: Editorial: Shorter Games Were Necessary

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Editorial: Shorter Games Were Necessary

During the course of this generation, many gamers have called out the decreasing length of video games. But as the industry grows and caters to an increasingly older demographic, one has to wonder- isn't shorter games a good thing?

Hey, this isn't coming from your typical 30+ gamer who just doesn't have enough time to indulge in his favorite hobby. Firstly, that isn't really true and secondly, I was one of those people who were very disappointed if their selection didn't last at least 40 hours. Granted, I'm referring to my RPG-exclusive days in the original PlayStation era, but the point is that at one time in my gaming career, my mantra was, "the longer the better." 120 hours into SaGa Frontier.  Yep.

And I still love my games. However, while my job and simple bachelor lifestyle allows me to play almost as much as I want, I've caught glimpses of reasons why older gamers would prefer shorter adventures. For instance, all my friends tend to have even less time than I and as a direct result, most have become casual gamers. They still enjoy this form of entertainment, of course, but they no longer have the time - or indeed, the motivation - to play a long, involved game that takes 20+ hours to complete. And me, even with the time I have, I have yet to complete Dragon Age II.

Now why would that be? As I said, it's not really a matter of time... Essentially, my tastes are more diverse these days, and I think this is an inevitable aging occurrence. I like to read more than ever; I like to take up other hobbies and projects every now and then, and in general, I like to relax in different ways. Before, my relaxation basically revolved around games but now, it just seems like there's so much more out there. I'll finish DAII (very soon, in fact), I'll still complete a fair amount of games each year, and I still adore my favorite hobby and my growing collection.

But really, a 10-hour campaign for anything is enough for me these days. And as I've just illustrated, I'm someone who not only still has the chance to indulge in lengthy gaming sessions, but often did in the past. Others, who have even more interests and less time, will likely agree. And the average age of a gamer continues to rise. ...see where I'm going with this?

4/29/2011 Ben Dutka

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Comments (54 posts)

LittleBigMidget
Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 9:48:49 PM
Reply

Games need to be longer than 12 hrs to justify a $60 purchase imo, it also depends on how much content the game packs.

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Jawknee
Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 10:09:48 PM
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Nah, I have less time to play but I still want my monies worth. Even though I less time, I can still get to them eventually.

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Godslim
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 6:22:09 AM

exactly even tho i dont have as much time any more i still want a nice lengthy game

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TheAgingHipster
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 8:02:52 AM

Not me. My PS3 game library has hit two-shelf status, and there are several items on the shelf that I haven't even played yet thanks to too much work. At this point, I wonder if I will ever have the time to get to them, and when I do, if they're more than a 20 hour game (equivalent to two marathon sessions on a free weekend), I will likely never finish them, which bums me out to no end.

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Lawless SXE
Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 10:10:27 PM
Reply

I think that they are necessary, but shouldn't be overly short. I mean, five or six hours, in my estimation is too short, because that can easily be clocked within a week and that's if you only put an hour or so into your games each day. I find that nine-ten is good, as it usually takes me a week or more to beat a game of that length, and it doesn't become tedious.

I try to put at least a couple of hours a day in, but between work, exercise, reading and writing, as well as taking time out to do absolutely nothing, I find myself often unable to hit that target. I also find a growing discontent with games. I used to be able to sit down and do four or five hour sessions with breaks only to grab something to eat, or just to get up and stretch my legs. Now, they often can't hold my interest for longer than an hour at a time, so I really have to ration myself to get maximum enjoyment from the hobby.

This really does make me wonder whether I'll still consider myself a 'core' gamer in five years or ten.

But yeah, I agree that some games need to be short, just so that we can have a break between the ones that drain our attention for extremely long periods of time. That being said, it's not often that I'll pick up a short game at full price, unless it seems to have a lot of replay value, or simply provides real bang for your buck.
Peace.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 10:32:00 PM

I know what you mean, and sometimes I get annoyed with myself that I'm ready to stop playing after only an hour.

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TheAgingHipster
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 8:04:56 AM

Amen, fellas. It's like I passed my gaming prime or something.

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Riku994
Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 10:10:36 PM
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I love having really long games. I put over 50 hours into Twilight Princess and I wanted more. I love games like oblivion where I can put any amoutn of time into it as I want and still have infinitely more to do. I can't stand games that are too short. When I finished Portal 2 co-op I just wanted SO much more. But I guess I'm asking a bit too much. Oh well..

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tes37
Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 10:15:51 PM
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I still want my games to be over 10 hours, but I have played a few that I just wanted to hurry up and get to the end. If it's fun, then I want it to last a while.

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MysteriousMagus
Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 10:21:08 PM
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I say it really depends on the game genre. Shooters in fact got shorter and only action based. If anyone remembers MoH2 Underground on psone. That game had a long campaign and it actually had more objectives and such. I could say it was more of a stealth game but still was an FPS and a really challenging one.
I personally liked the old FPS like doom or so much more than current ones.

I haven't finished Crysis 2 yet. I don't know how long it really is but I do know that I did finish Killzone 3 in around 5 hours. I kept owning and it variety that kept me playing....

IMO if a game has quality and variety in gameplay. It doesn't matter if its 6-10 hours long. I would say that I still enjoy it.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 10:33:10 PM

What did you do skip the cut scenes?

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Godslim
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 6:24:12 AM

IMO if a game has quality and variety in gameplay. It doesn't matter if its 6-10 hours long. I would say that I still enjoy it.

true but i still like a longer game
i know many dont aggree with me but i always thought cod4 had this.....was short sp but i really enjoyed it

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kraygen
Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 10:30:42 PM
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I've said it before and this is just how I see it. If a game is amazing, fun, great story, then it can be long regardless of genre or time restraints upon a person. If the game is worthy people will play it until its completion.

It might take us more sessions of sitting down and playing for us to finish it, but if a game is worthy we will want to see the end of it.

What's wrong with that? I can understand if you don't have several hours to play sometimes you want to pick up some MP and just play a quick game, but we all have time sometime if we really want to.

Personally I just can't justify spending a lot of money on something that only lasts so long, I have to get my moneys worth.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 10:38:23 PM
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It kind of depends on what kind of gamer you are. I try to play lots and lots of games so I don't mind a shorter campaign much, but it's great to have a game like Fallout where you can just get lost in there for months too. What it comes down to is whether or not the game is worth the full cost, and for a guy who doesn't care for multiplayer I don't feel like anything under 8-10 hours for action games or under 30-40 hours for RPGs are worth the full cost.

I think the gamer demographic is fragmenting big time along lines like these. I see little replay value in multiplayer, others see it as the end all be all only reason to plunk down $60.

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hadouken
Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 11:56:52 PM
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If it's a good game than I don't care how short or long it is.

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hadouken
Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 11:57:17 PM
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Oh yeah I dig the scroll bar.

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Lawless SXE
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 12:06:16 AM

I don't. I know you can turn it off, but it defaults back if I reload the page. :/

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 12:26:00 AM

It is the scourge of this site and the bane of my video game discussion existence.

Agree with this comment 5 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

TheAgingHipster
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 8:06:37 AM

@WEWM, don't hold back, tell us how you really feel about it. ;)

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PS3_Mom
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 8:47:16 AM

FYI- Scrollbar toggle doesn't seem to work in FireFox.

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Clamedeus
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 9:17:49 AM

That's odd, I have Firefox and it's working flawlessly. Maybe it's only some users? Not sure.

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dkmrules
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 10:49:09 AM

Works with google chrome

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helgso
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 11:17:26 AM

You may not scroll the scrollbar before you disable it. It will only be disabled if you haven't scrolled anything in it

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 11:44:30 AM

and it'll default back anyway when you reload later

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Russell Burrows
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 1:04:46 AM
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No, at my 49 years I want games that last LONGER.
My solution to games that last 100 hours or longer i.e, Oblivion, Fallout 3 GOTY, etc is to use the save feature.

Back to playing FO3 New Vegas......................

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Russell Burrows
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 1:07:18 AM
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I discovered the save game feature.
Great for games like Oblivion, Fallout 3 GOTY, FO3 New Vegas and soon Skyrim.

Longer lasting games get my vote and more importantly my dollars.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 11:54:39 AM

Wait, you JUST found out that you can save your game?

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Dancemachine55
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 1:43:39 AM
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I like a nice middle.

Games with multiplayer like FPS' or Littlebig Planet, a 12-18 hour campaign is fine by me. anything less than 12 hours is too short, money-wise anyways.

Red Dead Redemption is one of my all-time favourite examples of this. It took me nearly 40 hours of game time to finish the campaign, and I hadn't even touched the multiplayer yet. Pure gaming gold!!

I'm hoping LA Noire follows the same formula as Red Dead and Heavy Rain. Lengthy Campaign with multiple play-throughs.

As I get older, I have less and less time to get through games, let alone games that I don't engage with completely. For example, I only got about 5 hours into Fallout 3. Only 2 hours into Oblivion. 3 hours into Crysis. A quarter of the way through Bioshock.

In fact, I find a nice balance for me is to buy one game a month and just play that one game until I finish it completely, sidequests and all. Sadly, I've only put that practice in this year. My back catalogue from the last 3 years is ridiculous.

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Claire C
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 1:43:46 AM
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For me I think it depends on the experience. If a game is great with good pacing I usually won't pay any attention to length. Length isn't everything. ;)

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RadioHeader
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 5:47:29 AM

I love you, Claire <3

Take me for instance. Some may say I'm short but I'm all action! ...KZ3 that is.

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Dancemachine55
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 9:36:53 AM

Have to agree there, Claire C.

Cod 4 MW wasn't very long, but of all the Cod's it was definitely the best experience.

I also got very very bored with some long games. Like you say, length isn't everything. A game doesn't HAVE to be over 12 hours long if the story doesn't need that much time to be told. Otherwise players would hate the game for wasting their time with so much time wasting, repetitive filler content.

Thanks for the enlightening comment. When you consider the experience the game offers, length really has little to do with it. Also makes editorials like this a little redundant. (sorry Ben)

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FM23
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 2:04:24 AM
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Well, this depends. If your someone who doesn't buy every game, then one or two longers a** every month or two are essential. I have began to workout harder and playball like I use to 2 years ago and I again find myself becoming less interested in spending the vast amount of my free time playing video games anymore. Yeah, so the PSN problem isn't that bad for me either. But that doesn't mean I want KZ3 length campaigns. I don't buy everygame, but I play the good ones. My PS3 will be pretty dead until LA Noire comes out and when it does hit, I want it to last a good amount of time until Infamous 2 comes out. If it doesn't pack a solid MP experience for the consumer, there is no reason why a game should be less than 10hrs meaning the second playthrough is 7hrs. That's $60 better spent on essentials.

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___________
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 3:20:00 AM
Reply

if you think 60 bucks is to much for games come live here and pay almost doubble that!
well actually no, technically it is doubble that because when you factor in exchange rates being that the AUD is worth more then the USD you pretty much are paying doubble!

considering how many units most games sell games should be allot cheaper!
games on a adverage cost say 30M to make.
for ease lets say all of those cost 60 bucks each and assume they sold 1M units which most games do.
thats 60 million bucks made off the game that cost 30M, thats doubble!
30M not enough of a profit for ya!?
not to mention most games sell at least 2M units so thats 60M in profits!
i think games should be no more then 60 USD and then conversion for each other dollar.
not the usual conversion then a little icing on top, then a little more, then a little more.

as for how long games should be, same as i said in a similar article a while back.
depends on what genre.
not too short that your left feeling unsatisfied, but then also not so long that it feels like its dragging!
portal 2 kinda felt like that to me, but i think thats because the last half of the games almost the same so its the repetetiveness and not the length that made it drag on.
allot of developers underestimate how important the ending to a game is.
the problem is how a game ends is how someones going to remember and talk about it.
so if you end a game being bored your much likely to be negetive about the game, then if you finished loving it.
i can see why epic always do the ending and work backwards, its important to get the start right otherwise people will just leave, but its much more important to get the ending right!

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Lawless SXE
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 4:30:24 AM

Yeah but that $60 (or $89-99 here) doesn't equate to pure profit. The retailers take a cut, as do the publishers and that's after they've already added on the publishing costs. Besides that there's shipping to take into account, advertising costs and (a lot of the time nowadays) server upkeep. I think I remember reading once upon an age ago that by the time money gets back to developers, it's only 20% profit. Going by your logic if that's a correct assumption, that means that they make $12/sale, and working that out to $30 million, you end up with... 2.5 million sales to break even. And that has to be new sales as well.

Many games don't manage to do that. At least, not in a timeframe where they're still being sold at full price.
Peace.

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GuernicaReborn
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 9:27:36 AM

If a game costs 30M to make, does that take into account the cost of advertising as well? Also, alot of games are published by one company and developed by another, so money is getting split between both companies as well.

I can't imagine paying over $100 dollars for a game. $60.00 USD converts to about $55.00 AUS, so its not due to the conversion rate. Your games are just more expensive. If I were in Australia, I wouldn't be gaming anymore.

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Vivi_Gamer
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 4:06:22 AM
Reply

I like a long paced game, only if it can handle itself, XII the prime example of a game that is too long for its own good. The story was spread out far to long between 5 hours of landscapes where nothing happened. XIII is probaly the only game I have played this gen to go the distance in length. 55 hours for the main story, 110 hours for the platinum. that was 110 without a dull moment.

Fallout 3 is probaly the other game I think of when it comes to lenght, I have completed it many times, first time it took me 60 hours, my latest run through was under 8 hours, So it really all depends how you play that game.

As for other games if it is an action game, I will not complain at 10 -20 hours. They usually have replay value. If any game I have encountered that doesnt have replay value, it's the Assassins Creed series. I completed the story for one, but had no interest in completing it 100%, I completed AC2 100% in 20 hours. But since then I have felt no need to replay them, at all. I have yet to buy brotherhood.

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cthulhu_spawn
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 6:49:30 AM
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this is my first post on here but felt i'd add the point of re-playability. At 36 yrs. old, work and family life take up a lot of my time. A shorter (10hr for sake of argument) game is far more likely to have me go back and complete multiple times to get my moneys worth. Final fantasy xii on the ps2 was a game i loved playing, but after clocking over 147 on my first completion, the thought of putting that much time in again is not a very practical idea with the growing list of new releases i want to play and other drains on my limited down time. Longer games as a novelty are a joy, but as the norm would mean i would never complete most of the games i buy

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Qubex
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 8:27:01 AM
Reply

I am ok with short campaigns as long as they are quality. If a title does come with a short campaign it should have a very strong multi-player component to make up for it...

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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PS3_Mom
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 8:40:49 AM
Reply

This might also be contributing to the rise of multiplayer. If I am into a campaign of some type, I want to sit down and work on it for a couple hours. But I can jump in an online game quickly if I only have 15 or 20 minutes. And it often takes less concentration if your house has a lot of distractions. If you get killed in sp, you have to restart the check point and may blow a trophy you were after. In mp, if the dog has to go out or something, I just respawn. Sorry to my mp teammates, but it is just less stressful sometimes.

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hald
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 9:09:21 AM
Reply

I can say for sure that I would benefit from shorter games - even though it sounds odd.

Games I remember that I've never played to the end:
- Assassins Creed
- Assassins Creed II
- GTA IV
- Modern Warfare
- Red Dead Redemption
- Dead Space
- Arkham Asylum
- inFamous
....

All of which I really like, but the combination of things getting too irritating to replay (due to too hard levels/missions ) and the length, is killing my concentration. I would really like to finish the stories though.

But do not despair, I've at least played LBP, KZ2, KZLiberation, KZ3, Uncharted 1+2, Flow and Flower to the end..

I really can't keep my attention for that long any more. Guess I've become a casual gamer....

Last edited by hald on 4/30/2011 9:09:58 AM

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sirbob6
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 9:36:23 PM

Finish inFamous, NOW!

You will thank me when you do. It picks up a lot towards the end and the ending is great. Also the missions and everything is so much funner when evil. Have to love Sasha.

Last edited by sirbob6 on 4/30/2011 9:37:31 PM

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FM23
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 11:40:39 PM

I would finish every game on there except MW2 and maybe Infamous...very repetitive game with a very mediocre story, though original in context. Infamous's ending makes the game better than it actually is though.

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hald
Sunday, May 01, 2011 @ 10:12:31 AM

Ok ok then. I'll try to finish inFamous. Then I'll come back and thank you later! ;)

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Clamedeus
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 9:15:52 AM
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I stated this before in another thread, the length of game play that I would like to see in campaign would be ridiculously high, like 8 days worth even if you rushed it.

Call me crazy but that would be my ideal campaign if it's intricately put together with an amazing story. I don't think anyone would attempt that though, considering how long it would take.

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GuernicaReborn
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 9:19:07 AM
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I really don't have any complaints about game length this gen. If you like FPS, you have to deal with the shorter campaign. There are still 15-20 hour action/adventure games, and longer 40+ RPG's and such.

It feels like game length hasn't changed much to me, but that's because I was never into putting 100+ hours into games, I always stuck to games that were under 40 hours, because I would lose interest and get bored. The only games I put over 40 hours into one playthrough are FFX and Chrono Cross. I've put over 100 hours into games like MGS1, Syphon Filter, GTAIII, but those were multiple playthroughs or just screwing around.

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Temjin001
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 10:53:01 AM
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I know the feeling of limited gaming time as well; though I don't necessarily desire shorter games because of it. One way, or another, I'll still spend about 400+ hours a year playing console games. That's a lot of hours even when factoring for larger sized games. Instead, my focus is more on the quality of that entertainment. I tend to have gaming sessions that feel like eating a full course meal. If a particular game is slow and long winded in progress, where an hour or two isn't enough to make meanful progress I'll usually opt for something a bit more exciting and faster paced.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 4/30/2011 10:53:47 AM

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Temjin001
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 10:57:40 AM

* sorry posting in-between tasks at work
But basically games like WoW can demand a 4 hour play session for like a Raid to make any meaningful progress. That chafes with my typical gaming session length. I like online fighters because I can get right on and enjoy intense competition without having to invest a whole lot of time to get my fill.

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BikerSaint
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 10:03:05 PM
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Well this is one older 58 year old gamer that says, the longer, the better!!!!!

Especially since I'm not a MP player(excluding KZ3), so I need long SP campaigns.

I put over 55 hours into FarCry2 & there's still things I want do in there.

Same with The Saboteur, 83 hours, with more to do.

And I have over 130 hours in GTA4 too, and still lots more I want to do.

I love marathon gaming!

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FM23
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @ 11:41:11 PM

Damn right!

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AnonWTF
Sunday, May 01, 2011 @ 10:46:07 AM
Reply

Romancing Saga the remake version on ps2 ftw ben?

In all honesty they need to make more saga games, but please nothing like unlimited saga...

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Mornelithe
Sunday, May 01, 2011 @ 12:31:13 PM
Reply

You know, I have to say that I'm pretty much where you are now Ben (I believe we're both roughly the same age), but I'm just curious why most games need to be this short, due to our other leisurely activities. Don't get me wrong, there are some games that are considered short that I absolutely loved, but I wouldn't be turned off by it being longer.

Basically, I look at it like a book. A really good book, is still a really good book whether it's 300 pages or 1000. Are you turned off by it, simply because it's 1000? Do you want all of your leisurely activities to be timed events, you know what I mean? With some spectacular books, I will sit there and read it cover to cover. I've done the same thing with some games (admittedly none recently...games that is, I read the most recent Wheel of Time book cover to cover heh), but I'm not adverse to having to put it down for awhile...to either pursue another activity, or work. Ya know?

I think, as always, as long as the game conforms to the developers original ideals, then the game, no matter the length will be all the better for it. Short, Medium, Long, it doesn't matter, it's what's inside that counts. Same with books.

Last edited by Mornelithe on 5/1/2011 12:32:26 PM

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Spanky
Sunday, May 01, 2011 @ 6:18:39 PM
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I do not fit the mold at all...I'm a 43 y/o gamer started with pong in 1976 and haven't stopped. I can't afford every game that comes out. I typically only buy games rated 8 or higher by multiple sources and I want tons of content. I just finished Red Dead first I wen to 100% completion all the outfits and most of the trophies and still want more! I live and breathe a game and then am a little depressed when the experience is over. I drug my feet on Read Dead because Rockstar stuff is typically an Fbomb fest and I don't see the value in having expletives flung into my ears every few seconds. I was pleasantly surprised with Red Dead that profanity and sex were limited.

In summation (thank you Lord right?) I'm an extremely picky gamer that wants quality games am willing to $60 IF I'm getting my money's worth in both gameplay and content.

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Gabriel013
Monday, May 02, 2011 @ 8:58:10 AM
Reply

If I can finish a game in just a couple of evenings then to me it isn't worth $60, no matter how exciting and deep the story is intended to be.

For my $60 I expect to be playing for weeks if not months.

If I'm playing a game for a month however then I'm not buying new games. Not something the shareholders want.

I also find that it's the longer games that get me coming back to replay. Short games are over so quickly that I get bored and they go on the trade-in pile.

DA2 took me 61 hours on my first playthrough and I immediately started up my 2nd of which I am 10 hours through already.

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Lairfan
Monday, May 02, 2011 @ 8:48:44 PM
Reply

I'd rather my games be longer than 6-7 hours. 9-10 is usually a good time, and if they can get up to 12 (Uncharted 2) or even 15 (Dead Space 2) then that's even better.

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