Shock horror I am actually agreeing with Jon R. but he has hit the nail squarely on the head.

$50 (or AUD$90-$100 for the average Aussie PC game) is a lot of money in my book and I want more than 5-10 hours of gameplay. This isn’t the damned film industry.

Full Throttle. But that’s the only one I can think of.

It depends on the genre for me. I’m frankly okay with an adventure game or shooter (single-player mode) that offers only 10 or 15 hours of play. For a flight sim, I want at least a year. :-)

I do know I have a limit, though. I stopped finishing Ultimas when they started offering > 70 hours of play.

Full Throttle. But that’s the only one I can think of.[/quote]

Lots of good adventure games are (were) shorter than ten hours. I can’t remember an Infocom game that was longer, in fact. Wishbringer, one of my favorites, I finished in under four hours.

I don’t remember DOOM or DOOM II being that long. A friend of mine and I played DOOM II straight through when it came out, in one evening.

Loom wasn’t very long, IIRC. Less than an evening. Very nice game, and very short.


I’ll happily play a game that’s shorter than ten hours, after I pay $14.99 for it in the bargain bin. I’m waiting to find a used copy of Max Payne 2 for about $20 before I play it for this very reason. Fifty dollars is just too much to pay for games that don’t even hit the ten hour mark.

I believe the standard of measurement is generally:

One hour of play per dollar spent, so $40 = 40 hours.

YMMV however…

— Alan

Wow… that’s a pretty strict standard. Movies don’t even come close to living up to it, for instance (even matinees clock in at $3-5 per hour, these days).

Ok, adventure games excepted for the 10 hour rule. I don’t play them, when I do play them I suck, and they all (the few I actually finished) took me way, way longer than anyone else. So for me even those games were longer than 10 hours because I am inept :D

Many of us who grew up along with PC (from 8-bit to today) entertainment also grew up with open-ended games–wargame with scenario generators/editors, flight sims wiht unlimited random missions, strategy titans like MOO, MOM, and Civ–and sprawling multi-floppy RPGs like the Gold Box games or the Ultimas; I think we’re a bit spoiled perhaps.

Perhaps it all changed with Doom (or Wolf3D). Those games were not long, but were INTENSE and oh-so-thrilling. Quite a change of pace, and opened us up to the idea that you can’t generally offer intense well-designed action levels and 50+ hours of gameplay. Even in the old days of 2.5D shooters, level design was labor intensive and it hasn’t gotten any easier today (better tools, yes, but far more complexity and stuff per level). And once RPGs left the 2D sprite world and ASCII overland map territory, developing uber-RPGs of extraordinary size became the exception rather than the norm as well.

But truly length is relative in many cases. A game like System Shock was over far too soon for me, whereas I never did finish the single player campaigns in WarCraft III…

See, what I think people are missing is the amount of time it takes to create content nowadays. You can either have super-tech, or you can have a really long involved game, but rarely can you have both at once.

Games are taking more and more manpower and money to make, and the direct result of that is shorter games. Don’t want shorter games? Let the devs know that making a game that looks like it’s 4 years old is an okay thing to do.

Morrowind being the total bizarro exception. How long did Bethesda take to develop it?

I believe the standard of measurement is generally:

One hour of play per dollar spent, so $40 = 40 hours.

YMMV however…

Wow most games these days wouldn’t come close to qualifying unless you focus on multiplayer.

The first PC game I can remember in recent memory to receive a lot of fuss about being too short was Elite Force back in 2000. A lot of people seemed to be up in arms that such a short FPS could receive excellent reviews. Max Payne also drew some attention but it seemed like at that point people were wearing down to the idea. These days it seems like under 10 hours is the norm for most non-strategy non-RPG titles so I’m surprised when a title is singled out.

I do remember people complaining about the length in Full Throttle. I beat it in a weekend and played through it several more times so I never felt ripped off.

I’m waiting to find a used copy of Max Payne 2 for about $20 before I play it for this very reason.

EB was offering it for $20 during their Black Friday sale. They even allowed orders online via their website.

Yep! I bought a brand new copy in-store for only $20. An excellent purchase, I must say!

Minimum length = (arbitrary personal constant of hours/dollar constant) * cost / (fun - hassle).

Fun isn’t really a constant for a game, though; it’s more of a fun vs. time graph, but assume for the sake of argument you can collapse it to a dimensionless quantity. Note it breaks down for really shitty games.

Well think about this. You pay to see a film in a theater about 8 dollars now right? And that is 2 hours of entertainment on average, so lets do that simple math.

$4 dollars an hour, that is what my time is worth at a minimum. So a $50 dollar game ought to give me a minimum of about 12.5 hours. If you get more than that, you got a great deal. If you get less than that, then it should be some seriously high quality stuff. (Max Payne 2, etc.)

:looks at his copies of SMB, Wings of Fury, Ico, Wario Ware, and countless others:

Um…were you being facetious or something?


I guess I’m in a minority. I often find myself happy with games I’ve only gotten 8 hours out of – provided that when I finish that 8 hours, I’ve really enjoyed it and won’t forget about it 10 minutes later. Games the size of Max Payne 2 and Call of Duty (both under 10 hours) don’t bother me, because I found them to be more fun than many games twice the length.

All this makes games like Project Gotham 2 (I’m at 36 hours and counting) an insanely good value. :)

What I find interesting is that a lot of console games have timers on them, even the short ones. Its like they aren’t ashamed at all about the playtime they offer. Its also a feature I really like for some reason.

Between 8 and 20 hours is about my ideal zone. Beyond that and I start losing interest.

… Says the man whose employer developed Baldur’s Gate 2.