Sunday Meditation: Why Aren't You Finishing Your Games?
Unfinished games aren't just annoying to the gamers themselves but they are also on the minds of developers.
For that reason I think it is worth taking a look at the tendency of gamers not to actually finish playing their games. Many of us have backlogs to deal with, that's nothing new, but we can probably dispense with the oldest of those games and think about the current rotation.
In my case I had this plan you see. I was going to get inFamous: Second Son and beat it just in time for Final Fantasy X HD. Then I was going to play that through the so-called drought. Only there wasn't a drought, not for me at least. I got a crazy notion to get a wheel and some racing games, even though I don't usually play them at all. Then Sony kicked off a couple of those flash sales. Child of Light wanted some attention. Then I got interested in Bound By Flame. All the sudden I've got roughly 5 games going at once.
So now I've got to put them into triage, playing the ones I think I can finish and that won't take forever. Sometimes it feels like work. In any case I've noticed something: it's a lot more fun to start a game than to finish it. Sometimes I even put off finishing a game if I'm not keen on it ending. Then there's the very good chance that the ending is going to let me down, or simply set up the next sequel. These are minor concerns though.
We've heard developers' concern over the percentages of people who finish their games and it seems it might even translate into more attention on multiplayer, but even though MP is the big thing I question whether that is much of a driving force behind gamers not finishing their games. You could probably say they are related in one respect though: modern attention spans. It isn't just a millenial thing, with so much instant gratification in gaming these days a lot of us have been conditioned to constantly be amazed. That's something difficult to do for an 8-10 hour stretch, or especially a 60 hour stretch for RPGs. Maybe that's why some campaigns are shortening up. If you are a developer and you've got a great story to tell but no one has the attention span for it then you probably can't help but want to make adjustments. I still remember IO Interactive's metrics telling them only 20% of gamers would finish Hitman: Absolution.
Increasingly my mind meanders back to the simple fact that there are now more games of better quality than there ever were in the history of gaming. While some still play just a few franchises per year those folks tend to be sticking with multiplayer elements anyway. As I crawl the net and see my fellows talking about all the games they are playing month after month I must conclude that the biggest reason people aren't finishing their games is because those who can afford it (usually the ones for whom gaming is their main/only hobby) are just inundated with quality titles. We get distracted from one game to another to another and eventually find ourselves in a place we never thought we'd be in the old days: playing games based on our mood at the time. It's almost like a change of clothes isn't it? When you can play whatever you want based on your mood it could be days, weeks, or even months before the mood strikes you to return to a genre, character, or setting. With all the game releases and digital sales that could be what ultimately creates those nasty backlogs.
How about it? Why aren't you finishing your games?
5/10/2014 David D. Nelson