Are we expecting too much from our games? Think about that for a second.
Go on. Seriously think about it.
Now that you have taken a moment to answer that question to yourself, let me take you back (if you are not old enough... just pretend). Christmas day 1985. You wake up excited because St. Nicholas has surely visited leaving you tons and tons of presents. After tearing through some presents only to find ugly t-shirts and lame socks, there are only two more presents left. Both square shaped. What could they be? You rip apart the large one your Mom gives you. Wow. A Nintendo Entertainment System. EVERYONE has been asking for this. A system is great and all, but a box and controller is only good if you have... oh, the last present. Turns out to be Super Mario Brothers. Oh yeah. Forget Christmas dinner, you are going to spend all day gaming.
For a lot of gamers depending on your age, we have this same memory or something similar to it. The excitement as a kid getting a brand new gaming console for Christmas is something of pure joy. Which is why I am writing this article. Back when we were kids playing the NES, games were simpler. We had no problem playing World 1-1 time after time again. It was fun. How many ducks have we blasted away with Duck Hunt. We had no problem with the seemingly small amount of content.
This brings me to the main part of my article. Are we expecting too much from our games? Super Mario Brothers had a 2 hour average time to complete (source) and with only 8 worlds with 4 levels each. In terms of content, there wasn't much there. Let's take todays popular punch bag for lack of content, Destiny. Yes Destiny. We are going to be talking about vanilla Destiny. The main story is about 11 1/2 hours. This isn't counting the extras (strikes, pvp, raids). With the extras you are looking at 30 or more. Destiny is constantly blasted at having a lack of content. So the praised Super Mario Brothers has 2 hours, while the lack of content Destiny has 30+.
So what happened? What happened to us as gamers where 2 is enough at one point, and 30 is not enough at another point.
Now games have largely changed with our expectations. Games can do so much more today than they could back in the NES days. Games are more complex in terms of gameplay, graphics, interactivity, and well... everything. Games take larger teams, larger budgets, and larger expectations. So since developers can do more with games, the gameplay should last longer right? Actually, no. Just because game CAN do more, doesn't mean they SHOULD do more. I like to think of games as interactive movies. I use this analogy anytime someone tells me that games are for babies or is lame. And as such, they should be viewed as a form of entertainment. I think we can all agree with that. When we go buy a movie, we expect to pay on average $8.43 (2015 average). If we take a standard 2 hour movie a movie goer is paying $4.22 per hour. Let's take the all the content in Destiny, strikes and raids included because it is a part of the game. Destiny started off as a $60 game, so we will use that price point with a 30 hour completion average. That makes it an average of only $2 per hour. So taking this into account, you are getting twice the value for your money than going to see a movie. How is that a lack of content?
Now some people will say that isn't a fair comparison. That is fine. One of the points of this article is for you to think about how much content is actually in that game you bought.
We have talked about game content. What about quality. There are some amazing games out there. There are also some not so amazing games out there. When we think about a game's quality we have to consider the source and scope of a game. Is the game from a bunch of indie developers, or from a AAA developer? How much time was spend on the development of a game?
Lets go to our next example. No Man's Sky. That game has been so anticipated that there was no way the little team of about 10 developers make a game that large in scope and still have it be on quality of an AAA game. But thats the key. They are not AAA game developers. They are an indie team. Now Im not saying the game is perfect, or even good. I'm not going to debate that in this article. I think the anger with the game came because of the gamer's expectations that the game was going to be the same quality of a AAA game. Even that expectation isn't really fair. AAA games have their fair share of bugs and issues. Almost every Bethesda game has been famous for it's bugs. Halo Master Chief Edition had so many issues they had to give a formal apology. No game is perfect.
When we play our games we look at quality and content in terms of how good a game is. Let me introduce a new higher standard for if a game is good or not.
How fun it is. That is, afterall, why we play games.