Poll: Why do only 10% of players finish video games?


I penned a story for CNN last month on why most people didn’t finish video games. The basic rule of thumb, according to developers, is that “90% of players who start your game will never see the end of it unless they watch it on YouTube.” The numbers aren’t as bleak when isolated to die-hard gamers, but combining all players, only 10% finish their games. So I ask you:



  1. I try and finish all my games. According to backloggery.com, I can safely say out of the 254 games on there, I’ve beaten 76% of them. But man, even when you cap yourself at $5 to buy a game, you can find tons for free.

    I.E. We just got 10 free NES games on 3DS. And online you can find free games all the time to download. Just too many to keep up with!

  2. Voted for too predictable. I do leave games unfinished for other reasons, but those that I do finish, are because it keeps me enganged and surprised till the end. Right now I’m at the last boss on a game, but I have no intention to finish since the battle is going to be a pain, and all that is left is an ending cutscene I can see on the internet. The journey is what drives me in a game, not necesarily its conclusion. I’m also stuck on Bit Trip Runner and haven’t turned the Wii on for it since. Getting stuck is awful.

  3. 😀 none of the above, i’m physically/mentally unable to beat most games.

    Fun Fact: I’ve have never seen passed the third level in Super Mario Bros. AND didn’t know about warp zones until i was like 21.

  4. None of the above.
    The reason is because games have too much content. Games are judged by how much “stuff” is in it. Thats why games like Red Dead Redemption get GOTY awards. Games back in the 8 and 16 bit era were short and replayable. Those types of games do exist now but they aren’t as many. Plus most of the big titles have an open world, 80,000 missions and 27 multiplayer modes.

  5. I honestly can’t figure that one out. I only buy one game per system at a time, and I beat it before I get another one. I never have a backlog, unless I get a few games as gifts during the holidays. New console games are $50-60 each, it seems like such a waste of money to only see part of it.

    For casual players, I can understand if they don’t have the dedication to spend 10-20 hours to beat the average game, but for core gamers who play a lot, that doesn’t make sense. Most games can easily be beaten in a few days to a week (RPGs may be a little longer). Are the games they’re choosing really that boring?

    Maybe people need to start renting games more often. Then if you play the game for a week, and don’t feel like it’s worth a purchase, you just saved yourself $50.

  6. Every game I start I finish, especially now that I’m doing so many reviews. Only have 3 games that I never finished: MGS3, Wild Arms 5 and Prototype.

  7. to many games and to many distractions can be seen in the same context.

  8. Occasionally the reason is because the game is too difficult.

    But the main reason is because the games are too long.

  9. I said too many distractions, but that in itself is irony.
    I simply don’t have time to finish games because of school, work, and extracurriculars.
    If I were to concider games a distraction, my reason for leaving so many games unfinished is because I have less distractions now.

  10. OTHER-

    my other reason is that story line is better than length. I can’t stand playing a game that gets me bored i need to be fully engaged in the storyline and plot at everyturn. If a game starts to die off i stop playing.

  11. I complete most games but if they don’t hold my interest for long then I won’t be able to manage and I just quit for the time being I may go back to it later and almost all games are predictable that also makes it boring a little when you can see whats going to happen from a mile away.
    Yeah predictability is one of them but if there is no challenge that is the other factor I almost quit when it came to legend of zelda twilight princess but I always complete zelda games.
    Hopefully the next one will excite me.
    And if there is a drought of games and all I got is games that bore me then I will use gecko os just for my entertainment and on twilight princess you can only find a few secrets by using gecko os one of them I know you have to cheat to find an easter egg not a big one but still one none the less if you are inside the fortune tellers shop as a wolf you will get a different dialogue.
    And I didn’t even know about the secret treasure chest in kakariko village the one above death mountains entrance.

  12. I think I can safely say I’ve beaten most games that I have. (I need to work on Donkey Kong Country Returns at some point >_>) But I think it’s mainly because there’s more distractions now.

  13. the only games i have 100% completed are mario 64, and mario galaxy, galaxy 2 i just need a few more green stars.
    iv completed zelda stories and metroid prime 3, just not got everything 100%, the same with pokemon, diamond i am about 4 pokemon away from completing but even that wouldn’t be 100% what with all the items and side things.
    other than that, never complicated any other game >=( shocking really. normally give up or dont play it for ages and forget what to do then sell it.

  14. the only time i give up on a game is if i simply cant get passed it

  15. I would say lots of games now days become too repetitive to keep people interested. That is the reason that I, at least, don’t finish all games I start.

    Not because there are too many games, or because they are predictable, or other distractions, or multiplayer. It is the missing option there: people get bored faster, the games are not as interesting in the long run.

    On the other hand, I spend more time replaying interesting titles rather than finishing the boring ones.


  16. To put the bottom line up front (this is for you Blake), if I were to have to vote, since not enough content isn’t and option, I guess I’ll have to go with too many games. But, let me explain.

    I am a HUGE RPG fan and to that end, the main reason I would not complete a game is lack of content (I know that sounds like the weirdest thing someone could say about an RPG, but hear me out). Let’s take one of my favorite franchises at the moment: Disgaea (again, I know how massive the game is, but hear me out). The max level in that game is 9,999. There is absolutely no additional content to be unlocked passed (approximately) level 1,500. The other 8,499 are just there for grinding. No more skills, abilities, or classes are unlocked after this point. I understand how…..trivial that sounds, but ESPECIALLY if you have never played the game, you wouldn’t understand how easy it is to gain those levels. It would be more like having no additional content after level 40 on a traditional 100 level game. If you don’t have the content to fill it, don’t put it in there. And in the case of games that all the content can be unlocked relatively quickly (such as classes or skills) they offer next to nothing later in the game to keep you interested. Two games that HAVE done this right are Tactics Ogre (and Tactics Ogre Advance) and Final Fantasy Tactics (the original, War of the Lions). Both games have loads of classes that take time to unlock, engaging and rewarding stories (with Tactics Ogre including different paths and endings), and additional/secret content to unlock or stumble upon. You are continually playing the game and finding new content available for you.

    The other reason people don’t finish games (I believe) is piracy (and therefore a substantial devaluing of the games they have). This past generation with Nintendo, more than any other company, this is PAINFULLY true. I can’t spit without hitting a Wii or DS owner that doesn’t either have the system hacked or have a flashcard/some other hardware by-pass. Lets say you like RPGs, platformers, or puzzle games. Download A DOZEN OF THE BEST GAMES, the ones that everyone said are must have and must play. Compelling, just challenging enough, new and fresh gameplay, etc: SINCE YOU GOT THEM FOR FREE they have no value for you. No reward for what you put into them. Plus, you have 11 other games to swap between the moment you don’t like something, probably to never come back to it. I can honestly say I have the same problem without even having to pirate games. (My DS purchases alone two years ago made me a platinum level Club Nintendo member. I may have a problem.)

  17. I’ve beaten most of my games. Not all, but most. Maybe about… Hmm… 90%? Most of the games I don’t beat I generally don’t like. But generally speaking I think most games are unfinished due to length, content, and the amount of really good, though lengthy games with too much content. There are a lot of games that are too long.

  18. i bet its because most games are too long to complete… though i generally finish all of mine.

  19. Originally it was because most of the games I got were “sandbox”.
    It wasn’t that the worlds were open-ended, there were just infinite amounts of side-quests or repeat-missions that I loved. To end the game would make me sad and make me feel like I had nothing left to play for.

    Games like Armored Core (especially Masters of the Arena), Command & Conquer (Skirmish), and the Romance series (struggling to keep your kingdom alive).
    I wanted to keep playing without beating the game. I didn’t want to finish, I wanted the challenge and interest to keep going.

    I’ve only beaten a few, and those were due to the fact that:
    A) They had no Skirmish and the storyline was interesting enough
    B) The rewards in beating the game gave you access to more things in Skirmish/Multiplayer
    C) The single-player was just plain awesome

    Most games didn’t really have those – at least, that appealed to me.

    Nowadays, there’s just too many games. I’m not getting any interest in beating them – I’m just getting interested in trying them so that I know what all the fuss is about.

    But I still do have the same problem in the past… sandbox titles and such.
    But I did 100% Red Dead Redemption, because, well, C. John Marston is awesome – heck, I even beat the end game stuff just so I can say I didn’t give up just cuz of some… well… I won’t spoil it for those who have never finished it.

  20. Maybe a lot of the polled players played Fable 2, realized that ending was one of the biggest letdowns ever, and decided to never reach the end of a game again

  21. Oh, same goes for Starfox Adventures. Though I gotta say, aside from the ending, Starfox Adventures is underrated.

  22. There’s no option for ‘because they might suck at video games’? Disappointing. Plausibly though, all the reasons seem possible, and I think they’re all accurate reasons to why people might not finish a game everyone’s different in this regard. Some might get distracted by other media (like the internet). Some might get sidetracked by multiplayer. Some might suck so horribly they get stuck and never pass that one difficult spot, it happens.

    No one reason.

  23. It’s not just too many games, I also have more spending money. So I buy more things which adds to my ADD-ness.

  24. For me, there are either too boring, or they are too difficult to finish. Super Mario Brothers for Wii is an example. It is too frustrating, and the superguide for it is implented in the stupidest way possible. Some others recent ones this year I haven’t finished: Tales of Symponia for Wii, Gears of War, Flat-Out Ultimate Carnage. On the other hand, Assassins Creed I was something I finished, but almost didn’t because the story was getting boring, however, the game play and killing was so good. My guess is that for the general public, the game gets too boring or too difficult and who wants to waste their time on that?

  25. @Gern

    I LOVED NSMBWii and was going to point towards it as a good platformer that had just small amounts of stuff in every level to get just to add a little bit of content across the entire game. The only thing that was frustrating for me was the last Star Coin on the last level. I guess this just shows the difference(s) between different gamers.

  26. It seems simple to me. Most people play and consume games to have fun or to be entertained. I used to suck hardcore at Super Mario Bros. 2 USA, still kept playing. Death animations were too funny and it was entertaining. I only played Blades of Steel to make the hockey players fight, when that became boring I stopped. You play games not because you need to, but because you need to fight off boredom, disinterest and staleness. Any reason to do something fun is a reason to play a game and people normally stop playing when they stop having fun. Sometimes another game may grab that persons attention that may appear to be more fun than their current game.

    I stopped play Sunshine to play Melee. I stopped playing Meteos because of Mario Kart and Animal Crossing. I stopped playing Animal Crossing because I got a job that paid me real money and let me buy real stuff. I’ve never fully completed an RE game until RE4. There’s a reason for that, it remains entertaining and challenging in a way that appeals to me much more longer than other games. Goldeneye and TimeSplitters get as much time in my home as Call of Duty gets in many other peoples homes. It’s just that appealing.

  27. Choice 4: Some idiots out there think they can beat a Zelda game and then they can’t beat the simple prologue.

    I ALWAYS try to beat the main storyline of the game. (I’m not a 100% perfectionist) and if I get stuck and I want to finish the game, I look at a guide. (The only game I have gotten stuck on and have not looked up is Pikmin because I thought it too repetitive and confusing.)

  28. (5) Grownups don’t have much time to play video games.

    Pitfall was a game for the Atari back in like 1982 that you had to complete in 20 minutes. It still took me over a year to do it and I was a teenager then. Most games in those days didn’t have an end; you just played until the skill level increased beyond your abilities. How am I supposed to finish a 70-hour game now? Why does it matter if I do, if I enjoy everything leading up to that?

  29. I would say it is a combination of “too many games”, “too many distractions” and “too little time”…

    Mainly, it is impossible for someone with a job and family to beat a game in one sitting, which means you have to interrupt the game and get back to it a few days later. By then the plot and the game mechanics you need to master have faded, like waking up from a dream in the middle of it, and it takes more effort to get back into the game.

    Think about it: if you had to complete watching a movie in the same way you have to complete a game, almost no one would finish movies either… The vast content in a game demands from the player to get back to it through several sessions, which if translated into movie time would mean watching a film in four or five 30-minute sessions. No fun at all!

    I wonder what is the rate of completion for TV series, which demand similar episodic viewing…

  30. By the way, the best solution would be for developers to cut down the single player time to a half of a third, keep the price of the game at about $50 or less, and sell the extra time as DLC. That way everybody wins! (The developers and the consumers, that is.)

  31. I voted Too Many Games, but that isn’t the whole reason. Right now I am playing Ocarina of Time 3DS, DQ4 for DS, Deus Ex HR on Onlive and also have started games like AC Brotherhood that I might or hope to finish. I have other games like Batman AA, Metro 2033 and Darksiders that I will likely never finish. The reasons for not finishing the games are very different, Darksiders I got 20 hrs in and am on a level that I don’t like, it isn’t fun so I moved on. Metro, I got to a level I cannot beat, it got too hard for me. Batman, I’m an hour in that I will never get back so I am just bored with it.

    There are literally hundreds of reasons not to finish games but whether it’s not liking the game, being satisfied with what you have played, or it being too damn hard the point is the games get to a point where playing and finishing this old game is less fun than playing the new game around the corner. There are too many games.

  32. I think you need to add ADHD as an option

  33. @InvisibleMan: I don’t want to see prices go up that way. If they’d released Ocarina of Time for the 3DS with only, say, the Link-as-a-child missions included, and to get the second half of the game you had to purchase DLC, that would suck now, by potentially almost doubling the price of the game, and later, when Nintendo’s DLC servers are dead and I want to play the whole game.

    Well, maybe Ocarina of Time is a bad example, so substitute Skyward Sword instead. 50 bucks for the first 40 hours of the game, then 10 bucks for each of 5 more dungeons after that, would just ensure that I didn’t buy Skyward Sword for a while, if ever. We only buy Game of the Year editions of Xbox 360 games with a lot of DLC, because when we buy something, we want to have transferable physical possession of it, not subject to the post-purchase whims of some rent-seeking corporation.