What is your preferred game length? Obviously, it’s hard to pin a uniform number on this question as it depends on the context; RPGs generally take longer to complete than your average character action game, but at what point do you feel like you’re getting value for money? Do you like your titles to clock in with 50 hour campaigns, or do you prefer more condensed experiences around the 15 hour mark?
Ex-PlayStation boss Shawn Layden has rekindled the conversation, suggesting that he’d prefer more 10 to 15 hour AAA titles. “Instead of spending five years making an 80 hour game, what does three years and a 15 hour game look like? What would be the cost around that? Is that a full-throated experience?” he pondered during a recent GameLab Live session.
“Personally, as an older gamer, I would welcome a return to the 12 to 15 hour [AAA] game,” he continued. “I would finish more games, first of all, and just like a well edited piece of literature or a movie, looking at the discipline around that could give us tighter, more compelling content. It's something I'd like to see a return to in this business.”
The PlayStation 4 generation has, in general, seen games getting longer. The Last of Us: Part II, for example, is a 30 hour experience where the running time for its predecessor was roughly half that. God of War, similarly, went from tight 10 hour campaigns to a sprawling 30 hour epic. These titles cost more money to make than ever before, something Layden believes is not sustainable.
But subtract the economics from the conversation and there’s a much more subjective discussion to be had: at what point are you willing to fork out $59.99 and feel fulfilled? Uncharted: The Lost Legacy proved there’s a market for a short-form swashbuckling adventure at a budget price point, but Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was double the length at full-price.
And yet, there are some who would argue that Chloe and Nadine’s spin-off is the more compelling of the two titles, as while it reuses many of the assets and set-pieces from its predecessors, it’s condensed campaign ensures that it never outstays its welcome. Nathan Drake’s finale, by comparison, is often criticised for running a little too long.
It’s an interesting question, and one that will hinge on personal preference. Those of you with lots of spare time may prefer longer lengths, while those with larger responsibilities may prefer more manageable durations. What feels right for you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, and be sure to vote in our poll.