How To Make A Long Game Last Longer

By: Victor Epand

One of the criticisms aimed at a number of computer games and video games today is that the overall length of the game seems to have been increased, without necessarily including any more game content itself. Computer games used to be fairly short affairs, with no more than a few hours needing to be spent before completing the game entirely. Today, however, many computer or video games seem almost to have no ending at all, and can take many hundreds, or even thousands of hours to play.

There are a few features which have been introduced which enable these games to become so intense and last so long - some of which are positive and encouraged, but there are some which are being criticized increasingly.

The first method which seems to be used a great deal is to introduce extensions. This means that players can buy the original game, and play it through, but later on the publisher will produce an extension to the game, which can be bought separately. This means that players who buy the extension will be able to take the game further, possibly being able to explore more land area or geography that wasn't available before, take part in new challenges or be able to create and play with alternate characters or races. This extends the game in such a way that it feels almost like a new game.

The advantages for players is that they can explore new challenges and opportunities that feel new and fresh, within a game context that is both familiar and one in which they feel strong and competent. Having spent so long developing a character, it becomes enjoyable to immerse that character in a new environment and test him further.

However, very often the extensions are as expensive as the original game, and with up to half a dozen extensions in some cases, this can become a very expensive game to buy, especially for someone who is just entering the game for the first time. Of course, for the publishers it means an almost guaranteed income.

Many of the major games companies have several million subscribers or players, and with even just half of them buying any extension produced, publishers have an audience ready and almost desperate to spend more money on the game.

Another way by which games publishers seem to be increasing the overall length of a game is by creating a vast landscape to play in, but spacing events, quests and challenges very far apart. This means that players have to walk their character through miles of landscape to reach the next part of the actual game. In some cases, the challenge itself is to go and speak with a character who is miles away. In some cases it can take half an hour to walk from one location to another, during which all you are doing is trotting along country roads, across rolling landscapes, through valleys and mountain ranges - all very pretty and interesting, but not actually terrible challenging.

For higher level characters, mounts and rides are usually available, so that you can ride a horse between locations. But many players are starting to find that more of their time is spent reaching the game quests than carrying them out! Many argue that this is a deliberate ploy so that game companies can advertise 'hundreds of hours of game play'.

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