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by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
time, video games

What's Wrong With Video Games That You Can Finish In Three Hours?

from the that's-not-how-it's-done! dept

Clive Thompson tries to bust apart the commonly held wisdom that it should take 40 hours to complete a video game. He points to a recently well-received game that many reviewers dinged for the fact that it could be completed in three hours. They seemed to like pretty much everything about the game... other than that it was "too short." The standard, apparently (I had no idea) is that a video game should take approximately 40 hours to finish. But Thompson points out how silly that is. For many games, they just start to feel repetitive or stretched out. If you can do everything that needs to be done in just three hours -- why not do it. My guess is that many of the complaints just come from what people think they're "buying" with the game, and that includes "time spent on the game." So a game that seems short feels like "less value" even if that's not necessarily the case. Still, as Thompson points out, the game he's talking about, The Maw is much cheaper than the average 40-hour game anyway, so he's not clear why people are complaining. To be honest, I was unaware of the 40-hour standard, and am a bit surprised that it's apparently so standardized. I'd always just assumed that different games had different time-lengths (if they were "finishable" at all).

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  1. identicon
    Rekrul, 26 Mar 2009 @ 7:40am

    You can't just make a blanket statement about how long a game should be without considering other factors.

    If a game is like one of the GTA series, which are free-form and you're basically going to be running around the same playfield for the length of the game, then you definitely have to balance the length of time it will take to complete and how bored players will become. If they're just running back and forth doing the same things over and over to build up money or character stats, it gets boring. However if new things keep happening, giving the player something new to look forward to, then the game can go on much longer.

    When talking about FPS games, my personal feeling is that they can never be too long, as long as they're well-designed. While the weapons and enemies may stay mostly the same, the levels themselves are usually new and unique. I like seeing what's around the next corner and feeling like I'm working toward a conclusion. When it's over, I'm usually disappointed that I've seen all the game had to offer. Others must feel the same way, judging by the amount of fan-made levels that get posted to the net. Most of them are just single levels with no real story, but occasionally, you find an entire new game to enjoy, like Thief2X, a whole new mission set for Thief 2, or Convergence a new set of missions for Deep Space 9: The Fallen.

    If I were to buy an FPS game and beat it in just a couple hours, I'd feel cheated.

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