I think the first time I heard the notion that "games should deliver at least 40 hours of play" was when I was getting a copy of Ocarina of Time. Later, I was talking to a industry insider friend of mine about how short I found one game ... and he responded that they didn't think people wanted week long bouts of content anymore. An aspect of the aging gamer market is that we have less time to devote to finish epic storylines.
Wired just posted an article on the same note:
All of which makes me wonder: Who the heck actually finishes a story-based game in 40 hours? Who are these mythical 40-hour gamers?
They certainly exist. Whenever I wander onto the boards at 1UP or Penny Arcade, they're crammed full of hard-core gamers bitching in all caps about how the games these days are too easy, too sucky and over way too quickly. They have the precise opposite problem as me. Dude, I spanked that game in, like, nine hours. What's your problem?
First, I can sympathize with Clive. I always take longer to finish games than it seems the rest of the gamesphere. I'm very much the sightseer player - I'll hang around environments just to poke at the scenery. I rarely resort to cheats or guides so puzzles and boss fights can sometimes hang on for days. Plus - I'm actually pretty busy. If I can squeek out an hour or so to game a night, I'm lucky.
Still, I like the epic games. Well mostly. Here's my modern day requirements for feeling the need to finish a game:
1) Gameplay that doesn't grind you down. I don't have a lot of time for frustration. I certainly don't have time for inane puzzles or worse - puzzles that I know the solution but can't solve because your jumping physics suck or you expect pixel perfect reflexes.
2) Fresh content. Resident Evil 4 did this almost perfect. Just when the scenery or monsters seemed to get old - they would throw something new at you. Goldeneye: Rogue Agent did this horribly. Super powers don't cover up shooting the exact same henchmen over and over again.
3) A story. Preferably a good one. Now this is optional if the above two are accomplished with enough fervor. Shadow Of The Colossus had very little story to it ... but I'd play that game to the ends of the Earth. Lego Star Wars I was based on three movies I hated, but I played it to death.
The short version is that there has to be something to look forward towards in order to justify loading that game time and time again. MMO's survive largely on #2. Actually, #2 is usually the favorite. Is this because the other two are much harder?
Possibly - and therein lies the answer why we will likely see less and less 40 hour games. Content costs development money and in this generation of games ... often a lot of development money. If they can push them, developers are much more comfortable with a tight core gameplay that doesn't need to change up, a decent story to hum along and enough to content to suffice half of the old axiom.
tagged: game, gaming