Which is better: Short or long video games?

Dec 4, 2010
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Which is better: Short or long video games?

When it comes to video games, every player is different. Some gamers enjoy sitting down on the couch for hours and playing through an adventure game that might take weeks to complete. And each and every time, they complete it.

[Image credit: The Hamster Factor]

However, there are also some gamers in the market that don’t have the time (or the desire) to play games in that way. Instead, they enjoy shorter titles that they can play for a half-hour at a time and eventually complete it when they get around to it. They might also like more casual games that they can quickly pick up for a few minutes on their smartphones.

But whenever console video games are reviewed by players nowadays, their main storyline’s length is always a major issue. If they’re short, like Medal of Honor’s campaign, which took a handful of hours to complete, they’re typically panned. But if they take 20 or 30 or 40 hours to complete, they’re called an “epic” title that delivers value on the gamer’s hard-earned money.

Now, I can appreciate that people want to get as much as possible out of a $60 game. And I’ll be the first one to admit that if a game has a good story line, I will invest the 40 hours it takes to complete it. But I also see value in short games. I like the idea of knowing that I won’t be locked into a title for a work week. And I especially like knowing that the game will move at a rapid rate with the ultimate goal of getting me to finish it in short order.

Simply put, I guess I’m up for just about any type of game. And I can appreciate both types.

But I’m a little concerned that some gamers aren’t. Some folks feel that developers pulled one over on them by not delivering a long game. And they feel cheated out of their hard-earned cash. They think that the length of the main story matters more than the experience of living through that story.

That’s a sad belief. Some of the best games I’ve played this year didn’t necessarily take so long to complete, but delivered a lasting appeal that I still look back on fondly. And such an extreme opinion about a short title forgets about another key aspect of video games today: multiplayer.

That’s precisely why I can’t fault Medal of Honor or Call of Duty: Black Ops for being so short. Their developers focused much of their efforts on the multiplayer experience. And especially in the case of Black Ops, that strategy worked beautifully. So, while we might not spend dozens of hours beating Black Ops, we will spend dozens of hours online playing the game after the main campaign is complete.

I just don’t think the length of a given title’s main storyline should matter. Sure, it shouldn’t last for an hour or two, but as long as it hits the five-hour mark and features solid online play, I’m content. And I won’t fault developers who are spending boatloads of cash just to get a game onto store shelves for delivering a shorter game.

But that’s just me. What do you think? Do games with longer main stories hold more value than shorter titles?


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