The struggle to finish games

As video games become more and more complex, it can become even more difficult to finish games. Also, with so many great titles available to play, it’s very easily to get distracted and buy other games before finishing the one you’re playing. 1UP.com asks Why Don’t People Finish Games Any More and Kotaku asks if gamers finish every game they buy.

The 1Up article addresses several reasons for why people don’t finish games:

  • Time: The same gamers who grew up during the Nintendo era no longer has extensive amounts of free time to play games. In other words, “the rent has to be paid and the baby has to be changed.”
  • Money: Those same gamers can afford to buy more games, so they’re likely to buy additional games before they finish the ones they’re playing.
  • Game disappointment: There can be a variety of factors that cause a player to quit playing a game. The game may suddenly get ridiculously difficult and the player may get frustrated. The player may no longer be drawn to the story. The story may not be progressing as quickly as necessary to keep the gamer interested. Finally, the gameplay may just get plain redundant and boring.
  • A not-so-grand finale: According to 1Up, “It’s a grimly accepted fact that videogame endings usually suck.” Gamers are likely to feel cheated if they beat the final boss and the ending is lackluster.
  • Leveling up can be a grind: In other words, in order to strengthen your character enough to be able to beat the next boss, you often have to spend hours grinding your way through levels acquiring skills and points. This can be particularly tedious and very time consuming.

The Kotaku article is more of a question, and has been answered by nearly 700 commenters. Here’s a few thoughts from the contributors:

About 80% of them. Sometimes I just can’t do it though, given the fact that I don’t have as much free time as I used to and I dont want to use that time playing a game that isn’t gripping me (struggling to make myself finish Lost Odyssey right now)

And I never play more than one game at any given time, with the exception of one handheld and one console game. I don’t know if it is just me, but I really do not think it is possible for a human being to be as immersed in a game when they are cheating on it with other games.

Darling, I don’t even open every game I buy.

I will….. eventually. But recently there have been just to many good games out there! It is a great time to be a gamer.

as i age (i’m turning 21 soon) i feel my patience whithering when it comes to completely finishing a game. ssbm i managed to 100%, but ssbb i doubt i’ll ever bring myself to beat boss battles on intense or go through all-star with ALL characters. i guess that’s what the hammers are for…

if i decide a game is too frustrating or loses its fun appeal to me, then i pretty much just stop playing it and let the game collect dust. maybe i just get burned out too easily. i applaud and respect those of you who do this for a living.

oh god yes. My backlog of unfinished games is frightening. I just lose drive or a new game grabs my attention. The past couple years i’ve forced myself to finish games and have beaten quite a few because of it. I feel accomplished when i do too.

For me, the reasons are pretty much the same as above for not finishing games. I’ve got a number of games that are in-progress, and I’ll post about those at another time. What strikes me as odd about this is that publishers get criticized for making a game too short, or if it does not have a lot of replay value. However, longer games tend to be more highly rated, and reviewers generally look favorably on games that have high replay values. Things like multiple difficulty levels, side stories, unlockables, and completion ratings all contribute to the replay value of a game. While these features definitely enhance the length of a game, are they necessary? As a father of two with a full-time job, I don’t have time to play a game on Normal, Harder, and Crazy Wicked Ridiculous hard modes to take advantage of all the content. Nor do I have time to play a game that is 30-50 hours long. Since the average gamer is 33 years old (I’m 32), it seems that many of the features the publishers put into games go unplayed. What if publishers made shorter games and charged less for them? What if more publishers adopted the model of episodic content? In this age of bigger is better, it’s likely not to happen. Unfortunately for me, that means a lot of games may go uncompleted.