Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Are Video Games becoming too short?

            One of the most common complaints about video games nowadays is that they are becoming increasingly shorter especially first person shooters. Many of the leading game franchises are launching videos games with single player campaigns that only clock in at around 5 hours with some even dropping as low as 4 hours. Most gamers would agree that these games are too short and not worth the money if not for the multiplayer aspect of the games. Is it fair to judge a game based solely on its length? I feel we need to separate video games into two scores not just one.

            If you ask each individual gamer how long a single player game should be you will hear all different answers ranging from 8 hours to 30 hours depending on the individual. It would seem that an acceptable length depends on the gamer factoring in the amount of time they have to play games and their financial situation. When a game costs $60, a player has expectations about how long that game should be based on their own situation. Many players will use simple math and say well an average movie in a theatre costs $8 and is about an hour and a half long, so at $60 a game should be at least 11 hours long.

            My personal belief is that we should not judge how good a game is based on its length but by the quality of the experience playing it but let me explain before you immediately disagree. How much a game is worth and how good a game is should be two separate but correlated values. For example, if you rereleased Super Mario Bros on the NES today, the game would be very good still but it would not necessarily be worth $60 like other games due to its age. Another example, if Shadow Complex (Xbox 360) was released on disc it would be a great game but not worth $60. One finally example, if a not very good game was released for only $10 it may not be a good game but it would be worth its value.

            My argument is that value and quality shouldn’t be combined into one score as value will constantly decline after release while quality will remain the same. Back to the original question: “Are Video games becoming too short?” A video game should be judged by how much fun you have, how immersed you feel, the emotions the come over you, and the quality of the experience. If a game is able to pull off a great experience in only 8 hours like Batman Arkham Asylum, then it is a great game regardless of its length. Length affects the value of a game. A game may be great but clocking in at only 5 hours will make the price one is willing to pay drop.

            This is a complex debate and one that will spark many arguments, but I am wondering what your thoughts are? Are games becoming too short? Respond in the comments below.

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1 comment:

  1. I think another factor is replayability. Super Mario is a short game, but you can play it over and over, while many games may be longer on one playthrough but you only playthrough once. Great games are the ones you put hours into, not necessarily the ones that take the longest to complete.