I think SamS thinks they’ve found a contradiction, and from that has had a huge epiphany. But actually they have just found some signal noise.
I played loads of games over the last ten years, loads. The 400 hours into Stellaris is not statistically significant, it’s a one off anomaly. If you created a list of all the games I’ve played for more than 10 hours and compared it to the list of 61 games I loved enough to consider for my top ten list, you’d find you had two versions of the same list with a couple of games different on each list.
The other big problem is that a player isn’t always choosing to do one thing over the other; not all games are created equally, so a comparison can be pointless. It takes three hours to get through Gone Home, yet that game made a few people’s lists because those three hours are super duper memorable and affecting. Three hours into Fallout 4 is not even enough time to have some of the core mechanics revealed to the player.
But that’s okay, because they’re different types of game. If you were drawing a comparison only between genres, or within an identical genre, you could perhaps make the argument about stated versus revealed preference. Gaming, fortunately, is a lot broader than that.
Speaking of time investment, I’ve been playing Elder Scrolls Online with a buddy and just hate the huuuuuuuge time sink it takes to level up anything. Basically I’ve given up and just tag along with my mate and every once in a while and get like 1% increase over a 12hour session or something. He basically plays 3 hours a day and is miles ahead of me and still not maxed out.
In the “proper” Elder Scroll games like Morrowind / Skyrim it actually feels like you are progressing and the game adapts accordingly without needing to play 200hours per level.
Heh. Reminds me of when I played my one and only MMO back in the day. Dark Age of Camelot. I was fine with the progression until I hit, I think it was 36 or something. And then getting level 37 took me approximately the same amount of time it had taken to get from level 30 to 36. It was ridiculous. That’s when I stopped playing. Well, eventually. Maybe not right that day.
I played Assassins Creed Unity. I enjoyed many aspects of running around Revolutionary France, and had issues with others. But I did enjoy much of my time.
And then came the final mission which pissed me right the hell off. On top of a design that was tedious, the bugs meant that many of my successful runs, ones where 20 minutes in I am closing in on completion after neutering the bullshit sniper fest, and I clip through a floor, or get stuck on the scenery. After about the 7-8th time of losing 20 minutes of progress, and please note my total video game time last year was less than 100 hours (probably closer to 50), I was fucking livid. I beat that stupid game, but was hating it at the end. It really soured me on the total experience.
DAoC was the only MMO that hooked me of the several I tried and I think that was because I found a really good group in my guild to run with regularly and then went from like level 40 to 50 and Realm Rank 5 rather quickly. DAoC would definitely make my top 10 of the previous decade.
I’ve been tempted to try ESO but no way can I afford the time sink. Bad enough trying to make progress in single player RPGs and Ubi games.
Here’s another example: I loved Dragon Age II - no, really, I did - right up until the last third or so of the game, due to some really stupid plot choices and an ending I don’t even remember but remember hating. I finished it and definitely enjoyed the 30 hours or so it took to get up to the point where my opinion changed. Could I have quit at that point? Sure, but I had already committed so much time, I figured I would see it to the end. Also, I was hopeful that something would change my mind about where the game was headed.
I think the only time I quit a game is when it really rubs me the wrong way from the start. There are lots of games that start off with a bang and end with a whimper. Or outstay their welcome. I could think of a dozen or more JRPGs that could have been much better if they were 30 - 40% shorter. And there are games that are great except for some stupid mechanic or other (JRPGs come to mind again - as much as I adore Final Fantasy IX, the constant random battles really grate. Everything else about the game, I love).
My short list was about three dozen games. I’m not even going to try and rank the top ten. The first six of the top ten are likely going to be there every time I make the list, but the last four could change.
Disco Elysium - There’s probably a recency bias here, but I think it would still be on the list in five years
Bastion - I haven’t really enjoyed any other Supergiant games, but Bastion was nearly perfect
Jackbox Party Pack (it’s not going to win, so I’m not going to pick a volume) - these are the best party games ever made
XCOM 2 - Especially with the expansion. One of the only strategy games I’ll play Ironman.
Crusader Kings 2 I’m pretty sure I still don’t understand how combat works in this game, but I don’t care.
Saints Row: The Third A delightfully crazy romp. For whatever reason, I liked 3 more than 4. I think it may have been the surprise.
Ascension I’m specifically talking about the iOS port, not the physical board game. This may be the game I played the most of last decade.
Firewatch - Firewatch worked for me and I was all-in on the story.
Mass Effect 2- my favorite of the 201X Bioware games, and one of the vary few games I finished more than once
The Witcher 3 - I still haven’t gone back for the DLC, but this was the best open world RPG I’ve played
Interestingly, none of my top 10 games were played on a console, but I don’t think any of the are PC-only.
Fallout: New Vegas
Slay the Spire
Life is Strange
The Walking Dead
Dragon Age 2
The Stanley Parable
West of Loathing
Deus Ex Human Revolution
Sentinels of the Multiverse
D&D 5th Ed
My top played game is a game I would play when I was super depressed because it shut my brain off. It’s a runner-up, but not one of my ten favorites. Firewatch, on the other hand, was a five hour game that I absolutely loved and don’t need to play again. I have a very large number of hours in Borderlands 2 because it was a game that my friends loved and I liked playing games with them. It may be on their best list of 201X, but it sure isn’t on mine.