Does Length Matter?

How many hours of gameplay? It's a depressingly common question asked by gamers and journalists alike. But is it missing the point?

Almost without fail, a game demonstration at events such as E3 will conclude with one of the assembled media enquiring as to how many hours of gameplay are contained within the game we just saw. If I'm rolling my eyes, the developer giving said demonstration would surely want to do likewise.

After all, it's a stupid question.

For one, how many hours for who, exactly? Me? You? The guy who made the game? Your mum? The - ugh - average player?

For two, when do you start and finish the timer? When the end credits roll on the singleplayer? When the multiplayer has been "fully tested"? When every difficulty level has been beaten? When you have to stop playing because it's so terrible? When every Achievement and unlockable has been awarded? What if the game doesn't have levels? Or a story? What if - heaven forbid - you might want to play it again? What if the whole point is to replay it for a high score?

Kyle Orland, writing over at Gamasutra, agrees.

While noting that recent Xbox Live Arcade release Limbo had been near-unanimously praised, Orland observed a curious trend of criticism of the game's perceived brevity. It's a bit short, say the reviews, citing anywhere from three to eight hours for them to "complete" the game.

But as I've already queried, what counts as completion?

I made it to the end of Limbo's world - its designed levels - in around five hours (approximately, I don't count these things). Did I complete it? Am I done with that game? Actually, no.

What happened was, I started playing it again. To me, the core gameplay, the utterly gorgeous art, the tactile pleasure of moving through these bleak environments, the black humour of each sudden and brutal death, all these things were so enjoyable I wanted to experience them again. Suddenly, Limbo's length - for me - has grown.

I played Final Fantasy XIII for a good twelve, maybe fifteen hours. Certainly, I've spent more time with Lightning and co. than I've spent with that strange, unnamed silhouette boy in Limbo. But I enjoyed very little of it. I forced myself to keep playing, thinking the whole time "This is a major release, I need to play it and work out why people like it. Surely it's going to get better?" Eventually I gave up. I was done with Final Fantasy XIII. I hadn't "completed" it, but - to my mind - I had undoubtedly finished it.

When reviewers and gamers talk of such-and-such a game having X number of hours of gameplay, it's nothing more than lazy shorthand. Worse, it's worthless advice that tells you nothing about whether you or indeed any other person would enjoy the game.

Instead of this value per hour measurement, Orland proposes we consider not "How long until I reach the end?" but "How long do I want to play?"

He's got a good point. Games aren't products designed to perform a certain function, like a fridge or a toaster; they're something to be experienced. When talking about a game's value, talk about the experience you had, not how long it took.

Would you say to someone, "Don't watch Firefly, it's only 11 episodes. Watch Neighbours instead, it goes on forever"?

Follow the link below to read Orland’s article in full.

Analysis: Limbo's Completion Time - What's in a Length? [Gamasutra]


Comments

    I get what you mean totally. Too many games I've 'finished' but never completed...

    Would you say to someone, “Don’t watch Firefly, it’s only 11 episodes. Watch Neighbours instead, it goes on forever”?

    Bang on! I've watched those 11 episodes several time now. I've never seen a single episode of Neighbours and doubt I ever will.

      PS. Don't know why but I've named that silhouetted boy, Timmy....

        He sure looks like a Timmy to me too!

    I don't really like that analogy, the thing about video games is that it's an expensive medium to follow, which necessitates the need for a minimum length that you feel is worth your investment.

    Sure, I'd rather watch Firefly than neighbors, but I have to spend very little/no money to enjoy these works, while playing a fully priced retail game is going to cost me anywhere up to $100 Australian.

    Mind you, a downloadable game is usually pretty cheap, and I'm more than happy with paying for a quality few hours if it's at a reasonable price.

      I disagree. Even when I am spending $100 on a AAA title, I am not spending that money on a per-minute basis. Too many AAA titles feel they must stretch on and on for far longer than they have any right too because of this mentality of players and reviewers.

      For instance, Bioshock could easily have finished after the player meets Ryan, yet it sat around for twice as long without really achieving anything else. I woul dhave much preferred it to be a shorter yet more consistent game.

      Quality over quanity, really. Well, for me at least.

        I somewhat agree.
        It's like a movie aswell... once a Director has a big hit or wins an Oscar, they feel the need to stretch their next film to 3 hours.

        Transformers is way too long of a movie. Its not based on a piece of text like LotRs or the HP films. So the writers just made it long, cause well, they can and they got the budget to match.

        However, just cause its nearing 3 hours doesn't mean ya still got ya $10 worth cause it wasn't that great of a film.

        I would want to go pay $10 to see a film thats only 1 hour if its a great film than the same amount to see another Transformers that just drags on.

        I can just tell Halo Reach will have a short campaign. Maybe the same as Halo 3 but not as long as Halo 1 or as long as it should be. But I look past that in certain games, especially online/FPS cause some people will buy for Multiplayer. I guess it depends on the gamer, their taste and the type of game.
        Ya can't have every game like RDR or GTA where the multiplayer offers just as much as the terrific single player and trying to gain that 100% Completion achievement/trophy. As long as its funs and enjoyable however.

      I agree. Yes, you can have a quality game but if you're paying full retail price for a game that only lasts a few hours, you can't help but feel you're not getting a full return on your investment. All those extra tid bits like multiplayer and achievements go a good way in extending game time and games should incorporate those if their single player is lacking in time. Splinter Cell Conviction is a recent example of that.

      Games being an expensive medium to follow is all the more reason why we should be investing in games that give us the best experience - games that are good enough that we want to go back and re-play them even when we've finished them - games that give us a new and equally rewarding experience on the second, third, and fourth go.

      It's definitely a case of quality over quantity. Why would we want to play a game that isn't that good but drags on for hours and hours? So that we can spend more hours playing something that isn't all that enjoyable? Why are we even playing to begin with? Getting the most out of a game is about enjoying it as much as we can, and I know that I tend to find enjoyment in a good game (regardless of length) than a long game.

      The solution to your problem is to not buy games at release. If you are concerned about $/hour, then wait a month or so until the game is on sale. If you are in it for the single player experience then you aren't missing out by waiting. I seldom pay more than $60 for a game.

      If it is multiplayer you are after, then you are probably going to get your $100 worth (if you choose wisely).

    But guys!
    Libby has found out that Steph is pregnant with Dan's kid!
    Nathan Fillion's awesome, but he's not enough to outshine the happenings of Ramsay Street.

    ... Well that was disturbing. I don't even watch Neighbours and I know the storyline to it.

      Yeah, me neither, and I knew that too, haha. You can pratically follow the series just by wathcing the ads.

        The previews always seem to cover material in the last 5 minutes of the show, anywy. That's how long it takes for them to get to the point.

    I always take playtime with a grain of salt. If a game is billed as having "40 hours of gameplay" I expect to get at least 30, and call it a win.

    However, I won't pay $80 for the 30 hours.

    I don't know what I paid for the digital deluxe version of Dragon Age, but I've clocked up well over 120 hours and still haven't finished it.

    As for multiplayer, if I'm buying a game to play with / against other people, then the "x hours of gameplay" mean little or nothing.

    I agree it's a frivolous question.

    The Neighbours / FireFly comparison assumes the reader doesn't like, or at least, feels that Neighbours is inferior in quality to firefly. (I happen to agree :P) however if I enjoyed each equally then Neighbours would entertain me for longer, but at what price, and is that price competitive with firefly on a $ per hour basis?

    Would I be willing to sit / play through a less entertaining scenario, but know that I can do it for longer before I need to find something else (or decide to 'replay' it).

    I could discuss it for hours :P

    Width is more important than length.

    Zing!

      I believe that was said of Mass Effect 2's character arcs... not to mention many of the open world games like GTA and Oblivion.

      Optional sub-quests for the win! :p

      And a lot of us prefer depth.

      (note: I'm referring to characters, plot and scenario, not 3D)

        also Penis

          Best reply ever.

    I use the lunch or sometimes movie arguement for game prices. Say paying around $15-20 for limbo is what i pay to go see a movie these days or how much a pay for a decent lunch when I'm out. Hell combine movie and lunch and suddently the $20 I pay for a game thats only a couple hours in length measures up quite well.

    Thats always been a real issue of disgust for me coming back again to the pirates I know who baulk at what I pay for games and these are the same people, the same people that pay ridiculous amounts of money for a tshirt with a 'clever' caption on it or designer jeans yet somehow games are 'too expensive'. It boggles the mind.

    I play a lot of RPGs and puzzle games, and there are plenty of games I have refused to buy because I can't spend the time needed to play them.

    I am currently much happier buying/playing shorter games. Or games where it is easy to pick it up again if you put it aside for 6 months.

      I cannot agree with you more! I stopped playing Monster Hunter after I realised how long it would take me to get to the real meat. It is the same reason I have avoided Mass Effect and Dragon Age. I don't have the time to do an epic storyline justice.

    It’s not the length that matters, it’s how you use it.

    Namely, as Dave pointed out, some games are long as hell, but don’t really offer that much enjoyment. I’ve always had a motto, “You will always know how much you will enjoy a game after the first 2 hours”. Actually, I just made that up right now, but it conveys the point I’m making. I’m not a big fan of “it gets better later” When I hear reviews tell me it gets better later I steer clear. That phrase tells me that I have to go through a lot of garbage to have fun. And even if it does get better, it may have gone from terrible to slightly less terrible. A games selling point shouldn’t be that it’s ludicrously long. If I’m only enjoying it 1 out of 10 hours, then how is the epically drawn out story a bonus.

    A good example is WoW. Ask someone “how long” wow lasts, months, years, forever, the game has no ending. But the game doesn’t necessarily get any better or worse 5 or 10 hours in. You either love that game, or hate it (and still play it)

    the real problem is devs stack games with multi now, which is seemingly endless, at the expense of epic single player quests - i loved how metroid and resi evil are 20+ hours but not open world or RPGs.

      Except RE5 is a 4 hour game. So really you're only getting 20 hours if you complete all 4 difficulties and then can be bothered playing the DLC.

        i meant RE4. didn't play RE5 as it's not on Wii, sob.

    Memorable. If a game can make a statement, keep you enthused and become a memorable experience, regardless of time involved, makes it successful.

    GTA San Andreas, I had so much fun for weeks, not just hours. And I remeber how much fun and how many laughs I had.

    On the other hand, take Portal, its a legend! Just about all who play it remember how cool it was and although short, it made a memorable experience.

    So many people complain about game length and yet ignore things like depth - like taking a 3m length of fancy ribbon and complaining that it isn't 20m like their old piece of gardening twine!

    How should I count game length for all those RTS games I only play for skirmishes? - I must've sunk several dozen hours into Total Annihilation and Rise of Nations and only ever got two or three levels into any campaigns.. and should the prospective modding scene differences (games within games and suchlike) be accounted for? (how many here played Warcraft 3 for two to three times the campaign lengths thanks to TD/DotA/etc?)

    Personally I find shorter but more meaningful games are much better than length for length's sake - games like the Twinsen duology, Heart of Darkness, Second Sight, Psychonauts, etc. might only have between 4 and 8 hours each straight through, but some of them I've played about six or seven times through because it's like re-watching a favourite movie every few years (which you can't do easily if your favourite movie takes a good 150 hours to watch)

    Then again the current pricing trends tend to sink titles like that since $100+ is too much for most games however you spin it unless you're banking on the sustained support levels of TF2 or classic UT

    When I'm satisfied with what I've done in a game. I've finished it. That's my definition.
    That or when I've got to the point where I want to drop punt the disc out the window.

    Also, I don't get many RPG's approach to gameplay length. More isn't always better, and I don't want to be bored stiff before I even have a full party.

      I love a good RPG... but I hated FF-XIII yet loved ME2 and Dragon Age, although that may be a combat style thing.

    In my opinion it depends on the type of game and the gamers life and circumstances. These days a lot of people don't have endless hours to throw into a game. Games which have a clear start and end point are attractive for someone like me who treat games like a movie or tv show. "The Weeknight Gamer." I throw many single player portions of FPS, and even games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age etc into this catergory.

    The more open world games which you are encouraged to explore and take your time have to really sell themselves to this same audience. Your GTA's and any RPG's from Bethesda I'd throw into this catergory. Also ARMA II... damn that's a tough game.

    I make this distinction because I've noticed the change in my own playing habits these past few years after going from student to full time employee. I hardly have any time for multiplayer now because I can't commit hours into playing a game - training up to compete seriously online. Open world games usually really need to sell me on narrative, gameplay and setting before I take a serious look. A 100 plus hour game means I'll be playing it over a long period of time so it really needs to hold my interest.

    If I'm paying full price, I expect to get a decent amount of time and enjoyment out of it.
    Multi-player is a cop out.

    And on the Neighbours thing:
    Am I the only person who's noticed that it never rains on Ramsey Street? I've been to Melbourne... it's forever bloody raining.

    I agree with this article in some respects but I think single player/co-op campaign game length is an important measure for certain games types.
    For example, a classic western RPG, I like to know how long the game is in length to see if its worth my time. If its only 10 hours, it isnt worth it for me because I just get into it then its suddenly over. Those types of games need to be long so you can grow with your character and have truely epic and long adventures. Sure some people cannot put that much time in to gaming, but that means that genre is not for you.
    I think the same goes for any game where you level up with experience points or stats, you invest time into them and become emotionally atatched to them, you don't want it to end suddenly.

    Yes I would rather watch Firefly or maybe gouge my eyes out than watch neighbors, but Firefly is also a series that has a whole 11 episodes and no ending: sure it's great but it still leaves you feeling a little cheated.

    When you spend $100 on something you want to get your moneys worth and some games just don't deliver.

      Thats why they made 'Serenity', to tie off the series.

    Game length is like sex; if the game is really great but climaxes before you and just rolls over that's no good, although if its a particularly good game you might give it another play through to reach the necessary level of satisfaction. Conversely if it goes on an on without a high enough level of gaming pleasure you can just finish up, say thanks and drift off to sleep. Of course depending on how much you paid, well we probably shouldn't go there...

    Why haven't the residents of Ramsay Street realised that many people living there have died, statistically the death rate must be very high for just one street. Plus their employment opportunities seem to be limited to the school and the coffee shop.

    ... wait this is a games site? Oh yeah these days I don't necessarily mind a game being "short" if it doesn't cost much, as long as the experience has been thoroughly enjoyable. I don't have as much time for games as I used to so a game dragging on for the sake of length is not a good thing.

    David and Kyle, you guys unfortunately completely missed the point on this one.

    First off, to clarify, when people ask about the length of the game, they are generally talking about the 'average' length of the single-player campaign. It's obviously not an exact number, but most developers are able to give a ballpark figure (12-15 hours for SCII example) that should satisfy.

    Secondly, the length of the game is simply another factor. Games CAN be very short, but still very good (portal is a prime example). However, they should be priced accordingly (portal, again, only technically cost $7 dollars, as it was bundled with TF2 and HL2:EP2)

    Now there are games that are usually very focused on the multi player, Call of Duty and Team Fortress 2 come to mind, these are games that will pretty much always have a consistent online community, and that is the main way in which they are meant to be played.

    However, when games advertise as having an 'epic single player/co-op experience mixing detective style investigation with high tension set pieces' that can be finished by an average player in four hours *cough*HALO ODST*COUGH* you would feel a bit cheated. Especially if you paid full price for it.

    When you're shelling out the over-inflated aussie price of a hundred smackers for a brand new video game, you want to feel that a single play through of single player campaign will alone be worth the cost of admission. Achievements, challenges, harder difficulties, even multi-player (unless said game is particularly focused on MP) are just padding.

    Heck, Starcraft II, a game which 90% of it's player base bought for it's MP, had a single player campaign longer than most purely single player games.

    PS: David, your Final Fantasy comment kind of got me thinking. Because you ARE a games Journalist, you're expected to play and know all of the major releases. In the course of doing this, you'll come across titles you genuinely dislike, but still HAVE to play (like Final Fantasy). The general public doesn't have that problem. You also don't have to pay for the games. 90% of people who read this site will only shell out for a game they know they will enjoy.

    I can only imagine that playing hour after hour of bland, unimaginative JRPG because your editor is forcing you to would make you think twice about how long games should be.

      I don't think we've missed the point at all. My point - and I feel confident Kyle Orland would agree - is that game reviews, criticism, and discussion needs to move away from reductive analysis. Part of that reduction is this idea you can attribute numerical value to a game, whether it's the number of hours played, its review score or even what is a reasonable price.

      Don't dismiss "Achievements, challenges, harder difficulties, even multi-player" as mere padding. If it's true that you're shelling out the over-inflated Aussie price, then don't such things become even more important?

      Essentially, I'm recoiling at the idea that we play a game once, we see the credits roll, and then we're done. It's absurd. If a game isn't worth picking up again and playing through a second time, then I'd suggest it wasn't particularly good in the first place.

      Equally, to say that Portal only got away with being very short because it only cost $7 is absurd, too. Portal's quality is not diminished in the slightest whether it cost you $7, $70 or 7 cents. It may have only taken me a handful of hours to "beat it" but the experience of Portal has remained with me ever since. It genuinely wowed me and its genius continues to resonate nearly three years later. Compare that to Gears of War, for example, a game I spent considerably more time with, but can't honestly remember much about. (Note: I bought The Orange Box for full price and only ever played Portal. I certainly don't feel cheated.)

        I'll have to disagree on the "If a game isn’t worth picking up again and playing through a second time, then I’d suggest it wasn’t particularly good in the first place." comment. If a game requires me to go through the game more and more times repeating mostly the same contents and only adding in a few extra bits each gameplay, then I'd say the game is trying to use these extra re-runs to extend a limited game life.

        For me, I want a game to deliver a gameplay that continues to excite me for most of the time I spend on it on the first play through. I want to absorb most, if not all, of the contents on the first run. I don't want to go through most of the same contents again during re-runs just to see a different new content. For a re-run to be worth my time, they have to present significantly new experiences.

        I don't play multiplayer nowadays. Every type of game I play is for the single player story/mission/campaign, regardless of FPS, RTS or RPG, and I want the gameplay to be worth my money.

        BTW. Regardless of others, I thoroughly enjoyed FFXIII.

          but sylphier that wasn't daves point

          its that a game is good enough that you want to experience it again regardless of whether it might have new content to it

          portal is the perfect example of this, i cant count on my fingers how many times ive played through that since its release. even tho its virtually a puzzle game

          to me its not the length that matters but the quality

          a good game should be enjoyable from the get go

          FF13 is the perfect example of how not to do this
          the previous incarnations were enough to get people to purchase it, yet i dont know anyone in personally that has made it to pulse

        Hmm, I can kind of see your point now. I do like the idea of game criticism heading away from numerical values (such as the style of Kotaku reviews), but I still believe that length is an important factor.

        I may have too much of a generalization when I referred to 'padding'. Some games, Like Half-Life 2, have very little 'padding'. An average gamer will take about 8 hours to finish it and that 8 hours will comprise entirely of the single-player story. It didn't even haven achievements until it was ported to MAC.

        What I am worried about is games that do padding badly. A good example is Bioshock 2's multiplayer, which most can agree added very little to the experience and would have preferred the effort expended on it to be added to more single-player content.

        My number one concern is the recent trend of games becoming shorter over all, because of this added padding. I really like epicly long single-player shooters, and I don't want them to fade away in favour of the 5 hour story coupled with enhanced multi-player and challenge levels that seems to be favoured lately.

        However, there are examples of the extra padding done right. Batman: Arkham Asylum is a prime example, with the challenge levels actually being very entertaining, as well as the world itself being full enough to warrant hunting achievements.

        I do agree with your idea that good games shouldn't be over when the credits roll, they should warrant replay value. However, that's no excuse to make games shorter - they should still have a decent length. Many people will put a game down after the credits roll, regardless of how fantastic the story was. I'm yet to replay the first Bioshock, even though it was one of my favourite games of all time.

        I can honestly say I would not have bought portal if it was $70. I probably would not have bought it at all if it wasn't included in the orange box, which I primarily bought for TF2 and HL2: EP 2. It was a cute little experience, and was very well written, but the whole thing felt like a tech demo to me.

        I also find it kind of funny that you compared it to Gears of War. I played both Gears of War games with my best friend, we'd play every Tuesday for a couple of hours after University (it was the day we both finished at the same time) and so the Gears of War experience actually sticks with me much more than the Portal one.

        All this said, I probably shouldn't have called you guys out for 'missing the point', it was quite uncalled for on my end and I apologize.

        Also sorry for ranting along on here, my posts have gotten a bit long XD.

        PS: A final point! Length also depends on the genre. An average RPG, for example, is many times longer than an average shooter. I've always wondered why this is so? Is it all the 'grinding' that has to be done? If so, why even have the grinding in the first place? This is where I can see your main argument, that longer does not equal better.

        Personally, I think you can only go at this one of two ways: one, you assess this thing from an artistic point of view, (which it seems like you're doing) where length and price aren't taken into account and you judge the game for what it is; or two, you look at this from a perspective that it is a product, which most gamers do.

        And David, the very nature of the The Orange Box's existence is to serve as a bargain. You're getting 3 games for one. The day you pay $360 ($120 for each of the games within - $120 being the maximum price for a standard edition game) is the day I may see some sense in your argument.

        Oh, and this topic would be so much better if you know, gamers haven't already influenced most gaming sites to mention the length in reviews, Kotaku no less.

          This is true. Often in the comments of reviews, there is discussion about how long the game was. It's obviously something gamers still care about

    I started playing FFXIII and after two (painful) hours I thought it was the most boring piece of crap!
    But a gaming buddy tells me to hang in there because once the story kicks in and the game starts to open up it gets really good.
    So I played the game for another 30 hours. . . and hated it!
    After 30+ hours I thought to myself "WTF am I doing!? This game is a piece of garbage!"

    In saying that I do expect to get a decent chunk of game play for my $100, not including multiplayer.
    My game tastes have changed lately and Im not really interested in multiplayer any more.

    So many analogies have been thrown around here, so how about this. . .
    Go to the cinema it costs, say, $15 for an hour and a half movie.
    $15 x 7 = $105 (about the price of a game)
    1.5 hours x 7 = 10.5 hours.

    10+ hours is, funnily enough, how much game time I expect to get out of a single player experience for a full priced game.

    I find that the length of a game should be as long as it needs to be to do the job. Limbo was a great little game, good challenges and enough gameplay to do the job but not so much that it gets tired. Braid & Portal manage to get the same balance as do decent RPGs.

    Also: Firefly has 14 episodes!

    Yes, length matters. Games should go on long enough to do all they can with their style and gameplay, and not too long as to bore the user.

    For instance, I don't want to pay $100 to get a game that takes 4 hours to beat. I also don't want to pay $100 for a game I'll never finish.

    Hmmm...I wonder how people would have reacted if we made similar comments about movies "The Lion King was one of the most visually and aurally outstanding animations I've ever seen but coming in at only 80 minutes I'm giving it 3 out of 5 stars"

    Some of my favourite games are incredibly short and I have played them several times over, including but not limited too: HotD:Overkill (3 hours), Portal (about 4 to 6), F.E.A.R (6 hours).

    Now admittedly when I heard FEAR was short I thought twice about buying it...how wrong I was. It's my favourite all time shooter.

    Portal at the time it came out I thought, ok not bad length for 20 dollars. Then along comes HotD:Overkill..I payed 80 dollars for that and I would pay another 80 for another "3 hours" of gameplay. It's my favourite game of the last few years, truly outstanding and completely replayable. I think I'm on my 3rd or 4th playthrough, I've lost count.

    Unfortunately Hotd fell victim to the exact type of discrimination you are talking about David with many people not wanting to spend the money on such a "short" game. Which is a pity because I think they are really missing out.

    I have to disagree with most of the post... I feel like this is overcomplicating what is a really simple question.

    When someone asks how long a game is, they're obviously not talking about how long it'll take until they get bored of it, they're asking how long it'll take until they beat the game. And it's also obviously not possible to narrow it down to a minute, but it's really easy to give an estimate. For example, some reviews of Limbo I heard gave an approximate time of 3 - 4 hours to beat the game. Whether or not I came inside that timeframe doesn't matter, because it gives me a *general* idea on how long I can expect the game to last.

    "How long will it take to beat the campaign" is a really simple question with a relatively simple answer, there's no need to overcomplicate things. For example:

    "How long does it take to beat MW2?"
    "It'll take most people about 5 or 6 hours on normal."

    Easy!

      Not really. The point isn't how easy it is to answer the question. The point is that the answer is worthless.

      So, MW 2 takes most people 5 or 6 hours to "finish" the singleplayer campaign on normal difficulty? Right, ok, got that. Except! This doesn't mean anything to me. It offers nothing helpful towards enabling me to decide if the game might be worth my time or indeed my money.

        Maybe not, but for some people its a contributing factor for if they should buy the game or not.
        Personally, I rarely play through a game more than once so a 5 hour single player experience is pretty poor in my opinion (for a $100 game).

        Maybe not to some, but to others, it's a completely reasonable question to ask. While I do enjoy the multiplayer of some games, other games I only play the singleplayer of, and I always do some googling to get a general idea of how long it'll take for me to beat. And then there are some people who only ever play singleplayer. It's a question that would apply to them too.

          Whoops, I meant to add...
          Take Splinter Cell Conviction. It's a great game, but its single player is so short. If I didn't have Xbox Live, I would have been so disappointed with the length of the campaign. Despite how fun the few hours were, full price for a few hours of fun isn't worth it.

          Or take Portal. One of the best games of all time in my opinion, but only 2 hours long. Would you pay full price for it?

      but the issue is that a good deal of the time there estimates are over what the community normally contributes to the average time taken to complete the game

      which in my mind is worse, they should never mention the length of there game period. it creates false expectations

      MW2 took me less than 5 hours on veteran and the cliched story will never see me play the SP again yet i enjoyed MW1 and i would probably play that again

      yet the spec ops is the only redeeming feature of the game in my mind and i have played around in that a bit

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