Up For Debate - Was 2015 The Year Games Got Too Big

Written by Stuart Thomas on Sun, Dec 27, 2015 12:00 PM
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2015 was the year of the open-world, make no bones about it. We’ve had plenty of open-world games before of course, but this was the culmination of open-worlds achieving mass success. The days of the linear, story-driven experience feels like they’re numbered. For better or for worse, depending on who you ask.

Some, like me, love a good 8-15 hour narrative game that moves at a great pace and keeps you hooked the entire time. Others prefer getting a lot of ‘content’ for their money. That is, the longer you can spend lost in its world, the better the purchase. For people like me, that’s meant 2015 has been a bit of an open-world slog. Luckily there’s been lots of little gems to fill in the gaps between the 100-hour long AAA heavyweights, including Life is Strange, Her Story, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, and Splatoon, to name but a few.

Have a look at movies and you’ll find a medium which has settled on a roughly two-hour runtime. Some are a bit longer, some are a bit shorter, but when you head into a cinema you know vaguely how much time you’re going to invest. With videogames there’s just nothing of the sort. It’s a scattergun approach where a four-hour game can cost $60, the same as a 200-hour epic.

The reason most lengthy games take so long to complete is because they are filled with things to do. Obviously. But because of the size of the worlds, and the expectations of length demanded of by the audience, this is stretched out by repeated content designed to do nothing but take up the player’s time.You know the sort of stuff by now. Just Cause 3’s checkpoint races. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s kidnapping missions. MGS V’s side-ops.

Now I’m not saying these are all bad, per se. In fact, they’re all usually pretty fun for the first, second, maybe even the third time you do them. But once you repeat them ad infinitum across a gigantic world map, it becomes absolute filler. There's a few out there that strike a great balance, like GTA V and The Witcher 3, but they are few and far between. 

It’s cheap for game developers to populate worlds like this as well. It’s why open-world games are launching so frequently. You can take a template and paste it over the entire world. But does being 100+ hours long really make these games any better?

Should there be more nuanced pricing schemes to reflect the length of games? What is your ideal length for a game?

What is your ideal game length?

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17:10 Jan-09-2016

In 2015 I had not much game to play in my rig approx 2-3 hours in a day :(

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06:06 Dec-30-2015

100+ game hour would suffice when they have very interesting side quest for open world games like skyrim or witcher3, really hate repeatable side quest, or gonna catch 'em all for like pokemon games...

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06:09 Dec-30-2015

though 10+ games also good with top grade story like Telltale games or one of us... a no go for me is 5hrs game time with a $50 price tag, even the story is good... though they sometimes get good multiplayer...

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06:10 Dec-30-2015

damn, i really wish they make an open world pokemon game...

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14:04 Dec-29-2015

Sure 100+ hour games are great as it means more content and more value for money as long as it is good content such as detailed quests and interesting npcs especially in open world rpgs and not just minor fetch quests or finding collectibles. Personally I don't have the time to play any one game for that long so 20-50 hours is perfect for me as it can fit in to the amount of time I can spend gaming without me having to put more hours into a game in order to experience all it has to offer.

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02:51 Dec-29-2015

Yes 100+ hour games is better. Going bigger is better, obviously Fallout 4 didn't get the memo, bless their heart.

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17:38 Dec-28-2015

Naw, I don't think games got too big this year but that simply because a lot of the big games this year happened to be open world and those games need a lot of content in order for them to be worth it imo.

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16:50 Dec-28-2015

I don't think games got too big, or that they can get too big. Performance degraded though.
For me the ideal lenght of a game depends on the amount content, type, gameplay and mechanics.

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12:06 Dec-28-2015

maybe 50 to 100 hours sounds already insane but ive just started FO4 and im already 48+ hours...
So 100+ for me

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02:53 Dec-29-2015

Same here.

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10:29 Dec-28-2015

Paying 60 euros for any game is a lot of money for me. I always buy my games based on how long I think they would last me.

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09:13 Dec-28-2015

True that Witcher 3 was balanced with the exception of skellieges smuggler cache..ntn but filler

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00:51 Dec-28-2015

I don't consider stats/badges to be side quests. I would have never thought of 'blah N times' as a side quest, but I can see some others here do.

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23:16 Dec-27-2015

open world games need to have interesting side quests like Witcher 3, rather than useless thing like shoot the pigeons 200 time *you know what i mean


and it need lots of interactive npc / area, nut just random insignificant building/people

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01:56 Dec-28-2015

I could have not said this better. I agree, games need real content, not those stupid "collect 500 snake teeth" or some bull**** like that.

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02:22 Dec-28-2015

i know some people dont consider that as a side quest, but i do. because anything other than the Main quest, are side quests. i found it very often that side were unrelated to the main quest, that's why it's bothering me

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03:55 Dec-28-2015

Fair enough. To me quest means 'quest', and collecting N things is not a quest, it's a task.

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05:08 Dec-28-2015

cheers, Mate. i respect your opinion (y)

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22:57 Dec-27-2015

Fallout New Vegas kept me for the perfect amount of time.

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22:17 Dec-27-2015

I prefer story games like Life is Strange or those made by telltale. I'm not really a fan of playing games to screw around or follow up on side quests with no story involved.

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21:03 Dec-27-2015

IMHO just cause 3 ist among the best games of 2015, if its not the best one

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21:17 Dec-27-2015

I agree, but it has a lot of useless stuff in it which is just like the OP says. For me GTA 5 got boring pretty quick, just like Just Cause. You do the important stuff which takes like 20-50 hours then random retarded things, which are not my type.

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23:01 Dec-27-2015

JC3 is the first JC game i play so i find it so much fun,and i agree the gta 5 get you bored very quickly, the main the main thing that prevents me from playing gta5 is the fact that mods are not compatible with oinline mod, i am not talking about trainers... even cars pack mods visual improvements are not tolerated

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23:03 Dec-27-2015

every time i want to play gta 5 i must first launch a clean version of gta5 so rockstar recognise my rig, then launch to modded version at offline mod -_-

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20:39 Dec-27-2015

I will intentionally drag out a game time-wise, even if it's not open world - because I look at games like worlds of fiction, and I like to get lost in that world for as long as possible :)

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20:20 Dec-27-2015

I enjoy a lot of open-world games for their replayability. I like the fact that after I've completed all the missions in say; GTAV, that I can still pick up the controller every once and a while and have a blast just driving around, causing havoc. Save goes for games like Blackflag, I still love getting in my ship, hitting the open seas and battling it out with the Navy. I think it's reasons like these that open-world is so popular, and rightly so...

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20:22 Dec-27-2015

... most linear games don't really have that kind of replayablity, aside from upping the difficulty level for a second playthrough. But for that reason, I feel a good open-world game is worth more to me, since I'll get more use out of it.

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22:33 Dec-27-2015

im kind of the opposite. after i finished GTA V 100% i never touched the game again, same with Black flag and any other game, i do try to get 100% on the highest difficulty once though, even if i do have to replay the game

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19:55 Dec-27-2015

Story > gameplay > characters. If a game feels too short or too long then it wasn't entertaining enough.


But then I'll skip the nitty gritty tasks if they bore me because I don't care about 100%.

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19:58 Dec-27-2015

What's annoying is DLC: do I wait for DLC to come out before I get a game so that I can play the whole game, or do I hope DLC comes out before I finish so I'm not waiting & then going 'backwards'? I do like when companies announce what DLC packs they're doing ahead of time, makes it easier to make that choice at least.

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19:55 Dec-27-2015

Wht defines a games length? I mean I am a fan of sports games like NBA 2K or Madden or FIFA, and I can put 100+ hours into those easily. But I also like games like Uncharted or Max Payne that are story driven. But then you have games like GTA 5 or Witcher or Far Cry that have a story and then you can free roam endlessly and sometimes even have a multiplayer aspect attached. So my ideal game is anything that entertains me while I am at home and have time to play.

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18:26 Dec-27-2015

The longest game I EVER played was Assassins creed 4 black flag. took me almost 50hours to complete. Other than that all the I usually play are 20-ish hours

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18:05 Dec-27-2015

If there is a story mode or campaign, it shouldn't be more than 10 hours to complete everything. Resident Evil 2 for example. Finished the campaign in 9 hours and it was worth it. And played raid mode for 60 hours. Which means the game is awesome. If it is an open world, it should be like 30 hours at most.

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