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Does Length Matter?

/ Nov 29th, 2012 1 Comment

Asura's Wrath
The Walking Dead Game

The Walking Dead Game

Do gamers prefer shorter games or longer games? In the early days of gaming, games were short in length and high in difficulty, but after the implementation of save files, games could be made lengthier. Gamers want to feel like the game was well worth them spending $60 and the unavoidable tax. While supporting the developer is legit and suggested, that is quite a steep price for a game that leaves the person feeling like they would have gotten the same experience paying $8 at the local video shop. This can happen with both longer and shorter games in different ways; a short game can be finished too quickly, while a long game can drag and sometimes make the player not even want to finish it. Long and short games both have their strong points too. However, shorter games offer replay value, while longer games can offer a deeper plot, which can also provide replay value.

In Resident Evil 6, Capcom takes the approach of making multiple campaigns of shorter length that have the main characters crossing paths. This gives the player different pieces of the story. The game does indeed have replay value, and the fact that you can choose from 3 different campaigns that each offer co-op play is very much welcomed, but the game lacks in story. Resident Evil 4 was a pretty long game and the story was deep and satisfying. The player had time not only to build a connection to the characters, but every time the setting changed and the plot shifted the player got re-engaged into the game. Resident Evil 6 just doesn’t offer the same engaging plot, and that is because of how short the game is. Rather than offer a story that can take days to reach the end, it offers a game that can be beaten quickly and multiple times. The Darkness took the approach of a shorter game, and offered what is arguably one of the best stories in video game history. The Darkness is fun, innovative, and the story isn’t just good; it is good enough to make the player want to play again and again.

Asura's Wrath

Asura’s Wrath

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is an example of a game that suffered because of its length, or lack thereof. Fans bought the game with high expectations, but received a game with a sloppy, short story that was truly a let down. In purchasing a game, consumers consider the amount of hours the game has to offer as much as they consider the quality of the game. Some people opted not to purchase Asura’s Wrath simply because they heard that it was short and because of that, not worth $60. Don’t get it mistaken, Asura’s Wrath is a fantastic game with periodic replay value, but the fact is that gamers will only replay it periodically. Unlike Heavy Rain, where the players decisions create numerous outcomes throughout the game, Asura’s Wrath is a game that is cinematic in an anime type of way. Yet it doesn’t offer much for immediate replay. The length, in association with the price, definitely has an affect on whether a person buys a game or not, but the length of the game is not always related to the game’s quality.

The fact is that it depends on what the person buying the game likes more: a game with a long and engaging story or a shorter game that can be completed and replayed more often. To accommodate the fans of shorter games that don’t take much time and the fans of longer games, developers have began to release games in an episodic format. Games like Jurassic Park, on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, and The Walking Dead are games that released in the form of episodes, allowing the player to pay for and play through individual chapters of a title. These games usually release around the price of $10. So far the episodic format is receiving good feedback. Whether that is because the titles themselves are good or because the episodic format is good, developers seem to have found a way to increase the amount of fans they please.

Chad Whitney

Chad Whitney

Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Chad is a contributor to Gaming Illustrated. A part of the Editorial team, The Chad has also dabbled in Reviews and Previews. The Chad has been a gamer since he became conscious of life. He has stated on more than one occasion that The Chad doesn't wear aluminum foil on his head, thus he is vulnerable to having his mind read. Mind reading can be a strain though, so FOLLOW The Chad @ChadNorris1390 on TWITTER.
Chad Whitney
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  • Jonathan Anson

    aving just completed Planescape: Torment, I can attest that in order for a game to truly be exceptional it has to be long enough to tell a story, tie up loose ends and leave a good impression. That game alone is a perfect example of a game that takes full advantage of its length. It needs to because of its complexity and to have just enough incentive for people to come back to explore the many different possibilities it offers. There are a lot of those, especially since you can only know more about the story, especially that of your main character, the Nameless One, if you play from different angles.

    When a game puts more energy into looking good, playing great but neglects to put an equal amount of work into its story and length, it will suffer. That’s why so many games today I’ve noticed are not so good: because they’re too damn short to leave a good impression.

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