Friday, 15 January 2010
The problems with games: The length
Why was the game only 3 hours long? we want added value!; give us multiplayer!, Oh and by the way, why aren`t more people playing this awesome, entertaining and epic game that I love?
I will give you my reason why they aren`t, the game is too long. That is the one of the major hurdles games face today. They are entertainment, but not mainstream entertainment; the vast majority of moviegoers do not play these games that we love, even though they offer, in many cases, a greater experience than that of, like say Halloween 2 or even Avatar.
But people don`t flock to Assassins Creed 2, they don`t pick up Uncharted 2 or Batman: Arkham Asylum, and why is that? Well, my sense is that they have been burnet before, they know that if they are picking this title up, start playing it, then they will have to invest, at least 7-8 hours to finish the story arc, they will have to put in an additional 10-20 hours to get the “full experience” of every nock and cranny that the game designer has put in there.
When you go to see a movie or sit down to watch your favorite series, you know that you can get a satisfying and full experience in about 2 hours. No more, no less, right. You know that the time after that will be allocated to something else, you can relax and plan. When you play a game, you don`t know how many hours you have to allocate in order to get through the full story, you cannot end the experience that night or in a set amount of time, that drives people away.
Don`t get me wrong, I love video games, I grew up with them and to me this is not a major problem, but it has started to get on my nerves. When I sit down to play Assassins Creed, I find myself thinking; this would have been much more enjoyable if every city had been a separate episode, or when I am playing Batman; why couldn`t each boss have been this evenings episode of my favorite Batman series? Why do I have to stop playing this game tonight when I want to find out what happens next? I have to work tomorrow so I cannot play any longer, but it feels like I have 20 more hours to go, for god’s sake, let me have a complete experience this evening, don`t tease me like this.
For me, experiments like Tell Tales games, The Siren game on PS3 and other episodic style releases is the future and also a way to make games more accessible. “Let me finish this episode tonight, we can even watch it together sweetie”, I want to have that conversation in my house, not: “thanks for the dinner Hun, now, let me just disappear for 6 hours while you sit there in front of the TV and watch your CSI”. That is in most cases a deal breaker.
Television and movies are acceptable because they offer you an experience in a set amount of time and it can most often be a shared one, games do not give us this option, in most cases. This is why games should move to a more episodic like concept and offer a complete story in one evening. It doesn`t have to be the full story, but a small portion of the main story arc. I believe that interactive entertainment will suit this coming generation much more than non interactive ones and the challenge will be to tailor this to suit everyone, make it accessible and limited.
I don`t want long games to disappear, but we can have both, and they can be of the same quality, but we should not exclude one over the other. Also, the price for an episodic style game does not need, and should not be, more expensive than a regular one. Just make the episodes cheaper and see to it that the end package don`t exceed the price of, say $50.
They future is here right now, grasp it with all you got!