I was watching the latest Jimquisition, and Sterling brought up and criticized the concept of "value = price/hours of gameplay in one playthrough," a metric that even gamers have been perpetuating as an absolute standard for years. While I'm not here to criticize that metric specifically, it did get me thinking about concepts of game length and value. Now, of course that metric only ever seems to apply to single-player titles, with multiplayer games being exempted for obvious reasons. But in any case, I think a single-player game's value can't simply be expressed purely by average playthrough length. Other factors have to be taken into account as well, namely replay value. And personally, I feel that playthrough length and replay value are as a general rule inversely correlated.
I grew up in the 80s & early 90s when most games that weren't JRPGs could reasonably be beaten in one to four hours. Most of my all-time favorite games are older games that I can beat in one to three sessions, and I have replayed them many times. As an example, I can beat Mega Man 2 in about an hour, and that was a game that cost over $80 when it first come out when you adjust for inflation. Many gamers would consider that a rip-off today, and short, old-school experiences like that are often relegated to indie titles, rarely making appearances on store shelves. I've always felt that the shorter play time encourages me to replay these older games on a more regular basis because of the lesser time commitment.
Meanwhile, so many modern games are massive time sinks. When games transitioned to 3D, the adventures were scaled up. Now games could take 8, 15, 20 hours or more to complete, and especially with the rise of open-world games, the amount of time you can invest in a single game before finishing it has grown even more, with some games taking 40-50 hours or more. Given available free time, it can be several weeks between when I start the game and when I finish it. Games that I thoroughly enjoyed on a gameplay level still felt like they overstayed their welcome, often thanks to pacing issues and busy work that may or may not have been there to meet some arbitrary 20/30/40+ hours of gameplay per playthrough that so many gamers demand. There's been many games that I simply don't replay that often, or have never replayed, because of the time investment needed, even if I did enjoy them during my time with them. My time is finite, and I not only have the standard work and family/social obligations that take up a huge chunk of time, but even in my own personal "me" time I have to decide if I want to spend it on the internet, or watching TV or movies, or playing video games. And if I choose to spend that time with video games, I have to take into account how much time must be invested into a particular game. Given my finite time, I really would rather limit the amount of games I buy that would take me twenty or more sessions to complete and would rarely play again because there's other games I might want to play as well.
Honestly, I think we need more shorter games. I wouldn't mind at all if I had to pay $60 for a solid single player experience lasting 8 hours or less, so long as the gameplay was good (for example The Order 1886's problem wasn't that it was a short game by today's standards; it's problem was it was painfully mediocre). I can enjoy a game that I can beat in one or two sittings so long as it's a quality experience. Hell, the shorter play time means I'd be more likely to replay it on a regular basis because of the lesser time commitment.
Now, this isn't always the case for everyone. I know someone who plays through the Mass Effect games regularly despite how long they are. Even I have a couple of long games that I've replayed quite a few times, such as both Final Fantasy IV & VII. But I'd like to know how a game's playthrough time affects replay value for others as well. Do you regularly replay games that take a lot of time to complete, or do you replay them rarely or ever? Does a game being shorter make you want to replay it more? Or does the length of a playthrough have no bearing on a game's replay value for you?Last edited by Shadow1980 - on 25 May 2018