Tell Us Dammit: Are Games Too Long?

This is an old topic, but it's something I've been thinking a lot about: my complete inability to find the time to play all these new games coming out. But it's not just the sheer number of games on the market: it's how much these games expect to take from your life.

A couple of years back there was a period of time when all my favourite games were short: Journey, Papers Please, Gone Home. This year the games I've enjoyed most — Dark Souls II, Destiny, Alien: Isolation — have all been games that demand complete commitment and surrender. Dark Souls II took me the better part of 50 hours to finish. Destiny is a notorious time sink and even Alien: Isolation, which is a first person game with no online component, will take you rough 20-25 hours to finish. That represents a lot of my sparse free time.

I've started playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. Most reviewers are clocking that at around 80 hours. This terrifies me.

My perspective is a little different. I'll admit that. I'm playing games to stay across what's happening in the culture/industry, and often it feels like part of a job. Particularly when playing games I don't really enjoy.

Is it different for you guys and girls? Do you read about a game, hear about how long it's going to be and say 'awesome, getting bang for my buck'! I can totally get that. But for me it feels as though video games are asking for way too much of my spare time.


    I don't mind long games, it makes me feel like I'm getting value for my money, but there's just too many of them to be able to play them all.

    Games are way too long, with a family and many other responsibilities I only get a few hours each week to dedicate to my favourite past time. The good thing is that I'm only a third of the way through shadow of mordor so by the time I finish that I can grab fry cry 4 for a bit cheaper and save a bit of cash :)

    Games are as long as they need to be. They only become too long if they're stuffed with boring filler/grinding, or they have a ridiculous save system that goes long periods of time without checkpoints.

      Except Dark Souls which on paper violates all those conditions and yet I'm 120 hours in and only just about to go and face the music against the Anor Londo boss...

        You're almost there! You can do it!

        PS: I think I beat that game along with the DLC somewhere around 90 hours.

    Yes and No.
    Some do overstay their welcome. We need to be more accepting of games that have varying play lengths as a general, I think.

    RPG, I expect at least 80-100 hours. Although I am torn on which to play first, Far Cry 4 or GTA V which I've already played last gen...

      Totally agree, hell even if it only has RPG elements I usually want it to be 80-100 hours.

      For me, the best RPGs are the one's you're so wrapped up in you hit the 50 hour mark and think, "I hope there's another 50 to go..."

      Souls, Skyrim, fallout.... Now hopefully DA:I (don't have it yet)...

    There's a balance to it.

    I find a game too long when the story doesn't finish up quick enough for me to remember what's going on or they tack filler on at the end to drag it out.

    I like my RPGs to have a ridiculous amount of optional content that can be accessed after a tightly told main story.

    It can also depend what you like, I found Portal a tad too long. I was literally in the hallway outside the final boss when I got the shots & gave it a break. Portal was short.

      I recorded 200 hrs of playtime in Final Fantasy X.

        Me too! Good times. Did it all again in the HD version.

          I'm working on the hd version, slowly.

          I've got all but Wakkas weapon & have been grinding when the mood strikes

            What'd you think about FF12? The optional content in that game blew my mindhole.

              I was way too busy. It actually came out while I was overseas, so I didn't grab it til I got back.

              I managed to beat the game & defeat Gilgamesh & maybe a few others, can't remember.

              That's a game I would love to see on Vita so I can do everything I never got a chance to do the first time round.

              It looks eye-bleedingly horrid on myLCD

                If your computer is semi-decent you should be able to run it on PCSX2 - that's how I played it and that was a few years back. :)

                  My craptop is 8 years old.

                  I will look into this when we upgrade though. There's a few gems I missed that aren't up on PSN

            I got Wakka's. The only weapon I still haven't gotten either time is Lulu's stupid bloody lightning dodging weapon.

              There's a really easy trick on the hD version, makes it a tonne easier.

              Hey, @greenius link this man a link, willya?

        Yes. Best FF ever. Spent hours playing blitzball. Maxed everyone's stats, and basically one-shotted the final bosses.
        I'm yet to go through the dark aeons in the HD version though.

          Oh no! VIII is the best FF ever. ;-)

            VIII was the best ever.. Until X came out, if only because of Auron haha..

              X I'd third, after VII

    It depends. For me it's not something you can really define in a strict set of numbers, it's more... if it's hours upon hours of grind and fluff for no real reason, then it's too long. But hey if it's compelling and keeps me coming back for more, then great! From memory most of my Wii U and 3DS games have averaged around 20-25 hours out of me, which is a pretty comfortable run. There's outliers that fell short and managed to feel either disappointing because of it or satisfying despite it. But then you get to something like Smash Bros and I just wanted to try out each of the characters to see how they play, giving them a run through Classic one by one... I haven't checked my activity log yet but I think I must have hit that 25 hours by now (though hard to tell for sure with all the PAX StreetPass), and I haven't even unlocked all the characters yet. There's just too damn many of them! Feels like a bit of a drag, there's a bit of an overwhelming amount of content.

    No, games now-a-days seem a lot shorter than games back in my day (now I feel old)
    I miss the 40 - 60+ hour games that would take me a month of weekends to finish.

      What do you mean back in your day? Today is still your day.

    As I get older, I have less patience for plowing through a 30+ hour game unless it's truly amazing. These days I prefer faster games that don't demand 100% of my attention and long play sessions. This is likely why I am STILL addicted to Hearthstone and play pretty much every night since it's beta release.

    I'm probably going to get torn apart for this, but here goes...

    COD asks for my time perfectly. 4-6 hour single campaigns are reasonable for anyone to finish. Then you have multiplayer, which is a time sink but one you have complete control over. Short 10 minute (sometimes less) matches cater to those with limited amounts of time, and those who can commit to a multi-game session for a few hours can do that too. It's perfect.

      And there's the downvote I knew was coming...

        Have an upvote to counter that. I know exactly what you are saying,
        Even a 'short game' at 20 or so hours is a really big time commitment to make. Add a level of tiredness on top of it and sometime you just want to chill and zone out

    Games should be as long as they can to tell their story or give enough variety or fun in their gameplay to make the time feel worth it. Anything that requires grinding or microtransactions to skip the process is just poor game design.

    It's why I find Borderlands the Pre-Sequel to be the best Borderlands game. Problem I had with Borderlands 1 is that it repeated itself so much and most of the time felt like a grind. Borderlands 2 managed to fix some of these issues, but there still were moments of grinding (thankfully the characters made it feel less like a timesink). The Pre-Sequel was better paced and I don't recall any moment in which I felt like it was grinding. Only one moment annoyed me and it was that outside area on the space station, mostly because there was no teleporter into the area and you always had to take the long way round.

    For me, good RPGs need to be at least 50 hours and action games should be at least 15 hours.
    Sure, sometimes I’m busy and can only play a couple hours a week but so what? If it’s a good game I’m happy to take forever to finish it off.

    NO. If you dont like long games, dont play them or better still play them and dont do the sidequests. I have spent 200 odd hours (at least in Skyrim) by my choice I could have spent just five doing the story. Likewise Assassin Creed games are so easy, you can kick them in a short amount of time and ignore all the shopping list parts of the games.

    Just dont wish for short games. EG Call of Duty. Thats why I never buy them, there is nothing beyond 5-7 hour story.

    HOWEVER: the trick is making the extra content seem like it is part of the story. Assassins Creed Unity. Gets this both wrong and right. The sidequests add flavour and bring more history and depth to the game however the all chest and cockade hunting doesnt. So far some of my favourite time in that game is some of the side quests. Though in some senses they arent exciting enough but just colour the history setting more

    On the other hand (proper RPG) going through Dragon Age Keep today I was reminded how truly amazing the first game was, how much of it was solid storytelling and how much I remember of it. Yet Dragon Age 2 failed, though interesting never hit the same level of power, it was over before it started with little depth

    Last edited 20/11/14 11:34 am

      Yeah, I'd say many single-player games aren't long enough these days, especially first person shooters. Many first person shooters only clock in around 5-7 hours now, which is nothing. I remember games like Doom, Quake, Unreal, Half-Life that were all easily 15-20+ hours (assuming you weren't attempting a speedrun). When did it become acceptable for a full priced game to be less than half that length?

      RPGs, you'd expect to be longer, in the realm of 60-80 hours probably depending on the game, although they do seem to be getting longer as technology advances. This is mostly due to the level grinding that's typically needed in an RPG and how many sidequests you choose to do.

      Then you have 2D and 3D platformers or action games that tend to vary in length but tend to clock in around that 15-20 hour mark or so, which seems about right.

      Last edited 20/11/14 12:09 pm

    As with anything: measuring whether length is good or bad is entirely dependent on how much you enjoy what you're doing.

    That being said, something HAS to have a good plot/discovery of the unknown in order for me to play through it if it's a lengthy title. Gameplay and mechanics are largely repetitive in almost every game (understandably) and that will get boring unless either the story has an enticing plot or the game makes exploration rewarding and mysterious (Skyrim for example).

    Part of me likes the idea that i'm getting good value for money especially for the more pricey games if they have a long story or campaign, but on the other hand as a parent to a 6 month old i worry that i'm not going to be able to get the most out of it in my very little free time and be able to make the most of a long story or even really get into it.

    Games should be as long as needed. Some games (tomb raider) I felt were too long and had segments that just felt like padding, other games which took me a similar amount of time (sunset overdrive) felt short and rushed and could have used more main story game play. It all depends on the pacing and if a games length feels natural or forced. Alien Isolation wasn't 25 hours was it? My xbox had me at 17 when I finished it off and I didn't feel like I was speeding and had numerous times where I had to replay areas or got stuck going in and out of cupboards when the alien wouldn't leave.

    Last edited 20/11/14 11:53 am

    Games are exactly the length they should be, unless they are poorly designed and have either too much filler content and artificial "difficulty" in the form of battles of attrition or skimp on content and have fights that can be ended with a few seconds of button mashing.

    Now, if the question was "Are short games too expensive?", then that would be a "Most often".

    Generally speaking the more content the better but some games are so cluttered and bloated that you kind of get sick of playing them. Then there's narrative-reliant games where the game sort of keeps going after the point where it could have logically concluded and I'm like "I really appreciate you giving me an extra three hours to play your game but at this point it feels like padding".

    But I feel like the games that are too short or too long/bloated are the outliers and I am generally having positive experiences. Come as you are.

    I think it depends on your personal situation as well as taste. For me, I find it difficult to spend 20 hours on a console game, but happilly spend 100+ hours on a handheld, which why I find handheld to be the best place for RPGs. Mainly because I have to fight over the TV with the wife n kid.

      I don't really have to fight to use a screen, but for some reason I'm able to comfortably log tens if not hundreds of hours in handheld games and it feels like I've only been playing for a little while (Smash, Persona 4 Gold, Fantasy Life, Animal Crossing, Pokemon etc.). When I compare that to a console game; 8 hours feels like a lifetime. Why?

      Maybe console gaming takes more energy to play? Science or something?

    The longer the better, as long as it's justifiable. I'll usually buy shorter story driven action games like TLoU and such when they're cheap. Games like Dragon Age, Fallout 3 and so on, I'll go for them at launch because I'm fortunate enough to have a girlfriend that works weekends and some late nights, so I find myself with plenty of free time to game.

    Small games. no matter how good, are like a snack: quick and hopefully tasty but leaves you still hungry.
    But if that's all you want or have time for, sure.

    Gaming is my main course of entertainment: I want a big, meaty, engrossing experience that I can invest in and get lost in that leaves me full and satisfied and maybe even a little ill from over indulgence.
    But I've made room in my life for that, cause it's my thing.

    Games are only too long if I feel they aren't respecting my time. If they're giving me a reason to be there, and I want to be there, they can be as long as they like. But if they're padding out their hours with 'gamification', I start to get impatient.

    My favourite games are the longer experiences, usually because the worlds or stories have more depth. I easily sunk 120 hours into Skyrim and still go back to it. Still play World of Warcraft. Loved AC Black Flag. Loved Mass Effect (except ending - never downloaded the "new" ending after it lost me). Most disappointing experiences are usually shooters and their campaigns. I get multiplayer is where most of the community goes to but I stopped buying CoD games because I felt that the campaign was half assed. Halo 2 seemed terribly short and I was really annoyed about it. Its the only Halo game I haven't played through numerous times.


    Yes in general, because there can be an awful lot of padding in games just to get them to the "expected" length.

    If the only thing I have to complain about at the end of a game is that I wanted more of it, that is a good game. If it bores me to tears before I ever finish it then it really doesn't matter how much I loved it at first, I'm always going to remember it as a bad game.

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