Hello, GamerFront. I apologize, but I’m going to be a bit angry in this particular article. You see, I awoke this fine morning and checked my social media like any good lemming would, when I stumbled upon this article in my twitter feed.
For those of you who don’t want to bother reading it, it’s basically a piece written by a guy at Eurogamer who rants about how gamers are too focused on the length of games as he desperately tries to be funny. His rant was inspired by his Twitter followers who discouraged him from buying Dishonored because of the length of the game.
He goes on to insult any game over 5-10 hours, calling it “bloated”, or in Skyrim’s case, a “beached whale.” He then goes on to say that a game like Dark Souls can be speedran through in an hour and a half, and uses that as evidence that short games are good, see?!
Pushing aside the completely flawed argument that a game is a short game if it can be played through in less than two hours by a gamer who has probably played it no less than 10 times until his attacks and responses are down to a patterned science, the thing this fine gentleman doesn’t seem to understand is that it’s not the length that gamers are complaining about—it’s the price.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, is arguing that a good game can only be long. Personally, two of my favorite games are Portal and LIMBO—games that are nowhere near 5 hours in length. However, both of these games also don’t cost more than $20. Portal was $20 when released on Steam, or could be purchased in a three-game pack for $20. LIMBO is $10. And while I personally only paid $2.50 for it on Steam, I happily would have forked over the $10 if I had remembered to do so before I was reminded by the Steam Sale that it even existed.
That being said, two of my other favorite games are Skyrim and Dragon Age, both of which are known for their long hours of gameplay, depth of interactivity, and customization. And while he personally may feel as though Skyrim is a bloated mess full of unnecessary nonsense, I believe that that’s simply because he wasn’t able to discern the main quest from the sidequests. In actuality, Skyrim isn’t that long—hilariously, in a speedrunning contest, Skyrim was beaten in just over 2 hours. For those who weren’t keeping track, that’s not even an hour longer than his aforementioned speedrunthrough (shut up, it’s a word now) of Dark Souls.
But personally, as a gamer, I don’t feel cheated by other games when it comes to length and “value” after paying $60 for Skyrim and still not beating it after 90 hours. Because I realize that different genres and different stories call for different lengths. I don’t compare any of the Assassin’s Creed games to Skyrim and say “I spent a tenth of the time on Assassin’s Creed as I did on Skyrim. I HAVE BEEN SWINDLED.” And I have a feeling most gamers don’t either.
But when most gamers look at the length of a game (and not when it’s sped through with no enjoyment—that’s just an asinine comparison), they want to know that they’re getting a decent value for the staggering cost of the product.
The entertainment industry has been whining incessantly for the last 5-10 years about how people don’t want to pay for their products. And they’re right, in some cases—some people are assholes and don’t want to pay for anything, no matter what the price tag is.
But let’s look at the market—buying a physical copy of a PC game costs $50. Buying an electronic version of the game costs… $50. Gamers already feel swindled before they even buy whatever game it is that they want because they’re not getting a fair price on something that saves the seller money; e-games don’t cost anything to print, package, or ship. Why are the prices the same?
It’s the same with the movie industry, and hilariously, he also compares videogames to Evil Dead 2, which is “84 minutes of tight, blinding brilliance”—proving that once again, he misses the point of the criticism gamers have when it comes to length. Comparing movies to games is like comparing apples to a skyscraper, because there are about a million extra factors that are taken into consideration when determining whether or not a game is good—length being only one of them. A film has much less to consider. When it comes down to it, the most important to both is story, but even the best story in the world won’t make me want to play your game if it controls like the character is running through mud—one of the many reasons why I won’t play Silent Hill 2 myself (I just make others do it for me. Also, I’m a scared little bitch).
But when it comes down to it, a movie is a fraction of the cost of a game, and the DVD or blu-ray has a large handful of special features to entice the viewer into buying their product for $20 instead of $60 (or $80-120 if you want the game AND the extras, but only for a limited time!).
When it comes down to it, no one is actually complaining that Dishonored is four hours long (which I’m pretty sure it isn’t, judging by my husband’s ass that has been planted in the living room for the last day and a half)—people are complaining that game developers think that we can be swindled into paying $60 for a game that’s barely twice the length of a film.
I work in the entertainment industry and I understand how difficult it is to get paid a fair rate for what I do, so I can sympathize with developers that don’t feel as though they’re getting a fair price for their product. But really, I when it comes down to it, a game like Skyrim (with literally endless quests, no matter how arbitrary) takes more time and work to make than a game like LIMBO, no matter the difference in supposed lack of quality.