Size matters in video games

Written by Benke on the 8th of August 2013 at 13:36

How long should a video game last? It's a relevant question these days as some productions load in tremendous amounts of contents a majority of players may never experience, while other games fall embarrasingly short.

A couple of weeks back there was a bit of a rumble in the general Gamereactor editors discussion about Tales of Xillia. Review code had arrived and someone said... apparently it's 150 hrs of gameplay. That's a gut punch if there ever is one. Ideally you play every game you review to completion (that is when a game has an ending) - but realities like deadlines and other work duties also come into play.

Then I played Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons - a completely linear singleplayer experience that you might want to replay just cause you enjoyed the first playthrough, but realistically doesn't offer more than the 4 hours or so of gameplay it spans.

Then there's a game like Splinter Cell: Blacklist. As many massive triple-A offerings these days it offers a full single player campaign, a co-op campaign and on top of that competitive multiplayer. It's a game that could last you months potentially.

And with the multitude of free-to-play offerings available what developers are competing for is the time players spend on gaming perhaps even more so than their money.

For a married 30 something like myself I often find myself hesitating from starting a game I feel will require too much time on my part. Start up an MMORPG? Hmm, do I really have 5 hours a week or whatever the minimum may be to enjoy it to spare? Other gamers may be at the opposite end of the spectrum. They eat and sleep just in order to devote the remaining time to gaming. Then a game that lasts a day is a big let down. We have different concepts of value and how long a game should last. Naturally price also enters the picture. You expect more entertainment out of a full price game than something you pick up on Xbox Live Arcade.

What I'm trying to convey, albeit somewhat obtusely, is that when reviewing a game you sometimes need to levitate above your own preferences and describe what the game offers in a way so that people with different preferences than your own can see if it might be something for them regardless of your own subjective opinions as a reviewer. It's something I constantly have to remind myself of.