The Jimquisition: The Old ‘How Long Should Games Be?’ Debate

While past episodes have touched on the subject, we’ve had a surprising lack of shows dedicated to discussing game length. That may be because it’s an ancient topic that never seems to have any sort of resolution.

Nevertheless, with The Order: 1886 sparking a fresh whirlwind of debate, I figured it was time to actually examine the arguments in play and figure out exactly how important a game’s length is when it comes to the value of a production.

Because it IS important. And it ISN’T.

Wisq
Guest
Part of the problem, I think, is that the video game market is growing up. As children, we tend to have lots of time and not very much money. As adults, we have more money but not very much time. There was a time when all my games came as gifts or were something I saved up for, and I had to stretch those games out to fill my free time. Now, I have a massive backlog, and no time to play them all. That also colours what sort of game I’m after. I want the extraordinary game, the game… Read more »
The Spearman
Guest
The Spearman
Some adults have car payments and rent to pay. I may be making more money, but it just doesn’t feel as disposable as it once did. Oddly enough I don’t spend any less hours per game than I did when I was younger, I’m just playing fewer games. I understand the “extraordinary” game concept, but at the same time, I can early access the odd indie sandbox game for $15, and squeeze ~20 hours the first playthrough and ~4hours with each subsequent update until the game either releases or gets shuttered in pushed into release while still in Alpha, and… Read more »
carg0
Guest
carg0
i “watched” The Order on youtube over the weekend (thank god for ‘no-commentary’ walkthrough’s) and enjoyed it quite a bit. enough to the point where i hope there’s a sequel. the game’s visually stunning, the voice-acting & dialogue is first-rate and the story – belabored, as it was – was still more than enough to keep me interested. but, to be fair, i went into it (after reading reviews) expecting a barely-interactive movie and, in that regard, wasn’t disappointed. i also paid absolutely nothing, so im in no position to judge those who feel they got screwed over and are… Read more »
Sanlumiere
Guest
The other real issues with a game of this price being the length it is would be: 1) What greater incentive do you have for abusing Gamestop (deserved or undeserved, a debate for a different day) by “renting” the game for $55, playing it that afternoon and returning it for a full refund. Sure, you can do this with other games that are longer, but at some reasonable length at least the consumer has to spend some level of time before returning it, which they may not get to do so they get an extended demo for their loan of… Read more »
ElektroDragon
Guest
ElektroDragon

The Order is a fantastic game. I don’t find it too short. In fact, I have YET to find myself complaining that a game I enjoyed was too short. It all depends on the game.

For example, I put 200 hours in Dragon Age Inquisition, but still felt the ending was rushed and “too short”. But other games that supposedly are only a few hours long, I am still playing months or years later in some cases.

Ushio
Guest
Ushio
$60 at retail, retailer takes $15. $30 at retail, retailer takes $15 so to halve the consumer price the publisher losses 2/3rds and with how poor job stability is already in the games industry making it even harder for game companies to make money is not the answer. And to those who say a lower cost will increase sales my 15 years in various games retailers says that lower cost games sell worse as people assume cheaper games to be inferior shovel wear. Maybe if game prices had gone up with inflation like everything else (remembers paying £70 in 1988… Read more »
Nobody's Fanboy
Guest
Nobody's Fanboy

Commoditization has done a lot for keeping the price of games down. If they were still producing full circuit boards with flash memory on them, the prices would certainly be higher…look at the cost vs capacity of a GBA or DS game, for example. If everyone had to write their own engines from scratch, prices would certainly be higher…the cost to license middleware is far less than the cost to develop your own. And size of audience has helped too…when you’re moving a million copies instead of 100k, the cost per unit is lower.

Jon Boon
Guest
Jon Boon
Yeah, but $60 at retail means that 50,000 people buy it, or $30 at retail means 300,000 buy it (made up numbers, obviously, but you get my point). Could be seen as shovelware, but that’s where your marketing dollar comes in. Plus never underestimate word-of-mouth and after opening day sales… There are a lot more decisions to think about for pricing games, and one that I hope publishers start really thinking about it, rather than just sticking with a homogenous $60 (or more in the future) for all games. Do sports games, that are little more than roster updates every… Read more »
Adam B
Guest
Adam B

Tomb Raider (2013), at full price, failed to turn a profit in the first 4 weeks, and was a projected loss. After moving around the price point ad offering deals, a year later it hit 6 mill sales and is on the way of being the best selling Tomb Raider. I think this proves your point.

orthusHH
Guest
orthusHH

Well, you’re wrong about that. The retailer does not take $ 15 but gets 25 % off the price for which the game/product is selling. It is called a sales discount and you don’t measure that in a fixed amount of currency but in a fixed percentage off of the price the distributer asks from the customer. Bigger chains get higher discounts because they buy more and smaller shops get less. Thats how retail works.

Craig
Guest
Craig "The Raccoon "
While i agree with the object of the main argument, and some games do become unnecessarily long to extend their experience. I did watch a whole play through of “1886” it seemed brilliant in parts and shooting gallery in others. I do take a subjective issue with Dying Light I am still enjoying that game and it is not because of the the story. Bashing , drop kicking, and dicing up zombie’s seems to never get old. When I get a horde all excited and the firecrackers are popping the whole thing seems like a dance party.There is some strange… Read more »
Nobody's Fanboy
Guest
Nobody's Fanboy
Hey Jim, The spots on the intro / outtro were a little weird, slowly fading from washing you out to fine and back again. On the episode itself, spot on…it’s the same reason you never see an upheaval in politics: “MY guy is fine, it’s all the other bums who need to be fired!” or genuine competition between gas stations, Coke/Pepsi, etc: “If I rock the boat, I might be the one that loses out, so I’ll play along”. Though I can’t help but have a chuckle at the ‘the way it’s always been’ remark, given that I’m old enough… Read more »
ShodanDave
Guest
ShodanDave
Ha ha! Willy! The biggest problem with the length vs value thing is it’s so subjective. There are a few people commenting online that The Order is just fine where it is and a game that is the perfect length for some might massively outstay it’s welcome for others. I loved Skyrim but after 40 hours I felt I’d seen everything that game had to offer but had only done about half the map and it became a slog rather than a joy. On the other hand after completing Mass Effect after spending a similar time in it I just… Read more »
Wally-G.
Guest
Wally-G.

Games should have never gone to $60 dollars period. Hell they’d make more just dropping back to $39.99, and if they whine they can cut money from the marketing budget- a budget that gets more money then the actual game gets.

Mick P.
Guest
I agree. Anything above $40 is targeted at people for which money is no object. The high price at launch is engineered to soak up those people’s money but it probably throws off the inertia of the release. So, might as well release your game for $120 dollars or even $300 before it comes out in stores so that its big day launch when people who buy new things are going to be talking about the game with each other. You want that set to be as large as possible so something like $30 or $40 launch for big budget… Read more »
Panelhopper
Guest
I’m largely in agreement with you Jim, but to me, length and quality of gameplay should be two parts of an equation who’s final result could be regarded as value. The best example I can think of are Skyrim and MGS V: Ground Zeroes. The latter is short, the former is long but I love both because I found their gameplay to be utterly compelling. Of course, GZ was offered at a lower price, which also helped, but it’s playing those games which I remember foudly not their cost. I guess, it’s similar with films: if your having a good… Read more »
ZippyDSMlee
Guest

At a minimum 10 to 20 hours of solid non grindy mechanic pacing for a 50$ title regardless of genre type.

If you want to do half that then the price point should be about 20$.

This is assuming the game is not a mess….

Sanlumiere
Guest
Jim, First off, I saw that the jimquisition on this topic clocked in at a hefty 9+ minutes and I was very happy to see that. I really felt that you put in the work to generate a piece of high quality content that also didn’t skimp on giving us enough minutes of Jim screen time. Very important and thank you for that. I was disappointed, however, that the outro did not include more Jim… perhaps slow motion dancing to the slowed down music. Now, to the topic at hand. There are two games in recent history that have approached… Read more »
Aytakk
Guest
Aytakk

Some great points. Its kind of like how instead of raising the price of a bag of chips or a chocolate bar they downsize what you get for the same price which forces you to pay more if you want the same as before.

In gaming terms thats charging full price for a game then charging for DLC we used to get as part of the release date game.

Hunter
Guest
Hunter

Looks like this is one of the few areas Nintendo is working forward on. Kirby brand new last Friday is 39.99, Captain Toad launched at the same price point. Meanwhile larger games like Mario 3D World, Pickmin 3 and the like are 60. Mario Party and Donkey Kong TR they seem to feel fit in between at 50. If I heard right at a recent investor call they were calling for more economical software to stimulate their systems.

LadyMcZee
Guest
LadyMcZee

I noticed this trend too… Yes, even here in Australia, where first party Nintendo prices are usually the premium of premium prices, set in stone FOR ALL ETERNITY.

And it’s not just the struggling WiiU games either. A good many 3ds titles have been releasing at less the “expected” premium price for a while now.

Ben Kemp
Guest
Ben Kemp

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is that The Order was announced at E3 2013, which was also the launch year of the PS4. I think you could argue that the property was used as a selling point for the system, even though no release date was given for the first game. It bothers me that despite the wait, and despite a development delay on top of it, the released product is so reportedly sub-par.

SilentPony
Guest
SilentPony
Decent episode Jim, very decent. A little TOO long for my tastes, but there ya’ go. I think this is another of those issues that has no right/wrong answer and is just another topic of debate and arguments among gamers. I’m not dismissing the issue; far from it. Length is important(wink wink) but gamers will always complain. I mean look at Dragon Age Inquisition. The biggest complaint against it is its too long, with some gamers clocking 100+ hours on it. Conversely, no one complained about Skyrim being too long. Both games are $60, and both have hundreds of hours… Read more »
TemplarGR
Guest
TemplarGR
Dragon Age Inquisition and Skyrim are completely different games. That is why there is this difference in opinions. Skyrim, which IMHO is one of the greatest games of all time if not the best, is not so much about the story. It’s main story is quite short, you can complete it in a few hours if you wish. But Skyrim is not about that. Skyrim is a huge sandbox with many different questlines, factions, cities, dungeons, ways to play. If you want to explore everything it offers, we are talking about hundreds of hours. If you include dlcs and mods,… Read more »
Kirbys
Guest
Kirbys
Order looked like a decent game. Of course there are mechanical and story problems but the worst part was the that damn price. 59.99 for a 5 hour game?! Remember how much the Metal Gear Solid V demo costed for how long it was but how detailed it was? 5-7 hours to it and yet it got a 39.99! The new Kirby even looks better and plays longer and guess how much it costed in the end: 39.99. I guess SCE came with the current gen mindset: If a game is costed the hours and time to look good on… Read more »
Heartsib
Guest
Heartsib
Good breakdown, Jim. Enjoyed this one a lot. I tend to fall into the “it’s not how long it is, it’s how you use it” camp on this issue. I can clickity-click away at a short game with good replay value or a challenging, fun roguelike with only ten levels or so with a smile on my face. By contrast, DA:I left me ultimately disappointed because it was too little actual game stretched out over too many maps and fetch-quests (and that’s not even taking the bugs and writing into account). I’m not too bitter over it, because GOG is… Read more »
ldub
Guest
ldub
In my experience games that are too short or long really don’t get fans up in arms so much as cutting corners, poor mechanics, and filler. It’s all about that time to value ratio where when dealing with the subject of game length, every opinion matters to some degree. Now, should some games be inherently longer or shorter based on genre, of course. Someone who who is a long time fan of RPG games would screen bloody murder if the game wasn’t of decent length. On the same note you wouldn’t expect a puzzle game to contain fewer puzzles than… Read more »
Jables
Guest
Jables

Wow, 2015 is off to a rollicking good start. . . Okay so, Bloodborne, Persona 5, MK X, Witcher 3, Batman, Zelda, and DW 8 Empires which comes out in the U.S. tomorrow. I think that’s a pretty safe list of games that shouldn’t be disappointing. Unless I’m missing something.

Adam B
Guest
Adam B

Hotline Miami 2, Darkest Dungeon’s (full) release, and Homeworld Remastered. I like looking towards the brightlights too! Also, some people seem to be looking forward to Hatred. O and No Man’s Sky is suppose to come out this year! fingers crossed!

Jables
Guest
Jables

I didn’t even know about the Homeworld Remaster. . . I just checked out TB’s video of it, it looks so good!

ChowderT
Guest
ChowderT

I’m surprised you didn’t bring up Final Fantasy 13. Was it too easy of a target? That game was hundreds of hours long but it offered absolutely nothing. The story was awful, the gameplay literally played itself, the cutscenes were too long and too often, and it was incredibly linear. This game is the god of padded out game that focused on length over quality.

Error 52
Guest
Error 52

My candidate for awful length is Sonic 06. It’s 20 goddamn hours! And it’s all incredibly repetitive and busted.

Dabir
Guest
Dabir

Now let’s be fair, 11% of that was loading times.

Entertainer13
Guest
Entertainer13

I buy a lot of indy games, and I still see people complaining about “only twenty hours of gameplay,” when they paid $10. Good deal if you ask me! You can’t even get into a two hour movie for $10 anymore!

Billy
Guest
Billy
The movie comparison is almost as bad as the steak dinner comparison. Putting aside the rather major issue that movies and games are different things (even when publishers want their games to be semi-interactive movies), it ignores that a lot of people believe movies are poor value and choose not to go to them. It also ignores that people go to movies for reasons beyond seeing the movie. You don’t just drop $60 taking the family to see Rio 3 because you really want to see what that bird does next; you do it for the whole family experience. The… Read more »
Sanlumiere
Guest
Sorry, Billy, but I think you are missing the point that this post illustrated. Gamers consider the budget for their games to come from the same pool of cash as the money they spend on DVDs, trip to the movies or yes, even going at eating out. It’s all the same disposable income – the entertainment dollar. Game companies appear to have a similar issue to what you are assuming here – that people spend $120 a month on games and that money is going to games no matter what … or whatever your personal game budget might be. They… Read more »
Billy
Guest
Billy
Entertainer13 brought up directly comparing the time-per-dollar for a movie versus a game. This is a popular argument, even if it is normally used against short $60 games instead of to praise long $10 games. (Such as when someone says paying $60 for 5 hours of gameplay is a bad deal compared to paying to watch 10-12 hours of films.) Regardless of which way you use it, the argument has the same flaw. Time-per-dollar isn’t directly comparable in that fashion, because when you pay to watch a movie in a theater you aren’t just paying to watch a movie. (You… Read more »
Fazan
Guest
Fazan
Actually, it’s a pretty valid comparison. I used to agonise over paying $15 a month for an MMO. Then I considered how seeing a single movie in 3D (the only way they’re shown here) cost me right around $15 with food, transportation and ticket price. All of that for one movie. So what do I do tomorrow? What do I do the day after that? Pay for more entertainment, I suppose. Or I can pay $15 once and then play said MMO all month, all of it for $15. Is it any wonder I’ve stopped going to the movies all… Read more »
TNT
Guest
TNT
That’s pretty cheap for a movie theater. I pay € 10-14 for just the ticket (mostly depending on length since everything has to be 3D 🙁 ). Any beverage costs at lowest another €2,50 and let’s not talk about the snacks or transportation. I think that movies are an apt comparison, just not in every situation. Going to the movies for a date shouldn’t be compared to buying a game for personal enjoyment. Going to the latest superhero movie with geeky friends or buying a dvd/bluray however seem like a fair comparison to me. To be fair I never really… Read more »
Wellsy487
Guest
Wellsy487

Sadly people just complain because they have nothing better to do. I buy more indie games and usually buy AAA as used because I can’t afford £50 every time.

Dynath
Guest
Dynath
People complain because something bothers them. You’re right it’s pretty easy to adjust your buying habits but it doesn’t mean you have to by happy about it. Complaints can be valid or invalid entirely by the context of the individual complaint not the state of the argument. Frankly. I dislike having to hunt to find good indie game titles. As such I dislike AAA’s constant obfuscation of exactly how entertaining (including how long) their games are. It takes me twice as long to find one good indie title as it does to find a good AAA game, ergo I respond… Read more »
Talib Zeine
Guest
Talib Zeine

Always love the twist endings. Thank god for Monday.

Tanneseph
Guest
Tanneseph

The “extended value edition” of the endcredits song was awesome. The “ooo” was obscene.

Chad Myers
Guest
Chad Myers

The ending was spot on. Thanks for the awesome video, laughs, and as always damn fine opinion.

Jason Darbe
Guest
Jason Darbe

you are definatly right about the industry needing a flexible price point. Had the order 1886 been 20 maybe 30 dollars we wouldn’t see nearly the who-haw that we have. As it stands ill probably rent it for a evening from the Redbox down the street when it shows up there instead of buying it at full or even 75% off from steam.

Crispy Potatoes
Guest
Crispy Potatoes

You’ll have trouble buying it from steam when it’s a PS4 exclusive 😉

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