Today I’m going to be talking in great detail about games and their length, plus the value for money in comparison to their cost. We all know that gaming is a very expensive hobby, consoles aren’t cheap and full retail games brand new usually cost £40/$60. So when you buy 1 or 2 games a month from the local game store or online at £40/$60 a pop it adds up. Not to mention the fact that there are games out on handhelds and mobile that you might fancy spending cash on, or the very frequent sales that Steam, PSN and Xbox Live have, furthermore tempting us to spend our hard-gained money on games we might not even get around to playing but would rather buy to save money in the long run. So when a new game release comes out and it’s being reviewed or played, there’s a very popular question that comes up, you know the one, the “How long is the game” and it’s not hard to understand when a person asks this question. We all want to get the best for our money, because that getting value for money feeling is important. As gamers we have learnt and trained ourselves to be very cautious, probably because we have been burnt in the past by a very bad game, that was expensive, short in length with no replay value. So let’s get on with the topic at hand.
What is value for money?
Value for money is different for everyone, this is true of gaming and pretty much everything in life. So it’s extremely hard to talk about value in the games industry and if we are getting enough for our money. There are a few factors that we look out for when we try to determine whether a game is worth the money. Some of those factors are, length, replay value and online multi-player content. It’s been deemed that a game isn’t worthwhile if it doesn’t feature any of those factors above. Which has really had an impact on traditional single player games, that has left developers to try an shoehorn all kinds of tacked on features that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, but most often than not can take anyway from the single player experience.
Judge a game on its quality not its length.
Game developers shouldn’t feel the need, or be under pressure of having to fill a game with content, that doesn’t necessarily need to be their with its only purpose to add a few more hours on the clock of total playtime. Pointless filler, repetitive quests, terrible dream sequences that make no sense, and overly long cut scenes that aren’t skippable, are only a few of the annoying ways that developers use to pad a game out. We need to accept and appreciate that some games are just meant to be short experiences, sometimes only to be played once. A fantastic example of this would have to be the indie smash hit Journey, what made it so brilliant was the developers knew what they wanted to make when they set out and didn’t lose any focus. As a result thatgamecompany created an outstanding innovative game, with breathtaking visual, art direction and an emotional soundtrack all without the restraints of worrying about game length. Another examples of great short games are, Portal which was creative, full of charm and humorous and Walking Dead Season 1 episodes that was full of emotion, great character development and interesting plot twists and choices.
Should games be sold at a price depending on how much the total playtime is?
We all would love for game prices to be lowered, and we have all probably been in a situation, where we have bought a brand new game on release day, only for us to beat it in one or two sittings. Then start complaining that the game was too short and should be cheaper because of the length. A recent case would be The Order 1886, which got slated by game critics and gamers all across the board. Criticised for its 5-8 hour campaign, with zero replayability and nothing interesting other than it’s pretty real life graphics. So if a game like The Order 1886 that suffered criticality, and is known for a lack of quality and length should be priced accordingly to the content on the disc, would it also make sense to price all games accordingly to the content they offer. And what would become of games like Skyrim and The Witcher 3? Surely because they offer countless hours of gameplay, story and fun stuff to do and explore as well as keeping the quality on the product. There games deserve to go up in price and sold at a higher price then normal?
I remember fondly gaming as a kid in the 90s, playing classic games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Streets of Rage 3. There was no such thing as replay value, no online multi-player or trophies to collect like we do now, we couldn’t even save the game, had to sit there and play the game and get better with each day, until you could beat the game in one sitting. Just to restart it from the beginning to play and beat it again…now that’s what I call replayability! It wasn’t my money that bought the games as I was a kid, so it wasn’t about getting my money’s worth, games just meant more than the length and more to do with the quality and fun factor that a lot of games are missing today.