Gamasutra asked an interesting question last week in their weekly “Question of the Week” segment. The question?
“How important is the length of a video game for you, as someone involved in the industry? Is there a particular ‘hours per $ purchase price’ that makes sense, or are there other sensible measures of re-playability beyond simple linear mission modes? How should the game industry address this problem in the future?”
The article got me thinking beyond just game length. To be sure, with the Wii, great games might very well be shorter, open ended fare like Wii Sports or Wario, at least at first. Couple that with the fact that most adults really don’t have the time to engage in a 50-hour Final Fantasy epic, and you have a strong case that today’s great epic may be tomorrow’s collection of Wii Play games. As Wii Sports, Excite Truck, Madden ’07 and the DS have proven, graphics might also be for the first time in a long time much less important to gaming.
This isn’t to say great franchises like Final Fantasy will just “go away,” but I do think that in a few years time, with the as-of-yet unknown success of the Wii factored in, these kinds of titles just won’t be as important (but, by all means, give me a few great RPGs on the Wii, please). That said, a game of incredible quality is still going to fail my smell test if it’s only a few hours long. Excite Truck, for all its candy-coated, turn off your brain fun, runs shorter than I would have liked, for example.
But what do you think? What are some of the attributes you consider necessary for that hypothetical “perfect game?” Has the answer to this question changed for you at all over the years? Do you see it changing in the future? Maybe you’ve already played that perfect game — if so, what the heck was it?