So, the release of The Last of Us Part 2 has recently ignited a debate with regard to the length of video games. I have not played the game, but it is said to take an average player about 30 hours to complete, which is double the amount of time it took players to finish the original game.
On one side, you have people complaining that the game is too long and that there were several points at which the story could have come to a natural end. Then, on the other side, there are people saying that there is no issue with the game’s runtime.
The video game length is actually something that I have thought about a lot in the last year or so. It was an idea that I really started pondering on when I finished Devil May Cry 5 in about 10 hours. I had really enjoyed the game, but I couldn’t help but be annoyed that I had paid full price for a game that took me less than a long weekend to beat.
So, when people started stating that video games are too long these days in response to The Last of Us Part 2’s runtime, I was bit puzzled. But the more I thought about it, the more the notion actually made sense.
Some Video Games Are Too Long…
So, I have previously written about how open-world games have flooded the market in recent years and I have also previously written about games being filled the brim with unnecessary content. You know, the type of content that acts as nothing more other than to give players something to do for an extended period of time, such as the Ubisoft “checklist” formula.
And, when I analyse these two areas (again), the idea of video games being too long isn’t a wild idea. In recent years, I have abandoned many games that seemed to be taking too long to get to the point (just like my think pieces).
A game I always think of when I think of time wasted on rubbish is Dragon Age Inquistion. When this game came out, I bought into the media hype. Unlike many fans of the series, I actually liked the second title, so when the high review scores for the third game started coming out, naturally, I went out and bought the game.
When I finished DA:l, I was very surprised that people had given it a good score. While the story seemed interesting enough, I spent of most of time performing dumb, little fetch quests to level up my character and this really destroyed the experience for me.
When I think of this game, I don’t think about the narrative, which I genuinely wanted to learn more about; I think about the hours I spent looking for shards and getting resources for people. When my first PS4 was fried by lightning and the save file for the game was lost, my immediate thought in relation to this game was that I am never going to play it again.
The main reason: what was meant to be fun actually felt like work. And, for a game with multiple different endings, this is a terrible feeling for players to walk away with. There is no incentive to go back and find out what might have happened if you had done things differently, which is one of the major selling points of playing a decision-based game.
Far too many games seem to fall into the trap of having some good core content but cluttering it with a lot of nonsense that most players won’t complete anyway. And, why does this clutter exist? Well, more often than not, I think it has to do with marketing and price.
How Marketing and Price Affects Length
Games are expensive. It doesn’t matter where you live; the average person is going to feel it in their wallet when buying a new game on release. So, to combat some of the doubts people may have about buying a new game, it seems that sometimes developers and publishers seem to focus on elongating content to make a purchase seem more worthwhile.
I can remember that before the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt came out, there were a lot of articles stating that developers claimed that it would take 200 hours to finish the game. As a poor unemployed student at the time, the idea of a long game seemed very appealing because I would be entertained for a long period of time.
I am not saying that The Witcher 3 had filler content (it’s one of my favorite games). Rather I am trying to iterate that game length is used to market games and can get people to buy them. And, sometimes games that use this tactic aren’t all that good.
Age, a job and less time to play has made me realise that length does not equal quality. More than anything, length just seems like a mask to charge more for a game that maybe would have cost less to produce if they didn’t add all the filler rubbish.
Going back to Devil May Cry 5, I wasn’t actually angry about the game being short. You spend just enough time with each character to have fun with their abilities and playing the game on harder difficulties provides you with a greater challenge (and more hours if that really is what you want).
No; rather I was angry that I spent a lot of money, and that if I had waited a couple of months, I probably would have been able to get the same experience at a third of the price.
But, what do you think? Are modern video games too long? Let me know in the comments down below.