Are Games Too Long and Too Difficult?
John Davison, makes the case that games are too big and too hard. He makes his point very well, but he is wrong.
… They measure the time we play, they watch where we get stuck, and they broadcast our behavior back to the people that make the games so they can tune the experience accordingly.
Every studio I’ve spoken to that does this, to a fault, says that many of the games they’ve released are far too big and far too hard for most players’ behavior. As a general rule, less than five percent of a game’s audience plays a title through to completion. I’ve had several studios tell me that their general observation is that “more than 90 percent” of a games audience will play it for “just four or five hours.
If all of your play testing metrics are telling you that your short and easy game needs to be even shorter and easier, maybe the better interpretation is that your game just isn’t fun and you should make something different that people actually want to play?
When a game isn’t fun, it’s like a chore. The shorter, easier, and the quicker people can get it over with, the better. When the player loves the game and is immersed in the experience, they want to spend more time with it, and add more challenge, depth, and compexity to it.
Look at some of the most popular games in terms of actual human play time: World of Warcraft, tower defense games, competitive multiplayer shooters, addicting puzzle games, and Pokemon/Monster Hunter style RPGs.
Those are probably the longest and most challenging games on the market. Could you take Tetris or a successful tower defense game and make it more popular by making it easy? Of course not. Would World of Warcraft or Call of Duty be more popular if it didn’t last so long? That’s ridiculous.
Rather than making mediocre games shorter and easier, developers should be trying to make games that players actually want to play more of.