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Should a shorter video game be less expensive? Ask the Editors

Should a shorter video game be less expensive?

CNET News Poll

Game length vs. value
What's your "sweet spot" for a video game's length?

5 to 10 hours
10 to 15 hours
15 to 20 hours
20 to 30 hours
30+ hours
Doesn't matter to me

View results

Hey Jeff,

I am a devoted 404 listener and have been thinking about video games and the cost of them based on the amount of gameplay you receive.

I was very sad when say, The Force Unleashed, ended. Yes, you can go back and take two different paths, but I feel like the game was too short. If I went out and bought Fable II when it was new, it would cost the same as this game and just think of how many more hours of gameplay I would have gotten.

Should there be an organization that requires publishers to put a normal gameplay time on the box? Shouldn't a game that doesn't have as much content be cheaper?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts,
Ryan C.

Hi Ryan,

Thanks for your e-mail and for listening to The 404!

You bring up some interesting points about video gameplay time and value. I'm not totally against a developer disclosing an "average gameplay time" on the back of a box--they tell you how long a movie is, don't they?

If we started putting game time on the back of a video game box, it would be interesting to see how the industry would start to react. We'd hate to see an era of intentionally long games that are redundant and boring to play. There are plenty of critically acclaimed games out there that only offer 5 to 7 hours of play time. So if there's one point to make, it's that a longer game should never go hand in hand with quality.

There's a place for games that are less expensive, independent, and sometimes shorter and that's downloadable titles. Games with major publishers and higher production values that get the box treatment will probably stay at that fixed price point we're all used to.

The real story here, though, is finding that perfect play time average that gamers are willing to spend with a certain game. This number will surely vary by genre, but there's usually a sweet spot that makes for an overall satisfying experience.

Regardless of how long a game's play time is or isn't, you shouldn't necessarily consider that detail as the only indicator of whether you've gotten your money's worth. It's the impression a game leaves on you that is a true measure of its value.