I Can’t Believe It’s 2015 And We’re Still Upset About Short Video Games

I Can’t Believe It’s 2015 And We’re Still Upset About Short Video Games

1992. A Link To The Past. I’m anxious. I’m counting the items I’ve already collected and I’m freaking out. I’ve played for 20 hours and I’ve already collected 60% of the items. Does this mean the game is only 30 hours long. No. God no. I need this game to be longer. I need this.

That was 1992. 23 years ago. I was a child. Time was an abstraction, the summers stretched into infinity and blah blah blah. I’m an adult now. Are we still talking about game length like it’s a thing that matters?

I can’t believe we’re still talking about game length like it’s a thing that matters.

2002. The video game I spent the most time playing: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. A game that could probably be completed in — oh, I don’t know — two hours?

2008. The video game I spent the most time playing: Metal Gear Solid 4. A game that could probably be complete in — oh, I don’t know — five hours if you skipped the cut scenes.

I’ve played through Super Mario World over a dozen times. I’ve played the Tanker level in Metal Gear Solid 2 around 20 times.

I played Journey one. single. time. It was probably the most valuable two hours I’ve ever spent playing a video game. How do you put a value on that experience? How can we possibly judge video games in this strange way? How is this a story?

Reports are swirling that The Order: 1886 is short. Five hours short. Outrage. Chatter on Twitter. I am reading this ‘outrage’ and it is embarrassing. Flat out embarrassing. Why are we still like this?

In no other medium does this matter. I watched Big Hero 6 at the cinema. My wife and I went. We didn’t get much change out of $50. At no point after the movie did my wife or I feel the need to tweet/facebook/blog/snapchat about the utterly disgraceful 108 minute running time. Did you know that my copy of Dorien Gray is only 208 pages long? That’s bullshit, Ulysses was at least 700 pages!

There are news stories about the length of of The Order: 1886. A couple of weeks back Jonathan Blow tweeted that he did a speed run of his current work-in-progress The Witness in six hours. There were news stories about that. People clicked on that link. People thought that was worthwhile.

This exasperates me.

It exasperates me because I thought we were past that. Surely we should be past that?

The value of art is not defined by length. It should not be measured by the time you spend consuming it. That’s how it is with every other medium besides video games. Why should we be any different?

Is it about the cost of games? I don’t think so. Games can be cheaper than a night out or two tickets to the cinema.

Is it a symbol of our immaturity as a culture, as a medium? Maybe.

More likely it’s a bad habit we can’t shift. A need to treat video games like toasters, as things we attach all sorts of numbers to in an attempt to dissect them in the most banal way possible. We’re so used to discussing games like this, engaging with them on those terms, that we just can’t help ourselves.

But we should probably try to help ourselves.

This obsession is holding video games back. It’s stuffing games like The Last Of Us with needless combat encounters that subvert its otherwise well-told story. It’s forcing series like Dead Space to abandon taut, tense experiences in favour of bombastic action sequences for no other reason other than that’s what we expect. It made The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword a bloated mess of fetch quests. This is why we collect feathers in Assassin’s Creed.

Games are not content buckets.

Allow me to rephrase that: games should not be content buckets. It’s 2015. I can’t believe we’re still upset about the length of video games. That’s depressing. But more importantly it’s harmful.


    • Short games are good and a welcome relief from some of the open world, 100+ hour ones. So I’m a huge fan of even the ones that take one or two hours to complete. However, I prefer to pay accordingly. $50 for 5 hours is cool. Double that and I’m not so sure anymore.

      Vanishing of Ethan Carter was $15 odd and only lasted 4 hours. But it was a damn good 4 hours. And the price was excellent.

      • Yeah, I think that’s fair. If there isn’t something that’s going to extend the experience in some way it can seem unfairly priced, regardless of development costs.

        I can think of more than a few games that could cut all the pointless voice acting in favour of a cheaper cover price.

        I really enjoy games that aren’t all that long but have massive replay value.
        Resident Evil 2 comes to mind, those A&B games are genius.

      • I agree. If a 5 hour game was $40-$50 then there would be no issue. But we’re paying $100+ for a 5 hour game, which does not seem right.

        • Regardless of length, I think the production values justify paying full price. A game like that couldn’t have been cheap to make.

          • To be honest, that should not be the customer’s problem… If a studio wants to throw their hat in the ring with a game, it falls on them as to how they do it and not the customer.

            It’s also insulting to other developers… The production values on MANY games are just as high, many which have well over the sub-10 hour runtime this apparently has. It’s actually like saying just because someone made a longer game they shouldn’t be rewarded as well as the guys who make shorter ones. While this whole article is basically yelling at people for doing the opposite and chastising those who make shorter games.

            For me personally, short games HAVE to be brilliant in some way for me to get value from them… And on the spot right now I can’t think of many, the Portal games and CoD 4 come to mind first.

            I love RPGs though… My 500+ hours logged for Skyrim on Steam is testament to that. But I’m definitely not against short games if they are well done in some way, be it story or outstanding gameplay.

            But still, for a lot of people like me the value for money is rarely ever there for a short game… Especially if it’s a full priced title.

            It’s just very hard to make a short Triple-A game these days, simply because run time aside if there’s anything bad about it you’re absolutely dead in the water when the reviews come along.

            So I just remembered, possibly one of the best games I have ever played is like 4-5 hours long… Spec Ops: The Line, and I got it for $5 off Amazon.

        • It doesn’t but compare it to food – you’d get heaps more Maccas for the same money you’d spend on a fine dining experience. They are both valid options but you can’t really compare value.

          • Put it the other way round though, would you pay the same amount for a burger at Maccas as you would a meal at a fancy restaurant?

          • I mean that you could have several weeks’ worth of Maccas for the same price as a dinner at a nice restaurant. Ask people which they’d rather have and you’d get differing views. My point is that you are getting two different experiences. One lasts longer, sure, but the flavour and atmosphere are very different. Neither is objectively ‘better’.

      • Funny you mention The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. I was looking through my game collection on the PC and was looking for a short game to play and I settled for Bulletstorm, the game created by those who made the game you mentioned, and it was a blast all the way through.

      • By this logic, an 100+ hours game should cost $1,000.
        I think the point of the article is not about the length or the cost of the game. It’s about the experience.

      • Sometimes games could be a bit shorter I think lol! I recently played through to the end of Half Life. I hated the section on Xen – I was hoping the weird bug you chase was the boss.. but no I had to keep going and jumping and falling and dying and jumping and dying and yawning. I got to the last boss and was fed up so I turned on god mode lol.

        Blasphemy I’m sure, I had great fun all the way up until near the end of the complex.

        But yeah short games are good when you have little kids and need to cram your non G rated gaming into a few hours each weekend. Hotline Miami I knocked over in 3 hours and that’s the most fun I have had in a LONG time, man that game was good.

    • In jimjim’s universe, jrpg’s are the sun, and everything else is little planets that move around it and depend on it. It’s a cool universe though.

    • This so much. I’ll take a short, concentrated experience over a long and ponderous one any day. So many games are deliberately padded out to have some kind of added perception of value and I think that only contributes to having an enormous pile of shame.

    • I’d rather have 5 hours of great gameplay with no filler than 40 hours of mostly filler with occasional gameplay.

      I mostly play RPGs, where a 40 hour playtime is pretty much a minimum, even if you ignore the collect-a-thons. I really wish for a shorter game sometimes.

      Replayability is a good thing, but it’s secondary to the core experience. The question is, is The Order’s core experience any good?

      • Replayability, not content. So not in terms of filler, but rather that levels can be played again and again or there’s a New Game+ mode, it’s something you can return to and enjoy repeatedly rather than a single experience before it becomes prithy to dust on a shelf for the rest of time.

    • Agreed. Journey was a good point to bring up in favour of short games but I’d argue it has heaps of replayability (at least in my opinion) which is where the value for that game comes in – that and the fact that it only costs around 1/4 of the price of The Order: 1886.

  • Eh when it’s that shot and half of it is cut scenes I don’t think it’s the game for me at full retail price. I’m usually one who thinks a game should only be as long as it needs to be, I’d prefer a game to be shorter if part of it’s length is padding but when you get down to what could be 2 and a half hours of actual game play unless you collect collectibles then it’s at a point where I’d rather spend my money on another game unless the game play is amazing (which it doesn’t look to be). You can do a shorter game well (wolfenstein the new order and star fox 64 come in to mind) but they need some other forms of re playability. You mentioned tony hawks but the main point of that game is unlocking and gaining scores (the actual game play is a big reason to play, plus multi player and building your own parks), you mentioned metal gear solid but again the cut scenes you said you were skipping were a huge part of the game. Those points you made don’t fit.

    • If I remember correctly, MGS4 copped the same outrage we are seeing now for The Order and every news site (including this one) jumped on it to rip the game a new asshole… Time have changed huh?

      • MGS4 takes a minimum of 5 hours, if you are an expert, and have finished the game countless times before, and skip all the cut scenes.

        What we are seeing now is a 5 hour game, including cutscenes, where playable content is getting shafted for ‘muh storytelling’.

  • Agree completely – look at something like Alien Isolation. Great game, but just doesn’t know when to stop. It’d be a better game if they’d ended it about 2/3 of the way through.

    If you can run through The Order in 5-6 hours, that’s fine by me if it’s a really good 5-6 hours. And if it is that good then I’ll probably play through it a couple of times anyway. If it’s not a good 5-6 hours, then stretching it out to 10-12 hours sure as hell won’t make it any better.

    • I think you’ve gotten to the crux of it here: it’s the old adage of ‘quality over quantity’.

  • I can see both sides, my immediate reaction is to disagree with you but thinking back to Dragon age Inquisition I can understand your point.

    • It’s not just Dragon Age, although I’d agree that game is one of the worst offenders.

      Have a look at Far Cry 4 for example. That game might be 100 hours long I guess if you play through all of the “content”
      10 hours picking herbs. 10 hours tearing down posters. 10 hours picking up masks. 10 hours climbing towers….. that game is 5 hours worth of story content spread across 100 hours of open world but which takes 70 hours of repetitive collecting to get the most out of.

      It’s one of the (many) reasons that I take my hat off to GTA V. That game might be 30 hours long but outside of a few niche side-quests the game just allows you to enjoy the world and getting from point-A to point-B. It’s not like Far Cry or it’s buddy Assassins Creed that want you to stop every 10m because the minimap is displaying some kind of arbitrary pickup.

      • Far Cry 4 got to a point for me where I said “Fuck this…” and just blatantly ignored everything but the main story so I could be done with it. It was good, but it was definitely filled with ‘content’ that wasn’t really content.

        I think it’s actually the same reason I haven’t touched Dragon Age Inquisition in a long while.

  • I have been looking forward to this game since a time well before the PS4’s initial release but since discovering it’s short length, it will no longer be a day 1 purchase.

    The reason is simple: I am not going to spend $90+ on something that will provide such short-lived entertainment.

    Am I disappointed? Sure. Am I complaining? No.

    I will still buy this game, but I’ll just bide my time until there is a substantial price drop.

    • No need to bide your time, it’s $59 if you pre-order from Dick Smith. I have a friend who was able to get JB to price match it too!

      • $59 still buys you any other full-priced game though.
        Even if games are a bit cheaper now, it still needs to be able to compete with other titles if you can’t just buy as many games as you’d like.
        A game is going to have to be pretty damn special for me to buy it knowing that I’ll have nothing to play the very next day.

        Plus, being a single player only (it is right?), 5 hour game you’re going to be seeing $30 copies showing up EVERYWHERE in a month’s time.
        People will buy it, finish it in literally one or two playing sessions and then whack it straight on ebay.
        Think how many copies of Deux Ex: Human Revolution were being sold new for $15 or less 6 months after launch. That’s what happens when a 15 hour game is single player only!

    • Part of that is an Australian pricing issue as you are talking a $60 game in most regions
      Probably a bit different for me as it sounds like something I would play with my wife so I would be getting 2 persons worth of entertainment out of it.
      At twice as long as 2 x $30 dvds it comes out at the same price. That said I would only buy DVDs new realse if they were very, very good so the same things goes for games.

  • I agree 100%.

    My most played game recently is The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. It can be ‘finished’ in 30 minutes. Then you do it again, with a different character, picking up different items, finding new secrets… And then again. And again. I’ve spent over 100 hours on it so far, mostly consisting of short 1 hour sessions. I’m not going to stop any time soon.

    I guess what I’m saying is – short is absolutely fine, but I want it to be re-playable, either because the experience was so great you feel the desire to repeat it, or because it’s very cleverly designed with replay value in mind.

    • The Roguelike is an attempt to put variety and replayability into a distinct single player experience. I love Binding of Isaac.

      Multiplayer games are like a sport. Nobody complains there isn’t enough variety in Basketball courts or Football fields. It is the other players that create the replayability factor.

      A single player scripted game is the one where you don’t have that. It is the category where length actually matters the most. You can offset that by making an open world, but I have only played most open world games through once, it just takes longer.

  • This seems like a weird hill to die on.

    I’m normally pretty firmly in the camp that says game length doesn’t matter. That five amazing hours are better than 20 okay hours. This game does not look like an amazing five hours.

    It’s definitely not something worth getting worked up about. This game seems like it just isn’t that interesting. There are a whole host of games that aren’t that interesting being released every year.

    • That’s the point – length shouldn’t even come into it. You think it doesn’t look interesting, that’s a legit reason for not wanting to play it, not that you feel jacked that it’s only 5 hour long.

      • Yup. That’s the exact reason I’ve lost most my interest.

        I was still really looking forward to it regardless of the stuff surfacing that its only 4-6h long. I don’t mind a short action packed cinematic experience from time to time. That is until I watched a few minutes of some of the levels yesterday (3-8min per video from about 5 of the levels) and now it doesn’t look interesting. 1 or 2 AI standing around doing nothing while you walk through lifeless/ empty looking areas etc.

        Don’t get me wrong, I could have just gotten a bad impression of it and It could still be good (I hope it is), but it made my logic kick in and now I’ll wait for reviews/ more gameplays before letting the hype get to me again.

  • If the reports of The Order are as true as they are saying, then this “quality over quantity” BS is a terrible excuse when your game is over 50% cutscenes. We want to BE the character, not WATCH the character do the things we want to do in game. Like you said, we pay $50+ for a movie because we go in there to watch it, it’s what we expect from a movie. When we pay $80-$100 for a playable medium, we want to play, not watch.

    And to try and flip this back on consumers saying “maybe you expect too much”… Shame Mark, much shame.

        • No it doesn’t. You put words in my mouth that were nothing to do with what I was talking about.

        • Another neckbeard who types out his whining unbacked before he thinks. Get off the Internet.

    • Dude, why are you telling people what I want? I don’t want what you want, it’s way too short sighted and ignorant.

      • We all have different wants and desires. Not denying that, but take a look at OTHER comments here, you’ll see a lot of what I’m saying, just not worded as harsh or as blunt.

        • Actually there are a number of people who are saying that a short quality experience is what they want. A number of people are saying they they don’t want to pay $90 for that, but a story driven game with a large number of cut scenes isn’t something that nobody wants.
          Hell MGS is such a well loved game and that has a huge amount of cut scenes. You don’t enjoy that style of game but that doesn’t mean nobody else does.

          You certainly aren’t alone in not wanting it but others do want it

    • then this “quality over quantity” BS is a terrible excuse when your game is over 50% cutscenes.

      I get where you’re coming from, but it’s easy to infer from what you’re saying that cuttscenes have little value to a gmaing experience, and that’s definitely not true. The “quality over quantity” isn’t an excuse, it’s a comment on that as long as it’s good (good gameplay, good cutscenes and story or whatever the content) the length isn’t really relevant to how worthwhile it is. It’s like saying TV shows are a superior story telling medium over movies simply because they go for longer (usually).

  • I’d assume it comes from the idea that games are being treated as a once off playthrough. Admittedly I haven’t really seen much about the game so I can’t judge it. Length doesn’t really mean much to me if the game is replayable. Admittedly if I had bought the game just based on the hype I might be a bit surprised that it was finished in an afternoon, depends on how the game treated me in that time period

  • It might just be me but I think the outrage about the short length of The Order: 1886 stems from the fact that the game has already ground a few gears with people eg. reduced frame rate. To me, the game looks like it has some interesting patches but nothing else really stands out. When you’re asking for full price for a game, I kinda want more than just a shooter with fancy guns and a fancy setting.

    • Not only is it full price for a shooter that has a sub-10 hour campaign… It’s one that also has no multiplayer component to speak of.

      I’m not saying all games need multiplayer, but if you want to charge Triple-A retail prices for a game with a 5-10 hour campaign that by all accounts there is no reason to replay… You damn well better have SOMETHING to add more value to the deal.

  • I watched Big Hero 6 at the cinema. My wife and I went. We didn’t get much change out of $50.

    You’re getting ripped off if you’re paying close to $50 for 2 movie tickets. I took my daughter to see it and it cost us $20 for the tickets.

    Also isn’t the game 5 hours long with unskippable cutscenes and they apparently take up half the that 5 hours.

    People are used to their big budget $100 (or $79 depending on seller) games to be longer than a Saturday play through, and with no multiplayer I’m guessing going to see this game being traded in a lot and or returned under the 7 day return policy EBGames has.

    For the time span of 5 hours, I could hire a couple of movies from Google Play for $5 each and watch them instead.

    If the game was like $50 maybe then people wouldn’t be so annoyed about game play length.

    Look at a game like Captain Toad Treasure Tracker it’s a short game and so was sold cheaper than a longer game by Nintendo.

        • That’s kind of missing the point though: he wasn’t describing the cheapest possible way to watch Big Hero 6. Instead, he explained how he actually did watch the film, and whether he thought the price was reasonable.

          • Yes but he’s using the example of spending $50 to go see the movie, if he did buy extras then that’s seeing the movie plus extras.

            Complaining about the spend on a game that is only 5 hours long when you’re paying the same amount for a game that goes for 100+ hours then it’s an issue.

            Surely for the developer more time/effort was put into a 100+ hour long game compared to a 5 hour game?

          • A lot of cinemas now, on a new release movie, for the tickets alone you are up for close to $40, so it isn’t much of a stretch to say you don’t get much change from a $50.

          • I wouldn’t have to buy extras to get close to $50 for two tickets at the Event Cinemas complex near where I live. A standard ticket is $20, with surcharges for 3D or if it is being shown in one of the larger V-Max theatres. And this is without even considering their premium “gold class” sessions.

    • I just checked my local Hoyts, and adult tickets are $20. It’d be more like $21 or $22 for a 3D session. It’s pricey, but that’s the way it is now.

    • I would argue that if this game was super fun and the story incredible, and the thing was really polished and looked amazing, then it could be worth it for those 5 hours, or however long it goes for. If it’s shit though, obviously it’s not going to feel like it was worth it. The value for money comes into it for sure, but I don’t see how the length impacts the value for money – noone wants to spend any amount of time playing something terrible.

    • You’re getting ripped off if you’re paying close to $50 for 2 movie tickets. I took my daughter to see it and it cost us $20 for the tickets.

      The most common cinema is Event Cinemas and they charge $20 for adults and $15 for children. I think I’ve seen higher prices for new blockbusters too. They also charge an extra $1.10 booking fee per ticket. Yeah, it is a rip off but it’s the only option for a lot of people.

      • There are ways to get cheaper tickets, Telstra Thanks Movies for example, $11 per ticket (adults) and I believe Optus has a similar deal. I know these obviously aren’t available to everyone as you need to be a Telstra / Optus customer, but it is possible to still see movies are 1990’s prices 😉

    • Switch the argument on “$50 to the cinema” to “$50 for a nice dinner” and it doesn’t really change the point.

  • Who cares if it’s 5 hours. The game looks really boring and the letterbox style ration shouldn’t even exist in games.

  • I’m on to my third play through of Dragon Age Inquisition, with something like 150 hours played. I spent 600 hours playing nothing but multiplayer on Battlefield 3.

    But not every game needs to be like that. I’d much prefer a short, quality six hours than a bloated mess (Assassin’s Creed Unity I’m looking at you). Wolfenstein: The New Order was one of my favourite games of 2014, and that was short as hell. I’m not preordering The Order, but I’m definitely interested in buying it if the reviews aren’t too bad – short length or not.

    I do, however, think there is something of an argument to be made for paying full retail price of $90-100 for a five or six hour game. But that’s probably more of an argument in general against Australian game retail pricing than one specifically against shorter games.

  • I like your opinion pieces, Mark, but I think this one simplifies the issue way too much for me to agree with it.

    What people are concerned about with this game (and other games) is obviously value for money.

    Value for money can be achieved in a number of ways. The time it takes to play to complete satiation is of course one measure, but so too are meaningful story, addictive gameplay, possibly the aesthetics (incl graphics and sound design), or innovation. Most often, good value is achieved by striking a decent balance of all the above.

    People who complain about a game’s length, I think, are probably taking these other factors into account in most situations, and have found that – on balance – the game comes up short of providing the value they’d craved.

    People didn’t really crack the shits too much when Journey was 2 hours long. Why? Because it had other traits that propped it up in the ‘value for money’ field.

    If people are lamenting that The Order is too short, it’s because they already had low expectations regarding its story, gameplay, replayability, etc etc, and were hoping that it would at least divert them for sufficient time to make up the shortfall left by the game’s other elements.

    • Yeah it’s about value for money. Maybe. But people aren’t talking about value for money. They’re freaking out about game length specifically. I’ve heard very little chatter about anything other than this game’s length. That’s unique to games and it’s damaging. It’s not just consumers, it’s the whole industry. The whole industry still thinks like this. You can see it in every AAA game: forced multiplayer, dragged out sections that could easily be cut (Alien: Isolation is a great example). This discussion is making games worse. It’s actively holding video games back.

      • I totally get what you’re saying, and in a lot of ways I agree that game length is too highly prioritised.

        But it’s easy to see why, in the cases of both Alien Isolation and The Order.

        Alien Isolation

        Colonial Marine was a disaster of a game. An unmitigated hot mess of calamity from start to finish. It tanked, badly.

        Honestly, I have no idea how Alien Isolation even got made, on the heels of this failure. But I am willing to bet that at least one conversation between publisher and developer included the words “Make sure no one can say anything bad about this game. Anything. Because that will tank the project.”

        The Order

        From all accounts, this is a pretty standard shooter. Its story, though in depth, is just serviceable, and the gameplay doesn’t bring a whole lot of innovation to the table.

        Consider other AAA games in the third-person shooter genre available on PS4. The Last of Us Remastered, for example. A game with a massive campaign and a deep and engaging story. And it’s only $50, even if you’re not careful about where you get it.

        Games get compared to each other. Arkham Origins was, by all objective accounts, a great game, but it was much maligned for not having as big a sandbox as City, and not as affecting a story as Asylum.

        Lords of the Fallen, to be sure, is no Dark Souls, but it is a very, very short game in comparison to a Souls title, and (rightly or wrongly) it lost big points in reviews for that. It needed something to distinguish itself from its competitors and progenitors, something to make it stand out… and it just didn’t have that.

        The Order might be a perfectly serviceable shooter, but if it’s twice the price of The Last of Us, and only half the length, and doesn’t really bring anything else to the table to offset this discrepancy, of course it’s going to seem like poor value. And of course people are going to express their disappointment.

        I’m quite confident that if The Order was doing something amazing with gameplay, characters, or story, people would be talking about that rather than its length.

        I reiterate, though: even though it seems like the debate is just about game length, I think there’s more than that under the surface.

        • From all accounts, this is a pretty standard shooter. Its story, though in depth, is just serviceable, and the gameplay doesn’t bring a whole lot of innovation to the table.

          I’m quite confident that if The Order was doing something amazing with gameplay, characters, or story, people would be talking about that rather than its length.

          I agree with that (and all of your comment really) but to flip it around: Why aren’t The Order’s detractors focusing on these things, which are seemingly more relevant to ‘value’ or why someone might want to play it, and going on about it’s duration? Even if it was incredible, I would hazard that length would *still* be an issue, becasue people would be dissapointed that it didn’t go for longer becasue it was so enjoyable. And that, I think, is where games are different to other media.

          • They are talking about those other flaws. It just so happens that a literal figure stating how much ‘game’ you’re getting out of it just sums it all up. Basically it’s such a sore sticking point because for all poor quality your getting, there’s no quantity either.

          • Pretty much this. A game can be ‘average’ and still give some value to the player if it has a decent length campaign or such.

            But when the game is average and the campaign is only a few hours long it is a far more glaring problem, and far more difficult to overlook how much value you’re not getting from it as a whole.

        • I’m quite confident that if The Order was doing something amazing with gameplay, characters, or story, people would be talking about that rather than its length.

          Well why aren’t people talking about its lack of amazing gameplay and/or story then, and are focusing on length? That is the whole point of the article, that people are discussing the length as if it matters a *whole lot* instead of discussing the shortcomings of the game’s quality.

          • I agree with you, and with Mark, that game length is over-emphasised in importance.

            But I’m guessing that one reason it’s being focused on here is probably because its short length is what stands out. It’s otherwise an average game (serviceable, adequate, unremarkable), with a below-average length.

          • Serviceable might be right and to be honest, that is all I am personally asking for in this title, I don’t need it to do anything new on the gameplay side, I just want it to control well.

            However, there is one more element I feel at play at the moment, the game isn’t out yet, a few people have managed to pick up a copy through various places and are not bound by embargoes also. So whilst I still agree with your comment…

            I’m quite confident that if The Order was doing something amazing with gameplay, characters, or story, people would be talking about that rather than its length.

            Alot of this can’t actually happen… because the sample size is still tiny and we can’t decide that for ourselves… The length is very simple (easy negative) data point that can be brought up without the risk of being spoiled and I’d wager that “short campaign” stories are far better for Clicks on most site also.

            I am one of those people, I haven’t seen that youtube playthrough, I have been avoiding the spoiler threads also. There isn’t anything out there that is red flagging this game as something to completely avoid like a plague. The length would never stop me from picking this up, but based on what the ground swell of media is doing now, I get the feeling that the reviews will be a pasting come Friday… Too Short, No MP thus no replayability, etc…

      • So really, what you’d prefer is for the discussion to be more accurate and insightful in pin-pointing the reasons behind disappointment and dissatisfaction. More intelligent and articulate… internet discussion? 🙂

    • If people are lamenting that The Order is too short, it’s because they already had low expectations regarding its story, gameplay, replayability, etc etc, and were hoping that it would at least divert them for sufficient time to make up the shortfall left by the game’s other elements

      Would spending 10 to 15 hours with a game where the story is dull, gameplay insipid and replayability non-existent really improve it though?

      • If it’s a serviceable game, sure. Imagine Uncharted 3. Not a bad game, though serviceable. Good enough to play through at any rate. Now cut the game in half. Story might be tighter, but I for one wouldn’t be nearly as happy with it.

        Edit: another example. As disappointing a sequel as The Force Unleashed 2 was, I think it could have benefited from having a much longer campaign, even if the story remained untouched.

        Game length shouldn’t be everything, but it’s still an important part of the balance. If you give up game length, you’d better be compensating with something pretty engaging, or people will complain.

        • Do you think then, it comes down to the phsychology of ‘doing’ something (like playing a game) and that, if it’s enjoyable, one would like to spend as much time doing it as possible? So comparing a game to a movie or a book book is not so relevant as those are passive?

          I personally don’t think so, as I go more for story driven games, and the amount of gameplay is not as important to me as it’s relevance and quality (I’ll happily replay linear story driven games if I liked the story and they were fun to play). For me, a game like Uncharted 3 would not have been less worhtwhile for me to play if say they cut down the gameplay bits by having you kill a few less goons per section or whatever. I liked the shooting the goons bits just fine, but it was the story that pulls me through. It should be about balance though, and maybe the issue is that people might not really know what they’re getting into.

        • I want to agree with your force unleashed 2 thing so badly. (Imagine actually playing the Dagobah level for example) but I can’t get over how repetitive the few levels that were in the game already were (In terms of game play and asset/ whole corridor/ room repetition).

    • You’re nailing these comments today man.

      I would suggest an additional element, regarding expectations… and it’s more about ‘hope.’

      Did you ever get around to Dishonored? Any reviews of the thing will quickly show you near universal praise for its relatively unique setting. It’s like a Thief game that wasn’t. Now I enjoyed what time I had to spend with Dishonored and its story got told, and it’s true that in the form it took, we’d probably have run out of things to spend power points on, new ways to move or explore, stories to uncover…

      But what if they’d gone Skyrim with it? A huge, non-instanced city with surrounding areas of different affluence and thus, tone. Roadside stories and vignettes unearthed by accident and even more deliberately through the all-seeing heart. Stories that generated quests. Can you imagine a Skyrim/Fallout-sized exploration game for the rich and disturbing world of Dishonored?
      I can. And if you read those reviews full of praise for the world, you’ll probably find a fair share of disappointment that there wasn’t more to explore.

      I’m sensing something similar for The Order. There’s been a lot of talk about the setting and how great it is… and when the word goes out that you’ll only be living in that setting for around five to eight hours, there’s very little hope of that setting being fully explored. It’s a waste of potential.

      I remember news stories on TV after the movie Avatar came out, about Americans going to see the thing multiple times and suffering from depression that they couldn’t live in that world.
      Some thing are so good that we want any excuse to be there.

      It’s one thing to be disappointed in something because it failed to meet expectations… just ask Destiny. It’s not too dissimilar to be disappointed in something because it wasn’t what it really could have been.

  • You could complete Metal Gear Solid 4 in much less than 5 hours. To get some of the games most rare items/weapons you had to complete the game in under 5 hours, with zero deaths, zero alerts, and zero kills.

    THAT was very satisfying.

    • My Big Boss run is one of the most satisfying moments I’ve ever had with gaming, even though it wasn’t ridiculously hard or anything (just challenging).

    • you couldnt complete in less then 5 hours if it was your first palythrough, no matter how good you are

  • I think the problem with the value proposition of this very specific example is that The Order is being sold as a ‘cinematic’ experience, but for the price I could see 3-4 movies that are probably better written and produced (and entertain for longer)

  • oh cool… 5 hours… i might actually have time to finish it (if i buy it)…

    not quite sure how people find time for super long times… i attempt to play them but it takes me ages to get anywhere and i usually give up because something else has come out lol

  • As a person who THOROUGHLY explores every video game I play, and who has to try and fit gaming sessions into my very little spare time, I have absolutely no issue with shorter games. I don’t have the time/interest/attention span to play something over 20+ hours. I would so much rather soak up everything in a video game rather than rip through it because I know it’s long, and by doing so, potentially missing something awesome about it.

  • “Is it a symbol of our immaturity as a culture, as a medium? Maybe.”

    Yes, absolutely, this is the exact reason and problem. The gaming community is extremely immature. We may SEEM like we have made progress over the past decade, but it’s just a facade. We are still the same, in fact I’ll even go as far as saying that we are worse now than we ever have been, thanks to social media and the internet.

    The gaming community sucks, absolutely sucks, and I am ashamed to be a part of it. This used to be about just enjoying games, now it’s all too negative.

    • I know exactly what you are saying and to an extent, you are correct.

      That said, I know there are plenty of mature gamers out there but they simply have less reason to give voice to their opinions because of that maturity.

      I personally feel that I am somewhere in the middle-ground.

      • Most mature gamers are too busy just enjoying games to care about comment sections like this.

        While I’d like to think I’m an exception, the insanity these threads devolve into sometimes can be incredibly entertaining… So I doubt that qualifies as ‘mature’.

        • Yeah, nah, that’s what I mean. Major sites? Like moving to New York City and complaining that there’s more crime than out in the burbs, right?

    • Wow I was so unaware that all those amazing gameplay experiences I’ve had over the last 2 decades was actually a terrible sea of mediocrity that we refused to leave!

        • My snarky comment was in relation to “We may SEEM like we have made progress over the past decade, but it’s just a facade.”

          Games hasn’t been some kind of swamp in need of gentrification. Games have changed and evolved and stay the same just as necessary over the years. The community is no different, no more or less worse than it has been.

          Some games are better, some are worse, and some have stayed the same. What complaints and appraisals of games and their development are all the same, and they will continue to be. It no reason to paint the whole medium with only the disappoint, sweeping aside anything of value we’ve had as a facade.

          • The issues with the ‘community’ are only more pronounced because more people are involved in gaming now than in past decades… And with more people means more trolls, etc. So you are right, it only appears as if it’s getting worse.

            It’s just simple numbers.

          • I believe I did, but I realise upon re-reading I worded my comment a bit poorer than I intended.

            The community hasn’t changed that drastically, no more or less worse. Like you said.

            But my point was that with a larger pool of people it only appears worse because you just see more people doing ‘bad’… Doesn’t mean it’s actually changed at all. Most of the good in anything is usually ignored, people remember the bad so much more easily as it tends to stick out more.

            So with more people gaming now than in past decades, the community is larger, and with it more bad apples so you simply notice more of them. Thus something can seem worse when it actually hasn’t changed. That’s all I was trying to say.


    ‘What Frame-Rate is Best Frame-Rate’ is off to a slow start after last year’s domination.

    ‘Don’t Censor Me’ is making an early dash for the lead, this American-bred sensation sure has impressed.

    ‘Bugs and Technical Issues’ seems to have not made it out of the gates. A shame.

    ‘Game Length’ is powering around the last turn. Could this be its year? A rank outsider, not much is known about it. Form’s been up and down. Depends on who you ask…

  • To play devil’s advocate for a moment, most forms of entertainment — including literature — DO have an expectation of length attached to them.

    Most book publishers require submissions to contain a minimum of around 40,000 words to be accepted as a novel. A feature-length movie is expected to run for at least 80 minutes (indeed, some films that fell short have been caught slow-tracking their end credits to make up the missing time). If Arcade Fire’s latest album went for 15 minutes, you’d probably be disappointed even if the tracks were amazing.

    These aren’t hard-and-fast rules, but there is definitely an ingrained expectation when it comes to the average length of entertainment products. Gamers aren’t being infantile or entitled — they’re just the same as everybody else.

    • This is a good argument. It’s about our expectations.

      Albums have a format. Novels have a format. We all adhere to it, we all follow those rules. Actually, it’s difficult to argue with this.

      But I’d just rather not treat video games like a packet of crisps. “OH MY GOD THEY ONLY FILL HALF THE BAG. THEY USED TO PUT MORE SKITTLES IN THE PACKET”.

      • Yeh that’s the thing with video games, it’s hard to dictate that format. It seems ppl expect triple A next gen games should be of sizable length and indie games can usually be shorter.

        In regards to The Order: 1886, I don’t mind the length so much, its more the replay-ability for me. A 5 hour campaign is fine, but give me different ways to do things (can I stealth missions or go in guns blazing?), add some RPG type progression (player/weapon upgrades) or dialogue with branching storylines & multiple endings, maybe a new game plus mode. I haven’t been following the game closely, but don’t think it has any of these things.

      • But they did used to put more skittles in the packet. (and it used to LIME flavour, god damn I hate green apple).

        • I like (transl. Not really) how their solution to people complaining about no longer filling up the bags was to shrink the bags to make them seem fuller while still charging the same price.

  • Lol at everyone attempting to equate a value to hours played, totally missing the point of any creative endeavour. Anyone even attempting to infer an expected length is doing so arbitrarily.

    • To confirm, you are laughing at people who have a preference in a ‘creative endeavor’ whilst insisting that your idea of a ‘creative endeavor’ is the only way? Right. Okay.

      I am not arguing that this could be the greatest game of all time, I just typically prefer a longer game. I’m not complaining about the length, I am not hurting anyone – I am just not in a hurry to play it since I discovered that information.

  • I prefer shorter games.

    I’m getting older and more time poor, so I can’t devote as much time as I once did.

    My current pet peeve is unnecessary padding.
    Rockstar games, for example, have these meandering middle sections that just drag without purpose.
    If they were movies those sections would be left on the cutting room floor.

    • Unnecessary padding exists because people lose their minds when a game is short. Brutal cycle ruining otherwise awesome games.

      • i feel that padding is more opinion based though. I mean for me i found bioshock infinate to have a massive amount of padding once i got the around the half way mark and was so glad the game was over when i hit the credits however steam says ive only played it for 13hrs.

        Yet i found no issue with padding in the witcher 2 and was kinda upset when credit rolled because i felt the game was over too quick yet this was after 35 hrs of playing the game. I also have no issue with padding in fallout new vegas or the stalker games

        • That’s the difference between story/gameplay and padding. It is is part of the story, is tight and solid part of the game then it isn’t padding.
          It you can remove that section and lose nothing from the game then it is padding

        • I had a similar issue the other day on finishing GTA V for the first time. (Subjectively) I found too much of the banter unnecessary, irrelevant/ boring and mostly meaningless to the characters/ narrative. I get that R* were going for the Pulp/ Tarantino thing, but (For me) it became over done and boring near the end. Don’t get me wrong, it did help introduce/ set up the characters in the beginning of the game (which is mostly what it’s used for in films), but it became almost predictable that every interaction becomes a sh1t flinging contest.

          I even became more and more tempted to start skipping cut-scenes about half way through them when Michael starts complaining about his life or Trevor spirals off into another rant and they whine/ nag about how unfair society is.

          And yet the ‘pulp’ (if you will) in the Last of Us, I found very interesting and like an addition to the narrative/ experience.

          *Disclaimer: I’m sure there are people who really found GTA’s banter great and interesting as well, as I said multiple times, it’s completely subjective.

      • I fundamentally disagree with you on the concept of more content not being a good thing. It isn’t ALWAYS a good thing, but games you want to live in benefit greatly from it.

        Take Skyrim. The combat’s a dog’s breakfast, the character animations are janky and buggy, the main story is the definition of a yawn. And if that’s all there was, if you completed the main story and did nothing else, taking about 5hrs of uninspired hack-and-slash to do it, the game would’ve been quite rightly panned.

        Skyrim IS a success thanks to the sheer breadth and depth of its (considered-individually: mediocre) padding, and the sense of freedom that comes with it.

        • I feel like that is a pretty isolated example though. Skyrim’s breadth works so well because at its core it is a game about exploration, that is where the focus is and the majority of development has gone. I would welcome more meaningful exploration in games.

          Unfortunately most padding these days is uninspired recycling of encounters and environments just to bump up that playtime.

      • I don’t think that’s the case in Rockstars games.

        I would think it’s more that the Housers wouldn’t let anyone compromise their vision… even if it would work out to a tighter, better, game.
        If 2K had the kind of influence that your suggesting, then GTA games would be out more frequently.

        Also, they’re sales juggernauts… making them 38 hours long instead of 40 wouldn’t change that.

    • I hate padding – there is nothing worse than the saggy middle of all these games, you know if you’re playing a game and you find yourself asking ‘is this still going?’

  • As long as a game doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and it’s fun to play with a gripping story then 5 or 6 hours is fine. I don’t get this whole $ to hours rationalisation though. A good game is worth buying regardless of how much content it comes with.

    One of my favourite games of last gen was Heavenly Sword, a game that was also criticised for it’s short length and a lack of originality but was exceptionally enjoyable to play with a fantastic story to boot. Then there’s Shadow of Mordor which isn’t particularly long nor is it original and it’s main story is pretty meh but it’s extremely fun to play. Uncharted games are pretty short (multiplayer excluded) and not especially replayable or original but they’re some of the best gaming experiences of all time.

    Some games are enjoyable in small doses, others are enjoyable still after hundreds of hours, length is a terrible indicator of whether a game is worth buying. If The Order is crap at 5 to 6 hours long would making it longer improve it all?

  • Dorien Gray is a book? I thought it was an arty sex movie from the 70s… learnt something new today

  • I have less and less time for gaming so I actually appreciate shorter games. That said there is a limit and a certain expectation. If the above is true (5 hours and half of it being cut scenes) that’s below my personal expectation.

    To use Marks movie example
    At no point after the movie did my wife or I feel the need to tweet/facebook/blog/snapchat about the utterly disgraceful 108 minute running time
    I think its a good analogy but I think the numbers are not representative of how short a 5 hour game is (more so if half of it is cut scenes). 108 minutes is pretty normal for a movie so it meets the viewers expectation. If the movie was 45 minutes long and 10 of them were the opening credit sequence. I think there would be a different reaction.

  • I don’t know why everyone is ragging on The Order 1886, saying that it’s too short and looks like shit. I think it looks great and can’t wait to get my hands on it. Who cares if the story is short I’d rather have a great short story than a boring long one, I for one think The Order’s story sounds pretty great so far.

    I agree that we shouldn’t be paying premium prices for short games i.e. $100, but on the other side of the coin Dying Light’s story is pretty short, and I paid 100 bucks for it, I just looked at my stats and found I’ve spent 53 and a half hours and I still haven’t finished yet (trying to 100% this bitch). The last time I spent that much time on a game was probably Red Dead Redemption.

  • I remember reading comments on how terribly short Ryse: Son of Rome was, but IMO it felt perfect considering its repetitive (entertaining) content.

  • In no other medium does this matter. I watched Big Hero 6 at the cinema. My wife and I went. We didn’t get much change out of $50. At no point after the movie did my wife or I feel the need to tweet/facebook/blog/snapchat about the utterly disgraceful 108 minute running time.

    I would say though if the movie was say 45 minutes and you still paid full price, no matter how entertaining, you’d feel like you shouldn’t have paid close to $50.

  • I think some of your comparisons are unfair. Games are a medium that can stretch from 1 hour to over 1000 hours (I calculated last night my wife and I have played 1200 hours of Diablo 3)

    Your average movie is 90-200 minutes with a few being either shorter or longer.

    Journey is a short game but it was also an indie game released for $15USD.

    Order 1886 is being presented as a full price AAA game, and as such people are expecting to get something a little meatier from a $60-80 experience.

    One of the key differences between your game and movie is the cost. Your example has you paying $50 to go to see Big Hero 6. Personally, I simply haven’t paid full price for a movie in 5 years. I’ve been using a combination of $10 tickets or free vouchers via FlyBuys. It’s very difficult to get games (particularly console games) near launch for anything less than about 20% of full price, whereas movies I’m seeing for 50-100% off.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m hopeful Order 1886 will be an enjoyable game, but I don’t see how I can justify the $80 price tag when I will play it for a single day then not touch it again for several months/years with the supposed lack of re-playability. I will be waiting for it to either be free on Playstation Plus or hit the $20 bargain bin on PSN.

  • I have so many games great games I was really enjoying in my collection that have been shelved once I hit the “Added Value”.

    I much prefer a streamlined experience rather than a padded one.

    I want to be left feeling satisfied ( even on the side of wanting just a little more) when I finish a game rather than relief that it is finally over.

  • Maybe the industry should look at introducing a different pricing model for games? Surely there has to be some middle ground between charging an indie/arcade $15 game and a full priced $60.

  • I think I agree with the sentiment “if it’s short, it better be replayable”. But I guess like you said with Journey, there is another thing in there too. Value, or something. I’ve only played Limbo once but that was pretty good. It was also pretty cheap (AND I got it from a HIB, so my opinion isn’t valid). Games like Thomas was Alone and VVVVVV don’t invite too much of a replay value and you can get them done in an afternoon, but they’re still solid pieces of work.

    It is complicated, I guess. Like someone on page 1 said, if people are complaining about The Order 1886 being short, then they must not hold it with high expectations. But TO1886 is an AAA game, right? (The developer has done Daxter, the Okami Wii port and a few GOW spinoffs).
    Well, maybe it’s only A/AA, but it’s being sold at a AAA price, being a PS4 title in the year 2015. $100 at EB Games, for reference. Damn! At $20 an hour, I’d hope it was either the most enlightening vidya experience in recent years, or was as fun and replayable as Binding of Isaac (which cost me $10, so if I were interested in The Order, it would have to give me a LOT of hours to be worth it).

    I guess ultimately what it comes down to, to make a game worthwhile:

    Fun (marios)
    Enlightening (journeys)
    Low Price (indie games)
    Long [but not padded] (portal 2 or something idk)
    Replayable (isaacs)

    Choose 2 or 3 and you have a good game.
    edit: in retrospect, fun is probably always important)

  • If its good I’ll have no problem with the length.

    But, from what I’ve seen so far, (I watched a couple minutes from different gameplays, trying to avoid spoilers, on YouTube) it looks kinda empty and dull with AI that just blot around aimlessly. The game world looks emptier and more lifeless than the Last of Us, a game designed to feel that way for a reason.

    That’s what killed all the excitement I had for the game, not the hushed words that it’s short.

    The last chance this game has for me to pick it up close to launch is if it gets good reviews and I see some gameplay on ‘hard’ where the AI seem more intent on living.

  • I can see your point Mark, though I don’t quite share it. There certainly is a market for shorter, more intense games, where the time spent in the game world isn’t a factor, but at full retail price? Some people may prefer shorter games, but I am not one of them. If I am going to drop $80-$100 on a video game, it’s going to have to keep me involved for a fair bit longer than five hours. To me, this sort of game is always going to be relegated to the “Grab it when it’s on sale for $30” category.

    You say you loved Journey, played it through once. That’s fine, it’s a great experience. Short, sweet, incredibly well done. Would I have said the same thing if was priced at full retail? Oh lord no.

  • I 100% agree with everything in this article. In fact, as a full-timer who is looking to start a family this year, I really…. really need amazing AAA titles that don’t require a +50 hour time investment. I managed to somehow sink 125 hours into Dragon Age… and that caused countless arguments with the Mrs. I much prefer games like Tomb Raider, Uncharted and The Last of Us. Bring it on!

  • I’m a bit over all the hysteria. It’s got to the point where I think NO AAA game is ever going to be good enough and they will all attract the same vocal minority.

    Shouting from the rooftops:
    Destiny: No story and too grindy.
    Alien Isolation: Too long.
    Evolve: Too much DLC.
    The Order 1886: Too short.

    Always something for someone to whinge about. Buy the game or not. No-one is forcing you. We are losing the magic of this hobby with all the doom and gloom.

    • I’m a bit over all the hysteria. It’s got to the point where I think NO AAA game is ever going to be good enough and they will all attract the same vocal minority.
      I think this is very true – the companies hype the AAA games so much that there is no way they can ever live up to expectations.

      I think it’s time we started looking at the hype / advertising for games the same as we look at election promises and burger ads. Most of the time they aren’t even close to the real world and at best they are “rotated to the most attractive angle”. The days of actual game devs talking about their projects to niche publications are long gone. Today it’s the PR arm of a multi-billion dollar company talking to multinational media outlets so both of them get maximum sales (no offense meant to Mark or Kotaku, but everyone has to earn a living somehow).

      Always something for someone to whinge about. Buy the game or not. No-one is forcing you. We are losing the magic of this hobby with all the doom and gloom
      Damn straight. Games should be entertaining, relaxing, fun. Play games instead of spending your time posting “OMGWTFBBQ! Nerf / too short / console peasants / whatever”. Accept that occasionally you’ll make a poor purchase decision, or the company that has millions of customers did something you don’t like, and go play/watch something else.

  • +1

    I actually get exasperated when games drag on, or feel too big. I like something I can dip into for an hour or two and feel like I’ve had fun. Actually makes me less likely to play if it’s not something I can attack in segments. Dishonored was short, but super replayable.

  • @markserrels thank you. In all honesty this is perfectly put, I can’t understand what is happening with The Order: 1886, is this being fueled by fanboy drivel? I don’t know if I will purchase the game as I am waiting on impressions – but if its a strong, character driven narrative sign me up…. Greatest experiences in gaming.

    • I think the problem is that the latest available information is showing that it probably won’t be strong in its characters or narrative.

  • I think it runs deeper than just the play time. It’s not about a game being ‘five hours’, as though every shooter should be 15 hours, every JRPG 80 hours, etc. It’s about people selling a low quality game at full price. People are sick of thin games, which is a problem as old as the industry itself, so naturally they’re a little over sensitive. So they’re quick, in this case I think too quick, to post their opinions when the topic comes up.
    Measuring a games value with an hour amount is about as dumb as measuring it with a 1-100 score, but not everyone has the critical tool set to nail down how they feel about a game with a detailed autopsy of the game. When someone complains that it’s only 8 hours they’re usually trying to say more. Odds are they’ve enjoyed shorter games but if they’re complaining that it’s 8 hours that means it felt really quick to finish and wasn’t very satisfying.
    When I was young I was really excited for Yoshi’s Story since Yoshi’s Island was amazing. I brought it after school and I was done with it before dinner. The most common complaint people had about the game was that it was two hours long but there’s so much more for Nintendo to learn from those complaints. It should have been clearer that this was a kids game. It should have been clearer that it wasn’t Yoshi’s Island 2. The way they structured it meant that even though there was re-playability on a technical level the game felt done after the first go. There was a serious demand for 2D platformers on the N64 that wasn’t being met. All these things only become apparent when you realise that someone saying ‘it’s only 2 hours’ is just scratching the surface of why they feel the way they do.

    There’s also a bit of a problem with some of the comparisons. The Order isn’t Journey. It’s not something like Alien Isolation where longer actually began to harm the game. It’s not like Monster Hunter or Destiny where they make 5 hours of content work as an ongoing experience. It’s not like Call of Duty or World of Warcraft where the end of the game is just the beginning of the multiplayer. It’s not even like Ground Zeroes where if you’re a MGS whore you’ll get your money’s worth out of it. There doesn’t appear to be any design reason why The Order would be this short which causes it to land in the hot seat where we question some of the less flattering reasons as to why it might be short.
    Personally I think it’s length is a problem because they planned on the game being really well received and but it never hit the buzz levels they wanted. From the reveal onward it’s never really gained that AAA hype I think they expected. That lands them in a really tricky position. They don’t think it’ll work so they ease off on the funding. That’s reasonable. However the retail price of the game doesn’t change to reflect that. The game goes from AAA at $80 to B- at $80, and even though that makes sense on a technical level*, but it’s incredibly hard for consumers to come to terms with that.

    Maybe I’m wrong and it tells an amazingly tight story over a short span of time that is totally worth the full retail price, but I think people are right to be weary here.

    *Random numbers, but say they plan on investing $10m into it as a AAA title. They calculate that they’ll make that money back selling it at $80. They see it’s not really getting much interest from gamers so they pull back a little and only invest $1m in it. The price should change to $8, however they originally came to the $80 price tag when they were planning on selling at least 125,000 copies. Now the game isn’t going to sell as many copies, they figure it’ll sell 12,500 copies. That puts the asking price for the game in order to break even back at $80.

  • I disagree.

    I’m fine with short games, sometimes thats all you want. But, when you pay $90+ for a game you have been waiting anxiously to sink your teeth into for a year or so and you’re completely done with it in a night (maybe more if you go for all the collectibles etc) I can understand why people are disappointed. Make a game that goes for a few hours and charge me maybe $50, make the rest of your profits off micro-payments or dlc etc etc. Give me a game that I can play for a few weeks on end – whether that be with the main campaign or multiplayer – then i’ll gladly pay $100 for it.

  • I appreciate games which respect my time. We’ve discussed this before here, we’re familiar with this concept of disrespectful padding.

    But there’s another way to disrespect my time, and that’s by giving me a handful of hours mediocre content and charging the same as I’d pay for an open-ended epic. That’s disrespectful, too.

    I think perceived value is the problem here.

    We’ve seen videos indicating the combat’s going to be an iteration of the pretty tired cover-shooter mixed with some Resident Evil, plus some almost universally-loathed quick-time events. So there’s nothing to inspire there, leaving us to turn to story for our value.

    The story shown so far has hit movie-trailer levels of spoilerdom, and now with the short run-time, we can not only deduce that what we’ve seen is pretty much all we can expect to get, but that there will probably be a rapid coming and going of characters who get too precious little time to be developed and/or cared about.

    Some folks have reported being sold on the setting alone, but on these kind of rails, on that kind of deadline, it seems a potential wasted, a rich setting largely unexplored.

    The waste of it – if I’d cared about it enough to start with – is what I would be complaining about.

    • That’s right. The complaints about length is a summation of everything else wrong with the game. For all it’s flaws, it’s like the game didn’t even try to spend the time to play with what it had.

    • Pretty much agree. Its not so much the runtime, its the combination of the runtime, entertainment value, AND cost all together. Its fine for a game to run five hours, but charging $60+ for it is pretty rich unless it offers a truly exception experience, and from what we have seen, The Order doesn’t appear to offer a game experience worthy of that price.

  • I agree Journey was a wonderful 3 hour experience, but I’d probably have been annoyed if I paid $80 for it.

    Also, my understanding of the complaint about The Order 1886 is that it’s short AND seems to contain only small amounts of gameplay.

  • We don’t live in a world where we have to choose whether we have an entertaining 5 hour game OR a mediocre 20 hour game. We can have both you know. Tomb Raider was 10-15 hours and that never felt like it had filler to me.
    There has to be a point where you should just acknowledge that a developer just didn’t make that much content. A 5 hour game just seems like phoning it in to me. Journey was a lot cheaper than AAA games and MGS4 was criticised constantly for how short the gameplay was.
    Then again, I do get pissed at the price of movie tickets. I also refuse to buy novellas that are $30.

  • Tangent on the subject of book length: To be fair, I didfind Wilde’s Dorian Grey a little short for my tastes, but didn’t mind too much because it cost me a third the price of my preferred “tomes” (Herbert, Jordan, Goodkind, etc), and it was an interesting and thought-provoking piece. However, I generally expect a novel to last me more than an afternoon – likely a holdover from having to trek across town to the local bookstore when I needed something to read – and as such, for better or worse, generally avoid anything under about 400 pages. Plus, if a 21st century analogue to Oscar Wilde surfaces in modern literature, I’ll hear about it somewhere regardless.

    How does this relate? Is it about saying I’d take an amazing 2 hour game over a mediocre 10 hour game? No; even if gamers tend to be a little reductivist about these things, length isn’t the only issue. If The Order is an amazing 5 hours, I’ll pick it up regardless. However, I’ve yet to see anything that indicates this game is any more than a graphical showpiece, and I don’t consider that worth the cost of a full retail game.

  • What about the rest of the reasons this has been a massive let-down? Yes people have already mentioned the lack of dollar-per-hour value and the fact that in the case of Order 1886, there’s not the quality to make a 5 hour game mind-blowingly awesome. But there’s even more!

    How about the relentless pre-launch hype these days? Pretty much all AAA games are promoting themselves as MASSIVE EPIC EXPERIENCES. The cynic in me laughs every time, but still that’s all we get to know about it ahead of time. So when they come out and your MASSIVE EPIC EXPERIENCE is shorter than your workday, well don’t be surprised people are disappointed.

    Add to that the specifics of this case: The latest generation of consoles has been out for like 2 years now, but the libraries of quality games on either of them can be counted on my fingers. So when upcoming releases promises to finally bolster the pickings and provide MASSIVE EPIC EXPERIENCE on the machine you bought for that sole purpose, and it’s, well… like that. Double-disappointment man.

    On game length – I’ve got no problem with short games or long games. But I’ll take a game that ‘outstays its welcome’ over ‘missed its potential’ any day.

  • So you have decided you prefer short games so we should bend over and just take it? How about no

      • “Value for Money”….. exactly, what do you mean by that? ‘Heavy Rain’ was a VERY short game. It cost around $50 mil or so to make, and half of that was on marketing. Most of the production budget was spent on graphics, motion capture, writing, etc… i.e. very, very little of the budget was spent on gameplay and making the game ‘longer’. Heavy Rain was a roaring success, raking in over $130 mil. I absolutely LOVED that game and definitely felt like I got ‘value for money’, as did every single person I’ve ever spoken to who played that game. The point is….’Value for Money’ can come from any part of the game, or multiple parts combined. For Heavy Rain, it was the storyline, the graphics…. the writing….. for games like Dragon Age and Skyrim, value comes from gameplay variety, etc. The Order will give gamers ‘value for money’ in more ways than one, despite it being a short game.

        • Well with an industry that constantly crying about, nobody keeping their games and trading them in, here they are charging $110 for a 5 hour game that “looks pretty” with no replay value (I assume because if I’ve learnt anything about the games industry, cynicism FTW.) Is a goddamn self fullfiling prophecy.

  • I think a lot of people have been jaded by previous occurrences. I remember after Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare came out, there was significant complaint with the subsequent games. Basically in that instance, it was the same game but much shorter (as they had a much shorter dev cycle). People thought, “Hey! We’re paying the same amount for the same game, but its shorter…” This probably naturally translated to other games, especially considering when you make a decision to buy a game, you are comparing it to other similar experiences.

    With this in mind though, the issue here is that length is easy to quantify and compare against money. How do you necessarily quantify quality of controls, or story against money, or anything like that. At the end of the day, a short game is going to look worse than a long game because people will naturally ask, “what am I paying for?” I like to think of this like going to an expensive restaurant and eating the most amazing steak ever, but you only get 50g of it, and then having to go to McDonalds after because you’re still hungry. It may have been the most amazing steak but its not satisfying enough to warrant the price, especially when I can get a slightly worse steak for a lower price, and feel satisfied afterwards.

    The other thing I worry about is games that cut down their game time to accommodate addon DLC. Irrespective of whether the game is good or not, if I pay $100 for a 5 hour game, and then they go and add 2 hours of gameplay for extra money, I argue, why couldnt you have just made a 7 hour game in the first place?

    The ultimate test is if you play a game and it masks its flaws well enough to keep you interested for that period of time, and whether it allows us to ignore the negative points when compared to other similar games. Once again, how people quantify this is different per person. I just think that shorter games have to work harder or be priced better due to whats expected in the market.

  • But seriously, if it’s true @markserrels, 5 hrs for a AAA action/adventure title is taking the mick…

  • @markserrels
    I would tender the argument that game length is important when it is consider in context of the game’s style. The amount of time I am liable to play the game tells me a *lot* about the game when combined with *other* information about the game.
    If I see an RPG with a length of 20 hours, I am probably expecting it to be a poorly told mess of a story with a action-bent and little depth.
    If I see an FPS with a length of 40 hours, I’m probably expecting it to be a meandering trudge fest like The Last Of Us – a game in dire need of serious editing to ditch the unnecessary hours of drudgery and filler content. As a counterpoint, if I see it’s about 5 hours long, then I could well be expecting something awful like Modern Warfare 2.

    I am using the reported length of the game to inform my purchasing decision in concert with other information I have about the game beforehand. No, you can’t judge a game by length alone – but to say it is “banal” is dismissing a legitimate factor that people can use to judge a game.

    While I note that you criticize the length of The Last of Us as a negative, I have heard so many positive comments and advocates of the game dismissing any complaints about it being too long as “nit-picking” that this criticism gets drowned out in the sea of praise and “ZOMG GOTY” claims. The problem is that generally, unless games are filled with an exceptional amount of filler content – no-one complains.

    I agree that always stipulating that games must be longer is having a negative effect on some games, but dismissing play-times entirely is not the answer. Play-times shouldn’t be discussed in a vacuum – just like any other aspect of a game.

  • I’ve only recently realized that a short (9ish hours) game with excellent design is preferable to a 40 hour quest filled with padding. I finally started finishing games again when I picked up the original Bioshock last December, the tight narrative and awesome level design was a welcome change from the time wasters I’d grown accustomed too.

    After that I finished GTA IV, an appropriately long game which reminded me that some games such as Minecraft, GTA and Skyrim are better due to their endless content, but that for the most part, a tight experience is what I need.

    Sorry if this was poorly formed, I need sleep 😛

    • Along with needless story diversions, needless padding and a whole lot of needless features. TLoU really isn’t the most amazing game ever, no matter how many people try to say it is.

      • Actually it is, this is why so many people say it. You’re just the minority who either hasn’t played or didn’t like it.

        • Ah right, so downvote me without providing a refutation of my arguments. Good work.

          I didn’t like it, and for good reason.

          Running time was way too long.
          Plot was predictable alternating with filler.
          Stealth mechanics were clunky as hell.
          Crafting was shallow and felt tacked on.
          Level design was aesthetically decent but mechanically meandering.

          Shooting gameplay was serviceable but nothing special.

          The ONLY reasons it got any cred was because:
          a) The characters were decently written; and,
          b) (Interesting concept for) Zombies

          I haven’t found a single person that has been able to provide solid reasons as to why it was GOTY material. As a character arc – it’s respectable. As a game? It’s mediocre.

          • I’m right with you… I took it back day after buying as I didn’t at all like how the game controlled, and the story/writing wasn’t enough to keep me playing.

            And this is coming from someone who played through Uncharted 2 & 3 several times each within a week of their release.

          • What you mean is you haven’t found a single person who you agree with. The game was immersive, the crafting was perfect. The game length was great. The multiplayer was the best I’ve played. The story was gripping and the characters interesting (other than little miss F-Bomb going off to often)

            Oh and toughen up, I down voted you because I disagreed thoroughly with your post. Its not like I slapped you, don’t be so prissy.

  • Also, how do you come to the conclusion that what happened to Dead Space, is our fault, the consumers fault. We were happy with it being horror title, but horrors a niche audience, and if the AAA industry can’t make all the money they’d rather make no money.

  • The expectation of games meeting some arbitrary length criteria has created an all too common problem- games overstuffed with repetitive filler. Otherwise great games have their impact lessened by stretching thin gameplay, and it’s always so obvious when this is what’s being done. Of course gargantuan epics can be awesome, but in our busy lives, I think it’s important to feel that our time is being valued.

  • I watched Big Hero 6 at the cinema. My wife and I went. We didn’t get much change out of $50.

    How much is a bloody movie ticket at your cinema, Mark?!

  • because when a company promises a huge epic story to go with RPG’S and other genres you kinda expect them to telly you a large story. Tony Hawk knew what it was thats why it was a great because it didnt try to sell empty promises

  • Loved the article and total agree. I too preferred games that lasted 60 plus hours when I was young, but instead of whinging about it I played RPG’s or sports and racing games. Now that I’m older and have less time I prefer smaller games. A 20 hour game these days is too long for me personally.

  • Ugh, that Dead Space shot… People still talking as if the sequels were completely different games from the first.

    3 definitely pushed things a bit… But Dead Space 2 was pretty much just a better version of 1 across the board. Backtracking is NOT ‘tension building’ if it stops being scary and becomes boring.

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