Why short games suck

So, the idea for this has been kicking around in my head for a while now.
I’m an OTR (Over The Road) truck driver.
I make about $22/hr. Which works out to around $440 a week take home, for an average 4 day work week.
This works out to $110 a day for an 8 hour work day.
So it takes me right at 4 hours to make $55.
$55 is basically what a new computer game costs, $49.99+tax=$53 something really, but to keep things simple, going to round up.

Anyway, recently some games have come out that have been rather short.
First up is Prey.
I read the review in CGW, as it was called then, and Jeff Green mentioned that the single player part could be finished in 10 hours or thereabouts.
So, it takes me 4 hours to buy a game that takes 10 hours to beat.
Do I feel I’m getting my money’s worth here?
Not hardly.
Next up, Rainbow 6: Las Vegas.
Single player run through time 6 hours.
4 hours of work for 6 hours of play.
Money’s worth?
Again with the not hardly.
Next, Half Life 2: Episode 1.
$30 for 6 hours or so of gameplay.
What’s this work out to, like 2.25 hours of work?
Value? Nope.

Now, where I live minimum wage is/was $5.15 an hour.(Min wage was recently raised to $7 something an hour, not sure when it goes into effect)
Which works out to about 1/4-1/3 what I make, meaning that the gamer guy/girl flipping burgers down a Burger World takes 4x-3x to buy the same games.
So, Prey winds up being 16/12 hours of pay for 10 hours of game.
R6:LV the same 16/12 hours for 6 hours.

Then we get to Micro-transactions,and hell let’s toss in “episodic content” while we’re at it.
$1.99 horse armor? Pass. $30 for a 5-6 hour expansion? Pass.
In game ads without dropping the price of the game? Pass.
I’m not happy with the thought of paying extra for a game without ads.
But, I am paying $10 a month for ad-free satellite radio, guess this is going to be the wave of the future.
Still, I have to pay some of these gaming companies extra for the “collector’s edition” to get the game on DVD.( Looking at you F.E.A.R and World of Warcraft)
Now, I’m going to have to pay more for an ad free version of the game?
I can’t figure out why game sales are down…

This is my perspective as well as the perspective of others that make less than I do. Something gaming companies don’t seem to take into account.

By all means, tell me how wrong I am.

There is more to games than singleplayer.

R6:V - 2 hours / night multiplayer, 30 nights + 9 hours in campaign

69 hours total and still going strong for a $60 investment.

or, you can try something very addictive and replayable like Civ 4, or Mideaval 2.

edit: also, that burger wench most likely isn’t going to be getting oogles of games, she’s gonna get a game that will give them the most bang for thier buck. This is either a very replayable singleplayer like Civ or The Sims, or something that they can play with thier friends often.

There are two limiting factors when it comes to games, time and money. If you have a lot of money and not a lot of time, then your complaints are minimalized. But, if you have a lot of time but not enough money, then yeah your right. However, the industry gives a ton of options for those of use who need a lot of game for not a lot of money. For starters, don’t pay $50 (or $60 for that matter) for games. Wait until the price inevitably drops. I know on the PC there exist a ton of games I want to go back to and play which are probably floating around Ebay and Amazon for under $10. Add to that demos (which are free) or MMOs (which might save you money in the long run) and there is gaming for any budget.

Personally, I stopped buying FPS (or maybe never started) at retail since I never seem to get my money’s worth. And thats how you protest short games. Unfortunately, I think a large portion of the population driving market sales today don’t actually buy the games for themselves.

If it takes you less time to earn the money than you’ll spend on the purchase, there’s no problem. Working 4 hours for 10 hours worth of enjoyment sounds like a pretty good deal.

Yeah, then there’s games like F.E.A.R. and Far Cry where a single run through of the single player takes a good 20 or even 30+ hours.

You’re getting a 2.5? to 1 return on your money, where a movie by comparison gives around 3 to 1.
A lot of gaming companies are trying to justify their short games by comparing them to movies is the reason I bring this up.
Personally though, I’d prefer a 5 to 1 or better return.( just me though)

I don’t know, I just don’t look at it in terms of "I worked W amount of time to obtain X amount of money to by Y game and only got Z time out of it.

I see it as "I spent X amount of money, therefore I need to get X amount of hours, or greater.

I didn’t look at it this way until recently.

I see it as "I spent X amount of money, therefore I need to get X amount of hours, or greater.

Used to be you could do this, but, now it seems that the games are getting shorter for the same amount of money.

Fable for example, $40 when it first came out for the PC.
A friend got it for me for Christmas.
Think it cost him $19.99+ shipping, I blitzed through it in 14 hours.
In theory there is replay value, I was a goody two-shoes the first time through, I could go back and be Lord Evil Dick just to see what that’s like, but even then, 28 hours for the $20.

Compare it to other forms of entertainment.

Movies - $10 for 1.5 hours at worst or say $9 for 2 hours for those who live where they are cheaper. That is $4.50 per hour of entertainment (premium priced, not matinee, waiting for it on video etc).

Ep1 is actually priced at 20. So that is $3.33/hour
prey 10 hours for $50 - $5/hour
R6? it took me around 8, not 6, but include multiplayer and you are around at least 10-12 hours - so at 10 hours - $6/hour

Compare that to movies, and the pricing is not that crazy. Sure some give you more, GTA was about 30 hours for me, at $50 that was $1.66.

There is enough variety out there that if the length of the experience is what you judge your entertainment on, min/max for that… and then go watch David Lynch’s inland empire and try making the argument that length ads value.

And are game sales really down? I don’t think you are proving anything with your argument except a personal preferences - which is fine, but I don’t think this proves a causality between the two.


You sound like an investment banker. Its all about personal preference. You dis Rainbow 6, but you ignore the MP which can offer many hours of enjoyment. Also I’ll take 10 really good hours over 30 boring ones when it comes to gameplay.

Well I thought that I’d heard that game sales were down at some point in a discussion in another thread.

Weren’t they always this short?

I remember many games on the NES that were made to be beaten in a single extended sitting, like super mario 3 and the like. Mainly due to lack of a save feature.

Hell, even games that did have a save feature could be beat within a few hours. Mega man for example.

If memory serves, they cost the full $50 back then for just 5-6 hours of gameplay.

Hell, same with most FPS/Arcade fighters for the past 15 years. Singleplayer is short, but multiplayer could extend it’s life by 20-60 hours. Hell, if your a Halo nut it’s like 1,000 hours in one game.

Nowadays you got two genres that, on average, provide more bang for your buck in a pure single player. Strategy games (both RTS and TBS) and RPG’s.

In short, hook up with some people and play some MP, it’s do you a world of good and you get more money from your games.

Most games I remember, and I’m thinking mainly RPGs here, were a lot longer than they are now.
I’m talking stuff like the original Bard’s Tale, Bane of the Cosmic Forge(Wizardry 6?), Eye of the Beholder series, ect.
Then only thing that comes close to any of these now is Oblivion.(whether you consider it a RPG or not :P )

The last time I tried out a FPS online for multi-player the cheating was so bad as to make it a waste of my time.
Think it was Unreal Tournament.

Wait until the game is in the bargain bin for $5, or skip it all together. The industry will adapt to your spending habits. Anyways, I think it’s more the realities of development than developers desire that’s pushed down game length down over the past decade or so.

Yeah, i very rarely venture out into the online gamer realm without friends, lest I get raped by the milions of immature fucks who roam the lobbies just looking for fresh meat.

But, I will say this. Once you find a small group of like minded people that play a game that you like, and it’s worth it more than any SP game you could ever have bought, ever.

I’ll hafta keep this in mind for future purchases.

The reduction of the length of games is nowhere near as ramapant as you might believe. ten years ago alot of games only took 5-6 hours to complete. Hell it only takes about 6 hours to beat Half Life 1.

The problem really is that games have become so much easier recently. Back in ye olde days a scrolling shmup could be beaten in about half an hour. The difference is that it took you 200 hours to get your skills to the point that you could do it in that time.

There is a trend in the industry at the moment that says gamers don’t like hard games. They don’t like failure or being reminded that they aren’t Superman*. This trend is largely coming from the big American publishers who are in truth terrified of their customers not liking their game. and moving on to play a “More fun” game by their competitors.

It’s also symptomatic of the “Designing for the board” ethos that runs through alot of developers. Focus is so great on making a game that an Executive at the publisher will be able to play and beat it without trouble that it tends to dilute the experience for the consumer.

Obviously there are exceptions to this, Japan is one big exception and they still like to make Games that are really hard. I have no idea why and somebody more knowledgable on their culture can probably dump some insight on it. Also indie studios will do what’s fun and build some challenge into their games.

So are games shorter? Not really. If anything a few of the genres are creating longer games.

Do they take less time to complete? Well… yes.

*actually we tend to call this the Superman Effect as we always get Directors and the like saying they want to feel like Superman, invincible to everything, centre of the universe. We all know that what makes Superheoes entertaining isn’t their strengths but their weaknesses. This may be a Euro thing though.

Short games suck ass and are a ripoff. Counting on multiplayer with assholes you don’t know or want to know to make up for a short single player campaigns sucks ass too. I have spoken!

I usually don’t care too much, but sometimes I get irked. Gears of War particularly left me feeling cheated with it’s diabolically short campaign length.

Rainbow Six…Still haven’t finished it, mostly because I chose to jump into the ultra frsutrating Realistic difficulty for the campaign which has extended the the length of the game exponentially. It often feels unfair, but some difficult sections of a single level can take many hours on their own.

I don’t really care for multiplayer anymore, I only bother if I play with people I know or are on my friends list.

If you think of a game as a certain quantity of “content”, to be consumed or “played through”, and the game companies think the same way, then… yeah, they’ll try to charge more for less and you’ll want to pay less for more.

But the best kinds of games, imho, aren’t just “content” in the way a film is; the gameplay is interesting in its own right, gives you something to think about, to get involved in, and makes you want to play again in order to work out what you did wrong the last time and what you might do differently this time. Cultivate an interest in this kind of game and you’ll never have to worry about value for money again. :)