RPS Asks: Are Long Games Appealing Or Intimidating?

The Witcher 3 [official site] is the longest game I’ve played for years, or at least the longest game that I’ve actually come close to completing. There was a time when I’d be thrilled to hear about a new fifty or sixty hour epic adventure, very much subscribing to the policy “the more the better”, but now I’m more likely to flinch away from the screen when a game’s sprawl is revealed.

I’ve realised that my aversion to enormous games has been growing for a while, but the announcement of Red Dead Redemption 2 brought it into sharp focus. Do I really want yet another massive open world game? I’m not sure that I do.

I’d started to think that shying away from long games had a lot to do with working as a games critic, which does tend to make me hungry to get to the heart of a thing, understand it, and then move on. I’m the same way with books though – ten years ago, I didn’t think a fictional world was worth investing any time into if it didn’t exist across the span of at least six brick-sized volumes. These days, if a story takes more than three hundred pages to tell, I expect a lot from it. If an author or designer is going to make demands on my time, I demand quality and (preferably) variety in return.

Take Mafia III. The setting, the lead character, the period – I want all of that. And if I have to deal with graphical glitches, buggy AI, repetitive missions, clumsy vehicles and awkard shoot-outs to get to the good stuff, I’m willing to do that. I won’t necessarily forgive those things but I’ll tolerate them, provided there’s something worthwhile behind and around them.

I’ve read enough about Mafia III to be convinced that I probably would find something of interest in among the repetition, and the broken bits and pieces. But I’ve also read enough to know that it’s a big game and whatever qualities it might have, I reckon they’d be worn down by the length and the breadth of it. Ideally, the scope of the game would allow its ideas to be explored in more detail but the size of a game is often bulk rather than scope, and I fear that’d be the case with Mafia.

Even a fresh idea, interesting play mechanic or fascinating cast of characters can be diluted if they’re dropped into the kind of open world game that drags itself out for forty hours or more. One of the reasons The Witcher 3 keeps me gripped is that it does strong character work even in its sidequests, which might be inserted as inconsequential distractions to eat up time in many games. Geralt and the world around him value my time.

It’s tricky to measure a game’s length in any meaningful way. Some have an obvious start and end-point and everyone is going to spend a similar length of time moving between one and the other. A TellTale game, say, where there aren’t even many places to slow down and smell the roses. Virginia is probably the most explicit recent example of a game that pulls the player through, dictating the pace, and even there it’s possible to slow down from time to time, even though the experience is very much a directed one.

But how to measure the length of a game like Civilization or Crusader Kings, or Football Manager for that matter? Representatives of those three series – and let’s lump all of the Paradox grand strategy games under the CK umbrella for this purpose – will take up most of my gaming time this year. Last year, which wasn’t even a vintage year for Football Manager, I spent 760 hours pretending to manage football teams. Is that too long? Is Football Manager too long?

When I see or hear conversations about games like Civ and Football Manager, people often talk of losing time or social lives to them, or even failing degrees and losing jobs. I hope the latter are jokes, though I know that not all of them are, but even in the jokes there is sometimes a slight resentment for hours, days and weeks lost. I’ve felt that myself, particularly with sports management games, where a career usually can’t be carried across to a new version. It’s one thing to move on from an established ruleset in the likes of Civ, where I might have put a few hundred hours into many playthroughs, and another to move on to a sequel when the majority of the hundreds of hours in the previous game were invested in a single continuous career.

A Football Manager career can last for many in-game years and when a new version releases, you either lose all of that ‘progress’ and the whole alternate future that has evolved, or you ignore the updates that come with the new release and stick with the old. That I find the decision so tricky every time should tell you a lot about how capable I am of committing to ‘long’ games.

How do you measure the length of a game? Are you, like me, contradictory in your approach, complaining about unnecessary filler and yet finding yourself chasing down collectibles and pursuing sidequests rather than following the fastlane to the ending? Do you commit to one game at a time or keep something sizable to feast on while snacking on smaller delights? Have your habits changed over time, due to real world responsibilities taking up more and more of your waking hours?

Tell me everything.

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142 Comments

  1. criskywalker says:

    The answer is both: intimidating AND appealing. I’m sad that I hardly find the time and will to play long games anymore.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Agreed completely.

      It would help though if the large, open world, were more than just a static tapestry to walk across. Its about time these worlds evolved and changed around us, like real places, as opposed to just backdrops.

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        Nauallis says:

        I dunno, I think that many titles are already doing this, but the failure is partly the way that normalcy sets in, which is a fundamentally human condition, not some automatic failing of software.

        If you commute to work, generally speaking you probably only notice or remember changes to your daily route(s) when they are completely unexpected, like the closure of a road for construction, or a bad storm that forces you to take longer or reroute.

        Playing something every day will eventually make it boring, so games like WoW, Destiny, Skyrim, ESO, become habitual to most of its players on a day-to-day basis, and only the addition of world-changing expansion content, or the completion of quests cause the sweeping changes to rekindle excitement.

        On the other hand, if you only play those games for short periods of time (weeks or months), with longer breaks between play sessions (weeks, months, years), then the changes brought on to a game being updated have seen the worlds evolve, at least in the examples that I gave, over time. This also happens with quest changes, from some of the open-world singleplayer games. One example that comes to mind in Fallout 4 is the over-time change that happens at Thicket Excavations if you end up assisting Sully Mathis. I certainly never expected that particular location to change that much while I was off doing other things in-game.

        • SanguineAngel says:

          Nah, I think what blackcompany means is something that has bugged me in most open world games too, in particular the elder scrolls games: The worlds present the supposedly immersive world to explore but everything is so piecemeal that nothing you do really has an impact elsewhere and it ends up feeling to me like a themepark filled with clockwork animatrons. A hundred tiny isolated quests that aren’t acknowledged externally. The guilds, for example, would be a great place for some inter-connectivity. I recall in Morrowind, my progress in one guild might affect my progress in another.

          I think it’s a case of attention to detail by developers to be honest. It must take a lot of resource to build that sort of inter relation to accommodate an multitude of additional states and create new content for each and I guess most devs don’t see a positive cost/benefit.

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        Captain Narol says:

        That’s indeed something I’d like to see in more games, and one of the reasons why Crusader Kings is so addictive :

        The world around you evolves by itself even if you do nothing for that, and the things that got changed by your actions can sometimes go in totally unexpected directions, with a fascinating butterfly effect.

        We really need more dynamic worlds like that in games !

    • Shuck says:

      “The answer is both: intimidating AND appealing.”
      Yeah, I find them appealing in theory – so I buy them – but then intimidating in practice, so I never install them, much less play them. Or rather, that used to be the case – after my unplayed queue of games on Steam and GOG exceeded 300, I realized there was little point in buying huge, lengthy games until I had played some of the ones I already have.

      • criskywalker says:

        My problem is that I always end up playing Rocket League instead. 300 hours which could have been used to finish a few epic open-world games…

    • Steravel says:

      Yes, I want large, open world games that create a believable place to live in, with enough content to let me spend enough time there to justify the triple A price tag. I believe a lot of other people do too, as evidenced by the market and budgets these games receive.

      It’s not like shorter, more casual games (even CRPGs) are a rarity. I have plenty of those on my hard drive. People that prefer those experiences are very well served already. Rarer by far are those large convincing worlds with enough content to really make them worthwhile.

      It’s very simple. Don’t want to play a long game like RDR2? Don’t buy it. I wont be because of the lack of a PC version. Plenty of people will, though. There are games to cater to all tastes in this golden age of gaming we’re in.

      • Steravel says:

        Another point to make–not everyone is a game blogger that has to process an avalanche of free games over the course of a year. I can imagine how someone in that position would become fatigued or even blase over the prospect of longer games. Some people only really get to play a few big games a year, have to pay for them, and want something really substantial out of the experience.

    • gruia says:

      i am utterly bored with these long ass games.
      look at movies, it takes 1-2 hours .. and a game what? not only asks your hole undivided attention but wants tens of hours of it?
      its a bad place atm imo.
      if the crerators can recycle their resources, they really should condense material and not make it big.
      they focus too much on qunatity over quality

  2. bandertroll says:

    I prefer long, well produmannnye games. The Witcher – a good example. Or Skyrim. Or Planescape: Torment. Or even Pillars of Eternity.

    • Regicider 12.4% says:

      Long games are fine if most of it is meaningful content. Skyrim is a good example since you can make it how long you want or just rush through the main story if you get bored.

      It’s not fine if it’s mostly filler hours of grinding or Final Fantasy XIII style “It’s good after 30 hours”.

  3. TillEulenspiegel says:

    Some games are genuinely designed as bite-sized short stories. And that’s fine.

    But for the most part, of course I want to keep playing a good game. If it gets dull it’s because it’s just not very good, not “too long”.

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      The Almighty Moo says:

      I don’t know, even the best games have a shelf life. I have so many great games that remain unfinished simply becuase I felt the need to start on something new. I think the games that I get completion mourning over are the ones I play with friends, which may be why so many co op games are procedural or similarly repeatable rather than linear narratives.

    • Shuck says:

      Part of what makes a game “not very good” is bad pacing, repetition and filler content, which all tend to be there to add to a game’s length. There are also plenty of games that don’t have those problems but if they were films, they would be the equivalent of three or four different movies awkwardly edited together. They would have been better off as several different games, but this idea that “more is better” turns the games into one long, meandering, unfocused experience purely to meet player expectations concerning length of play.

    • April March says:

      I don’t think I subscribe to that idea. A kind of gameplay may be brilliant on short doses, but tiring on longer. That doesn’t mean that it’s dull, just that it’s broader than it’s deep. Likewise, there are many kinds of gameplay that are unsatisfying in short pieces, because they need a long, constant experience to be enjoyed in depth. Not to mention the kind that’s good in short bursts every once in a while but becomes boring if you go there too often. I think saying ‘the better a game, the longer it stays fun for, and the shorter it takes for it to stop being fun the worse it is’ is reductionist.

    • hpoonis says:

      I find it disappointing to go through a thing such as Assassin’s Creed 2, etc and any extras are either costumes, some extra firepower/weaponry (which may be redundant by the time you get it), or small extra playable content. Then a new version comes out…whereas I would have preferred the new version to be a continuation of the previous title. The idea of eventually traversing a vast landscape from major location to major location, would be demonstrably appealing. Tacking the locations of Creed 2 together with those of Brotherhood and Revelations and creating some game material to provide some seamless play-through, for example.

      I appreciate that some sequels would not lend themselves to this. I acknowledge a previous posting and expand a little. Why, when a sequel has been developed with the same character, does that character have to always start with newbie stats and equipment? It seems odd that one may spend time and game effort to get a character to a certain point only to see that character then take a knock on the head, develop amnesia, and have to be taught all over again to eat soup with a spoon, or to have a football manager character play an entire season only to get fired, or have all his players transferred, before the next season begins.

      I would like to see not only continuity but, instead of whooping up the graphic specs every time, provide some story expansion within the same title rather than release a new title just to get a little more resolution or other visual fluff.

      Yes, you may say, there are those things. Namely with massively online blah blah but there are those of us who avoid online blah blah (massive or otherwise) and prefer to strike out alone.

  4. Tomo says:

    I share your pain Adam.

    I used to hoover games, of all lengths, mostly when I was in high school/as a student. 30+ hour games used to hold great appeal as I had time to grow into the story and get to know the characters.

    I simply don’t have time for it now, and I do resent huge games. I’ve taken to treating them as smaller games within huge worlds where I’ll mostly just play the main narrative and ignore the sidequests for the most part. But, there is always a gnawing feeling that I’m missing out on something.

    Witcher 3 is an interesting one for me – I started it in March and I’ve played about 60-70 hours of it. I said to myself, this game is so revered that I’ll treat it like I used to treat open world games. Do the sidequests and really explore the world itself beyond the main plot. And it’s been great.

    But, it’s now October and the inevitable deluge of Autumn/Christmas releases is creeping upon us. And I want to play Titanfall 2, Dishonoured 2 and others. But I don’t have the time to do those and finish Witcher 3.

    So, I’ve buried my head in the sand, ignored everything completely and now I’m playing Chivalry for the first time and Hexcells. Just simple pleasures without the guilt.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    • DanMan says:

      Those other games are going nowhere though. Just finish the ones you already have. Once you get around to the newer ones, they might even have been discounted already. Unless there’s some MP component that you don’t want to miss out on, or that you fear might be dead once you get to play it – why the hurry?

      Case in point: I still haven’t finished the W3 DLC yet, and I still want to play MGS5. But I haven’t bought it yet, so now it’s already much cheaper than on release.

      Sometimes they even release an improved version, like a GOTY edition or something. Waiting often pays off.

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        Andy_Panthro says:

        These days there’s so much media about new releases that if you’re not playing the game of the moment it can feel like you’re missing out (unless you don’t care about that particular game).

        When Fallout 4, Dark Souls 3 and No Man’s Sky were released I could happily read through the articles on here and join in the conversation, whereas for other games I might skip over posts to avoid spoilers or whatever. A slightly different experience.

        • Zamn10210 says:

          The thing is that media doesn’t go anywhere either. I only played the Witcher 3 this year and have spent many hours happily reading RPS posts on it from last year. Okay, you can’t “join in the conversation” but that’s not a deal-breaker for me at least – and given that the vast majority of readers are lurkers who never join in any conversation, probably not for many other people either.

      • Tomo says:

        I waited for Witcher 3. And I still haven’t finished it. Not even installed the DLC.

        If I wait for those games, which I probably won’t finish. What happens next year? And the year after that?

        I fully realise that I just need to suck it up and be more selective with my games. But, it just makes me sad :(

      • Christo4 says:

        Yeah i kinda agree with this. It seems like a lot of people just want the newest thing while not even finishing the older games they played. I admit it sometimes happens to me too.

        But lately i haven’t been excited almost at all for new releases. I have so many great old games to play and try that it’s not a question of time, but a question of why. Why would i want to necessarily play something like Titanfall 2 instead of something like, say, dragons dogma or even witcher 3 which i barely played. The last 2 games i can even get for cheaper and have more enjoyment out of it.

        So i think it’s all about the media hype that you see. They all saw “look at this new shiny thing it’s so shiny you WANT this shiny!”. So you think you want it but you don’t really.

        Granted there are a few games i really wanted to play from the beginning, like Dark Souls 3 which i bought when it released and maybe even Dishonored 2 (if the negative reviews seems good enough), but otherwise i can’t think of a single game that i was very excited for as in that i REALLY wanted to play and was not just media hype.

        I even have salt and sanctuary left to finish which is a pretty great game.

      • Christo4 says:

        My current problem is more that i can’t decide on a playstyle to stick with for 50 hours in a long rpg, because you can get stuck with a gamestyle that you don’t enjoy. So sometimes i replay the beginning with several classes, then get bored of the beginning area and drop it.

        I’m jealous of people who just know they like warrior or mage or other things :(

        • Jediben says:

          I have over 350 AAA titles in my steam account and have finished only 63. Can’t wait for retirement (only 33 years to go).

  5. RedViv says:

    It really depends on how easily I can get sucked into the game anew, if it is good to get into for two or three hours on a workday evening, or if I can even get drawn right back in after five exhausting days with not much spare time.
    This doesn’t even necessarily have to do with how deep mechanics are, or how layered the plot is. Just a question of the right flow, which is extremely subjective.

    Can’t we just be 17 again, that was good time, can we do that

  6. Abacus says:

    I feel like as I get older I’ve got to be picky about which games I play, due to time restraints. I’m happy to play shorter games, as long as the price is indicative of the production values that have gone into it… and I’m fine with playing longer games, as long as they respect my time. Having read and talked about Mafia 3 recently, the impression I get from it is a game that doesn’t respect your time. Lots of repetitive missions and side objectives aren’t what I look for in a game, not any more.

    On the flipside I think The Witcher 3 was a game that respected my time investment to a high standard. I felt like the pacing of the game was in the player’s hands, so if I wanted a break from the main story then there were plenty of side stories to tackle that felt like they had the same kind of care and attention paid to them that the main story had. If I wanted to ignore all those question marks on the map then the onus was on me, and there really wasn’t any punishment or disadvantage from ignoring them.

    I think another thing to consider is the urge to replay games. It took me AGES to finish Pillars of Eternity. I can’t imagine I will ever replay that game again, with or without The White March expansion. I was surprised reading the achievements for that game by how many of them were centered around playing the game again on a higher difficulty, playing it without dying, playing it without companions…

    • Abacus says:

      Also I forgot to mention how much I hate Ubisoft open world games. In general they are awfully paced, have an over-emphasis on getting ‘100%’ (which isn’t even that fun but satisfies the completionists out there), and have the kind of repetitive, collectathon activities that drive me up the wall.

    • Rainshine says:

      I am a pretty big fan of RPGs, and normally play them through a couple times, and replayability is an interesting conundrum to me, feeling vaguely like a completionist sometimes. I like games that don’t let me see everything the first time through — IF it is based on my decisions. That is, games like Planescape or Arcanum, where the choices you make determine the game you play and the world you see. Even the Fallout series to a degree. Pillars did not do that for me — I finished (felt a bit bad about it, because I ended up having to cheat my way through the final boss, having not ground out xp and ending up at him way too underlevelled) — but I didn’t feel that replaying it as a different chassis would show me all that much more of the world.
      Then you have games like Skyrim. I’ve put a fair chunk of time, and played it with multiple characters, but one of the things I quite dislike about it is you can do almost everything on a single play. Become head of the Wizards and Fighters and Thieves and Assassins and blahblahblah all at once, sure. I think I only actually progressed the main story line to ‘completion’ once, precisely because on future characters, I’d already done and seen the whole thing, and there weren’t going to be any changes that late in the game.

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        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        The Pillars final boss is a huge difficulty jump. I killed him my first try but that was after he killed all my team but one and it was poison that ended up finishing him off.

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        particlese says:

        Comment gooooooes…here!

        I’m with both of you on most of your points, though these days I tend not to replay large games very much.

        If a game is to have my time, it had better respect it. Devil Daggers, for example, gets and stays out of my way of having an absolutely thrilling time at my computer, and it’s one of those small games with great production value given what it sets as it’s goal, and I have no qualms about having played it for many, many, many hours. The Elder Scrolls Online is a little less clear cut, having pushed my patience to the brink several times. But that was only when I made myself grind for/through something for several sessions in a row, and I was able to go back to it and easily avoid the grind. Open-ended games like that usually peter out for me after a while, but ESO’s still on the plate for now.

        As you said, Skyrim (and ESO, while we’re at it) lets you do everything in one run, aside from some more or less inconsequential dialog options. While I do prefer it when “content” is blocked off by choices made (e.g. Life is Strange), and I shun the 100% urge with relish (unless it’s Super Metroid, because the secrets are so good), I can’t really say I mind having all activities open to me in a single playthrough; I play the bits I want, and that defines my experience. For example, I’ve never done any Thieves Guild, Fighters Guild, or Dark Brotherhood quests simply because they don’t appeal to who I usually am in a game, and there’s plenty of other junk to do/not-do which I happen to enjoy. I did make this one kleptomaniacal ESO character when I discovered that even accidental stealing is exciting and forgivable, but they’re not quite ready for full-time thieving, and they’ll still be avoiding the Assassination Frat because I’m not a complete jerk. ;)

  7. Bobcat says:

    I find even during my long holidays from university when I have time to play super long games, I typically can’t be bothered. Same with books over 300/400 pages and long TV series. It’s a weird way to think, but I consider whether this one work is worth as much as the many others I could engage with otherwise. 50 hours playing the Witcher 3? I could watch pretty much every Alfred Hitchcock film in that time. Is this one game better than the entire collected works of one of the greatest directors ever? Am I going to be as continually stimulated as a more focused work, be it a film, book or game? Inevitably, even in a game as good as The Witcher 3 I’ll spend a lot of time spent in dull combat. Certainly now I’m in term, I feel I don’t have time for a big, consuming work. However, games you can drop in and out of are great – just playing a couple of rounds of Overwatch or Rocket League, even after over 50 hours total play, doesn’t feel that bad. But committing to a story-led game or ‘completable’ game feels like a chore.

    • Wildbluesun says:

      I feel like this too. I have several hobbies other than games and I just don’t want to commit SO MUCH TIME to them.

    • April March says:

      Ha ha, it’s weird. I’ll jump into a long game amd play it to the end, or until I get bored (which usually takes a while), in three-hour sessions, every day if I have the time. I’ll pick up a huge, cinderblock-sized book and read it in tiny installments or huge installments as my time allows me and I’ll almost always finish it. And all the while it’s taken me over four years to get to the second season of Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix because I’m like “ugh I need to set aside a whole half hour for this”.

  8. DigitalParadox says:

    It all depends on whether or not it’s well paced. Whether a game is 6 hours or 60, if it’s well paced and keeps me engaged all the way through then that is time well spent, the main problem with longer titles is that they present more opportunities to lose that interest somewhere along the way. And if I’m engaged for 30 hours out of that 60 hour game and then get bored and decide to drop it, I still consider that time well spent.

    I can understand the attitude of “oh man so many new games right now how can I find the time to play this one long one”, but I find that since tried to steer away from feeling obligated to play everything I’ve started enjoying my gaming time a lot more.

  9. vorador says:

    And that’s the first sign that you’re getting old. When you no longer have the time for long games, even if they’re good.

    Personally i don’t mind long or short, as long as i’m having fun.

    • Ghostwise says:

      >And that’s the first sign that you’re
      >getting old. When you no longer have the
      >time for long games, even if they’re
      >good.

      As a retiree I find that statement odd. :-p

      • Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

        You lucky motherf…ahem, I mean, the reason you don’t feel old is because you’re about to enter your second childhood, ahem, I mean, your country of origin appreciates your years of honest, hard work, please enjoy your relaxing lifestyle. [joking, joking!]

        In all seriousness, a retiree gamer is something of an interesting sight from a market perspective: one tends to divide the market between kids with a lot of time on their hands and employed adults while forgetting that there are also mature gamers with both a (hopefully) decent income and a lot of time. I do wonder how large that market share is and how much it will grow in time.

    • FreshHands says:

      I have to agree here. It definitely seems to be a factor of age, like I have outgrown gaming in general, focusing on different things.

      However I would happily play more of games that I really like – for instance the Souls Series or Zeno Clash never seemed to offer enough content at a certain point, so I simply had to stop out of lack of variety.

      I guess the older you get, the smaller your tolerance is.

  10. Pawn says:

    If the game has good enough content to support the long playtime it’s all fine with me. This is one of the reasons I haven’t played a Ubisoft game for years :P

  11. Chaoslord AJ says:

    I realize people don’t have much time but I think the reward from deeply immersive high time investment games like Witcher 3 pays off for me. Also you get more playing time for your money from an economic point of view.
    What would you do with your playing time anyway after finishing a short game? Buying another short game.
    Only bad things in long games might be artificial filler stuff, backtracking, pointless collectables with no game-related use like the AC series / UBI-games have. Running back to base and checking up on teammates after each mission to not miss important dialogue. Right, Electronic Arts?

  12. BethanyAnne says:

    I have put, best I can figure, about 20k hours into WoW. Skyrim and Fallout 4, about 2-3 k hours each.

    • DanMan says:

      That doesn’t sound healthy TBH.

      • BethanyAnne says:

        I don’t argue it’s healthy. I was a contractor for about 8 years, and I worked about 6 months a year. Gave me lots of time to play, and not much else I wanted to do. Still not much else I want to do, but now I’ve gone back to reading some, too.

    • draglikepull says:

      You would have to play those games, and only those games, for 16 hours a day every day for 4.25 years to have accumulated so many hours. Or 8 hours a day, every day (including weekends), for 8.5 years. That sounds implausible to me, but who knows.

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        Nauallis says:

        Or non-stop for just under three years.

        8 hours a day, every day, for more than eight months to reach even 2k hours (each) in FO4/Skryim. Yikes.

        To each their own, anyway.

      • Pantalaimon says:

        5 hours a day every day for 12 years which is when I think WoW came out. Implausible but not exactly ‘unhealthy’.

        More healthy than working in an office every day for 9 hours for that length of time :)

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          Robertej92 says:

          An average of 5.7 – 8.7 hours a day for Fallout 4 alone given that it came out less than a year ago, either they’re exaggerating or that is most definitely an unhealthy amount for anyone to dedicate to a single game (unless maybe they’re in e-sports or rely on one game to earn a living on twitch/youtube)

          • Zekiel says:

            Um even if they are making a living its still an unhealthy amount of time!

    • BethanyAnne says:

      WRT WoW at least, 8+ hours a day is what people mean when they say “I raided Naxx in Vanilla.” That’s the core of why Blizzard changed raiding (and PvP) to take less time. I tend to play 5-7 hours most days now, and 20 hours ish on the weekend. So I guess I put 60 hours a week into each game. Eventually, it adds up.

  13. Solidstate89 says:

    They’re both. I still haven’t gotten around to even really starting The Witcher 3 even though I know I’d love it due to being intimidated by it. But I had no problems going through DX:MD and spending a good 40-50 hours in a single playthrough of that game.

  14. michael.neirinckx says:

    One thing that I factor in that wasn’t directly accounted for in the article is the length of a single play session. Sometimes, I may only have 30 minutes to sit down and play a game for. Therefore, it’s nice to be able to dive into a game fairly quickly and get satisfaction out of it.

    A perfect example being Metal Gear Solid 5. It’s a huge open world game, but I like how I can approach it in a variety of ways with respect to my time. Maybe I only have a short window to play for, and I have the option of doing a quick mission, or if I want a longer fix I can have that too.

    Flexibility is really what I want in a larger, grander game. The ability to have fun and advance in short windows and long windows alike.

    RTS and grand strategy games are the most intimidating to me. Because I know each session is going to be a very long one, and it’s hard to save it and jump back in. There is so much going on in a single game, and it takes considerable mental effort to re-acclimate yourself to the situation as it was when you left off.

    • phanatic62 says:

      This. I have a little one at home and I spend time with her before she goes to bed around 8pm (if I’m lucky). Then it’s time to do the dishes and clean up the rest of the house. By the time I can sit down to play I might only have half an hour. If I can’t save anywhere (damn you, checkpoints!) I probably won’t even start the game for fear of getting stuck in an area and having to quit before reaching a save point. Other games (strategy, etc) require me to remember what I was trying to do and by the time I get back into the swing of things it’s time to quit. A lot of the time I just skip gaming entirely or I start something that can be played in bite size chunks. I surprised myself by really getting into Devil Daggers, but then again I’m rarely getting past 100 seconds in a round, so it fits perfectly into my schedule.

    • Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

      Yes, I absolutely agree. My gaming time is not too limited (not having a family helps), but it does tend to be fairly scattered. I tend to have two different games at all times: a meatier one for the weekends (and some workday evenings) and a short one for lunch breaks and those “She’ll probably be late, I have about 20 minutes to spare, what should I do?” moments.
      The thing is, while the short spot is usually for something quick and replayable like Enter The Gungeon or Nuclear Throne, it can also go to a lengthy game as long as I can accomplish something meaningful in that time.
      For comparison: I bought a joystick and I’m going through the whole Freespace series again. They are fairly meaty and long games, but the individual missions won’t last more than 15 minutes each. On average, 10 minutes. I’ll gladly play that rather than, say, Endless Legend or Civ: a playthrough of one of those will last about as much as the two Freespace games combined, but it can’t be played in short bursts. What do you even do in 20 mins of EL? You spend half that time just getting your bearings and the other half taking turns that, by themselves, are pretty meaningless. Same goes for many RPGs. If the comparison sounds like apples and oranges, consider XCOM: a playthrough of that is lengthy as fuck, but the individual bits are relatively short and – meaningful -.

  15. dongsweep says:

    Definitely both. It entirely depends on the game. You have two prime examples, Mafia 3 and Witcher 3.

    I played Witcher to its completion, above 200 hours and started another play through after about a 6 month break. The game is not filled with fluff, every one of those hours was a joy.

    Take a game like Mafia 3 where the joy is in the story which they artificially elongate by terrible fluff that they throw in repeatedly (go kill one, all, or all but one), and I end up quitting. I do not have enough time to play something like that anymore. I still have quite a bit of gaming time for a 29 year old, but that time is precious to me and I will not waste it on something that monotonous.

    The price doesn’t matter to me at my age, if Mafia 3 was the same price and a 10 hour experience similar to the prologue I would have loved it.

    • dongsweep says:

      The more I think about it I am starting to think more games suffer from being too long than more games being too short. I believe that comes down to the story and the systems. Take a game like CK2, it has no story but the system is so good you can play that for hours and enjoy yourself. The other benefit here is you can quit at any time and say to yourself that’s enough, I’ve reached the end for me.

      Some games bask in small things that do not matter, collect this, collect that, clear this out fifteen times to move the story along. In those cases they need to realize the story is hampered by needing to do these things, so these things they require you to do should be fun, not overly repetitive and definitely not simple filler.

  16. DashingDorm says:

    Recently finished Blood & Wine, bringing my total Witcher 3 playtime to 184 hours. Loved almost every hour. Even most question mark thingies. Except Skellige water question marks, those were bad kind of question marks. I wouldn’t want my kids to be friends with THOSE question marks.
    I adore the “larger than life” kind of games, ever since Baldur’s Gate 2 times. There’s just something special, intimate in spending close to 200 hours with Geralt and the rest of the gang.
    Doesn’t quite work for other games though. DAI is an example of a game where I rushed the plot, despite my tendency to do all the optional stuff.
    Then again, I’m blessed with enough free time, and someone has to play all the games, so the rest of you, people, won’t have to!

  17. Stugle says:

    As I have less time to spend on playing games, I find I bounce hardest off those games that require an initial investment to learn the controls or mechanics – I’ll still happily sink 90 hours into a Fallout or Elder Scrolls game (spread out over many, many weeks), just as long as I can drop in and have fun from the get-go.

    It’s games that require a lot of upfront learning that I increasingly skip. Sure, in theory I’d like to play a serious flight sim or Gary Grigsby’s War in the East, or Dwarf Fortress, but if I have to drop several evenings into a game merely to understand what I’m doing, let alone do a proficient job at it, then I’m not going to, no matter how many hundreds of hours of exquisite entertainment lie behind that learning curve.

    • michael.neirinckx says:

      Yes, I hear you on that. Yet, it’s also part of one of my major contradictions. I want “hardcore” games. I adore games that don’t lead you by the hand or supply you with quest markers etc etc. I believe it’s key to immersion in a game world. However, a huge initial learning curve throws it away for me as well. Like you, I would love to get into Dwarf Fortress as it seems like my cup of tea.

      • Pantalaimon says:

        The interface is the largest hurdle to getting into Dwarf Fortress, really. But it’s just remembering some keys for important screens, such as ‘dig orders’ or ‘build orders’. Fiddly, but it only takes a week or so to pick it up, and that’s kind of part of the charm of it all. The very old school input style just adds to the dwarfiness.

        At any rate, for the mechanics, there is the excellent wiki, and there are lots of excellent visual guides all over the place (people often recommend the likes of Capt. Duck’s videos. Don’t know if he’s still doing guides for the new versions, but the old ones were fun).

  18. SadOldGuy says:

    Almost 20 years ago I played Tactics Ogre for the PS1 for 200 hours each for all three paths in the game. Now unless the gameplay is extremely compelling, maybe a new game gets a weekend.

    I notice that if a game has any kind of complicated crafting, well I cannot be bothered. So Fallout 4, Skyrim, Witcher III, God Eater, etc. lasted about an afternoon before I got bored. I liked Diablo III initially as did not really have to bother with crafting as the constant equipment drops were fine but high level gameplay requires micromanaging your equipment and skills so I eventually abandon my current character and start anew.

    • michael.neirinckx says:

      Another Tactics Ogre player! Truly one of my favorite games of all time, and woefully under the radar at that. I agree to a certain extent with crafting. I despise it in most games. There is one game where crafting was central to the game that I loved, another PS1 era RPG – Vagrant Story. It often makes me wonder what that game did right regarding it’s crafting. Have you played it?

      • SadOldGuy says:

        I have it on my PSVita TV but never played it. Twenty years ago I was 34 and already having problems keeping up with action games and that time was a golden age of turned based JRPG and strategy JRPG.

        • SadOldGuy says:

          Oh and the thing about Tactics Ogre is that each battle can be done in ten to twenty minutes, so it is easy to take a break and then decide to continue the story or maybe another random battle or maybe this time my cleric has the perfect stats to die and get reborn as an angel. Very basic gameplay but so many different tactics to find and use.

      • jrodman says:

        Personally I bounced *right* off Vagrant Story, finding the mechanics poorly explained and without any motivation to put forth the effort.

        I like reading manuals, but for games where I have to go read a FAQ to understand the systems, I typically just stop playing.

  19. anHorse says:

    If it’s long and good (Witcher) then I have no issue

    If it’s long and repetitive (everything ubisoft has ever made) then I won’t be finishing it

  20. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    I really would prefer games be shorter.

    Even with games I liked, even games that are critically lauded, I tend to find parts in them that drag on, that just seem to artificially increase the length and stop me from playing other stuff, or doing other more useful things. I don’t think I’ve ever considered a game to be too short. I enjoy playing 10 6-hours games about 10 times as much as playing one long 60 hour game.

    I still haven’t gotten around to Witcher 2, let alone 3 because I can’t see how I can devote the time to it.

  21. GuyIncognito says:

    Perhaps it’s a cop out, but: it depends on how good the game is.

    If I love the game (Witcher 3, CKII, Mass Effect) then I hope it never ends, and its length/complexity is an asset.

    If I don’t get into the game, then the length is just more of a chore and I’ll quit before it ends.

    But the takeaway is that the length doesn’t ultimately affect my affinity for a game. I’m always going to wish a good game was longer and a bad game was shorter.

  22. Pantalaimon says:

    It takes a variety of all sorts of game experiences.

    People talk about spending hundreds of hours with Civ or Sim City in their youth, and regret not having the time for that any more, but as I’ve got older I’ve become really fond of the short form games that only last a few hours (digital or tabletop), because they can break up the ‘epic’ length experiences of other games. And having these parcels of gaming of different lengths and cadences really lets you enjoy them all a lot more.

    There are some amazing one-hour games that I’ve played once and won’t ever play again, but they’re just as memorable as those that last dozens of hours longer.

    I guess it depends how much time you spend on gaming, but 60 hours is relatively bitesize. RPGs tend to run to 100s of hours, and occupy a decent middle ground. I usually burn out on them around that point, anyway.

    But I have save games in Football Manager that lasted ten times as long as that, months and months of gaming, and they never really end – those managers are still out there somewhere, stalking the touchline and chasing the next elusive treble.

    I’ve probably put just as much time into games like Dota or Magic, but the time is compartmentalized into short bursts. I can’t say that I value those experiences less, but it’s harder to get a sense of them belonging to anything as substantial as, say, a manager’s 30 years in football, or the decades overseeing a dwarven fortress. Sure, I am a much better player than I was when I stepped up to my first creep wave, but every match the clock resets and you’re back to level 1 again.

    I think the world is pretty hooked on this kind of capsule gaming experience that lasts around 30 minutes to an hour, and rarely much longer. But I am heartened that the likes of Rockstar, Bethesda, Paradox and large numbers of indie developers still respect the long-form game and ask that players give over larger portions of their day to enjoying those games.

  23. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    Thing is, there’s long games like Witcher 3 (Which I’ve almost finished and am loving!), where there’s a certain amount of ‘content’ and eventually you’ve seen it all.
    Then there’s games like your Football managers or Kerbal Space Program, where a lot of it is about making your own fun, and that can go on for hour and hours (512 hours in KSP according to Steam).

  24. something says:

    In general, if it’s a story driven game, the sooner it’s over, the better. Way too many terrible stories to waste time on.

    Sometimes I’m looking for something to sink time into – probably not a healthy attitude but there it is. Then I look for a game with mechanics I can get my teeth into, or at least a big world I can get lost in. I can usually shrug off Bethesda and Rockstar’s stories while enjoying their expertly crafted environments.

    Then there’s games like Civilization, where I forgive the drawn out gameplay because of a historical attachment to the series.

    Then sometimes I fire up an emulator and remember when games were expected to be playable instantaneously and for arbitrarily short amounts of time. Need more of that.

  25. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    Open-world games tend to be an exercise in how willing you are to curate your own experience, I think. I’m currently playing AC Unity, and after a few miserable hours spent trying to get everything, I’ve trimmed it back to just doing the viewpoints, cafe missions, and murder mysteries, with occasional detours back to the main quest. Been having a blast ever since. I guess ideally the devs would already be culling the boring stuff for you, but in a world of AAA budgets I can sympathize with the desire to provide as much Content™ as possible in order to coax $60+ out of a mass audience.

    This is certainly not a universally held opinion, but I thought DA Inquisition did a pretty good job with this. You can completely ignore the armor crafting, shards, astrariums, dragon fights, and most of the war table stuff and still finish the game just fine (even the map clutter is kept to a relative minimum if you’re actively avoiding this stuff); but if you (like me) really enjoy spending time in that world, the side activities all provide a worthwhile excuse for roaming around those gorgeous environments.

  26. Premium User Badge

    Jekadu says:

    A few years ago I still didn’t understand why people didn’t like lengthy games. I mean, lengthy games were the best! You could immerse yourself properly into the game! Wouldn’t the story feel terribly abbreviated in a shorter game? How can a character feel relatable if they don’t have their own story arc? What’s the point of a vastly complicated progression system if you’re just going to have the player blow through it?

    And so on and so forth. All hogwash, of course. In recent years I’ve come to feel that long games aren’t confident in their ability to keep the player entertained; the devs fill the world with content and hope that sheer volume will mask the fact that most of it means very little to the game.

    I’ve become a fan of episodic, evolving (where new content supercedes old content, such as in WoW) and expansion-driven models instead. Craft a piece of content that is respectful of your time and delivers a meaningful experience. Let the player choose if they want to play another part.

    • Premium User Badge

      Jekadu says:

      Here’s another thought: scalability of content. Many games are designed to ensure players can almost always accomplish something meaningful in-game, regardless of how much they can play in a given session. After two months playing Legion, though, it has become clear to me that there are very few games where this concept scales beyond individual play sessions. When you can only play in short bursts, there should be systems that accommodate this explicitly (e.g. World Quests) and which are presented clearly.

      Legion is very clever about this: activities can be grouped into tiers based on how much time and/or effort they take, and players are free to attack each tier as time allows. Players with more time will need to put in a bit more effort for each tier to get the same rewards, but they will progress faster without feeling like they have to keep up the same level of effort every day for the game to feel rewarding.

      • Rainshine says:

        Historically, this was part of what attracted me to WoW. If I had thirty minutes to burn, I could login and solo play for thirty minutes questing or doing a quick pvp match. If I had two hours, I could team up and run a dungeon. Not much integration/remembering where I was time, and no resets or lost time because I messed up or died.

        • Premium User Badge

          Jekadu says:

          WoW has been very good at offering content for all playstyles in the past, but Legion is the first expansion where I feel they finally managed to get it to click mechanically. Warlords of Draenor came close, but the pool of dailies was too small each day for it to feel like just doing some of the content made sense.

  27. JFS says:

    When it’s good, I stick around longer, but I find that a) most long games outstay their welcome sooner or later and b) I get a little sad when I see the Steam time counter. 40 or 60 hours spent in one game – I dunno, it might have been fun, but that seems excessive and leads me to wonder what other (useful) things I could have achieved in that time. Especially when other games that from memory entertained me quite long and well only clock in at 10 or 20 hours when I look them up.

    I am positively sure, however, that opinion on this matter is a function of age on one hand and having other hobbies or things to attend to on the other hand. I guess most of us would love to be 15 and waste three weeks on one great game again.

  28. Premium User Badge

    TightByte says:

    To me, this kind of dovetails with what this site has covered before:
    link to rockpapershotgun.com
    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    Different strokes for different folks. As per the linked articles I have provided, you can see how certain games journalists give glowing reviews to the parenthood experience, and subsequently come to score certain grand, immerseive, perhaps even epic, games somewhat differently than before.

    Others find the prospect of taking on an excess of what you term “real life responsibilities taking up one’s waking hours” unappealing, and instead find they are at liberty to get lost in games that grant enough scope for getting lost in them to be possible.

    Personally, as can perhaps be gleaned by how I’ve put this, I find myself in the latter category. I love games such as the Witcher 3 and wish there were more like them.

  29. Gordon Shock says:

    I am 34 hours in Fallout 4 and so far I am having a blast, and I have yet to explore a 1/4 of the map.

    I mean so long as it is fun. When that stops I either put the game down or breeze through the remaining of the story, if it is interesting, and move on.

    A long game for me is like a vacation, I carefully plan it, let go once in it and live it to the fullest and go back home when the fun stops or that the game is over.

  30. Tobli says:

    I don’t really feel that long games are intimidating. I am the kind of guy that will go out of his way to finish sidequests in a game like the witcher 3, and other large scale games where that content is gratifying in it’s own right.

    On the other hand i hear about games like Mafia 3 where it seems like you are forced to do bland content even if you just want to progress trough the story. Which among other factors makes me not even consider playing trough it. So for me it’s probably more about respect for my time rather than game lenght.

    • Holzkohlen says:

      Exactly. That’s the reason why I don’t like MMOs: a lot of bland content. And that’s one reason why I’m not into competitive multiplayer. It’s just so meaningless.

  31. Pyromanta says:

    I used to gobble up massive games all the time. Now I’m older, work and have a house (and 3 ferrets) to keep I just don’t have the time. Like many of us, time is precious for me and if I’m going to spend it gaming I want it to be worth it. Smaller games demand less of us and in turn don’t necessarily need to excel. Like blasting through a CoD campaign; its popcorn garbage but lasts about 6 hours so who cares? Most movies are 2+ hours now and we even find time for the not-so-great ones. As for larger games, it’s telling than I played a lot of Fallout 4 when it came out as I had some time off work. Now I’ve not touched it in months. The Witcher 3 however I’ve kept coming back to over again. It’s like a good book that can wait for when I have some time to spend with it. Quality is everything. Great article Adam.

  32. Holzkohlen says:

    I love long games that are worth my time. Witcher 3 took me 120 hours to finish including the side-story mission and I loved it. Unfortunately I can’t seem to get myself to play and DLC for it. Every game simply becomes boring after some time: Fallout 3 ~ 50h, Skyrim ~ 100h and so on. I sometimes play them for an hour or so again but that’s it. I sadly don’t even enjoy playing them anymore.

  33. Premium User Badge

    Nauallis says:

    To the title question: yes!

    Edit: holy crap, that was longer than I thought

    How much of either is hugely dependent on the type of game! For me, it fundamentally comes down to whether the mechanics of gameplay are “fun” or “rewarding” on a small time-frame/regular basis. For turn-based strategy games, those mechanics would be the actions available each turn, and if the consequences on subsequent turns enable more choices/actions that are rewarding, and lead to more choices/actions, etc and so on. For real-time games, and more specifically (for me) first- and third-person shooters, how do the mechanics of play feel? Am I capable of tweaking my playstyle for each encounter in a manner that is both satisfactory and repeatable? Are there multiple options for how I clear an area/encounter? Do the mechanics of shooting/reloading/using abilities/movement feel like they mesh together cohesively, and if a multiplayer game, do those rules apply similarly to other players? For singleplayer games, is the character, world, and story writing immersive and integrated? Can I make choices that affect the short- and long-term story, gameplay, or game world?

    At their core, feeling rewarded for these “simple mechanics” are my reason to continue to play any title. Lately it’s been Stardew Valley, Destiny, and Fallout 4. Neither Stardew Valley nor Destiny are the sort of “long game” that I think the article is originally asking, because they are essentially replay games, with same actions/encounters repeated dozens if not hundreds of times, but in both cases much of the content for both gameplay and story is locked behind repetition of earlier gameplay. And that repetitive gameplay is itself fun, which allows me to look back after hundreds of hours and say “yes, that was time well-spent.”

    Fallout 4 is not quite a “true RPG” but since it features an ongoing story and an evolving main character, again it’s the mechanics of looting, exploring, leveling up, and assigning perks that give it the moment-to-moment joy, and again, give me that incentive to look at a playthrough of more than a hundred hours and say “yes, that was a good game.”

    My point is that when those regular mechanics either are tedious, become tedious, or break in some way, is when a game is either intimidating to begin with, or becomes intimidating. This is at its worst when you don’t find out until after you start playing. The random-encounter battle style of the older Final Fantasy games put me off of playing future Final Fantasy games because it’s so tedious to randomly be forced into battle against weak enemies while trying to explore, and the constant interruption to “continuous gameplay” can make it difficult to follow a story that is almost always convoluted and nonsensical. As the Witcher 3 is being used heavily as an example, my own experience with it was that it was fun, until about 40 hours in (an arbitrary number) I experienced the engine undergoing severe framerate lag, which broke the immersion and made basic gameplay tedious. I liked the game, but I haven’t wanted to go back. And that’s also put me off of other highly-recommended open world RPG-action games, like Shadow of Mordor. For a game series like Dark Souls (yes, yes, I know it’s an over-used trope), which I’ve been led to believe can have playthroughs upwards of 40 hours, the base game play sounds frustratingly tedious.

    As I get older, the time necessary is itself a problem, because there are simply too many apparently great and high-quality games to play.

    All of that said, I do tend towards optimism with games, and longer games with deep story / immersive worlds / exploration are generally appealing. It’s just that reality gets in the way.

  34. ZakG says:

    I think it just means your getting old ;) Soon you’ll be doing most of your gaming on your phone and playing quick casual match 3 games. It’s all downhill from there :(

  35. haldolium says:

    I stopped quite a while ago caring for games lengths.

    It’s not a factor for the entertainment value. Some games are long and boring, others are short and entertaining and the other way around. And then there are countless games that are made to be played repeatedly or even indefinitely.

    For me it entirely depends on how well the game itself, it’s pacing and genereal presentation is build and shown.

  36. mactier says:

    “Intimidating”
    Not so, I think in general they have become tiring.

    I still think Baldur’s Gate 2 is the ONLY game that ever successfully realized the appeal of 200 hours as a bounty, and not at best “not quickly running out of material” or “always being able to return to it” (which never worked for me, since even something like Civilization has clearly recognizable patterns).

    And mostly it is now a way to guarantee long-lasting sales, obligatory ownership (of one of the BIG games) and never-ending self-advertising.

  37. Wulfram says:

    Long games are appealing in my circumstances. I have an abundance of time but not an abundance of money. If I’m going to part with a wodge of cash I want a good return

    But including too much filler is bad if its not easily identifiable and skippable. I want to actually be enjoying myself.

  38. kud13 says:

    Since I finished Uni, came home, got a job, got more involved in sports and developed a rudimentary social life, it’s a serious challenge. I am still attracted by idea of long, complex games (though I did pretty much give up on grand strategy games), but there’s the question of logistics.

    In order to deal with this, I tried to organize my backlog, picking the “top” games that I’m most interested in (regardless of critical reception). And then… I play them when I have time.

    With long, sprawling games, I find I have much more free time in the winter, when I’m less social. Shorter, more action-y games I can sometimes even play a few hours a night after I come home from work on a weekday.

    Sure, i’m hopelessly behind the curve- i’ve yet to play any Elder Scrolls, or any GTA or its clones past GTA2. But, y’know, I play single-player games to have fun, first and foremost. So I don’t care that the rest of the world is raving about GTA V already, i’ll be enjoying my hobby at my own pace.

  39. Ivan says:

    Like lots of other folks, of course quality is the primary determinant. No one wants something long that’s subpar or even mediocre.

    But, the best experiences for me are the ones that are incredibly meaty at a high level of quality, simply because more “good” stuff is always better than less “good” stuff. Witcher 3 is easily my favorite game of all time, and it is one of the meatiest games of all time, just in terms of meaningful, high-quality stuff to do.

    I long Long War for XCOM:EU/EW, not because I’m any good at it (I’m horrible), but because it’s an incredibly meaty experience that gives me a lot to chew on and think about and immerse myself into, even if I’m pathetic at it. I’m way more satisfied in what feels like a more immersive Long War campaign that I have to abandon in June than I ever was with XCOM2, because everything in XCOM2 felt tacked on and moved by way too quickly, and nothing got a chance to breathe.

    In short, long games are more appealing than short games, so long as they were appealing in the first place aside from length. (YMMV, of course.)

  40. vikerness says:

    For me games need to have at least one of these things:
    Huge replay value like civ or total war
    Versus multiplayer like battlefield
    Be huge in length with enough interesting content like witcher 3 or fallout 4

    If 1 week after I bought it I have no reason to play it anymore, then that’s not enough value for the money.

    You may want to consider mister Adam that not everyone has the chance or money to switch from game to game every other day and there’s a lot of people that just stick to a few games for the entire year. So they better be worth it.

    PS: I hate when I see people getting excited for a sequel yet they didn’t even take the time to finish the previous game in the series. Doesn’t make any sense.

  41. pelwl says:

    What I hate most are games with too much padding, eg Ubisoft games, Mad Max, Mafia 3 – those that could have been an excellent 15 hour experience but were ruined by cookie cutter busywork.

    RPGs are generally okay when lengthy and filled with side quests, although I even got burned out on the Witcher 3 and couldn’t face completing it even though I knew it would take me little more than an hour or two. I wish I had avoided the monster nest type side quests which were generally dull and repetitive.

    As far as Civ, CK2 and FM are concerned, the former can be completed in a session or two. Civ is all about replaying the game, so it’s quite different from the latter two. CK2 and FM do make me feel like I’ve just wasted hours of my life. I guess because there’s no real end to them, and also they sometimes feel like I’m only spending a small proportion of gametime actually doing anything, rather than just waiting around.

  42. KastaRules says:

    When you are young with a lot of time on your hands it is a huge plus… but as you get older, with a day job, wife and kids it quickly becomes daunting to get involved in a long game; at least for me.

    Then again, as long as the game keeps the player entertained without mindless and repetitive grinding I still welcome a lengthy story, there’s no hurry after all. You’ll just have time to complete fewer games, thus you will have to choose wisely what you are gonna play.

  43. Monggerel says:

    If you got a life to piss down the drain: go long and go hard.

    If you got a life and it hasn’t been pissed down the drain: I literally cannot imagine you playing video games. What the fuck?

  44. zind says:

    You touch on it in the Civ/CK/FM paragraph, but for me “long” and “massive” aren’t necessarily equivalent, and open-world games are the perfect example of where the two differ. Just because a game gives me a bunch of stuff to do doesn’t mean I’m going to do all of it, or even want to.

    An open-world game that tries to conflate size and length by making some amount of side content compulsory I am likely to find either intimidating or irritating. On the other hand, a Shadows of Mordor or a Witcher 3 or a Skyrim, where the side-content is optional and yet still informs the storyline, is very appealing to me. I spent weeks doing every contract and every mission in the Witcher, and then at some point I got sick of it and had outleveled so many things so I just raced through the rest of the story.

    I guess to boil it down, a game with a lot of stuff to do that lets me get away with only doing the bits I feel like at the moment is usually appealing. A game with a lot of stuff to do that compels me to do as much of it as possible is intimidating if well done, irritating if not. Intimidating isn’t a negative thing either – I’ll gladly play an intimidating game, but probably not unless I’m on holiday or have at least a long weekend to really sink my teeth into it.

  45. Serenegoose says:

    I generally find that I enjoy (and still have time for) videogame experiences of widely varying lengths. But what I did find out recently, going through a time of not having much money, was just how much more I appreciated being able to pick up a game and knowing I could absolutely delve into that for ages. Games like the Stanley Parable are all well and good (and I adored that game) but if it’s the only new thing you’re going to be playing for an indefinite period of time, then longer games acquire a whole new sort of value to them.

  46. Arcturan Megadonkey says:

    #firstworldproblems

    =)

  47. Premium User Badge

    zapatapon says:

    I think I may soon reach a point where I will quit playing video games altogether. Games have been part of my life for 30 years, I read RPS almost every day, yet now, with a demanding job and a nice family, I find it increasingly difficult to pursue this hobby. The (not negligible) time I invest in it still does not feel enough for me to be satisfied (precisely due to the length of the games I’d wish to play), I am in fact feeling increasingly frustrated. Concentrating on short-length games only does not feel like it will appease this in any way. I am constantly adding games to my steam library that I’d like to play, but won’t, as buying has become a sort of vicarious act for playing. Part of the problem is, even if I love gaming, I have to admit to myself that it does not generally have the same density of experience per unit of time that other even pure entertainment activities like reading, listening to music or watching a movie have, not to even mention depth. It’s starting to function like an addiction, really.

    Currently on the Witcher two (and very much enjoying it, mostly), but the slight feeling of guilt (I could probably use this time for something better) and frustration (oh no, look at how much more time I will need if I want to finish this) are nagging at me.

  48. stutubecru says:

    I Quit my office-job and now I am getting paid 98 usd hourly. How? I work over internet! My old work was making me miserable, so I was forced to try something different, 2 years after…I can say my life is changed-completely for the better! Check it out what i do…

  49. Barberetti says:

    Appealing.

    That’s what I like. A nice easy one for the middle of the week.

  50. TheAngriestHobo says:

    It really depends on the nature of the game, doesn’t it?

    As you say, TW3 worked because the attention to detail was consistent throughout the game. You could load it up, play a single sidequest in 30 minutes to an hour, and be rewarded with an interesting and unique story. In this, it feels like a television series – you have a consistent set of characters and single, overriding story arc, but the format allows for standalone stories within that setting.

    Compare this to, say, Alien: Isolation, where you’re shackled to single storyline for the entirety of your playthrough. Now, A:I is a fine game, but most people agree that it outstays its welcome after a while, and I suspect that that’s because the pacing of the story is subordinated to the gameplay. Rather than taking the “TV series” approach to storytelling, A:I is more akin to a twenty-hour movie (or however long it actually is… I got bored and quit after about fifteen hours).

    I think that if a game is going to be that expansive, it needs to offer up its stories in bite-size pieces that allow the player a sense of accomplishment within a single sitting. Far too many games rely on repetition and drudgery to artificially inflate playtime, which burns out the average player long before they reach the ending.

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