Do Games Need To Get Shorter?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Do Games Need To Get Shorter?

I caught a great article today on VentureBeat's gaming section all about the length of games, and that got me to thinking about my own gaming experiences. The more I thought about game length, the more I got to wondering how the length of games would impact the industry as a whole.

Basically, the VentureBeat article ran down some very important points. Specifically, it talked about the average age of gamers, the growth of the mobile industry, and the concept of bloated games, and it all started around a recent tweet from Hideki Kamiya around the upcoming release of "The Wonderful 101." Seems that the game may prove to be a bit shorter than some were hoping for.

While a game that's too short can be a serious problem, a game that's too long can be just as much a problem. After all, a game that's too short doesn't realize its full potential, and that cheats the player out of a fully realized experience. But a game that's not short enough can drag on and be just as disappointing as--maybe even more so--than the alternative.

Indeed, as the article noted, the average gamer is 30 years old. 30. This is a person who more likely than not is working a 40 hour week, maybe even more. Maybe that gamer owns a small business. Maybe that gamer is married, or has other commitments. Maybe that gamer is a homeowner and can't take a run through "Bioshock" or "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" because said gamer has to mow the lawn. A game that provides a shot of fun in ten minute installments isn't unwelcome at all, and that's leaving a lot of gamers turning toward games that were previously only the province of casual gaming.

I've been there. One of my new favorite games is "Dead Pixels", a side-scrolling zombie shooter where players can buy a load of hardware with which to blast zombies. Along the way, they can enter abandoned buildings to search for loot or just take cash off blasted zombies. It's like "River City Ransom" with more corpses and more gunplay. It's also a lot of fun. Granted, I enjoy my "Skyrim" and my "Fallout" installments, but I can do those in pieces, save at any time, and come back later. In fact, it's not easy to leave because I'm having fun most of the time, but even then, there's fun to be had down the line.

It's not out of line, really, to think that games are going to start looking more modular, shorter overall, but with a focus on replayability. With the standard triple-A game costing progressively more to create and market, it's not out of line to think that game companies would start up a line of shorter, less expensive games to capitalize on the gaming market that's increasingly short on time. An aging gaming market is making for different product needs, and shorter games--or games in more pieces--may well come out of that.
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