DICE 2012: Skyrim PC players average 75 hours in game; Designer Todd Howard explains why

Data from Steam shows that gamers playing Skyrim on PC have racked up an amazing 75 hours of average playtime.

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As part of his keynote to open DICE 2012 titled "Why we create, why we play," Bethesda Studios creative director Todd Howard dropped a shocking figure. Data from Steam shows that gamers playing Skyrim on PC have racked up an amazing 75 hours of average playtime. This figure served as the exclamation point, driving home his point that the key to avoid people putting down a game is to hit the challenge "sweet spot." Too difficult, and it ends in frustration; too easy, and there's no sense of pride to be earned. Getting it right, though, is a tough challenge that comes from interweaving the different stages of play.

Howard described four basic stages of play as learning, playing, being challenged, and surprise. Early on in a game, a player progresses through these in a rather linear fashion. They learn the way the game works to then move into playing it. Once they have that down, the content challenges them to use what they've learned and practiced. And then finally the designer works in moments of surprise to keep the player from falling into a rut.

One of the ways Howard's team applies this idea to hitting the challenge sweet spot is by weaving the stages together as the game progresses, nesting the stages together so that it becomes a more complex combination. PC allows the game to go a step further with the addition of mods through the Creation Kit. The changes they can bring to the game add a tremendous amount of variety. They naturally lend themselves to adding surprise elements, but their reach goes into the other three elements as well. New ideas introduced in a mod may need to be learned, or at the very least played, and once they are new options for challenge open up.

From The Chatty
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    February 9, 2012 6:45 AM

    Garnett Lee posted a new article, DICE 2012: Skyrim PC players average 75 hours in game; Designer Todd Howard explains why.

    Data from Steam shows that gamers playing Skyrim on PC have racked up an amazing 75 hours of average playtime.

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      February 9, 2012 6:48 AM

      i'm at 102 hours and no where close to finishing anything lol

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        February 9, 2012 7:04 AM

        i'm at 117 and i have 7 achievements left to acquire!

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        February 9, 2012 7:06 AM

        I am in a similar spot.

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      February 9, 2012 6:59 AM

      That's amazing, just utterly amazing.

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      February 9, 2012 7:04 AM

      130 hours in across two characters. Just started the Dark Brotherhood questline. I'm nowhere near my gaming-fatigue with this game, and the Workshop just came out.

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        February 9, 2012 7:05 AM

        130 hours and I want to keep playing. Regardless of any flaws Skyrim might have, this is a goddamn amazing accomplishment. I'm tired of most games after like 6 hours (I'm looking at you, LA Noire).

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      February 9, 2012 7:52 AM

      i finished main quest at 108. imma wait for dlc to check out the high rez pack and try my hand at some melee char. I went 100% mage, so i never wore anything but robes, and magic skin armor.

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      February 9, 2012 7:58 AM

      I'm at a little over 60 hours and starting to wear down on the game, though the HD pack has caused me to stick with it a bit longer. Impressive statistic though!

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      February 9, 2012 8:24 AM

      It would be interesting to see the average difference between PC players and console players. 75 hours is extremely high.

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      February 9, 2012 8:59 AM

      [deleted]

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        February 9, 2012 9:17 AM

        Archery is a hell lot of fun, i only have about 30 hours in so far, i think about lvl 36, didnt even do the main quests.... but, back to the point, using a bow is AWESOME, combine with stealth/crits and time slow, i usually destroy a pack of 5-6 enemies before they even start running towards me... love it!

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      February 9, 2012 9:43 AM

      I think i have about 150 hrs or so. Lately i've just been slowing down and just playing to mess with mods. It's a great game but it needs some longer side quests, they all seem to involve running into some cave to fetch something for someone and then they are over.

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      February 9, 2012 10:01 AM

      Not so amazing to anyone who has played Skyrim imo.

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      February 9, 2012 10:05 AM

      Hit around 110 hours and decided to wait for dlc.

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      February 9, 2012 10:11 AM

      I'd be curious to see the median, I would not be surprised if a small percentage of insane people have like 300+ hours skewing the average

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        February 9, 2012 3:33 PM

        I think something like 8% of people who bought it haven't even played it for more than 10m, as they didn't get the 'unbound' achievement you get automatically.

        I hit 127hrs in my first 10 days. I'm now on 170hrs.

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          February 9, 2012 3:38 PM

          But doesn't that include people who haven't even installed it? I imagine there must be a small percentage of people that bought it on sale or whatever and just haven't started yet.

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            February 10, 2012 9:41 AM

            Yea. There's probably a few in there who bought it without meeting the min specs too.

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      February 9, 2012 10:20 AM

      I used to be an adventurer like you, then my game save took massive random fps drops when looking at light sources inside dungeons and various other shader based effects.

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      February 9, 2012 10:22 AM

      This is probably accurate. I didn't see Dawnstar until my 80th hour.

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        February 9, 2012 12:06 PM

        I didn't find labyrinthian until 100 hours in... it blew my fucking mind.

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      February 9, 2012 10:24 AM

      169 hours. The game *is* way too easy... to me the "sweet spot" Howard mentions has nothing to do with the difficulty. It's the rare ability to truly roleplay-- skip the main quest entirely, etc.

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      February 9, 2012 11:50 AM

      I snagged a little over 100 hours through three different characters. And I still haven't beaten the main quest. One character is the leader of all the guilds, while another is a straight up Arch-Mage. Skyrim has been on the back-burner because of burnout.

      • Zek legacy 10 years
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        February 9, 2012 12:00 PM

        I don't get why people quit without ever having beaten the campaign. Don't you ever see the burnout point coming and figure you should finish some of the best quests before you quit?

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          February 9, 2012 12:14 PM

          For me, it started with Morrowind; the guild quests were vastly more enjoyable than the main quest. It also applied with Oblivion - I never went into any Oblivion gate after the "first" one and just enjoyed the guild quests/environments instead.

          My Mage is like 90% done with the main quest in Skyrim. I still have to finish that!

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      February 9, 2012 12:01 PM

      [deleted]

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      February 9, 2012 1:16 PM

      Probably helps because they have mod tools too.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2DshotexMU&feature=g-trend&context=G2e4842cYTAAAAAAAUAA

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