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On the Pointlessness of "Hours of Gameplay"

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the on-and-on-and-on dept.

Editorial 121

KaiEl writes "An article on TotalVideoGames is quoting Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Houser as saying Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will have 150 hours of gameplay. That's all well and good, but what does it really mean? The way I see it, a game that I enjoy for 20 hours is much better than a game that I hate for 150. So why the obsession in video game media with quantifying gameplay time?"

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Just like everything else... (3, Funny)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776378)

Marketing is easier if you can reduce your product to a number. Bigger numbers win.

AOL 9 is better than Netscape 7, which is better than MSIE 6.

Firefox 0.9? Forget it.

An Athlon XP 2000+ is better than a P4 1800MHz.

V-8 is better than 7-up.


Re:Just like everything else... (2, Interesting)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776445)

But an Athlon XP 2000+ IS better than a 1.8Ghz P4.

Re:Just like everything else... (1)

Mentally_Overclocked (311288) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776826)

sqrt(2) (786011)

Big words for someone who is irrational. :-)


Re:Just like everything else... (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776848)

If only I could have have gotten 271828 [] as my UID.

Re:Just like everything else... (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778843)

You're right, but if they named it after the clock speed, it wouldn't look that way.

Mods... (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777625)

I love how this is modded "informative" instead of insightful.
I can just picture some 15 year old kid at home with mod points going "Really!? WOW!!", tossing his 7-Up out the window so he can go buy some V-8, dig an AOL CD out of the trash, and find a pawn shop with an Amiga 4000.

Re:Mods... (1)

El_Ge_Ex (218107) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778696)

Shhhh..... Don't wake up the amiga trolls...

Quantity + Quality over Quality (4, Insightful)

BlueCup (753410) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776396)

a game that I enjoy for 20 hours is much better than a game that I hate for 150.

While I agree with this statement, what about a game that you enjoy for the first 30 hours, and then hate for the next 120 over a game that you enjoy for 20 hours. I'm looking forward to this game because of the vast amount of things I expect I'll be able to do. I'm guessing with all of the options there's only a slim chance I'll hate it right off the bat... I'm sure I'll get bored with it eventually just like the other 2 gta 3's, but if it provides me a decent amount of fun before it hits the repetitive wall I will consider it a good buy.

Re:Quantity + Quality over Quality (1)

bgalbraith (741719) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776727)

Unlimited SaGa is a perfect example as to where the promised hours upon hours of gameplay turns against the game.. probably the biggest disappointment from Square Enix, after playing for a valiant 5 hours, the thought of struggling through 40 more, let alone 100+, was just too much

Re:Quantity + Quality over Quality (2, Interesting)

AndyBusch (160585) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776970)

It depends on the linearity. GTA is going to be different, but if it's 150 hours of linear game to beat it, I'll be annoyed if I only get 1/5 of the way through and don't see the ending. But if it's 30 hours I enjoy and see the ending, and then have another 120 hours to munch on in the future, that rocks.

I kinda dig shorter games, but I'm in the smaller margin.

Re:Quantity + Quality over Quality (2, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777416)

be very very very sure that it will be beatable in 30 hours, beatable as in 'played enough'.

the earlier gta's had all kinds of stuff to increase the overall gameplay time that was only necessary if you wished.

besides, if it's _quality_ gameplay you'll enjoy for 30 hours, what does it matter that there's 120 hours still available for you one day. it's not like it made those 30 hours any less fun that there's shitloads of more in the game unless you want to be a 'beat it all' in 30 hours in which case you're lucky with most pc games nowadays(beatable in 8h, totally sucked dry and tested everything possible in 30h).

Re:Quantity + Quality over Quality (2, Insightful)

gabec (538140) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778662)

The previous two iterations of GTA did the same thing. Once you beat the game and the credits finished rolling, you were put back in the world to do whatever you wanted. If there were side missions you missed or Rampages, etc. then now's your chance to do it. In GTA3 & 4 the guys trying to get "100% Completed" tagged it as taking (having) 100 hours of gameplay to reach that goal. If you think about it that way it's not much different than before.

Re:Quantity + Quality over Quality (1)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777776)

I too enjoy shorter games.

I like to 'finish' all of the games I play, and it frustrates me when I don't/can't.

Looking through the games I currently own, I've got 6 games that I'm still holding onto, because I need finish it. One game just has the final boss battle remaining, and it pisses me off. Why, oh why, does the final boss battle need to be an exercise in absolute frustration?

A good game that I can finish is very satisfying. Possibly I'll go back and play more, maybe not, but it will remain in my mind as a good game.

When I can't finish the final boss battle, it's like I had a really great meal, but I'm still waiting around for my I'm getting pissed off, and I just want to leave.

Re:Quantity + Quality over Quality (1)

nkodengar (622810) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778083)

Since I am no longer a student, I've found that shorter games like Max Payne 2 have been ideal for me because I can actually finish them, then get on with other things like PlanetSide [] .

I have a massive stack of games that I've never got round to finishing due to either getting a bit bored half way through or something else coming along, e.g.

  • Half-Life
  • Deus Ex
  • Baldur's Gate 2
  • Planescape: Torment

All of the above are great games, and I want to finish them, but I have a feeling I may never get round to it for some of them... :(

Re:Quantity + Quality over Quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9779366)

I you choose to finish only one game out of this list, I would advise planescape.
Hell, it's a game about trying to become an absolute being through completing yourself.

I'd still rather... (1)

mh101 (620659) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776414)

Play a game I like for 150 hours than a game I like for 20 hours. =)

Re:I'd still rather... (2, Insightful)

volteface (798935) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776647)

Personally, the time it takes to beat a game is irrelevant to me. To me, replay value is the biggest factor.

Adding numerous ways to complete levels, optional/hidden items, and perhaps even multiple routes through the game makes it much more fun to go back and play it again. If a game is only good for one play-through before its gameplay is completely exhausted, I would be reluctant to shell out my cash for it.

Re:I'd still rather... (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779873)

You're right...but what I really can't stand is a short game with little replay value. I just beat Full Spectrum Warrior on the XBox. I thought the game was a hell of a lot of fun, with great graphics, novel gameplay, good characters and an interesting story line. However, it's entirely linear and scripted...and took all of 7 hours of gameplay to beat. There's pretty much no replay factor except for the harder difficulty level, as the game is the same every time you play it. I couldn't believe it when I got to the end, and I'm thinking, "Okay, I guess that's the end of Act I...what's the next mission?" and nope, it's just over.


Re:I'd still rather... (2, Interesting)

robnauta (716284) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778094)

I'd still rather Play a game I like for 150 hours than a game I like for 20 hours. =)

I disagree. I have a job, I'm home at 7pm, then I have a few hours to do a lot of things.
I installed Diablo II last sunday (old but good), and played it for 6 hours, quit when I moved from act 1 to act 2. Now RPG's are games which require you to have a lot of hours to waste. Assuming I don't have 2x10 hours to waste on it in the weekend, I could play it for on average 1 hour/evening. If it takes 200 hours of treadmilling to build up stats and gather gold/items it would take me more than half a year.
I have played games like Morrowind, Neverwinter Nights etc. occasionally for a few months until I abandoned them, sure I feel I am probably halfway there, but it still doesn't feel good.

On the other hand, I have finished Call of Duty, most games of this kind are considered too short, but that feels a lot better.

There are also games that do not offer a goal and are are not useless when completed. Sports games and racing games are games you can just play for half an hour and keep their value. Playing a few quick races in Colin McRae 4 feels a lot better than playing an RPG for half an hour and gaining 1 level of strength.

If a game promises me 200 hours of gameplay, it is probably a plus for unemployed persons and teenagers/students and a turnoff for people who just don't 200 hours to waste.

Re:I'd still rather... (1)

2Flower (216318) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778881)

I have to echo this. A game you like for 150 can be worse than a game you like for 20, because not everybody HAS 150 hours to play games.

I work 9-to-5, have to deal with running errands, have social contacts I kinda like hanging out with, books I want to read, TV I want to watch, etc, etc... my time for playing video games is very limited. I PURPOSEFULLY look for games which are short, as a result. Games I can beat and clear in the time I have available, before the next game comes out. (A 150 hour game would take me a year, and there's too many good games in a year to pass them all up just to finish that monster.)

I'm tired of longer = better. I can't play RPGs anymore because they're ridiculously long and space out save points so harshly that I could end up playing a half an hour past when I NEED to get to sleep just to get the game to let me stop. Give me short, replayable, pickupable/putdownable games and I'll be a happy camper, dammit. Even RPGs could be like this is they weren't so harsh on the saves and focused more on replayability than sheer length and bashing 2000 orcs when you could bash 20 of them and have the same amount of fun!

Re:I'd still rather... (1)

adam.skinner (721432) | more than 10 years ago | (#9780966)

So you people feel more satisfaction at completing a game than actually playing it?

I like long games. Sure, I have plenty of games I've purchased and never finished (like everyone else), but I don't look for short games. A good short game is just like a good long game, only . . . shorter.

stupid (3, Insightful)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776438)

So why the obsession in video game media with quantifying gameplay time?
You ever think that maybe it is possible that they do this so you know what kind of gameplay time to expect? Game makers have been doing this for as long as I can remember. Seriously, it's not a big deal.

Re:stupid (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776757)

I wish the assholes who made the CSI game would have put that number on the outside of the box. I bought it for my girlfriend who finished the whole game in 2 to 3 hours.

Re:stupid (1)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777099)

Did any of the reviews you read mention it's a short game?

Re:stupid (1)

Pulse_Instance (698417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778381)

Chances are if he bought it for his girlfriend he didn't read any reviews. She said, "I like CSI, buy me the game." So he bought it for her.

Requirement and capacity (0)

News for nerds (448130) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776447)

It's different that you need 150 hours to beat a game or that you can hang around in it for 150 hours before losing interest. Though I like tough games on PC, can't imagine the former on console...

That said, does anyone have the ship date for GTA:SA for PC?

Ship date (1)

Blue damned (695534) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776783)

No official date for PC, only for PS2: Go to [] and choose for UK, USA or AUS.

Optional hours of gameplay (3, Insightful)

riverLINE (797677) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776449)

I'm gonna call bullshit on this. You don't HAVE to find every hidden package, do every taxi/vigilante/firefighter etc mission, or even do some of the story based missions (as was the case in vice city). You could tear through the story in a good thirty or so hours if you wanted.

But if you are like me you probably will do all the side missions. And you will enjoy them too.

Re:Optional hours of gameplay (1)

Dizzle (781717) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778080)

Which is why I'm sure the 150 figure refers to 150 hours to 100%. Makes sense when you put it that way. Sounds daunting to me, but I know if I need help there's going to be walkthroughs on GameFAQs hours after it's released.

Re:Optional hours of gameplay (1)

Prior Restraint (179698) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778357)

I know if I need help there's going to be walkthroughs on GameFAQs hours after it's released.

At least 150 hours afterward, right? ;-)

I know what you mean, though. For the last two, I played through in my usual bumbling way: ignored packages unless I happened to be walking past one, etc. Then, after I got to the "end" I'd head to GameFAQs so I could get the 100%.

Re:Optional hours of gameplay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9780502)

Did you *really* enjoy doing the ambulance mission in GTA III?

I'd guess one way of finding out is asking if you did the ambulance mission all over again once you completed level 12.

Xenogears (2, Interesting)

Taulin (569009) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776452)

Xenogears, by far, was the longest RPG I have played. It took me about 80 hours to complete. i think some of those hours were being distracted, and the timer was going, but that doesn't matter. If a game has continual DIFFERENT content, in a REALM that you enjoy being in, then hours matter. If the content is the same, over and over, then hours doesn't matter.

Non-Linear RPGs (like Fallout, etc) are good if long if you enjoy the setting.

Something like GTA 1,2,3 and 3.5, though...for me, every mission started being the same after a while. If the 'core' game can be completed in about 15 hours, with extras of about 30, this style of game is valid.

But, 150 hours!? There is almost no dialog, or story, so what actions are you going to be doing for that long?

They mention gang wars and such, Sim-Gang? If so, a Sim game should not be measured in hours. If can finish "It came from the Desert" in about 10 minutes, while others take hours. Hours mean nothing in a Sim game.

Re:Xenogears (1)

Vict0r (798972) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776570)

I concur. Xenogears is one of the best (and longest) games I've played. I also logged about 80 hours. I'm glad it made it state-side.

I'm in the middle of Xenosaga (or towards the end?) and it's just as good as the first, if not better.

Xenosaga episode II is coming out soon and I'm looking forward to it.

To those who have not played these games, I highly recommend them. I believe they're planned to be a series of 6 games, including Xenogears?

Re:Xenogears (1)

Mprx (82435) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777320)

I strongly recommend not wasting your time on Xenosaga. Xenosaga takes all the worst parts of Xenogears disc 2, and combines them with ugly graphics and almost no music. Read []

Re:Xenogears (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9777724)

You may call it anything, but ugly!

Re:Xenogears (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776580)

Well, it took me 200hrs to get as much as all the weapons in Final Fantasy X for PS2. Isn't 80hrs like standard in any RPG nowadays.

But that's still better than 2000hrs of Enemy Territory and UT2004 and COD.

OMG that's still less than 20000hrs on slashdot.

Re:Xenogears (1)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777481)

Baldurs Gate 2 took me something like 150-200 hours to complete, I think. That's without going out of my way to do side quests. If my CD2 wasn't scratched, I'd probably do it again too.

Re:Xenogears (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 10 years ago | (#9780410)

But, 150 hours!? There is almost no dialog, or story, so what actions are you going to be doing for that long?

Maybe actually playing the game instead of sitting through interminable cutscenes?

Rob (Stunning concept, I know)

Yet another number that doesn't mean anything. (4, Insightful)

Incoherent07 (695470) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776469)

Straight-up clockspeed is a marketing tool, for which more appears better. Total play time seems to be heading that direction. There's one significant difference: you can't measure play time. No game in history has ever made one play-through of the minimum take 150 hours, for good reason... no matter how good the game is, within 150 hours it WILL get boring. So that's not what they're measuring.

What are they measuring? One playthrough with everything? I doubt it, for the same reason as above. I get the impression that there are enough side paths that it will take you multiple passes through the game, and that will total 150 hours. Compare to the average MMORPG, if you go all the way to endgame content. Compare to, actually, most games with multiple paths.

And the most important point... play time varies by player.

Re:Yet another number that doesn't mean anything. (1)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776730)

No game in history has ever made one play-through of the minimum take 150 hours

Oh yeah? EverQuest? (And other MMORPG treadmills)
, for good reason... no matter how good the game is, within 150 hours it WILL get boring.

Oh yeah... That little thing.

Must... get... next... level....

Re:Yet another number that doesn't mean anything. (1)

Incoherent07 (695470) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777250)

That's not a game, that's an addiction. The idea behind the treadmill isn't so much to artificially lengthen the amount of play time as to artificially lengthen the amount of money you give the publisher. (Granted, that made no sense, but hopefully someone got it.)

It started meaning something (4, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776924)

Play Time was introduced by Role Playing Games. When Final Fantasy II had 20 hours of story straight through, it was a big deal. When Final Fantasy 7 took 40 hours to beat, it was a very big deal. These are games that are played once, maybe twice, and if it takes 20 hours to beat, then 20 hours is all you will get.

A lot of RPG's at the time were suffering from being too short to satiate the player. I remember beating Dragon's Quest in about 4 hours. I also remember the week that I dedicated to beating the original XenoGears in one sitting. I slept on the couch, through 70 hours of gameplay... and the game they shipped wasn't even finished. I could see a fully implemented version of Xenogears reaching near to the 150 mark, and it would have been a damned good ride too.

Furthermore, play time is a metric that all video game developers must use. If you are creating an FPS with 10 levels, each level being 5 sections long and each section taking 5 minutes to complete, if the player has to restart every level once, how much gameplay are you really providing them? In this case, 500 minutes, or about 8 hours. Add in another two hours for setup, cinematics, and (sigh) loading, and you have a 10 hour game. You had better think seriously about your lead programmer's suggestion for implementing cooperative multiplayer, because you're going to need the meat.

That's not to say that the metric has gotten out of hand. I can SAY that the game I'm developing has about 1,200 hours of gameplay, but the fact of the matter is that's just a lie. The problem is that the metric is A: unverifiable and B: linear. Hence, if someone else says "40 hours of gameplay," I must say "50 hours of gameplay," or I'll be second-string. Just ratchet that puppy up: nobody will know the difference.

Of course play time is not a good indicator of quality... Metal Gear Solid was just 10 hours long.

Re:It started meaning something (1)

robbway (200983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778596)

Of course play time is not a good indicator of quality...

And it is becoming worthless when it it abused as it is now. It's like:

1) Pinball scores with six zeroes on the end completely obscuring the ACTUAL value of shots. The scoring system is meaningless.

2) "Low-carb." I can eat a bowl of Frosted Flakes or a Bowl of 50% Corn Flakes and 50% Frosted Flakes, essentially creating a "low-carb" Frosted Flakes. If you think I'm being ridiculous, think of the "low carb" sodas that are out now.

3) Video Game Ratings. If most games are pushed into "Teen" unnecessarily, the ratings are completely off.

So basically, overuse of any metric combined with abuse makes the metric meaningless and laughable.

Re:It started meaning something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781040)

since corn flakes are essentially all carbs, you really didn't lower the carbs at all. Sorry for being a pedant, but your example sucked. The "low-carb" sodas aren't a valid comparison, because they do have reduced carbs as compared to regular soda. Anyone following a low-carb diet and drinking something like C2 is just begging to stay fat.

Re:It started meaning something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778780)

I was going to bring Metal Gear Solid2 up... That game, while good, only took me 7 friggen hours to beat, and had little to no replayability! The game essentially cost me $7/hour to play. I for one, support the hours of gameplay being advertised, though im sure this like most benchmarks will become overused and then tortured by marketing types into something meaningless. But for right now, I think the rating still has value. I think the poster is making a conclusion that people equate longer gameplay with a better game. I disagree on this point, and I think any gamer knows that the length of a game, unless extremely long or short, has no impact on how enjoyable it is to play. On the other hand, I will be alot more excited over a game I know will be good if it has lots of playtime. For example, I used to love old school rpg's for how hard they were. People complain about "boring" level treadmilling, but if youre playing an RPG, youre supposed to enjoy the hacking and slashing. To me, complaining about level treadmilling in an rpg is like complaining about how all you ever do in FPS's is shoot things and kill monsters. If you dont like to swim, stay out of the pool.

I love the models most games have these days where you can plow through straight to the end in a reasonable amount of time, but can then still play and do side missions/quests/whatever if you still just cant get enough.

Re:Yet another number that doesn't mean anything. (2, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777756)

No game in history has ever made one play-through of the minimum take 150 hours, for good reason... no matter how good the game is, within 150 hours it WILL get boring. So that's not what they're measuring.

Morrowind's creators claimed that there were about 300 hours of content in the entire game *before* the expansions were released. (They attributed the game's 6-year development period to this, and said maybe they went a bit overboard.) If you fly through the game the first time, you can finish in a lot less than that (probably the 50-60 hours a compelling mere mortal RPG will take), but if you take the time to smell the roses, advance your character's reputation, etc., it will definitely take you at least 150 hours to play, and not necessarily on multiple playthroughs.

I'm not sure it actually took me 300 hours to do everything - though I bet I missed some stuff - but I'm pretty sure it was more than 150. And I enjoyed it all.

Re:Yet another number that doesn't mean anything. (1)

c3k (798969) | more than 10 years ago | (#9780399)

I think a lot of "hours of gameplay" is attributed to play style as well - I flew by in morrowind because I like to get missions accomplished, whereas my roomate likes to walk around and kill things - he's still playing, I'm most certainly not. I think the key should be replayability or the ability to revisit the game (aka KOTOR, where you could finish one lightside campaign, then turn right around and try a darkside campaign) rather than "200 hours of pointless running amok" (unless you like that sort of thing).

What Is This Guy Talking About? (3, Interesting)

Acidic_Diarrhea (641390) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776473)

From the final link, "The only "gameplay time" statistic that really matters is how much time you're willing to keep playing the game, and therein lies the problem. Despite the seemingly straightforward and absolute definition given above, most "gameplay time" statistics end up reflecting how much time the reviewer was willing to spend with the game -- an inherent value judgement that is largely invisible to the reader. If one reviewer blazes through a game he hates in five hours to get the review done, and another spends 20 hours engrossed in what he considers a deeply moving experience, who's to say which number is the correct measure of "gameplay time?" And who's to say which one will be closer to the amount of time a player actually spends on the game?"

I very rarely see reviews of games that cite hours played by the reviewer. Based on the knowledge and quality of most reviews, the reviewers rarely play the game for more than 1 or 2 hours. These game play times are generated by the company that is releasing the game, not by people reviewing the game. I mean, look at the cite that is provided - Rockstar games' co-founder Dan Houser is talking about number of hours of play, not an independent third party. The whole rant in Kyle Orland's blog is built on a false premise.

The premise is that these statistics are cropping up in reviews of games. This is not the case. They are cropping up in the marketing of games. And so why bother with a critique? What the marketing firms say about the game is entirely subjective and not even worth noting in evaluating a game.

Re:What Is This Guy Talking About? (1)

AltaMannen (568693) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776682)

"I very rarely see reviews of games that cite hours played by the reviewer"

I agree but on the other hand I see a lot of reviews complaining about that games are too short. I find it a positive sign that the reviewer didn't get bored with the game before he finished it, but I would feel a little cheated if I didn't feel like I got gameplay value for what I spent on the game.

Lines of Code (1)

E1v!$ (267945) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776477)

Waaay back in the dark ages of programming it used to be all about how many lines of code you could produce, not the quality.

I guess Games are in that realm now.

Re:Lines of Code (1)

eurasian (786214) | more than 10 years ago | (#9780255)

yeah.. back the "dark ages".. you mean, like yesterday? a few minutes ago? it still exists :D

Another answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9776491)

We need to make a game that allows the player to play for 150 hours if they want to, and is fun enough to encourage that. If we look at gameplay itself, content alone is NOT what is needed. I am sure many of us clocked well over 150 hours on tetris.

Make the gameplay solid and interesting, and the gametime will follow. There are probably those of us who spent 150 hours in the first GTA just exploring everything.

Value (2, Insightful)

higuy48 (568572) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776492)

The best reason to qualify gameplay time is to put a value on the game. Think about it: I played Max Payne, and it lasted 15-20 hours. It cost $50. I payed over $2 per hour, but it was worth it.

Maybe that was unrelated, but the bottom line is that if your box says 150 hours and it costs $50, the penny-pinching gamer with no job will think "cost-efficient." A game that costs less than 50 cents per hour! Money money money.

i remember when games... (1)

Vict0r (798972) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776517)

...were supposed to be all about the graphics a few years ago. The industry has that down pretty well. The Final Fantasy series is a good example: from NES to SNES, to PS1 to PS2, the graphics have improved steadily, and reached a new plateau when introduced to a new console.

Now it's about hours of gameplay. Let's use the example of Metal Gear Solid. MGS I (for PS1) was, in my opinion, solid from start to finish, but one could easily fly through it in 1.5 to 2.0 hours. MGS 2, while on a next-generation console, had better much graphics and much longer gameplay time. However, I think playing MGS 1 for the first time had a bigger impact than when I played MGS 2 for the first time.

I think the basics that everyone tends to ignore is how the game plays. We all loved the original GTA3, MGS 1, and FF7 because of their innovative gameplay. Each of those games set a standard for their respective genres. It's about about game play.

I would also venture to say that a few of us still dust off Mario Bros, be it via NES, SNES, or emulation, and still give those games a go even though they're from earlier generations of consoles and are considered dated by every aspect of video gaming.
It's all about how a game plays.

Why? (2, Insightful)

contrasutra (640313) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776527)

Why? Because games are $50. Honestly, for many people that's a lot of money. Obviously a game I hate for 150 hours sucks, but why do you think a long game == a bad game?

I spent 100 hours on Knights of the Old Republic and loved every minute of it. I spent about 15 hours on Panzer Dragoon Orta and loved every minute of it. I spent $50 for both. Which one was the "better" value? Well, I can buy KOTOR2 with confidence, because the first one gave me so many hours of enjoyment.

I think most game developers aren't obsessing about game length, because they know the same thing you do, a game needs to be fun. But would a press release of "This game is fun" get any attention?

The players asked for more game hours (2, Insightful)

Bishop (4500) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776657)

Despite cries to the contrary, players have been asking for longer games. I have read a few reviews (by gamers) that have rated a game as "high quality, but a little short." It is not just the impatient players asking for longer games either. Even those who intend to replay the game have been wishing for longer games. It may be only a minority of players complaining, but the developers are listening. As result there have also been complaints of repetition: "There may be 60 hours of gameplay, but you have seen everything after the first 10."

They don't like selling games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9776734)

(urgh, Graeme Devine is staring at me... )

Anyways, back on topic, The last game I played that took hundreds of hours to complete was Final Fantasy X. In fact I'm still at what I think is the end of the game, clocking in 101 hours played... and because I'm not done yet I have held off purchasing FF X-2. Soooo... had the game been shorter, and had I completed it by now, i would have BOUGHT FF X-2, and probably have done so at it's old higher price tag too.

So developers, don;t go bragging about your long game times... If it's too long, you're just cutting out sales of other games!

Diablo 2 = 84 hours of game play per character (2, Funny)

SteroidG (609799) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776840)

Normal level: 12 hours = meh... better than Diablo I guess.

Nightmare level: 24 hours = oh fuck it's boring!

Hell level: 48 hours = I really, REALLY should get a life!

After Hell level: create another character and start from Normal again...

Not just for the player (1)

pat_trick (218868) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776865)

We know that isn't 150 hours of straight through playtime.

The "time to play" quantity is for the parent who's thinking, "Sweet! 150 hours of relaxation from the anxty teen!"

(This is in no way meant to imply that I support using videogames to detract from real parent-child interaction.)

you are so silly !! (2, Funny)

BortQ (468164) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776916)

Anyone that plays a game they hate for 100+ hours is a moron, plain and simple. Here are the mathematical equations of interest:

bad game with 20 hours of gameplay = bad game with 150 hours of gameplay

good game with 20 hours of gameplay < good game with 150 hours of gameplay

Thus we can deduce that length of gameplay does not matter for bad games. However, for good games long gameplay makes the game better. That is why it matters.

Re:you are so silly !! (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779144)

But the sad thing is when they take a game with 20 hours of good game play and add 130 hours of bad game play.

Re:you are so silly !! (1)

(trb001) (224998) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779265)

Let me supplement your theorem:

good game with 20 hours of content content

That's really what we're talking about here, how much content they're putting in these games. GTAIII had probably 20 hours of gameplay, but had 40 hours of additional content in the bonus quests like taxi/police/fire/ambulance, not to mention finding all the hidden junk.

Traditionally, games were measured in hours because for a typical RPG, you had to go linearly, ie from town 1 -> town 2 -> dungeon 1 -> town these days are breaking that mold. Frankly, I think that the time measurement is outdated for non-linear games like GTA....maybe measure the main quest in hours, then give a size approximation and "amount of stuff to do" measurement additionally.


Re:you are so silly !! (1)

(trb001) (224998) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779307)

damn html...

good game with 20 hours of content < good game with 150 hours of content

Subject (1)

Rie Beam (632299) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776930)

What exactly counts for gameplay, anyway? Running down the road endlessly? Replaying levels? Leaving the game running while you go for piss breaks? Can we at least agree on a standard before we begin to flaunt whatever the hell this Holy Grail of marketing?

The Fans (3, Informative)

DarkZero (516460) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776975)

The way I see it, a game that I enjoy for 20 hours is much better than a game that I hate for 150. So why the obsession in video game media with quantifying gameplay time?"

Just because 150 hours of gameplay is a selling point does not mean that it is necessarily a selling point for you. For fans of the genre, it can be a godsend. Take Disgaea, for example. One of the major selling points of Disgaea was that if complex RPG/Strategy games are your bag, then that one game will let you enjoy one of the pinnacles of your favorite genre for months in one stretch. And that's what the GTA developers are telling their fans. No more "Okay, I shot ten punks... time to shoot ten more punks" or "Okay, I've had Spidey deliver twenty pizzas, now I can... deliver twenty more". If you love GTA's style of gameplay, then they're promising than San Andreas will let you enjoy its main selling point -- its huge, content-rich world -- for as long as you want without doing the same great stuff over and over again until it nauseates you.

If you're not a really big fan of the genre, it doesn't matter to you, but if you are, then it means the world. If someone could promise me 150 hours of Ico and Prince of Persia's puzzle/action gameplay, rather than six or ten hours of it followed by six months of waiting for the next high quality game in that little niche to come out, I'd be there. Just like I was when Disgaea was released.

For fuck's sake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9776996)

If you play a game you hate for 150 hours, you're a goddamned moron.

Quantity of Content (1)

jebiester (589234) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777000)

I think gameplay hours are valid indicator, as game manufacturers can point to the amount of content in the game. Even if it's just an appoximate figure obtained by people test playing. We all realise the figures are somewhat subjective.

Having a large amount of content is especially important in the case of RPGs, where games like Baldur's Gate I/II and Planscape Torment could keep you occupied for hundreds of hours. If these games only had 10 hours of active content they would not have achieved the status they did.

It makes perfect sense to me for a company to advertise the Amount of Content in it's games.

Re:Quantity of Content (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778942)

Yes, Mod Parent Up.

To sum up: I suggest reviewers spend more time playing the game and less time worrying about how much time they played the game.

I think this is a red herring...I don't see reviewers harping that much on the amount of time spent. It's usually a # generated by marketroids, and it probably does an ok job of giving a rough idea of the amount of of content...

Tetris, despite it being a wonderful game, doesn't have much content. And that's fine.

150-hours does sound like a lot though.

Advertising Dollars (2, Interesting)

robolemon (575275) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777007)

The answer is simple. If this guy can convince sponsors that an average dork kid will stare at the screen for 150 hours, the game becomes prime real estate for logos emblazoned everywhere.

Answer to his question (1)

Tina Russell (589416) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777065)

...Perhaps because GTA games are historically... good?

They can't really say much... (1)

Maiko (534130) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777158)

They have very little in the way of barometers to say how the game will play. Base and Rec'd System Specifications, listings of the latest graphical dohickeys and boasting about the newer "smarter AI" are all well and good, but they are hardly quantifiable.
Then we have "Gameplay Time", which is an estimate at most, probably from how long it takes their testers to complete the game * 1.5 or some other formula they use to work it out.

The truth is, the marketing people have to use the same tactics as a car salesman, telling things that most people won't have a clue about, all in an effort to sell their cars/games.
The difference here is that we don't have the benefit of test-driving games, but we can test-drive cars, so the games PR people have to try harder.

Re:They can't really say much... (1)

arieswind (789699) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778959)

ever heard of renting a game?

Artificial extension of gameplay time (1)

LordOfYourPants (145342) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777212)

I'd be happy if games came out with 30+ hours of real game time period. Most of the games with hours of gameplay numbering higher seem to consist of one of the following elements that don't take much more effort from a programming/design standpoint:

Find X packages, markers, dogs, cats, gerbils, etc. (GTA III/VC, Kingdom Hearts, Banjo-Kazooie, countless others)

Slow down walking speed to a crawl to make the game world feel larger (Elder Scrolls III)

Get an ability at one end of the map that you have to use at the opposite end to get past the place that wasn't passable before (the Metroids, Donkey Kong 64, Metal Gear)

Create artificially difficult RPG bosses which require dozens of hours of fighting in order to get strong enough to beat/unlock (Final Fantasy secret bosses)

Unlocking secret levels which require abilities that only the 99.999th percentile of gamers have (Super Monkey Ball's master levels)

Hunting down items/monsters that drop/appear randomly, some of which are extremely rare (Kingdom Hearts item synthesizing, FFX's monster arena)

In most cases going ahead with these things is optional, but what a lot of the games have in common (especially in the last few years) is attaching some kind of bonus to what I like to think of as obsessive-compulsive side missions. Doing them is as boring as hell, but there is just enough incentive attached to go through with it that a lot of gamers will press on.

Some examples are: blooper clips at the ending of the game, new items unlocked, new levels unlocked, alternate endings, new difficulty levels, etc.

What most of these bonuses have in common is that they don't usually add a lot to the game's story and feel more like pieces tacked on as an afterthought.

Negative Effect of this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9777530)

I agree.

The negative effect of this is that normal users get the bad feeling that either they have never *really* completed the game, or that they miss out on stuff for which they don't have time; maybe even that they paid too much and they don't get all content.

For some time now I just don't care anymore. I just play what I want in the way I want, ignoring the other "bonus" stuff, and dumping games, even FFXII, which was a chore to play for me for the first few hours.

If I like a game, and want to play it more after I "finished" it, I look for extra content myself or in FAQs.

However, I still hate developers who give me the feeling I have to do more to get the full ending or stuff...

Re:Artificial extension of gameplay time (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9777973)

Slow down walking speed to a crawl to make the game world feel larger (Elder Scrolls III)

A lot of people complained about that. But the walking speed in Morrowind is actually correct - it's other games that have your character moving at ridiculously high speeds, miraculously not even getting tired after running ten miles in as many minutes.

And anyone who doesn't like realism can just go and get the Boots of Blinding Speed, cast "Resist Magicka 100% for 1 second on self", put the boots on, and be happy for the rest of the game. Or just do the Master Index quest, cast Mark in Caldera, and travel anywhere on Vvardenfell in a tenth the time it would have taken otherwise.

Hey, it's not the game's problem if you don't bother to learn how to play it...

Re:Artificial extension of gameplay time (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781203)

You know, the reason why you run much faster in other games is because the player doesn't like running and therefore they cut down on the time you spend just running. In many games there are better means of transportation (spells, warp drives, vehicles/mounts, etc) available later on. The kicker here is that later on might be too late for many.

You obviously didn't hate it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9777226)

If you played a game for 150 hours and hated your experience throughout, then you're either an idiot or you didn't actually hate the game.

Some are still too "short" (1)

Fiz Ocelot (642698) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777359)

I'm sure some people around here have played a game they whish had lasted a while longer. Whether it's more levels, bosses, items, or storyline.

I don't think a game can ever be too long if you are having a lot of fun playing it. Most recently for me would be Thief 3. It had a lot of great stuff and had fun with it and I wish it was longer. And the whole MMO genere is based on providing enough "content" to keep you wanting to play for as long as possible. Sometimes this is great stuff, other times a boring treadmill.

On a similar note, I have higher than normal expectations on Doom3. For how long it's been in development, it should be oozing with content.

Re:Some are still too "short" (1)

NewWazoo (2508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781153)

Then you should also be drooling with anticipation, since id hired the same guys who made Theif to do the gameplay. :)


Game length predictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9777406)

I've nothing against the idea of giving an indication of how long a game is likely to take. Admittedly, these figures often get distorted for marketing reasons, but the length of a game *is* a factor I take into account when I make a purchasing decision.

However, I'm aware that calculating "game length" isn't always easy or simple. With an fps, for example, somebody new to the genre will take much longer to play through the game than somebody with a bit of experience. I recently replayed Doom for the first time in about five or six years (yeah, yeah, I've bought into the Doom 3 hype a bit) and it took me about 4 hours to play through the original 3 episodes (I'd never played the 4th episode, added by Ultimate Doom, before, so we'll leave that out). I didn't really remember the vast majority of the maps, but because I've played a lot of fpses in the mean-time, I was able to blitz through it pretty quickly. First time around, it must have taken me at least 15 hours to beat the game. Which of these figures is the fair one to use?

It gets even trickier in other genres. With "Western" RPGs, such as the Baldur's Gate games and KOTOR, it's possible to replay the game in a way that will give a very different play experience? Should this be included in the play-time estimate? With a Final Fantasy game, do you give a rough figure for how long it will take to play through the game's plot sections, or do you work on the basis of how long it takes to beat all the optional uber-bosses? Personally, I'd rather they just worked on the basis of the time for a basic single play-through, but I can see the temptation to go for the higher figure.

The way I see it... (1)

Weirdofreak (769987) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777648)

There's nothing wrong with hours of gameplay. Keep it, but put down how long you'll keep playing for instead of how long it'll take you to complete - I think some people already do. With some games this is the same: Metroid Prime took me 20 hours to complete, then I stopped playing it for ages. James Bond: Everything or Nothing got boring long before I completed it though, and Soul Calibur II keeps me for two or three days at a stretch (and has accomplished this twice so far), then I move onto something else. Super Smash Bros. Melee on the other hand you can play for ages after you've finished, because it doesn't die. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle is the same.

Replay value is the most important factor. A five hour game that you can play twenty times straight off without getting bored is better, IMO, than a 100 hour game. You get the same amount of playtime from each, but you're more likely to go back to the short one.

Replayability (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777677)

To me an important factor in gameplay is replayability. When you have finished a game it should be worth playing again, like a good book is worth reading multiple times.

Brand. (1)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777781)

Time spent playing CompanyA's video game is time not spent playing CompanyB's game.

The people in the video game 'industry' are among the most competitive alpha-dog meat-head types you will find.

I once worked for a fairly successful game company, and I've never been so disappointed in human beings as I have when, after the release of an online mulitiplayer game, we noted that there were some people who had been playing -solidly, the server gave us full stats- for 72 hours straight. the reason i was so disappointed was that the entire company was ecstatic that someone had played the game that long ... the notion of having total control over that persons life was really evident ... some sort of twisty schadenfreude.

i did everything i could to get fired from that company. those guys are assholes. i stopped playing video games thereafter too, and man do i feel better for it...

Re:Brand. (1)

sindarin2001 (583716) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779341)

Perhaps you have the wrong perspective on the situation. It's not like your company was shoving 72 hours of straight gaming down the throats of the the players, but that the gamers WANTED to play your game for 72 hours straight. I'd be happy that the gamer chose my game for their livelyhood, especially that they enjoyed it enough to play it for 72 hours straight (although those who did play for 72 hours really do need to know how to limit themselves). Those at the company are may be assholes with horrible intentions, but I'm just offering a potential different perspective you might not have thought of.

Re:Brand. (1)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779665)

No, I did think of that at first, that it was 'just jubilation over the game release', but none of the people doing the jubilation liked that game or worked on it; they really were just turned on by the fact that they had a plebian gameplayer out there who was addicted, and whose life they 'now controlled'... we actually had a meeting later in that week to discuss 'ways and means we can exploit long-period players'. i left soon after that, no way i want to be responsible for building another matrix ...

tekken 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9777995)

You can complete this game in 5 minutes - it's an arcade beat-em-up. I can unlock all the characters, complete the "tekken force" bonus mode and get a good survival score pretty quickly, so it has perhaps 2 hours of gameplay. However, I have spent several hundred hours playing it, mostly multiplayer, and there are still moves to learn.

The linear play time is short but the "depth" is high, mostly because there are dozens of moves and combos for each character, each of which can be countered, and the counter can be countered and so on.

How long you play depends on how much you like a game, how much depth there is and who you can find to play it with. Linear play isn't usually that interesting, unless it goes with a good story.

indication of depth (1)

hankaholic (32239) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778160)

Having spent tons of time playing Vice City, I've completed all of the missions several times over, bought all of the properties, basically done the game through and through.

Estimates of Vice City cites 50 hours of gameplay. San Andreas' reported 150 hours of gameplay tells me that there'll be much more to see, do, and experience.

Estimation of playtime is not an indicator of play quality -- that's why people read reviews. When you try to use hours of gameplay as the sole indicator of how much enjoyment you will receive, of course you'll be unhappy with the results. However, this isn't a system failure; you're simply trying to use one metric (estimated time of play) as a measure of another (enjoyment).

What you are doing is similar to saying that Toyota should not publish MPG estimates for the Prius because you need a vehicle which can be used for towing. Since MPG doesn't describe the overall utility you will receive from a vehicle and can also sometimes be inaccurate based on driving style, Toyota might as well stop focusing on a single number and start developing better vehicles. I mean, I saw an F350 with a fifth wheel pulling an RV recently. What is Toyota thinking in claiming 40+ MPG when their Prius can't even tow a mobile living space? That's totally misleading, isn't it?

Perhaps the gaming industry isn't the party which is overly obsessed with the estimates of playing time. San Andreas is estimated at three times Vice City, which means that given ALL OF THE OTHER INFORMATION which I know about Vice City, I'm definitely going to be purchasing San Andreas. If Rockstar estimated playing time at 10 hours, I wouldn't be quite so quick to shell out $50.

Opposite end of the spectrum (1)

Xian97 (714198) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778181)

Another reason to advertise long game play times is because of the games that are the exact opposite - you can complete them too fast. How many times have you felt ripped off laying down $50 for a game and completing it within hours? I can think of a couple recent examples on the PS2: Baldurs Gate Dark Alliance and Silent Hill 3 could both be completed in 10 hours. Years ago I remember playing The Leather Goddess of Phobos II and finishing it in 5 hours, the same night I had bought it. By advertising 150 hours you know that at least you won't be completing the game in a single sitting even if you don't see it through to completion.

A question of choice (1)

guybrush876 (766715) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778291)

This is common aspect that good reviewers focus, gameplay along side with replayability, but in the end depends on the player. I'm not a fan of replayability and don't remember playing a fame from start to finish twice even games that I like a lot, the same goes with books(excluding comics), this concept only applies in my case to music and movies, and I don't replay movies as much has did. So a short game annoys me a bit, I'm not saying that every game should have 150h because probably I won't play the game to get to 100%, I'm saying is a question of choice some people like to replay games often and don't have a lot a time so a short good game is what 's best for them, others tend to be obsessed with one game and have time to play it often, so RPG's and other's very long play games with multiple paths are there choice. I like the middle, 15h-30h for action, 50h-60h for RPG's so I can play the game once and enjoy it without getting bored. So in conclusion I like GTA model 30h for finishing the game with core missions and some side missions, and more hours for people o like to play it all. I don't like max Payne 2 model play the game 5 times with some different aspects, although I enjoyed the first play I feel a little cheated be cause it's to short.

What happens when you give up on a game? (1)

Asprin (545477) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778387)

"So why the obsession in video game media with quantifying gameplay time?"

Because - as anyone who's played a crappy game that was also way too short knows - it's a way the game developer can hedge their bets. If your games isn't going to be good, you should at least delay the onset of futility as long as possible.

Quality is where it's at (1)

pommaq (527441) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778955)

Yeah, it's a pointless metric. You can't measure fun. I had a blast playing both Max Payne games, they were supposedly "short" but had great production values. Then again, I spent... um, countless hours with Chrono Trigger. Because I had to complete all the quests and see all the endings, you know. And I won't even get into my old Diablo 2 addiction. But I honestly don't know why anyone would use "gameplay hours" as a reason to buy a game. If we draw the movie analogy (everyone's always dragging out movies as the base unit of entertainment per currency so I might as well), I really don't care if the movie is one or three hours long... all I care about is what it delivers: if it's good, if it gets me thinking, if I laugh, things like that. Same thing with games.

I'm actually in the silent minority who thinks modern games are too long. I'm not in school anymore and I don't have weeks upon weeks in which to slog through games that demand hundreds of hours of play time to complete the story. That's why I'm more into sports games and free-form action games like GTA these days (ironic how the GTA designer is claiming 150 hours, isn't it? just goes to show what a useless figure it is) - you can boot 'em and play for fifteen minutes without having to remember what quest you were on. Give me quality, not quantity.

Get a life (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779102)

I read a totally different meaning from 'the Pointlessness of "Hours of Gameplay"'...

I thought the article was telling me to get a life!

Give me hours or give me death (1)

Mirkon (618432) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779178)

"So why the obsession in video game media with quantifying gameplay time"

Because some of us want good time for our money. We don't want to spend $50 on a game just to forget about it a week later.

If you don't like long games, don't buy them. Hell, if you're talking about GTA: San Andreas, you shouldn't even be concerned - it's an open-ended game, you can play as little or as much as you want. But I, for one, prefer games that last.

How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9779251)

how about a game that you LOVE for 150 hours instead of a game you love for 20?

Yuck!!! (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779304)

Ouch! I think this isn't a pointless metric at all. I want to play a ame, finish it, and then get on with my life. This means this darn thing'll take three times as long as Vice City did.

Games like this give a sense of accomplishment when you finish. When I heard "This could be the beginning of a beautiful partnership. You're a backstabbing ambulance chaser and I'm a psychotic killer." -- or whatever that last line was -- I had this happy moment. I was actually irritated, a little, when I found that after the credits there was a little more stuff to experience. Phone calls about Mercedez, for starters. How do I know when I've finished? At some poiont there will be no stimuli left, nothing left to hunt get, and I'll never know for sure. I could be driving around kneecapping people for hours without any payoff.

I want these things to be DONE at some point. 150 hours?!?!?!


A simple equation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9779328)

For a lot of people, especially those on limited budgets, evaluating the potential worth of a game comes down to this:

Playtime / Cost = Play value

Thus, some measure of the length of a game is helpful. The trouble is this equation is too simple. It ignores the Fun Factor - how much you actually enjoy those hours of game time - which is generally on a logarithmic scale. Then there is the Replayability Factor, which tends to be exponentially proportional to the Fun Factor.

Unfortunately, whenever I try to evaluate free games, I get a "divide by zero" error. Any suggestions how to avoid that?

You Get to Pick and Choose (1)

DaFlusha (224762) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779519)

The important point with a more nonlinear game like GTA is that it offers about 150 hours of gameplay, but of that only maybe 10-30 hours are required to beat the game. The rest is, well, all stuff you get to pick from. So you can tailor it to a length you like--if something's boring, stop doing that mission.

Time Whoring vs Game Play (1)

LordZardoz (155141) | more than 10 years ago | (#9780293)

Some games, particulary some RPG's, but also other games, end up doing what I call time whoring. I imagine that the circumstances come up like this:

Designer A: Ok, we have a great game, but it is beaten too quickly, what can we do to extend the game play time?

Designer B: We can take all the monsters at point X in the game, and make them stronger, so the player needs to be a higher level to beat them.

Designer A: Sure, why not?

This results in adding a few hours of waking around in circles killing mosters for experience (XP Bashing). You play an RPG typically to advance the story, and meet story goals. How does spending a few extra hours make the game better?

It doesnt, not if you dont want to spend those hours bashing monsters aimlessly. Being able to do this sort of thing is not the same as wanting / needing to do it. Final fantasy games are somewhat bad for this because you end up feeling the need to have many fights that carry no real risk to you and can be won by just selecting fight over and over again, stopping about one time in ten to heal.

Any game that requires you to spend time doing repetitive tasks that require no real decision making and carry no real risk is guilty of time whoring. I concede that the threshold for crossing from gameplay to time whoring is subjective, however.


Hours Of Gameplay = Rent vs Buy (1)

disco_stu00 (467108) | more than 10 years ago | (#9780769)

Hours of gameplay, on a good game, is the deciding factor on whether I will rent or buy the game.

If a game, like Max Payne 2, is a good game, but can be beaten in under 20 hours and has limited replay value. Why buy it for $50, when I can rent it for $6 and beat it in a weekend.

It's all about the rentals. (1)

GrnArmadillo (697378) | more than 10 years ago | (#9780898)

I'm not going to spend $30 on a game that a new player can beat in 5 hours (the Metroid GBA games) or $50 for a game I can beat in a week. Not when I can rent the game from Blockbuster for that week for $5, see most of the content in the game (let's face it - playing the same game again on a harder difficulty level is still the same game), and return it for another one. Say I'm really liking the game and only halfway through it at the end of the week, I just renew it and still wind up with $40 more to spend on games I HAVEN'T finished yet. The only games actually worth full-priced retail purchase ARE the ones that will provide a month's worth of entertainment. (Note: ACTUAL play time, the advertised number is always a significant overstatement.)
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