Gamereactor UK. Watch the latest video game trailers, and interviews from the biggest gaming conventions in the world. Gamereactor uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best browsing experience on our website. If you continue, we'll assume that you are happy with our cookies policy


What is the Ideal Length for a Video Game?

Do you prefer a 6-hour romp or a 60-hour epic?

Subscribe to our newsletter here!

* Required field

Recently, we got the surprise launch of Hi-Fi Rush, a stylish action-rhythm game from Tango Gameworks. So far, people appear to be loving it, and it's even beaten out January's big hit Forspoken in its launch week.

However, there is one criticism of Hi-Fi Rush floating around the internet, and it is to do with the game's length. There are some saying six hours is simply too short, and while this is sort of a compliment in a way as it shows people want more Hi-Fi Rush, it does raise the question of how long should games be?

What is the Ideal Length for a Video Game?

Well, there's a simple answer to this question, really. A game should be as long as the developers want it to be. However, people would still complain about games being too long, or too short, with issues usually leaning towards the latter. So, supposedly the question then becomes centred around if there's an ideal length for a video game to be.

This is an ad:

Now, obviously we can't just blurt out random figures and have them fit every title. Skyrim's not going to fit into ten hours, for example, and you can theoretically spend a lifetime on multiplayer games. But, there are ways to tell if a game is really too short, and these boil down to judging it from a monetary perspective, and a narrative one.

Dealing with money first, more than ever people now want to get the bang for their buck in a video game. As titles are now reaching the $80 mark, you're going to be more than a bit annoyed if you can only spend around ten hours playing a game.

What is the Ideal Length for a Video Game?

There's the old method of ideal lengths giving you around an hour for every pound, dollar, or euro you spend, but that doesn't really work anymore, as some games pride themselves on giving you as many hours as you want so long as you're motivated to keep exploring, while others are happy to give you a set amount of time. A good example of this is to compare God of War: Ragnarok and Elden Ring, the former of which takes around 50 hours to do absolutely everything in, while the latter can offer double that without even beating your first run.

This is an ad:

And yet, both of these games were major contenders for 2022's Game of the Year awards. So, in effect, we may have to move away from getting our value from our games with the hours we spend. Instead, we may soon be talking about whether a game is worth the money from the experience it gives. Sure, time is a factor in that, but as many great games have shown, you don't need hours upon hours to feel like a title was good.

Now, of course there are outliers here that rightfully face criticism for being considerably short experiences, but the same can be said for overly long games, that pad themselves out so that developers and publishers can boast about 100 hour titles.

What is the Ideal Length for a Video Game?

In terms of narrative, we can see similar effects, as if a game is purely going to just pad itself out, this does hold a negative effect on the story as a whole. Instead, if a game wants to go for that cinematic atmosphere, it is perfectly fine not to have it go on and on for hours just so there will be less people online complaining about how they didn't get their money's worth.

There are games that balance having an epic scale with a strong narrative core, like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but there's no harm in a game not aiming to combine those elements just so it can squeeze a few more precious minutes out of you.

In essence, games and length isn't really a debate people should be having. Pricing is an issue for many, as you want to feel like you've got your money's worth, but value doesn't just come in the form of hours spent as stated. If developers begin concerning themselves with being able to boast about the amount of hours you can spend, there's a real risk we're going to lose out on snappy, quality titles like Hi-Fi Rush and forever be exposed to overly padded worlds filled with nothing worthwhile.

What is the Ideal Length for a Video Game?

Loading next content