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February 03, 2011

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In short, you propose that games of any genre or theme can be considered as platforms for content allowing several co-existing business models and even different gameplay experiences at once? Like, equating developers using social media platforms API's with people playing tool-like games to create content? That's awesome :), and a I think is also a good depiction of what the next great wave of gaming will be about.

While I personally feel that modern AAA single player games are too long, the reality is that is not the case for your typically 18-24 year old who does not have an enormous game buying budget and needs a lot of content if he has any hope of keeping himself distracted from studying.

That's an interesting point, one that should have been obvious given my own shift away from big video game commitments, but wasn't. In fact, with just a cursory glance it might be possible to discern a kind of bell curve history to the growth of big commitment games. The earliest wave of video games tended to be low commitment, but with the development of home consoles and PC gaming, there was room to expand. With the emergence of the NES generation, games could gradually demand larger and larger time commitments of their players, since those players largely had more free time to commit. And, after all, the costs were all up front, rather than a quarter at a time. But now that the NES generation is all grown up and its luxury time is in higher demand, there's a strong pull back down toward the valley of the curve.

That points to a potential cleavage in the way games are designed, depending on the audiences to which they appeal. As you point out, DLC has a more natural appeal for those on the high-income, low-time demographic, while those on the low- or no-income, high-time end (mostly kids) tend to have their needs better suited by purchasing all-inclusive packages.

Another point: because the costs are high relative to their available cash, and since they have substantial free time anyway, kids also have the luxury of researching their options. As a kid, my room was constantly littered with gaming magazines. If I could only afford one game per month or per quarter, I wanted to make sure it was worth it, so it was easy to rationalize the magazine costs, both monetary and temporal. (Beyond which, having those magazine allowed me the vicarious pleasure of seeing and reading about games that I might never get to play.)

With adults, though, the incentive for researching is typically lower, and time spent reading through reviews is already precious time not spent playing games. Which makes me wonder what sort of distribution system is likely to perform best with adults. Most current DLC is individually packaged, so to speak. You rifle through a list of content, and pick and choose what you'd like to purchase. Ultimately, though, something like a subscription service might end up working better, by allowing time-taxed consumers to streamline the process of accumulating additional content.

Perhaps someone should ask the "executives" when the last time they actually completed one of the obviously way too long games was...and while they are thinking of the last time interject another question, when was the last time they finished watching an episode of LOST, 24 or whatever show suits watch these days...lol survivor. Anyhow, I should think that they probably were able to finish JJ Abrams latest Star Trek film (we'll count thumbing through emails on the blackberry as watching). Then ask them to consider a 100 hour version of Star Trek without any obvious break points...ie the "open-world" rpg games of today. Would they finish it? What's that? Too long?

I find it curious that game designers see the "too short" complaint as a negative attack on their game. From experience we know storytelling "executives" need data...what would they do without indie games?

Consider these:
Are citizens with the, "I've got an hour...give me all the 3 acts NOW!" mentality really that rare?
DLC is like bonus features for feature films...a value add that consumers read on the back of the box and says, "oh great look what i COULD get...worth more to me now." How is this good? (besides the metaphorical fat MBA in a suit jumping out of his/her seat screaming, "BRILLIANT WE COULD MAKE MILLLLLIONS!!!!!") if your answer is, "because they want more cotent!!!!!" then should successful stories ever end? should rowling write another harry potter novel? interesting to consider how the sustainability of a corporate entity can affect the integrity of a story.

So... how about 2 hours of Gameplay? Why not? Because of people like you games are dying.

I LOVE your point of view! Let's sqieeeeze 60 dollars from stupid people for 3 h/gaming.

Please visit me at Activision we have to eat lunch together! I love people with cash-whore vision inside!

Your Sincerelly casshy

Boby K.

Games are never too long. In fact, i never buy a game when they are under 7h hours long even if the game has a mp.

I prefer games who last at least 10hrs.

Thats one of the reason i did not bought splinter cell conviction,kane and lynch, medal of honor with their 5h long games.

SCREW YOU!, you will never have my money for this. When i play a game, i dont want to finish the game the same day i bought it. I want to play the single player for a couple of days at least. When they say something like yeah we know the game is short on time but you have Multi player... I couldnt care less about it. I dont like mp.

I only think that 5h long games are a cheap way to squeeze money and by doing this developpers are only showing to the people how lazy they are.

If a game is 5h long... I would pay 20-30$ for without any problems but paying 60$ for a game you can finish in the same day... No thanx, i will download it for free if i want to play it, even if i know that piracy is bad but ... im not gonna feel gulty about downloading a game that i will finish under 5h when they ask 60$ for.

blogs like this just show you how out of touch the industry is with its consumers.

Anything under 10 hours for a campaign just shows lack of care for the consumer, greed on the part of the publisher, and/or lack of creativity/imagination on the part of the developer. As a sound/music person I know the time and effort it takes to put a solid campaign together. For those of us that prefer the single player to the online chaos, we expect and deserve an immersive, entertaining adventure that makes $60.00 a good value. A two hour movie ticket is about $10.00. Rent a DVD, $2.00? Pay $60.00 for a 3-4 hour single play game? Never happen - I refuse to buy games that are less than 8 hours, and will wait a year or two for it to drop in the $10.00 bin. So much for that idea.
You'll alienate gamers so fast. Between this out of touch mentality and Kotick's incredible greed, you guys can single handedly ruin what makes the game industry so exciting -innovation, creativity and the challenge of besting the last great title. Video gamers look forward to jumping into a well produced story and getting lost for as long as possible. After all video games are a means of escape for many of us, and the deeper that immersion, the more enjoyable. 3-4 hours barely gives time to develop a character. It's not a movie, but more like a book that deserves time to expand on characters, surroundings and story. Its up to the developers to make it cost effective by hiring ( and keeping) good personnel, utilizing time properly, and not taking huge salaries at the top, running a company into the ground, and then move on.
My opinion

i will download it for free if i want to play it, even if i know that piracy is bad but ... im not gonna feel gulty about downloading a game that i will finish under 5h when they ask 60$ for.

The comments above are interesting because I believe they show how a significant number of consumers would react to a distribution model such as the one mentioned in Clint's post.

Most of the comments above seem to miss or simply ignore the fact that it would only cost 5-10 dollars to pick up the first 3-6 hours of gameplay. Following that initial investment the player would receive the option of a new, plot-advancing, 3-6 hour campaign pack every month or so. Even on the high $10 end of the cost scale a 4 hour campaign pack would give the player a 24 hour game experience (when compared to the normal $60 game price.) On the more optimistic side of the equation, a $5, 6 hour game pack would give the user a 72 hour game experience. This is as competitive, if not more so, than most games on the market and would still absolutely provide a fulfilling game experience in terms of length.

How awesome would it be to receive the next part of the game's story 1-2 months after you just finished your campaign pack rather than the 1-2 years you would normally have to wait for the sequel? Think of how painful it was to wait the years in between some your favorite trilogies. Imagine if instead waiting three long, agonizing years between Han Solo being taken away by (totally badass bounty hunter) Boba Fett only waiting a month or two to pay a small fraction of your normal movie cost to watch Luke free Solo from Jabba's clutches. After watching Luke destroy the Sail Barge and all the heroes ride away victoriously across the dunes of Tatooine the episode would end; letting you wait another month or so, rather than another year, to advance the story.

The only question I have is how this model would affect those who are not X-Box Live/PSN enabled? Without the ability to download new content via the internet those gamers would be unable to participate in a distribution model such as this. Would these campaign packs be sold in GameStops and Best Buys the same time they were released for download? Would the costs that go along with a hard copy of the game be too much since they occur multiple times a year rather than once?

Too long ? Too Short? Surely it's the quality of the game that's important here - clearly if a game completes too quickly some people will feel short changed and that will ultimately affect the rep of the game but equally a game could be too long. I guess some games just suit a shorter format.

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