CONSUMERISM VS. AAART

A brief piece on length.

A brief piece on length.

Scott Thurlow

03/27/2015

“I paid 60 bucks for this game, and it’s only 6 hours long--what the fuck?!”

Such a complaint is increasingly commonplace in gaming. While this sentiment has been lurking in the industry’s shadows for years, it seems to have been growing in recent times --the beast getting bigger -- most recently exemplified by the clamor over The Order: 1886 and what gamers “should” expect from a AAA release, especially one with the history and hype attached to this particular game.

I can appreciate the view that, having paid full price for a high visibility title, one may feel cheated when that experience ends up being shorter than expected from the outset. But, as mentioned in the podcast, this mindset may be fallacious, or at least a kind of double-edged sword. Here’s why: there is not and has never been a ‘standard running time’ for games. I would argue there simply cannot be given the nature of this particular medium. 10-12 hours may be the ‘expected/normal’ length for a given AAA game in the current environment, but this is not set in stone. There is no gaming equivalent of ‘you-must-be-this-tall-to-ride’ in terms of playing time. 

And in a free market, developers have the right to produce their games with the vision they have in mind, in spite of (perhaps warranted) consumer expectations and demands about its duration.

Compounding this, very few (if any) modern developers voluntarily attach even an approximate length to releases. Again, due to the nature of this medium, by default, playing times will vary, sometimes wildly, depending on a variety of factors (skill level, difficulty setting, etc.) Therefore, to expect something that, while possibly implied, is never actually promised, is to be setting oneself up for almost automatic disappointment. In the case of The Order, there were no explicit promises or expectations set by developer Ready at Dawn regarding its length. It simply is what it is. And in a free market, developers have the right to produce their games with the vision they have in mind, in spite of (perhaps warranted) consumer expectations and demands about its duration.

This all creates and drives the entire divide discussed in the 'cast, which was covered at, ahem, length. And I still believe what it comes to down to is for each side to reign it in a bit, realize and at least make an attempt to understand the opposing perspective with a bit of respect. It will serve both to deter the enraged outcry and encourage creativity, which I think is something we all might be willing to pay 60 dollars for.

Scott Thurlow

As far beyond monsters as they are beyond you.