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The Myth of the 40 Hour Game 428

Posted by Zonk
from the simple-solution-is-not-to-have-a-life dept.
Over at Wired, Clive Thompson talks about the myth of the 40 hour game, the typical length of time listed on the side of a game box nowadays. Mr. Thompsons discusses the ways in which that estimate fails to jive with reality. From the article: "This game offers about 40 hours of play. This is precisely what I was told by Eidos — and countless game reviewers — when I picked up Tomb Raider: Legend earlier this year. As I gushed at the time, Legend was the first genuinely superb Lara Croft game in years... I was hooked — and eager to finish the game and solve the mystery. So I shoved it into my PS2, dual-wielded the pistols and began playing... until about four weeks later, when I finally threw in the towel. Why? Because I couldn't get anywhere near the end. I plugged away at the game whenever I could squeeze an hour away from my day job and my family. All told, I spent far more than 40 hours — but still only got two-thirds through."
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The Myth of the 40 Hour Game

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  • by BecomingLumberg (949374) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:46PM (#16201059)
    Man, I really wish their game wasn't as good as it is. And to think they gave me *more* game than they advertised! Oh, what false advertising is this?

    I demand my crappy games back that I beat in a week.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) *
      This just in, your actual milage may vary with local conditions and driving habits. Our figures were derived from a test. It was only a test.

      I posted just a little while ago how disappointed I was with Myst. I played the game for two evenings. The first evening I just messed around with it for about an hour, getting a feel for the territory. The second evening I ran the game in a few hours, and I'm not even what you could call a puzzle game player. I wanted my money back. I wanted it back a lot.

      I understand
    • by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:18PM (#16201525) Journal
      Well, as I remember, it was the exact opposite as now. For example, Final Fantasy II (US) was advertised as requiring 40 hours to beat, and I did it in ~22, with no cheats, and no, I'm not trying to brag about this. And then for FF III(US) it was hyped as OMG, you NEED like 70-80 hours to beat this. Actual: 43.

      This is not a snipe at the Final Fantasy series, since at least those two were great. But it's defintely better to underestimate than overestimate.
      • by kalirion (728907)
        There's also a difference between "This game contains X hours of gameplay" and "This game takes X hours to beat." I remember playing FFVII on my computer. I didn't get Knights of the Round or even the Golden Chocobo. In fact when I got to the third CD, I didn't walk out of the cave to hunt down weapons. I just went ahead and finished the game. Admittedly I was a bit sick of it by then.
      • Even after all the subquests, there's tons of stuff you forgot to do:

        -Get 7 more economizers from the dinosaur forest. More if you screw up at the coliseum.
        -Full set of Genji Armor (monsters in Owzer's house drop tabby/chocobo suits, gamble them up at the coliseum)
        -Turn a useless character into Kappa the Imp (rename card, full set of Imp gear from the dinosaur forest)
        -Get all of Gau's rages at the veldt
        -Use the right combination of equipped espers at level ups to max each character's stats as much as
      • I don't know how you're measuring this, but I think it's fair to point out that there's a difference between game time and time spent playing the game. For example, if you spend 1/3 of your time reloading from a previous state to play through something over again, or look for secrets you missed the first time through, or trying to beat a boss, that 20 hours of play time noted on your save state turns into 30 pretty quick.
    • by Baldrake (776287) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:19PM (#16201533)

      Actually, why it matters is because it's nice to be able to finish games before you run out of time or interest.

      I'm reminded of Lagaan [imdb.com], a movie I saw a while back. It would have made a decent 90 minute flick, but at 224 minutes (nearly 4 hours!) it was a chore to watch.

      Like overly-long movies, overly-long games are usually bloated, repetitive and tedious.

    • by RonnyJ (651856) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:29PM (#16201691)
      What's silly is that he's bought other games, and given up on them too due to length.

      I've got a life to lead: Books to read, a day job, my infant son to hang out with, other games beckoning. That's why I've collected a shockingly large mausoleum of unfinished games over the years. Kingdom Hearts II? Stopped halfway. Kameo? Three-quarters through. Enchanted Arms? Eh -- I'm this close to bailing out.

      Why not just buy a new game only once the current game is finished? If I'm going to go for story-based games, I'd much prefer one completed story than two half-completed ones.

  • by jimstapleton (999106) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:46PM (#16201073) Journal
    and he complains?

    Someone call the waaambulance.
    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:17PM (#16201515) Homepage
      The problem is, is that the game was so hard that it was unbeatable. I hate when they make games like this. They make it so hard, that unless you read a walkthrough, spend 300 hours playing the game, or enable cheat codes, then there is no way to get good enough or figure out how to beat it. Games aren't my life. I don't want to spend my life beating it. If it takes three times the amount of time that was listed to beat the game, then the game should have been labelled differently.
      • by Saige (53303)
        The big thing with games is, unlike movies, the amount of time it takes to finish them can very by person.

        He's complaining about Tomb Raider Legend being so tough that it takes over 40 hours... I finished the game in substantially less time than that. Perhaps 20 hours at most. On the hardest difficulty level. I thought the game didn't have enough content to be worth the $60 price (which is why I'm glad I was able to borrow it). So I have a hard time appreciating the point.
      • by lubricated (49106)
        oh man games are getting easier these days. Tomb raider was relatively easy, you did have to think your way out of situations though and I can see where there could be a large variance in terms of analytical skills.
        • I think you're confusing "easy" with "not getting set back by dying."

          Haven't played it since the first one, but wasn't it alot of block puzzles (like Soul Reaver?) Sure you couldn't really die, but there were plenty of places where you just had to give up and look up where to move the shit so you could save.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Gulthek (12570)
        Tomb Raider: Legends is one of the easiest games I've played recently. I beat it on the hardest difficulty setting in about 20 hours of total playtime, and that was with me exploring around to find all the little artifacts.

        Go try out Ninja Gaiden: Black on the XBox and you'll see what hard is [penny-arcade.com].
      • Ah, I see you've played the original Ninja Gaiden as well.

        //still haven't beaten Castlevania
  • A good rule of thumb is that when a PC game is touted as having 40 hours of gameplay, you can expect about 16; when a console game touts 40 hours of gameplay, you can expect 200. That's just the way it is, and has always been in my experience.
    • In my experience, that is a terrible rule of thumb. Perhaps it is the case for the genere's that you prefer, but I haven't noticed this trend.
      • Well we may have differing experiences, but I think the reason that the 'rule of thumb' holds true is because a lot of parents buy console games for their children, and want to feel that they got their $60 worth.

        If little Jimmy throws the game in the corner after 2 days, mom's going to be a bit hesitant about buying another game. If mom sees that Jimmy is still playing Violent Attack Punch Quest IV two months after purchase, she's going to feel that her purchase was justified.

        You can poo-poo this all
  • Skill (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dlhm (739554) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:48PM (#16201097)
    Maybe the estimate is based on a average skill level, and you just don't make the cut.
    • This is the exact thought that came to mind. Maybe the guy complaining about the game just... sucked at playing.
  • Longer? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Southpaw018 (793465) * on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:48PM (#16201103) Journal
    Actually, I was expecting him to indicate the other way. When I bought Prey a couple months ago, I was expecting 5-6 hours single player, got 7.5 and was happy.

    It's been a long, long time since I've seen a game, especially in my preferred genre (FPS) that carries anywhere near the playtime promised.

    So, isn't this more of a problem that the estimates are just totally wonky across the board, and vary wildly between genres and the players playing the games, and not a singular "40 hour myth?"
    • So, isn't this more of a problem that the estimates are just totally wonky across the board, and vary wildly between genres and the players playing the games, and not a singular "40 hour myth?"

      Yes, especially the "vary wildly between players" part.

      The only ways every person who played a game could complete it in an equal amount of time are if every gamer has an identical skill level, or if the game is so stultifyingly linear that it basically plays itself like a movie, and the player is just along to observ
  • Opposite. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <[shadow.wrought] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:49PM (#16201121) Homepage Journal
    My stepson was dissappointed in Tomb Raider because it only took him half the time as it said on the box. The key difference is likely that when you play a game here and there it takes you awhile to get back into it and get your groove back. If its summer break and you play for twelve straight hours, well, its not going tot ake as long. What would be interesting is if he took a week off to just play the game, and see how he does. Not likely, but interesting;-)
    • Re:Opposite. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:56PM (#16201221) Homepage Journal
      Indeed, it seems to me that the TFAs author might in fact be complaining that he sucks at Tomb Raider. It's also possible he's taking time to read all of the story bits in the game and do all of the minigames and whatnot while someone who only cares about beating the final boss can finish it in much less time.

      Those time estimates are totally bogus anyway. Who even looks at them?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gstoddart (321705)

      My stepson was dissappointed in Tomb Raider because it only took him half the time as it said on the box. The key difference is likely that when you play a game here and there it takes you awhile to get back into it and get your groove back. If its summer break and you play for twelve straight hours, well, its not going tot ake as long.

      That, and kids nowadays seem to have almost preternatural reflexes on video games.

      I've watched my nephews play, and both of them can process more screen information and do mo

      • by Gulthek (12570)
        You had two buttons? My Atari 2600 only had one. But we did have paddle controllers, code breaker controllers (yeah, that had more than one button), and even the awesome huge weighted trackball centipede controller.

        I can still wipe the floor with those kids today but that's probably because I grew up with videogames, have always played videogames, and haven't *ever* gone more than two weeks without playing video games.

        I think kids who have always had video games are *way* more skilled at game play than most
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          You had two buttons? My Atari 2600 only had one.

          Well, I guess there was that -- I seem to recall shredding my hand on some sports game which needed a fast back-and-forth operation. And pong didn't have any buttons which were part of game-play as I recall. Most of my youth gaming was on coin-ops, so most of them had two buttons.

          "I think kids who have always had video games are *way* more skilled at game play than most other gamers. It's eerie!"

          Yeah...imagine that. A logical assumption actually being true.

    • Re:Opposite. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Phisbut (761268) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @02:08PM (#16202325)
      The key difference is likely that when you play a game here and there it takes you awhile to get back into it and get your groove back. If its summer break and you play for twelve straight hours, well, its not going tot ake as long.

      And that's what makes it hard for casual gamers to enjoy story-based games with quests.

      If I read a long novel say, one chapter at a time, then I get busy at work and have to put the book down for two weeks, I can pick it up two weeks later and start from where I left the bookmark. I might not remember all the details of the intrigue at the moment, but the story will continue one page at a time, and eventually I'll remember and continue to enjoy the book.

      If I start a long story-based game, then I get busy at work and have to stop playing for two weeks, when I come back, I might be totally unable to progress because I forgot that I need to deliver a plucked blue chicken to a one legged chiropractor three villages away in order to trigger the rest of the story. That is what turns a nice 40 hours game into a boring 60 hours game, because you wasted 10 hours running around and talking to every villager you met (most of them saying useless things, and not even "What the hell are you doing in my bedroom?") until you figured out what you forgot.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TubeSteak (669689)

        If I start a long story-based game, then I get busy at work and have to stop playing for two weeks, when I come back, I might be totally unable to progress because I forgot that I need to deliver a plucked blue chicken to a one legged chiropractor three villages away in order to trigger the rest of the story.

        So what you're really saying is that more games should have a quest-log which tells you what tasks you've completed & what tasks you can choose to do.

        Sounds to me more like a design flaw than a prob

  • 40 hours of length is great, although I think unrealistic for most genre's to shoot for. Back in the golden days of RPG's, you expected to put anywhere between 25-50 hours on one. It was great, because it would keep you busy for a month or two depending on how much you played and provided enough time to develop a great story. Games such as Mario 64 provided countless hours as well, because they're exploration and challenge based games. Games like the Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the GBA/DS cou
    • by el_womble (779715)
      Mario 64 would of been half as long if only you didn't spend so much time running from one end of the castle to the other, or retreading the same landscapes.

      Playing it reminded me of rock climbing, where you approach each face a different way depending on the difficulty. But by the time I'd got the 3rd or 4th coin from each level it was getting more than a little dull.

      I still finished it, if only to satisfy my OCD, but I can't help feel that Nintendo robbed me of some time, just to make the game feel longer
    • by misleb (129952)
      25-50 hours on an older RPG? Wow, i must have sucked. I would play those for like 100 hours. The old Forgotten Realms games. Or maybe I'm just romanticizing. I mean, during the summer, I'm pretty sure I would spend at least a 40 hour work week playing for at least 2 weeks on one game. It sure seems like I chewed up a lot of time on just one game, anyway.

      As for modern games, I think I put at least 30 hours into my Oblivion character before getting bored. And I wasn't even half way through, I suspect.

      -matthew
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ProppaT (557551)
        Well, take into consideration I'm talking console RPG's and you're talking PC style RPG's. It's like comparing apples and oranges. I think I put over 200 hours on Morrowind and I'm not sure if I ever beat the game?
  • by cliffski (65094) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:52PM (#16201167) Homepage
    Quoting "time to complete" on a game is nonsense, and always has been. Time to complete for a 12 year old kid? for a thirty year old guy? for someone whose crap at FPS games? for which level of difficulty?
    I play games because i want to immerse myself in another world, and play with some interesting stuff. Its not a race. I dont keep a clock going as I play (although oblivion does that for me for some reason).
    Whats important is FUN, nothing else. People can't easily define fun, so they try to come up with other metrics.
    how many unique units does it have?
    How long is it to complete?
    How many DVDs does it come on.
    I had someone complain about one of my games once because it was "only 23 MB". Apparnatly they didnt want a "good" game, a "fun" game or an "original game" or even a "game with depth", they just wanted one with a bigger filesize. I played Elite for most of my childhood. it was 48k. Was I ripped off?
    whats the time to complete for Chess anyway? I'm still working on that one.

    One day maybe game reviewers and publishers will shut up about how much bump mapping the game has, shut up about what hollywood actor did the voiceover, shut up about how long they *think* it takes to complete it, and just sell their game on the basis of it being a GOOD game.

    King Kong is a long movie. Its also shit (in my opinion, YMMV). Applying the metric to books and movies is clearly nonsense, so why apply it to games?
  • by Hao Wu (652581) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:54PM (#16201197) Homepage
    Perhaps if the editor played fewer video games, then he wouldn't have made such a classic ass of himself by writing: "fails to jive..."
  • I've been thinking about this for a while. I mean, I've been playing WoW for nearly a year and my main is just now reaching level 48. I don't have the time a 16 year-old does to power level for 2 weeks straight to reach 60. With a career, other projects, a bit of a social life and a significant other, there just isn't time for me to start a grinding session at 4 in the afternoon and wrap it up 12 hours later.

    WoW does, in some ways, accommodate us "soft-core" players, but at the same time what often motivate
    • Re:Yes, exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ubergrendle (531719) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:20PM (#16201541) Journal
      Part of the appeal of an MMORPG is that there is no specific end-game per-se. Hardcore uber players have turned the raid instances into the 'end game', but its not necessarily what Blizzard intended. What can a L60 do in Wow?

      Rep grind with various factions.
      Battlegrounds -- faction rep, PvP rank/honour.
      Raid instances.
      Crafting professions (aka "The Auction House game").

      And of course, you can skip all of those like I did and start another alt -- different race, different faction, different zones. IMHO the tiered questing is Wow's greatest strenght, coupled with rest bonus for inactive characters.

      I played Baldur's Gate II to finish the game. I play WoW for the experience, knowing there's always going to be something new around the corner. The online social aspect is a huge benefit too.
      • You say tomato... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by complexmath (449417) *
        What can a L60 do in Wow?

        Rep grind with various factions.
        Battlegrounds -- faction rep, PvP rank/honour.
        Raid instances.
        Crafting professions (aka "The Auction House game").


        I read this as:

        Grind for faction points (which can get you cheaper/special loot).
        Grind for honor (which can be traded for loot).
        Grind for loot.
        Grind for crafting materials (whch can be turned into loot).

        It's really no wonder that WoW is far and away the most popular MMORPG ever created. Purple items--gotta catch 'em all!
  • The question is whom is saying the game will only take 40 hours to complete: a complete neophyte at the game or a play/beta tester that has run through the game several times?
  • I have spent the last five years trying to finish Descent3.

    I'm not exaggerating. Every now and then I'll slog through another half a level or so, invariably getting killed a few times. What with its full 6-degrees of freedom and insanely squirrely foes, it has got to be the most difficult FPS game I've encountered.

    Well, I'm certainly getting my money's worth.

    • It took me at least two years to finish the original Unreal. That game lasted me through one if not two complete computer upgrades. (The nVidia graphics in that game didn't look nearly as good as the original Voodoo card I used to have.)
  • Odd complaint. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @12:59PM (#16201261) Journal
    First, I've found that while working on any problem, given sufficient time to focus (maybe an hour), I can often improve my productivity by taking a break of a few hours or a few days. True, the longer I leave it, the longer it takes to get back in the groove, but if it's just, say, an hour a day, I'd still be better than ever by the end of the hour.

    But more than that, he mentions a long list of unfinished games. Sounds like a quitter to me. Two thirds of the way through Tomb Raider: Legends, halfway through Kingdom Hearts II. I don't think it would've taken him any longer to actually finish Kingdom Hearts than it would to get that 2/3rds of the way through Tomb Raider.

    This person has made a conscious choice to play more games and leave them half-finished, rather than playing fewer games and finishing them. I'd certainly take a few good games (the Half-Lives, the Halos, the Final Fantasies) over many, many bad ones (the Dooms, the Quakes, Final Fantasy X-2). So, he has two related, possibly valid complaints: It's hard to actually find a really good game, so he wishes he could play more games, in order to find that one -- except that games take a long time to complete, so he can't actually beat as many as he'd like to.

    That, or it's a problem of attention span. But he mentions finishing War and Peace, and a Tomb Raider game is too much?
    • by Bob_Villa (926342)
      What is wrong with Doom 3? I bought it off ebay a few months back and play it for a few hours in the early morning on weekends since I have a wife, 50+ hour/week job, house to repair and two toddlers. I'm 28 and play in the dark, alone with the sound up on my headphones and when I'm attacked by imps or maggots or other creatures who come from places I don't expect, it scares me. Maybe for younger players it is boring, but I love it. I also loved the first Doom, it had a quality to scare me that I really
      • by Gulthek (12570)
        Maybe you haven't played many FPS games besides Doom 3?

        I'm 28 as well and I found Doom 3 to be a boring rehash of obvious jump scares and scifi environments. At every turn I could predict where the "surprise" attack was and where it was going to come from. It brought back the nostalgia for the original Doom for a bit, but that quickly faded.
  • What are the assumptions for a "40-hour" game?

    Do they assume that you are on your own? Do they assume that you bought the strategy guide that was right next to it? Do they assume that it is 6 weeks after the game was released and there are hints/cheats/walkthroughs on the Internet?

    All of these can greatly affect the total playtime.

    It can even matter how you want to play a game. For example, in Neverwinter Nights, it takes a lot longer to play through the game as a wizard than as a fighter. Why? W
  • Dude! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Otter (3800) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:02PM (#16201317) Journal
    I plugged away at the game whenever I could squeeze an hour away from my day job and my family. All told, I spent far more than 40 hours -- but still only got two-thirds through.

    That's because you're old and you suck. I can state that with confidence because I also am old and suck. It's a young person's world, guy.

    • Re:Dude! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DorkusMasterus (931246) <(dorkmaster1) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:57PM (#16202151) Homepage
      Count me in as another old sucker. :)

      Quite honestly, however, I did agree with the author more often than not in this piece. But at the same time, I completely agree with your funny, yet intelligent thought, that games aren't made for us. Sure they want to sell to us, but we're not the "core demographic". They want someone who's going to play the game fiercely, talk about it to all their friends and gamers online, spread the gospel, and therefore sell more copies to more hardcore gamers, and so on and so on....

      We're a dollar cog in the million dollar machine, so the fact that save points don't come frequently enough is an "old people" problem. It's more important to have the intensity of "will I survive until the next save point" than "I can really only play for about half an hour... will I have a chance to save?"

      And I think as the gaming generation ages, it's something people have to really think about. Because while the young, brash minds producing calls of "So U R upset about a longer game? N00b!" are annoying and grammatically...odd, they have a point. But the gameplay has to be structured in a way that it can be crystallized and played in smaller nuggets, and yet still flow. This makes a game that takes forever to be fun. Because if you have to figure out where you are, and what your inventory is, and where your next "checkpoint" is from memory of when you played the game three days ago, you're more likely to not pick up that game. But if the system flows and keeps you where you were, and helps you remember these things, and is structured in such a way as to encourage you to play even when it's been a while, then that's gaming for the adult set. (No, not THAT adult. With the job and the money and the wife and such, we get that stuff for free now. No need to see it in the games. :P)
      • Re:Dude! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by complexmath (449417) * on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:25PM (#16203745)
        Sure they want to sell to us, but we're not the "core demographic". They want someone who's going to play the game fiercely, talk about it to all their friends and gamers online, spread the gospel, and therefore sell more copies to more hardcore gamers, and so on and so on....

        I'd be interested to see the actual median player age for various types of games. I suspect that it's probably higher than game companies typically target in many categories and it's likely getting higher over time as first-gen gamers grow older.

        But the gameplay has to be structured in a way that it can be crystallized and played in smaller nuggets, and yet still flow.

        Exactly. See my comment about PC games vs. console games elsewhere in this topic. This is also why I hate when games are simultaneously developed for a console and PC, as they tend to both be "dumbed down" to suit a younger target audience and more limited hardware interface, and often eliminate most of the technical features that make PC games more appealing (save anywhere, progress logs, etc).
  • Clearly... (Score:5, Funny)

    by onlysolution (941392) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:02PM (#16201321)
    This guy is just angry that he is bad at the video games
  • Strategy Guides (Score:5, Insightful)

    by y5 (993724) * on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:04PM (#16201339)

    As a former EB Games employee, I remember being frustrated at the large number of customers who would purchase the strategy guide along with the game at release, and then have the nerve to complain that the game was "too short". It's since been my opinion that the growing strategy guide market has encouraged developers to use "cheap" methods to increase the average gameplay time.

    Games were much more satisfying before the popularity explosion of guides and cheats =/

    • by dch24 (904899)
      You said it.

      On the other hand, the guides appeared when games that were too hard appeared. Too hard? Yeah, some people are too weak to actually figure out the game. But then, there were some really hard games too...
    • Re:Strategy Guides (Score:5, Interesting)

      by akheron01 (637033) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:28PM (#16201677) Homepage
      That really brings me back, before there were strategy guides I remember figuring out where to go being a MAJOR part of gameplay, in fact, they had a whole genre of games, adventure games, where the entire game was simply figuring out where to go next. Do you remember back when everyone wanted to invite the kid up the road over to their house because he knew where all of the "secrets to everybody" where in zelda?
    • As someone who tries to play Kings Quest V without a strategy guide, there is no way anyone will just stumble across all of the random steps required to complete many of the games required tasks. I never did finish that game and had to hear how to complete the tasks second or third hand long after the fact.
  • I can't remember how many hours I played pacman as a kid...and I NEVER beat the last level! I'm not even sure if I ever got to the last level. It didn't matter how many times I ate Blinky, he kept coming back. Toughest boss EVAH!
  • Huh? He's complaining the game is too long? Hey, I understand the desire for quick fun games, which is why I still enjoy Pacman and Galaga (or even minesweeper and solitare). But complaining about something like this is asinine.

    Between two kids and only having (maybe) two hours of free time from 8-10pm each day (and when I'm not spending time with the wife, reading, or just vegging out), it took me six months to complete HL2. Do I deserve a refund?

  • So what if it takes more than 40 hours? If it takes you more than 40 hours you got more than your money's worth out of the game. The longer games are better, that way I am not looking to buy something right away. Just because you didn't complete it by some artifical time limit does not mean that it is not worth finishing.

    Tomb Raider Legend is a long game. Lots of puzzles, and when you are trying to get all the rewards it takes a bit of doing to get to everything.

    When the games are too short, that is whe
  • I see a lot of people saying, effectively, that long=good but I don't think that they've missed the real problem. There are many games that simply lack a way to intuit what should be done. Things like ladders in pitch black corners have huge potential to make the game boring and even frustrating. A good game should be like a good GUI where to go and what to do next should be easy to deduce. When one has paced all the corners of the room, investigated every item and used all your ammo shooting boxes, grills
  • I care less about how long the game takes than I do about whether I enjoy the game. Doom 3 was fun...for a while. I eventually finished it, but it got to be a chore. Essentially doing the same thing on virtually the same map over and over again. F.E.A.R. was short, but I enjoyed my time playing it much more than Doom 3.

    Yeah, I'd like more 40 hour games. As long as they offer good, semi-non repititive gameplay.
  • .. until about four weeks later, when I finally threw in the towel. Why? Because I couldn't get anywhere near the end. I plugged away at the game whenever I could squeeze an hour away from my day job and my family. All told, I spent far more than 40 hours -- but still only got two-thirds through.

    At some point, I sadly realized I just couldn't afford any more time. I've got a life to lead: Books to read, a day job, my infant son to hang out with, other games beckoning. That's why I've collected a shockingly
  • The reason this guy is upset seems to be that he couldn't complete the game in the time it was claimed it would take. This seems to be the typical attitude of US games - games are like interactive movies, mildly challenging in a repetitive sort of way but ultimately you are really in it for the experience.

    Tomb Raider is a British game, and British game designers seem to be more akin to Japanese designers - they make games that are challenging and which require a modicum of skill to complete. I have to confe
  • He wouldn't have gotten so bored if he had choosen a game that wasn't the nth incarnation of the 3rd person genre.
  • Sort of funny you took so long. Lots of the user reviews for that game toted it as "way too short" and "only wish there was more to it".

    But everyone plays at their own pace. There was a section of Half Life (the original) that my friend was telling me would take a good two hours to get past. Fifteen minutes later, I was done with that area. I was a run & gun type...he was a sneaker, always looking for the best spot to shoot from, etc.
  • I spent maybe 6-8 hours beating the game the first time through on normal difficulty, then played it on hard and beat it in less than 3 hours (easier when you know exactly what to do of course). I then got every secret available. I know I spent less than 20 hours on this game and I'm pretty sure most of the complaints I read on Tomb Raider forums was that the game was too short...

    The only games I ever expect to take 40+ hours are RPGs.
  • I'm not sure sure this is completely related to the article in question, but it is somewhat similar to the comments. Fact of the matter is that for the most part, when you get older, you start having less and less time to play games. Work, workouts, relationships, responsibilities, errands, etc., all have a tendency to get in the way of sitting on your ass for a couple of hours playing games. So, I've created a pretty simple rule that I try to follow when determining my game purchases, and that is, if you c

  • If a game advertises "40 hours of gameplay", it doesn't make it to the checkout. If there's a certain length of how long I'm supposed to play it, I figure someone's already played it for me, and all I'm doing now is trying to retrace his footsteps until I can toss this game aside and pick up a totally different one.

    Since the game advertises 40 hours, it seems quite obvious to me that there is no redeeming value in the game aside from how long I can be kept busy playing it (or they surely would have adver
  • by acvh (120205) <(geek) (at) (mscigars.com)> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:52PM (#16202073) Homepage
    I have been playing video games for as long as they have existed. Never have I timed my usage of a game, never have I looked for some magic number of hours of gameplay.

    Certainly we remember the people who could run through single player Quake in 24 seconds: does that mean Quake sucked (or, was that fact WHY Quake sucked?)

    I am older now, and have a stack of unfinished games like the author of the article. I have had to become more discriminating in my choice of game to purchase; I just can't invest the time or mental energy to complete a Final Fantasy anymore. I did get through Star Wars Lego with my 6 year old daughter.....
  • I actually don't mind the shorter time to finish a game because of my lack of free time. However, I do want the games to be cheaper and have replayability (e.g., multiplayer, randomization, mod support, etc.).
  • 1) Saying a video game takes 40 hours is like saying an American Football game is 1 hour (4 x 15 minute quarters).
    2) If the game takes too long, play it on an easier setting. If you enjoy playing the game, then you would want it to take a long time. If you don't enjoy it, then the time it takes is irrelevant. Either way, there is no reason to complain about it being too long.
    3) If the game is too short, play it on a harder setting.

    I find most people play games on the easy/medium settings. That always se
  • by Bigboote66 (166717) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @02:07PM (#16202317)
    First off, the article is about the myth of the "40 hour gamer" not the 40 hour game". The author is not complaining that the games take longer than 40 hours, but that it takes him months to find 40 hours in which to play solitary games - a problem for those games who suddenly find themselves with the trappings of what is commonly called "a life".

    Most of the posts here are completely missing the point ("You suck D00D!"). As someone who's put down more than one game that I was enjoying partway through, I can tell you the main reason why: because something new comes along. Humans enjoy novelty, and many long-play games are long play because of a continual repetition of the basic game mechanic. After your fourth session sitting down doing essentially the same thing you've been doing for the last month, you get intrigued by the latest & greatest. Add to this the fact that you may have multiple irons in the fire (I'm currrently in the middle of 3 different books and 4 different single-player games)

    Why is this a problem? Because there are a lot more "soft" gamers out there than hardcore ones, and they make a lot more money. As a developer, what would you prefer you market to be: 3% of the population or 30%? If you're spending tons of effort to produce a narrative game that can only be reached by 3% of the population, why are you bothering with a narrative? Hard games are fine, but perhaps they should be restricted to genres that are inherently more repetitive (e.g. classic arcade games), allowing people that bail on the title to go away feeling they had fun, as opposed to abandoning the narrative.

    Ultimately, there are many more people out there that only want to commit 6 hours to some interactive entertainment as opposed to 40.

    -BbT
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ucblockhead (63650)
      I don't buy it. I'm 41 and have kids. Like the initial poster, my gaming is limited to an odd hour or two here and there.

      Some games, I finish, even though it may take a month or two. Others, I don't. The common denominator? The ones I finish are usually good. The ones I don't are usually boring. If there's a difference, it's that older people with less time are less likely to put up with a mediocre game.
  • A lot of those long-ass games, MMORPGs and other online games require more mental comittment than I'm willing to put into a game when I get home from work. Sometimes I don't want to interact with people or have to care that much about the characters in the game. At those times a twitch game like Galaga or tetris would do just fine. Or Katamari Damacy which is both profoundly simple and tremendously fun.

    Of course, I've also gotten about 160 hours of play out of Chromehounds so far so I'm getting my money's

  • by Wakk013 (922235)
    Ok everyone is gonna have their own opinions on this. Let me put this into the light of how I perceive games and time to play.

    OK, figure a movie by yourself in my area is going to run you roughly $9 for a 1.5 hour movie (granted you pay the same for a 60 min or 300 min movie). Then you buy soda ($5), popcorn ($3 for a small), and maybe candy ($3) and your out another $11. So for roughtly 1.5 hours of entertainment which may or may not be good, you're willing to pay $20. All bases on my area, market, a
  • by kinglink (195330) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @02:53PM (#16203115)
    The problem isn't that the game has given him MORE time than the box listed. The problem is he doesn't have 40 hours to devote to the game.

    However on the other hand the 40 hours game claim are almost always wrong. I now work in the game industry but still found a way to play 40 hours into disgaea. I have about 24 hours in Samurai warriors (only been out a week).

    I believe the real myth is "40 hours" games or games like Xenosaga that promise 100 hours where they hardly deliver half to people who ACTUALLY play the game. If you pick it up and drop it over and over and keep dying then yeah 100 hours is possible. However if a game can be completed 100 percent in 20 hours by knowing what to do in it, then it's a 20 hour game.

    What the industry needs is games like Katamari damacy, or multiple non-forced (suikoden 3 way? bad) story lines. Imagine if you could change your character, and get a different story. Imagine playing through games that have "good" and "evil" story lines. They might be 20 hour games that you play through once, but if it's fun the first time and good the second time that's fine. Kotor started on this path but how you acted never really effected future gameplay too much until you get to the final temple. This allows the "hard core" gamer to get two unique experiences, and the casual gamer to get one solid experience that they decide.

    Some game companies are making "40 hour games" by making the game so obscure you won't know what to do in it for the first 30 hours, or giving you puzzles that will make you work on them 5 hours to find a little dot. I'm all for hard games, or difficult achievements but pretending obscurity makes your game longer is a joke.

    I've put at least 100 hours into FFX when I was able to devote that time to it just because I loved the level grid/capture system. But it's not a 100 hour game. It's a 30-40 hour game which a few people could put 100 hours in.

    The problem we are running into is game companies who won't or can't make scaleable games. Lego Star wars 2 has a good start, on the 360 there's the regular game, and then "never die" achievements which is quite hard for the player. They are completely optional but everyone is willing to try for them. If more games used "achievements" systems like the 360 to give optional quests like so it would enhance the length of most games.
  • by oohshiny (998054) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @12:57AM (#16210755)
    Games are entertainment. I really can't see how you can complain about getting, say, 60 hours of entertainment for the price of 40 hours.

    Perhaps the packages could make the point a little clearer: "This game should provide you with at least 40 hours of entertainment."

    Of course, if the game takes you 60 hours to complete because it's badly designed, then you can legitimately complain about the game. But the problem there isn't the 60 hours, it's the design.

He: Let's end it all, bequeathin' our brains to science. She: What?!? Science got enough trouble with their OWN brains. -- Walt Kelly

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