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Sometimes, it’s OK for a game to be short

Gamingtodaynews1e - Sometimes, it's OK for a game to be short

First of all: I'm thinking primarily of indie games as I'm writing this, but I guess the same can also be applied to the AA/AAA industry to some extent.

Coming from someone very interested in the no-name indie scene, I follow some YouTube channels focused on playing through games made by one person teams, gamejams or alphas (shoutout to AlphaBetaGamer). Most of these titles are short stories or experiences that can be finished in 5-15 minutes of playtime.

There's without fail a bunch of people in the comments asking for the dev to make a full version of their work. Maybe it is because they loved the concept and wanted it to be longer? Or they wanted more of it? No idea, but they want more of whatever they played/seen.

That said, quite some devs interact with their fans. Sometimes, they actually follow through said requests and eventually work on a full fledged and bigger version… which flops hard on release. Ive seen examples of brilliant "prototypes" which ended up fading into obscurity after the full version.

I wish more people realized that, sometimes, it's OK for games to be short. Maybe that 5 minute horror prototype works so well because it's short and self-contained – not every game has the necessary content that can be expanded into a multi-hour game. Unless they have a pretty solid concept or novel gameplay idea, chances are they'll just end up with a drawn out and boring experience.


I would even risk and say that's the reason the infamous "Ubisoft formula" became the staple of open world games – have a ton of simple activities and checkbox objectives for the sole purpose of making the game seem artificially longer than it is. Because you can water down your game into something that will keep players occupied for two or even three times more than before.

Still on AAA games, I'm pretty sure most people remember the Silent Hills Playable Teaser (P.T.) so fondly because it's short enough to deliver its content/suspense without overstaying its welcome. I can't possibly count the zillions of "PT clones" that have since popped up promising a full game in the same veins of PT and subsequently failing hard on release.

I like to use a cake as analogy: would you rather eat a giant cake made only of icing or a smaller one but that's delicious? Of course, you can absolutely have a wedding cake that's not only good but also big, but they're usually difficult/expensive to make right.

Also, I'm not going into the "price/hour of entertainment" metric because that's a whole different discussion altogether. I'm focusing strictly on the experience and "feel" of these games.

So, what do you think? Is the shift to longer games something inevitable in the gaming industry or there's still room for successful short games?

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