The Long Game - Gameplay versus Cost

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I follow a few different sites that report on games and one of the frequent complaints people have seems to be about the length of games. This popped into my head when it was mentioned in another thread that The Witcher 3 will have 100 hours of gameplay. I started thinking about the cost of buying a game and how much play time I might get out of it. Personally, I always find it frustrating when people say things like, "Only 4 hours of gameplay? That isn't worth $20!"

I have trouble understanding that line of thinking. I remember when Super Mario Bros. was $40 on the NES and you could speed run that in a matter of minutes! People grumbled a bit, but the sense of fairness didn't really come into play. Maybe it was because the console was so new and exciting or maybe I was just too young to really notice. I was in 1st grade when the NES came out, so that very well might be the case.

I try and put it into perspective of my everyday life. If I go out to dinner with my friends and have a meal and a drink I have already spent $20 (at least) and that is for a couple of hours of conversation and laughs. There is no replay value in that, but I am still willing to spend the money. So, why is it I wouldn't look at a game with a similar frame of mind? $20 for more time, a great story (like Gone Home) and replay for free, if the mood is this not a great deal? I will admit that I have a hard time spending $60 on a game, but a lot of that has to do with being burned by impulse buys that I regret after the fact (COD: Black Ops was a terrible decision). But when it comes to indie developers creating new and exciting games I can't justify waiting for the price to go down because they tend to be a lot smaller and the money has a much bigger impact on their continued success.

I do agree that there is a point where the return on investment should come into play, but truthfully don't know where that line would be. I just feel like having to put a cost to the hours played is not a good way to judge a game in the long game.

What do y'all think on this? How important is it to have X hours of gameplay for Y dollars? Is it a big decision maker? Do you think it makes sense? Just curious as to how other people value their game time.

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One thing people tend to forget about "gameplay total hours" is that doesn't mean that's all the time you'll get to play a game...

It may be a guideline for expectation IF you already know all the events, puzzles and solutions, and quickest way through every challenge -- and IF you want to ignore everything else in the game except for reaching the end in the fastest way after reading the eventual walkthroughs... but that doesn't mean that's the max gametime enjoyment available.

Somehow I don't think all of us will complete the storyline mode in that little time (at least not in our first few playthroughs).

From Hinterland KS post, Oct 15 2013

(re: how long we'll survive when first playing)

"Most of you won't make it three days.. MUHAHAHAHA! Joking aside -- this is not a game that is going to hold your hand. It's going to be tough to survive, and you are going to have to make uncomfortable choices along the way."

Then there's also the Sanbox mode which adds a lot of additional gameplay.

For myself (even though I don't play many games), I love open world scenarios -- not for completing the final game quests, but rather for simply wandering about on my own, and exploring completely separate from the main gameplay action.

Most of the time, I only level up so that I can dispatch annoying in-game interruptions [battles, creatures, quests] quickly... that way I can spend way more hours just wandering and exploring. I love discovering little areas I missed the first time passing through.

To me, TLD will likely deliver far more playable time because I'll likely forget about finishing some questlines completely just so I can spend more time simply exploring the TLD world (and trying to survive long enough to explore even longer).

ADDENDUM: Replay Value -- since we'll have to make "difficult choices" along the way, it will be interesting to replay the game and see how alternate decision choices will affect the storyline or challenges.

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