Dyack: Gamers Don't Want Long Games

By Chris Faylor, May 03, 2007 11:04am PDT
While discussing the upcoming Xbox 360 action RPG Too Human and its two planned sequels, Silicon Knights president Denis Dyack explained that gamers do not want long games. Thus, the decision to produce three separate Too Human releases was not made from a strict business perspective, but one with gamers in mind.

"Legacy of Kain [PlayStation, 1996] had about sixty hours of play, but games have changed," said Dyack in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz. "People don't want that any more. I don't care how good the game is I don't want to play something that's one hundred hours long. As much as I love World of Warcraft I pulled myself out of it."

"I don't really see it [planning Too Human as a trilogy] as bold. I see that as a promise to the consumer that there's more here than just one game," he stated. "If we're going to craft an epic story we decided we had to divide it into manageable chunks for the consumer."

While some may oppose Dyack's stance, others studios such as Valve echo a similar sentiment. "There's a lot of depressing evidence out there indicating that not very many players are finishing out games," Valve's Robin Walker told Shacknews after the release of Half-Life 2: Episode One, which signified the company's shift from longer experiences to bite-sized episodes. Currently, Valve's statistics page shows that only 38% of Half-Life 2: Episode One players have completed the game, despite an average completion time of only 5 hours and 40 minutes. Furthermore, Valve has indicated to Shacknews that discussions with other developers suggest Valve's numbers are above industry averages for completion rate.

Dyack also noted that the trilogy-based approach benefits developers in that studios don't have to "start from scratch again" when producing sequels. Presumably, Dyack was speaking of reusing assets and technology developed for the first game, which would lower the cost of additional entries relative to the initial title.

Though no release date has been provided for the first game in Silicon Knight's Too Human trilogy, past comments by Dyack suggest the title will see release this year. Back in April, the Silicon Knights president made headlines after expressing his desire for one standardized gaming platform.

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80 Threads | 178 Comments

  • I actually sold my XBOX 360 after a couple of weeks because the games (mainly RPG style games) me and my GF played all finished within a couple of hours and still cost 50 bucks. That and the lacking (or lets say, not what I expected) mulitmedia support. I should've sticked with my normal XBOX.

    I mean I'm on of those guys who doesn't play lots of different games, I like to play just a few and master them and play them continously. I probably played only 10 different PC games the last 10 years, apart from dozens I have tried and not liked.
    Games like Diablo, Quake, Civ, Warcraft, Starcraft... you get the point. All of those I can play for hundreds of hours and they cost the same money.

  • It is true that many people will agree and say that shorter games are more convenient, or easier to play. However, I don't think that the generalization that "gamers don't want longer games" is accurate. I believe that its more accurate to place the length of games argument in more of a subjective frame, similar to way people say one genre is better than another. Personally, I do enjoy longer games. I think this mostly has to do with what I want and expect out of a game, especially on the PC. I tend to play such games like I read novels. In which case, all other things being equal, I would much rather have a longer game than a shorter, perhaps more convenient, game. Lastly, I would have to say that this argument is part of a flawed effort to make console gaming and PC gaming a single entity. I believe this effort is the single greatest threat to PC gaming in general. That's just my 2 cents worth.

  • Sounds like a lame ass excuse to cut costs and make more money. I understand that it costs more and takes longer to make games now, and that's a valid reason. But they should at least come clean.

    Just because people didn't finish HL2:E1 during the survey period doesn't mean they won't. Hell, I've had Warcraft III for 5 years, and went back and played it again and finished it last month (for the 1st time). It was awesome. I'm glad they didn't chop it in thirds and end up releasing 4 expansions (+2 for TFT).

    I guess if they keep saying that people want to pay $20 for 3 hour games they'll eventually believe it. Whatever. I'll vote with my pocket.

    Oh yeah. Fuck Valve. It's none of their god damn business when I finish their game.

  • I might as well point out that Eternal Darkness wasn't a very long game, and yet it was incredibly good. Plus it had different endings depending on a particular in-game choice, so I wound up replaying it multiple times. If it had been a much longer game, I doubt I would have done that.

    I do agree that well-paced and plotted games usually don't feel short, even if they are. In the hands of lesser devs, a short game would probably also be a pretty thin feeling game, but I'm more willing to give Silicon Knights a pass, based on their track record. I'm sure the plot and pacing will be the best things about Too Human.

  • In the context, what he said is bullshit. As others have pointed out, he's not saying "we need to make complete, substantial stories that are completed in a relatively short time". He's saying "we're going to split up a complete story into three seperate games, which coincidentally allows us to sell the same story three times and make triple the money". Which is crud. Halo 2 got a lot of flak for it. God of War 2 got a lot of flak for it. Even book authors get flak for selling books that don't tell a complete story within a single book (Robert Jordan, anyone?).

    If you want to tell a high-quality story in a relatively short game, that's fine. Just don't try to sell incomplete stories as short games and tell us it's good for us.

  • After reading his interview the topic of a unified console is more interesting to me.

    "To be mass-market there needs to be one console under the TV. There's one DVD standard even though there's different manufacturers. When you buy a DVD you know it's going to work. When consumers want to buy a videogame they shouldn't be held back because of the format."

    I think his intentions are good but I don't agree with his prediction that it's inevitable that we'll have one console. I think we'll always have consoles from Sony, Nintendo, MS and maybe even new comers. However, what I'd like to see is eventually, maybe 20 years from now after we perfect gfx rendering, AI, physics simulations and gameplay mechanics that we have a standard set of hardware specifications and software. That way, you can buy the Sony Playstation 12 and play games from Nintendo on it. Maybe you like buying the Sony Playstation 12 because it has added luxury features. Also because the console hardware/software is standardized as well as the game engines themselves, you could buy different controller devices, like the Wii-mote or an Xbox 360 camera and use it on the Sony Playstation 12.

    I'm not proclaiming that will happen, but it's something I'd like to see. Giving consumers 3 completely incompatible gaming systems and software is not conducive to expanding the growth of the industry as a whole.

    I also see it being beneficial to game developers. Many have to deal with programming and designing games twice to get them to work on multiple systems. Think about that.

  • Times have changed, the average gamer is also no longer some anti-social geek stereotype - there've been articles recently about how gaming has broken out of being a social stigma and is accepted in the mainstream. I think those aspects have changed the scenery for what an "average" gamer is. It's fair to say that most shackers are more "oldschool", at least the vocal ones are, and as such opinions here don't necessarily fit the general demographic.

    Personally I prefer longer games, but I don't have as much time or inclination to play as much as I used to, so despite the desire, the reality is that shorter games are more palateable.

  • If a game is original and interesting, or just flat out fun, it could be 40+ hours and I'll play it to the end and then some. I understand some people don't like long games, have the time for them, or can't stick to one thing for an hour without getting bored. I don't like them either when they are just rehashes of something I played last week/month/year and it's so repetitive I am forced to stop.

    But I even like some rehashes too! I'll always have 8+ hours for a 2D castlevania/metroid game :P

    Make a game as long or as short as needs to be. Don't make it short(er) or long(er) on purpose because you think some people who probably haven't finished any game in 5 years may not finish yours. Do what's best for the flow of the game.

    In the $60 world games of today, I'm buying less games than ever, so that each purchase I have to think long and hard about must have some meat for me to consider. It's easy with HL2 episodes because their price relfects the length, they end up having good bang for the buck like some XBLA/VC titles.