HEAD­ING TIME ≠ MONEY HERE

Rick Lane asks why pub­lish­ers are so shy about re­veal­ing Stand­first here please the time Stand­first it takes here to com­plete please Stand­first their games here please Stand­first here please Stand­first here please

Custom PC - - ELITE - / FROM THE EDI­TOR RICK LANE / IN­VERSE LOOK

I’d much rather pay for a few ex­cel­lent hours than 30 mediocreCi de­bis vel ones, ili­quam es­pe­ciallysam when­sam sero­videsI have lim­ited do­loris time utaque volec­tas

Have you ever no­ticed that games are a lit­tle shy about an­nounc­ing how long they’ll take to fin­ish? Films ow, open­lyI’d bet­ter­state their make run­ning­sure I have time an on Nvidiathe box, card and in while 2014, I books don’t thought,have a as setI watchedread­ing time,the Witch­eryou can 3 eas­ily PhysX es­ti­mat­edemo last it by glanc­ing pro­pri­etaryat the spine. GPU With fea­ture games, would though, ac­tu­ally you per­suade­jump into me to a timego with com­mit­men­tone com­pany’s with GPUno idea over how an­other’s much sinceof your the life 3dfxit will days. con­sume. Graph­ics It card will com­pa­niesalmost cer­tain­ly­have been be comin­gat least up four with hours, these unique prob­a­bly selour longer, own but judg­ment­the tail of call,a game ac­cord­ing­can stretchto yourto 30, pri­or­i­ties.40 or Whatwell over­are your100 hours. pri­or­i­ties when.

Sea­soned play­ers will be able to make a de­cent es­ti­mate. They’ll know a shooter will gen­er­ally re­quire fewer than ten hours, while an RPG will of­ten take three or four times that length. But there are no guar­an­tees. When I re­viewed Prey last month, I an­tic­i­pated it would take roughly 16 hours, be­cause the de­vel­oper’s pre­vi­ous games were a sim­i­lar length, but it ended up tak­ing al­most twice as long.

What’s the prob­lem here? For me, not know­ing how long a game will take to fin­ish makes it dif­fi­cult to sched­ule my work hours ef­fec­tively. A film critic will know ex­actly how long each film will take to watch and review, whereas a game can take any­where be­tween half a day to a week.

But any gam­ing en­thu­si­ast with a full-time job, a fam­ily or both will re­late to the dif­fi­culty of mak­ing time for this hobby. You’ll have a big pile of games that you’ve never fin­ished, and prob­a­bly never will. You likely pur­chased all those games with the in­ten­tion of com­plet­ing them, but as the days went by and each game didn’t end, you had to at­tend to other pri­or­i­ties.

So why do games avoid telling you how long they will take to fin­ish? One pos­si­ble rea­son is the afore­men­tioned di­ver­sity in length, but rel­a­tiv­ity is a prob­lem too. A tal­ented FPS player may take con­sid­er­ably less time to fin­ish a shooter than some­one new to the genre. What’s more, the for­mer might com­plain to the de­vel­oper if they com­pleted the game in eight hours when the cre­ators stated it would take ten hours to com­plete.

This lat­ter point hints at the real is­sue that pre­vents de­vel­op­ers from be­ing open about game length. There per­sists a be­lief among the gam­ing com­mu­nity that length equals value for money. De­vel­op­ers and pub­lish­ers are re­luc­tant to state the es­ti­mated run­ning time of a game be­cause they’re con­cerned play­ers won’t buy it if they think it’s too short.

On the face of it, buy­ing a game for £40 that lasts eight hours seems silly when you can get one ten times that long for the same price. But length is a poor mea­sure of value, as it doesn’t con­sider how much you will en­joy that time. I’d much rather pay for a few ex­cel­lent hours than 30 medi­ocre ones, es­pe­cially when I have lim­ited time.

Be­ing open about game length may lose sales from some play­ers, but there’s also the chance it would re­sult in gained sales. I’m now more likely to buy a game that won’t take a week to com­plete, rather than less, and I imag­ine many play­ers in their 30s and 40s are in the same boat.

There are only so many hours in the day, and I don’t want to spend them on long but repet­i­tive or unin­spired games. With so many games around, and the flex­i­ble pric­ing that dig­i­tal dis­tri­bu­tion of­fers, be­ing open about game length would help many smaller de­vel­op­ers to at­tract play­ers, rather than hin­der them.

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