless hours put in, and unfinished. Fallout NV the same. Rome 2, same.

    I tend to prefer open ended titles – ARMA, MMOs, currently loving the hell out of the Elite Dangerous beta.

    I guess the problem is not enough gaming time and too much disposable income, so I get into a cycle of buy/play/next please.

    As to completing all the collectibles nonsense that gets put in games, it interests me not at all. If I needed to collect 10 eggs to open up the chicken mission then maybe, but it is always 1000 eggs, scattered at random in places I would never be bothered to look. I completely lack the OCD to have any interest in such meaningless time sinks, same goes for achievement gathering.

  33. Khatuum says:

    I have a real first world problem in my everyday life with unfinished games. Somehow i have the compulsion to have a “clean” steam list where every game is either “finished” or “not finished yet” (except the ones in the multiplayer or roguelikes category). I got way too many games in sales and bundles before i realized this and because steam doesn’t let me delete games (and the trash category option doesn’t feel as good as really deleting them) i have to play through every game until i can buy new ones that i really enjoy…

  34. gabrielonuris says:

    I usually don’t install a new game while I still didn’t finish the last one; I do have a lot of games installed, but I only allow myself to have one single unfinished game at a time; if I put together my GoG, Steam and Origin backlogs I’ll end up with 16 games that I still didn’t even install, and I won’t buy any new games until I reduce that number to at least 4 or 5 games. It’s a self inflicted rule, because sometimes I feel bad for the games I don’t play. The only games I don’t count are those I get for free.

  35. Utsunomiya says:

    I actually finish most of the games I buy. I don’t buy that many games though, I’m kinda picky.
    Except for XCOM. Never once in my 40+ hours have I got past fourth-or-fifth-ish mission in that game. Fuck it and its Classic Iron Man bullshit. God damn.

  36. Buddy Dharma says:

    I am finished with a game when I am bored with it. That might be one hour, or two hundred. All that matters is that I got what I wanted out of the game.

    • Josh W says:

      Exactly, then if you want to see the end, but don’t want to play it, you look it up on youtube. 20 minutes of watching cutscenes stacked together, and maybe a bit of reading the wiki, and you’ve got a lovely epilogue to your experience of playing the game.

  37. Sardonic says:

    I generally finish my games, if they have good stories and don’t wear out their welcome in the gameplay department. Or if it’s a long form strategy game like Civ or a Total War, I feel like I have a responsibility to finish the campaign through to the end.

    Of course, I like every other good PC gamer have a litter of unfinished and indeed barely played steam games, but I do complete the important ones.

    Most recently I finished Broken Age, and was somewhat disappointed to find out that it was not itself finished.

  38. killer1one says:

    I do finish a lot of games. I promised myself not to buy anything new until i finish at least half of everything i own on steam, so far i have finished 101 games from my 436 games library, so i am getting there.

    I am a weird beast because i prefer games that can be finished over games that cannot, simply because finishing something gives me an opportunity to play something new. That’s why i only play multiplayer games occasionally. I do love co-op games that can be finished though. I guess that’s why i am not into the mobas.

  39. Premium User Badge

    serioussgtstu says:

    I make a point of trying to complete every game I purchase because making that commitment stops me from buying loads of games just because they’re on sale. It works quite well for me as I only brought one game in the steam summer sale in addition to some DLC for games I’d already finished.

  40. Malleus says:

    Wow, this is so weird reading all these replies. I always* finish games I start. Then again, I’m very very careful about starting and buying games. I do the research before jumping on something, watch gameplay, read up on them etc, and if there’s a little doubt, then NOPE. Obviously that means I play relatively few games all in all. Hell, my current backlog consists of the mere two games I bought in the current steam sale.

    *There were only two games in the last .. four years I started but didn’t finish, the reason in both cases was that they were parts on franchises that I liked, so I had to check them out, even though I knew that it’s probably not gonna be worth it.

    • KevinLew says:

      I’m with you on that. I’ll admit that I try really hard to finish my games. It’s basically OCD. But the others that write that they just get bored and quit sound like they have the absolute opposite of my problem and they have some form of ADD.

      I’m also pretty certain that people quit games simply because so many of them have irregular difficulty spikes (a huge problem with many games). When the game suddenly increases the challenge and you’re not expecting it, then this can lead to frustration and quitting.

  41. brulleks says:

    I will play any game until it annoys me so much I can’t go on.*

    Nowadays, I don’t finish that many.

    *Assuming it is a game that has an ‘end’.

  42. Tom Walker says:

    I’d say I finish maybe five to ten percent of the games I buy.

    I do want to finish them all, but obviously not as much as I want to play the next game that everyone said was the best thing ever two years ago and now I can get for the price of a beer.

    Also the game I’ve put the most time into lately has been Planetside 2, which you can’t really finish. You can get to Level 100, but if those people have ‘finished’ then I have no idea how they kill me so often.

  43. ronkmonster says:

    I finish a lot of games but I tend to buy a lot more and it takes a pretty bad game for me to ‘retire’ a game. It’s a bit depressing when I see others talk about a backlog of 30 or 40 games and I have over 500, not counting open ended games like Civ or Left 4 Dead. I also don’t get a chance to replay the really good games.

  44. Drake Sigar says:

    Used to finish all my games but that was before the absurd sales. There was a commitment I had to make or risk admitting I just spent a peasant’s ransom on a game I don’t even enjoy. No-one likes to feel duped by advertisers, by reviewers, and most of all by themselves. That’s not to say I wasn’t extremely careful about the sources I trust and the games I buy of course, but even the most wary consumer is going to let their guard down for a second eventually.

    Now PC games are so cheap and there’s new stuff coming out every week, they have to compete for my attention harder than ever. If you’re not entertained, there’s no shame in moving on.

  45. Volcanu says:

    I always used to finish my games pretty obsessively. But then I was like that about a lot of things- only read one book at a time, and when it’s completed it gets to go in the bookcase and I can sit back and admire all the things I have “achieved”.

    As I’ve gotten older, and found myself with less time and more distractions (gaming-wise and otherwise) that’s started to change. Life’s just too short to force yourself to finish something if you don’t particularly want to. It still rankles with me a bit though, knowing that I’ve started a game and not finished it (if it’s a “finishable” game, doesn’t bother me a jot in more open ended stuff like Civ and so on).

    I think another thing that’s taken the sheen off that satisfied “completionist” feeling is the rise of achievements. Back in the day I would complete a game’s story or campaign and feel satisfied that I had “completed” the game. And it was good. Nowadays though there are all these pointless (and often timesink) ‘achievements’ which need to be completed before the game is “complete”. And I know it shouldn’t bother me, but there’s a nagging voice that thinks my thunder has been f*cking stolen or I didn’t DO the game right (Black Flag is a recent egregious example of a game that irks me by telling me I didnt do the mission right because I didn’t fart on 3 seagulls or something equally arbitrary).

    Anyway, it’s something I’m working on. The “music not film” analogy is a damn fine perspective, that I will try my best to adopt when gaming from here on out.

  46. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    As I get older, and since becoming more financially secure in the past ten years, my completion rate has tailed off. When I could only afford to buy games at a reduced rate, I used to squeeze everything I could out of them. Now, and especially thanks to Steam sales making them so damn cheap, I own hundreds of games, lots of which I’ve never completed, and some of which I’ve never even played.
    I’ve realised what a waste this is recently, and have drastically cut back on my game purchasing; I bought one game in the entirety of the Steam sale.
    I think it’s a case of finding a balance in a world where the consumer, especially on PC, is spoiled for choice.

  47. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I finish a lot of the games I start – and by that I mean that I reach the end of the main-quest (in an open-world game), play until the end-date (in a strategy game), or do something similar, but not that I exhaust everything there is to do in a game. For example, I finished Skyrim – I defeated the big dragon in Nord-Valhalla, but I never did any of the civil-war quests, as well as a bunch of smaller sidequests.

    It is difficult for me to permanenty drop a game that I have played for longer than an hour or two. After I have invested a certain amount of time in a game, I feel compelled to finish it, unless the enjoyment I get from it drops very suddenly (for example, when I play an RPG and realize that I would need to grind a lot to progress). For that reason, I used to more or less finish all games I started.

    In the last two-three years (maybe?) this has not been the case anymore. I still finish many of the games I start, but it also happens occasionally that I really want to play a new game while I am still far away from finishing my current game. In that case I often start to play the games “in parallel” and then stop to play the old game in favor of the new one after a while.

  48. MadTinkerer says:

    I sometimes finish games that can be finished. But not every game that can be finished has to be finished. In some cases, I decide I want to play something else more and I come back later. In some cases circumstances force me to stop, like the fact that our PS2 is not currently plugged in and we need to set it up again (or track down an emulator) to finish Okami and Final Fantasy XII.

    And sometimes, as in the case of FF13, I wanted to beat it because of principle. But I hate it too much. I can’t finish it, and I certainly won’t ever start that damn corridor over again. I’ll happily travel down the corridors of the Half Life series and single-player mods for those games. But FF13 is an example of high production values and a game that is absolutely atrocious in every other possible way.

    I probably should finish Underworld 2 at some point. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s that all of the Ultima games are a little bit too long with a little bit too many distractions. This is partly because most of the Ultima games like to daisy-chain the quests together so that the main quest is basically all of the other quests put together, unlike Skyrim where the various faction and main quests are all separate.

  49. Simon_Scott says:

    I’ll generally try to finish the story in a game. Can’t be arsed with collecting digipogs and if side missions and the like fail to grip me, then I can’t be arsed with those either *cough* Skyrim *cough* Far Cry 3 *cough cough*. Outside of that I’ll most likely abandon a game if I hit a difficulty spike, or if overwhelmed by grind. I find I’m increasingly interested in games that aren’t really about the win-state (Minecraft, Prison Architect, Borderlands 2 (kindof)), or have short play cycles (Pinball FX, Bit Trip Core).

    I feel abandoning a game is generally a failure of the game, rather than a failure on my part to commit to its completion. It’s supposed to be fun, guys.

    • kevinspell says:

      “I feel abandoning a game is generally a failure of the game, rather than a failure on my part to commit to its completion. It’s supposed to be fun, guys.”

      No. As long as we are talking about technically competent games that are not demanding more money from you every time you die, abandoning a game is your “faliure”. Maybe you lack the interest or the time required to play that specific type of a game. And that is fine. Defining something as fun is highly subjective matter. But if other people like it doesn’t mean the game has failed.
      Or maybe you lack the necessary skill in which case simply accept you suck, other are better than you and don’t blame the game for it. FFS, why even call something a game if everybody has to win.

      • Gibster says:

        Can I just ask, do you legitimately believe that? I have to agree with the OP, what your saying I call blasphemy. It is not his failure if he decides not to complete it. First of all, games are supposed to be fun, and if he’s not having fun, then he has every right to stop playing it because he was lacking the one thing that he bought the game to do, to enjoy his experience. And while the definition of fun may vary from person to person, the fact remains, he is a paying customer and if the game fails to deliver, he can say it was 100% the game’s failure for his lack of enjoyment. OP, I find myself as well playing games with no definitive ending, ones where there’s lots replayabilty, games like Minecraft, Kerbal Space Program, Civ V, Team Fortress 2. Games that I only stop playing when I stop enjoying them. Games should never be about progression, they should be about enjoyable, fun, and challenging mechanics that players can master and enjoy. Progression and stories are nice when they’re there, but they should be built around the mechanics, not visa versa.

        • kevinspell says:

          What you are saying is if someone buys a game that game has to be fun for him. That kind of thinking encourages “dumb down everything for the lowest common denominator” way of making games. The plague of modern gaming.

          So, spoiler alert, you can’t like everything and you shouldn’t buy everything. You are not the center of universe. Saying every game you don’t find fun has failed makes you a self centered asshole.

          • Gibster says:

            I believe you misread my words and intentions. Every game doesn’t have to be fun for me, and every game shouldn’t, otherwise a lot of genres wouldn’t exist , I’m just saying that you shouldn’t feel guilty for not enjoying a game, since you were saying that the failure rests on the player who didn’t enjoy the game, which is wrong since the player paid for the game and didn’t get an enjoyable experience. It may be a learning experience for the gamer, they may regret their decision, perhaps they were mislead or just had unreasonable expectations. But the true “failure” isn’t theirs, and that “failure” doesn’t mean that the game is a bad game. Take me and Company of Heroes 2 for example. It’s not necessarily a bad game, though I personally didn’t enjoy it, the game simply failed to entertain me and i ended up playing Men of War Assault Squad (which is, IMO, very good) instead. Plenty of other people enjoy CoH 2, and that’s good, the game simply failed to give me an enjoyable experience. And hence why I think the idea that it’s the players “failure” for abandoning a game is wrong.