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Why Don't We Finish More Games? 341

IGN has an opinion piece discussing why, as video games get shorter, we seem less likely to finish them than in the past. For example, BioWare said only 50% of Mass Effect 2 players finished the campaign. The article goes into several reasons gamers are likely to drop games without beating them, such as lowered expectations, show-stopping bugs, and the ease with which we can find another game if this one doesn't suit us. Quoting: "... now that gamers have come to expect the annualized franchise, does that limit the impetus to jump on the train knowing another one will pull up to the station soon enough? ... In the past, once you bought a game, it was pretty much yours unless you gave it to somebody else or your family held a garage sale. The systemic rise of the used games market now offers you an escape route if a game just isn't your bag. Is the middle of a game testing your patience? Then why not sell it back to your local game shop, get money back in your pocket, or trade it in for a game that's better – or at least better suited for your tastes? After all, the sooner you ditch it either at a shop or on an online auction site, the more value you stand to get in return."
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Why Don't We Finish More Games?

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  • by balaband ( 1286038 ) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:18AM (#34279686)

    Yeah, yeah, I know this is a /., and saying something like this is bound for karma burn - but anybody that collected ALL of those crack-cocaine-figurine-thingies in GTA has waaaaay too much time.

    And please, yes - I know finishing campaign is not the same (I have done so), but what exactly is "game over"? With all those achievements, different difficulty levels and DLC where do you say that you finished the fscking thing?

  • Did we ever? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:35AM (#34279788) Homepage

    In my Spectrum days, a lot of games weren't completable anyway. Of those that were, I completed exactly one - Nonterraqueous - after myself, my brother and my dad dedicated several nights to mapping the damn thing on the largest piece of graph paper you've ever seen in your life. Typically, the next week someone published one in the computer games magazines. But that was it. I never completed Back to Skool which is three screens wide. I never completed any of the other 200+ games.

    On consoles, the same thing happened. We completed Mario All-Stars on SNES by just sitting down and working through it hundreds of times as a family. I don't remember completing any other game on SNES.

    In the arcades, the same thing happened. I only completed one game - Final Fight - by finding an old dusty machine in an old arcade with my elder brother while my parents were trying to get rid of us - we put about £5 in 10p coins into that machine but eventually we "won". We nearly won at Bad Dudes vs Dragonninja that night too.

    On Gameboy, I completed the 2nd Mario game on my own but it wasn't exactly difficult. I also "completed" Tetris on any skill level you care to select. I may have completed TMNT too but it was a very simple game to complete.

    On PC, a similar thing happened - most games that "could" be completed I just never bothered to. There are even some in that category that I love playing but have *never* managed to complete. I love Heroes of Might and Magic but have never bothered to "complete" it, I just like playing it. I love Age of Empires II but I've never bothered to complete the campaign, I just like playing it. I love Master of Magic but I've never completed it. I love Syndicate but I've never completed it (stupidly difficult last level doesn't help). I love Driver but I've never completed it (same thing). I have put hundreds of hours into games before now and never completed them. Some of them I don't even know *how* even if they are completable. However, I have completed Half-life 2 and all the episodes. I have completed some games to the point of "every achievement". I have completed some games with the help of tutorials and/or got to the point where, as far as I'm concerned, the game is complete. I have 200 games on my Steam list and completed about 3 or 4 at most.

    And what classes as "complete"? Got to the end stage? On what difficulty? Just getting there or getting 100% completion? Does having co-op friends count? Do you have to do it all in one session? Are you allowed continues?

    The reasons that people don't "complete" games any more are many, and still the same as always - They never really *did* complete lots of games. They don't need to in order to play for thousands of hours. Sometimes it's not possible to complete the game at all. Sometimes it's stupidly difficult even if they enjoy the game. They don't put the time into any one particular game. They don't like the game enough. The game has more content than can hold their interest. They have a life outside computer games.

    To be honest, I've completed many more games in recent years than I ever did before (i.e. when I had lots of free time during the day), but I've also left many games on the very first level or demo thinking "this isn't worth my time". With modern games what puts me off is not being able to just play the damn game. I don't want cutscenes or intros or being forced to watch storyline, I just want to play because that's what I bought a game to do - allow me to play. And it's hard to "complete" a modern game because many of them are multiplayer and / or achievement based and it just means that completing consists of grinding away on silly achievements that you're unlikely to ever hit during the course of the game naturally (think Half-life 2's Gnome achievements).

    I don't buy a game to complete it. In fact, I often wish that I never complete any game that I buy because then it gives me more to go back for. I buy a game to play it and have fun. Once I c

  • by lmcgeoch ( 1298209 ) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:54AM (#34279868)

    Maybe it's just a generation thing. Younger players might not be as patient or as skilled?

    My 11 yo beat Wii's Zelda : Twilight Princess at least 3 times. She is now has a 62 Balance/Resto druid in WoW and is REALLY into Civilization. Meh..depends on the kid.

  • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Friday November 19, 2010 @07:21AM (#34279990)

    Well, at least you won't have to worry about being able to beat up the geeky sort of boyfriend she brings home one day...

    Jokes aside, kudos on you. So long as kids don't play games all day it's great. Some of my best memories with my father were playing The Legend of Zelda (the original) together all Saturday afternoon and evening until we beat it in one go. We did it a few times, and we also went through many games in the N.E.S. catalog.

  • I'm shit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Friday November 19, 2010 @07:22AM (#34279992)

    I never finish games because I'm a shit gamer. There I said it.

    Actually, that's not quite true. I finished Prince of Persia, Half-life and Half-life 2 but nothing else.

    Why? Because I get stuck on one point to which I simply cannot progress. After playing it for what feels like the hundredth time I get bored and move on to something else.

    This is why I like something like the helper in NSMB on the Wii. Sure it's cheating in a sense, but quite frankly, I don't care as I'd far rather be helped by a computer to get past one really difficult part than accept that I'm probably never going to be able to get past a stage and never play the game again.

  • Re:True for me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by delinear ( 991444 ) on Friday November 19, 2010 @07:22AM (#34279994)
    Surely load times are the one thing that's got better over time, or maybe I'm just too old that I can remember playing games off cassettes (five minutes to load then the thing would crash and you'd have to rewind and start again). For me the big issue is that I tend towards things like sandbox games/free roaming RPGs. Unless I can finish the game over the course of a few days, going back even a month later can be incredibly frustrating when the game does little to remind me of what I was doing prior to the break, and even worse when it's vague on what I'm meant to be doing next. This seems to be the aspect of these games that's most overlooked. Give me a screen with all of my recent quests/dialogue/sidequests and a summary of where I am in the story, a decent map and clear instructions about where I'm meant to go next and I'll happily go back and finish the game. This goes for DLC, too - if you want me to go back to the game in six months to play an expansion, don't leave me lost with no idea what's meant to be happening.
  • Re:Repetition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Friday November 19, 2010 @07:42AM (#34280096) Homepage

    I like repetitive games, if they are fun and challenging.

    Stupid, boring grinding (go here, collect 5 items, go there, sell them, etc) is annoying, but I usually don't even play games which have that.

    Fast and challenging repetition is OK. Examples:
    * online FPS matches
    * replaying Metal Slug from scratch, over and over, until I could finish the game with 1 coin
    * Tetris

    Even now that I have less time, a short session of repetitive yet adrenaline inducing game is my favorite type.

  • Re:True for me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Friday November 19, 2010 @09:04AM (#34280514) Journal

    I grow older, so I'm not sure if it's really the fault of the games

    This line of argument really bothers me. I sort of resent the notion that "it's our fault" that a $60 game doesn't hold our interest until the end. It shows just how badly the advertising-industrial complex has messed with our heads.

    You want to know a game that nobody didn't finish? Half-Life (and Half-Life 2, and the Episodes). Why is that? Because you wake up on your way to work and end up on fucking Xen, fighting to keep the fabric of reality together. It's written brilliantly, that's why. Instead of being written for 13 year olds and the rest of us have to put up with it, it's written for adults and forces the 13 year-olds to run to catch up. Just like the best science fiction, just like the best movies, just like the best...well, anything. See, even the 13 year-olds know when something is written for a 13 year-old and they don't like it either. Even they are a little bit offended that the author (or director, etc) felt they had to pander to them, that they couldn't handle the truth, that they couldn't deal with reality.

    You want someone to finish your game/story/movie/book/podcast/album/seven-course meal? Then make it good..


  • Re:Isn't it... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Friday November 19, 2010 @11:34AM (#34281884)

    This sounds a bit odd to me. Should the game be about the game, or is the game merely a way to deliver content?

    If it's about content, that means games should be easy and linear, so you get to experience all the content you paid for. Personally I think that's boring and meaningless, and would prefer a complex, branching, unique and challenging experience over merely seeing all the pretty stuff they built.

    Of course if the game developers have focused more on building pretty stuff than on providing a good game, I guess it really is more about the content.

  • 1. Don't make me sick.
    2. Don't bore/irritate me.

    Games I have played.
    All Duke Nukem
    All Wolfenstein
    All Resident Evil
    Ratchet & Clank (first three were best, and replayed), the last one was boring/irritating unfinished
    Demon Soul (completed many times ... still playing)
    Assassin Creed II boring/irritating unfinished
    PoP was droped
    Many... more over 20years including some ASCII-D&D ...

    Realism I do not like (SOCOM, Vietnam, WWII...). Escape to fantasy FPS and Adventure are fun.
    The graphic texture and detail clean 1080p and delay free web-play would be appreciated.

    Ratchet & Clank started irritating me with to many or eventually any retro-game and pattern-section/level locks.

    Demon Souls needs a better random action generator for action-surprises. Invadors need to be better matched to invadees, but always fun getting whacked and whacking as invader or helper. In the next version they should just open some more hidden passages, gates or doors and keep the familiar turf with improved play/gaming. A special flying dragon killing tool would be nice 100+ arrows is boring. The muck-swamp needs something or just drop it as too dang easy. Every on appears to like the 1st and 5th worlds (good danger/balance).

    Anyway, most games I stop playing on the first day or within the first week. Games I like I run through (on average) in one week some times two.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.