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.

Matt G.
Guest
Matt G.

Jim,

This one was right in your wheelhouse and ya crushed it.

Please keep banging the drum on variable price points! Someone has to remind these companies that no one complains when a game experience like Skyrim is $60.

djinni
Guest
djinni

Those are some great points and I agree with them, but what I’ve been more concerned about lately is length based on OTHER factors… factors such as publishers wanting to chop up games into the digestible new trend that is “episodic” gaming. I’m not condemning the episodic style of release on a whole, in fact it works great for things like Telltale Games’ “The Wolf Among Us.” It builds a reasonable amount of suspense in the player and has potential to be a sort of early access stand-in by allowing the smart studio to get a feel for their audience… Read more »

Jeffrey Stane
Guest
Jeffrey Stane

Dude. You rock. Peace.

Alfred Handtie
Guest
Alfred Handtie

Rent, rent, rent.
And then rent some more.

Until the full package comes out with all the DLC included. Then, and only then will you have your full money’s worth! Batman: Arkham City, Red Dead Redemption, Borderlands, Dark Souls, Half Life 2/Portal (The Orange Box), Fallout 3… all of them, first purchases a year (or more) down the track with bonus content and paid less than the original price of the single game.

Mick P.
Guest

No words from Jim? I’m definitely in the Games are toooooooooooooo looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong camp, but they are also way too expensive, so this vid half-way devolves into another “consumer” woes diatribe. The PBS Game/Show did a good take on this subject a while back, I don’t remember price even coming up since it was really about how adulterated games are and huge time syncs compared to other (historically much more worthwhile) media (with a lot more to offer in their little fingers than video games have mustered thus far.)

Dave Dogge
Guest
Dave Dogge

I’m playing triple “A” .. Far Cry 4 at the moment and it is dragging on a bit after 40+ hours ….. I wish it had ended already, I’m skipping non essential chores and going straight for the radio towers / bases / forts and propaganda posters and missions. Despite this minor complaint I still think it was an essential 2014 purchase. I don’t mind spending £60 for a triple ‘A’ title that only lasts 5 hours provided that those 5 hours are the most amazing I’ve spent in front of mt TV ….ever.

The Knight
Guest
The Knight

The last 30 sec extra was enough to make me cum, thank god for you Jim!

TemplarGR
Guest
TemplarGR

A really good episode. I really loved the ending, quite a clever way of making a point. I agree with you almost completely about this subject. I don’t have a preference regarding short or long games. I believe both can be quite good if done right. Making a game long just by padding and repetition is WRONG, and disrespects the gamer. As gamers, we spend time as well as money on games, and ,especially as we grow up, time is of limited supply. Padding actually discourages the gamer to complete the game he paid for, for no good reason, other… Read more »

Drekels
Guest
Drekels

I think there is a lot more to the issue of game length then how long the campaign lasts. Keep in mind that people play games like poker or soccer for thousands of hours throughout their lifetime. I am not saying video games aren’t like that, I have clocked hundreds (I hope not thousands) of hours on Civ IV, Halo multiplayer, and Minecraft (I’m not trying to be a fanboy or saying there aren’t others, these just happen to be the games that I play). Games these days are too caught up in the consumer experience. We expect them to… Read more »

MegaSeveN
Guest
MegaSeveN

Unfortunately, length of a game is a deciding factor in whether or not I’ll buy a game. But many other factors are too. Honestly, I don’t buy many full blown $60 games at launch anymore and when I do, I’m damn sure it’ll be worth the cost to me. XBLA back when I had my 360, Steam, and GameFly (and possibly PlayStation Now in the future) provide me with ways to enjoy both smaller titles at reasonable prices and large titles at a fraction of the AAA cost. Shelling out $60 is just too much of an investment for many… Read more »

Rye North
Guest
Rye North

I believe the original Portal game can be a serious example of your argument, Jim. The game itself was surprisingly short – 2 to 5 hours on your first playthrough, depending. The game came in a bundle with other games headlining it. It was really only a $10 game. And yet, that one game had such a sweeping influence in the collective gaming culture, for a brief moment overshadowing the headline games of the Orange Box. Would Portal have had the influence it did if it were being sold on it’s own for $50? I believe it would’ve been painted… Read more »

BearHawk
Guest
BearHawk

All I can think about is how much I want that hat.

Ctriunfo
Guest
Ctriunfo

Spot on, and the ending drives the point home perfectly. Probably the best Jimquisition in a while (and they’re always excellent). I was actually having this exact conversation with a friend of mine who said he won’t pay full price for a 5 hour game. Initially I disagreed, but I think the best way to please both sides of the argument would be to have flexible pricing, as you stated. Best proposal ever.

Brian C
Guest
Brian C

Regarding value vis-a-vis length… we are programmed, particularly in the Western world, to see hours and dollars as having a predictable exchange rate. It’s how we measure our jobs, it’s how our employers measure our performance, it’s the metric of the day. So let’s just go ahead and equate hours with currency here, in order to make the point. Sure, I’d much rather you give me 20 dollars rather than 3 dollars. But I would also rather get 3 dollars than 20 balloons or grapes or turds. Quantity is important *within the context of quality*. And regarding the pricing structure,… Read more »

Hammer Rockwell
Guest
Hammer Rockwell

I agree length is arbitrary, hell cost is relativity arbitrary for a finely crafted game. Of coarse finely crafted is in the eye of the beholder and like some wines, authors, and painters it takes time for anything truly remarkable to garner attention. Unfortunately this industry does very little to invest in that, and the majority of the audience (I am not excluded) are more willing to jump to the next shinny thing which can causes this vicious to be self propagating. By the way Jim…penis, the word your were looking for, was penis.

Great commentary.

Fazan
Guest
Fazan

For the record, Jim – I enjoyed the longer video, and sincerely hope you make future ones as long as this one. It was informative and clever without feeling rushed for time by trying to skim over interesting tangents.

Drynwyn
Guest
Drynwyn

I’m surprised slash impressed you managed to have this discussion without bringing up Portal and Half-Life. Some of the most iconic (in the actual sense of the word) games out there- and both with lower prices and shorter lengths.

Bloody Murder
Guest
Bloody Murder

Well, we actually do have some cheaper games from a AAA dev, Nintendo.

Captain Toad $40.00
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse $40.00

Yeah, there’s that.

Yaro
Guest
Yaro

You word the opinions really well Jim, as always.

Ever since I got a Vita I have spent less on individual games, while playing infinitely more games and getting more gametime out of them. Best decision since I got ps3 in 2010. The prices tend to be crazy here in eastern europe (ps4 games go for 75 bucks new), so importing vita carts from canada, and using sales on psn has been a godsend.

Craig
Guest
Craig

A lower price worked for Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and it sounds like The Order: 1886 is just as much a prologue, story wise, so could see the slightly lower price point working in it’s favour too. There was a glut of roughly 6 hour games during the previous generation of games, most of which I rented but I did strongly consider buying some of them. Star Wars: Force Unleashed was a lot of fun, hurling shit about and tackling the challenges that varied enough to be interesting while X-men Origins: Wolverine was incredibly satisfying, despite it’s bugs. Most… Read more »

vxicepickxv
Guest
vxicepickxv

A game should be as long as it needs to be to deliver a great story. It needs to have a fair price for the quality of story and graphics. Kane & Lynch 2 was a game that will always cost too much because it’s terrible.

Crispy Potatoes
Guest
Crispy Potatoes

I’m not bothered about the length of a game. I’m bothered about the price. If the cake’s small, It better be damn good for £50. The only devs that seem to get this are indies, pricing their games cheaply, according to the amount of content they have. On the other hand, you get a game with lots of filler content that is out of place and pointless, like the flags in Assassin’s Creed 1, and that drags on. Skyrim/Fallout I find is a good example of how to do it, and with mods and expansions the replayability of that is… Read more »

ElektroDragon
Guest
ElektroDragon

$120 for games is unreasonable? Man, I spend that every month on games, on average. This is an expensive hobby, and fancy beautiful games like the The Order are EXPENSIVE to make. Asking less than $60 for the order is what’s unreasonable, when cheap 3 person team or less games often ask $15 or $20. All you guys are doing is encouraging HUGE TIME WASTER games like Far Cry 4 that are just loaded with meaningless content to give you “value for your dollar”. Sorry, I’d rather have polished, concise experiences like The Order, and I’m willing to pay for… Read more »

ElektroDragon
Guest
ElektroDragon

The order is worth $60 to me just as much as DA:I was. Maybe I’m just WEEEEIRD.

DirgeNovak
Guest
DirgeNovak

I’m perfectly fine with a game being short if it’s good.
But don’t fucking lie about it like Ready At Dawn initially did when the rumors of 1886’s length started. That’s taking people for complete idiots. You know we’ll find out the truth when the game comes out, just come clean right away.

The short playtime will make me question whether or not the game is worth $70 to me. The blatant lying to my face, however, makes that decision much, much easier. Fuck off, Ready at Dawn.