Video Game Trends; it’s Short but Look it has Multi-player

I was semi-participating in a “round table” (although in reality it is more of a rectangular shape) between Meg and Max and their dissection of what is wrong in the video game industry at the moment.

There were some great insights brought up this morning, mainly because Max has been introduced into the mix. Meg and I tend to re-hash the same ideas, just with a slightly different angle of presentation. The addition of another “player” has allowed us to represent old ideas and discuss new ones.

The main consensus was that most games coming out right now (and last year) are all much shorter in duration than previous games and they seem to be relying upon the addition of multi-player to justify their curtailing of the main game.

A good example of this is the last iteration of Hitman. Fans of the Hitman franchise have been eagerly awaiting the emergence of a PS3 HD version of their favourite assassin for years. The development of the latest chapter in the Hitman verse was given a lot of publicity and updates of the “proposed” game play was on YouTube.

I could not wait to play it. I even paid full price for the collector’s edition (mainly for the Hitman statue) just because I could not wait for the cost to go down. I popped the disc into the PS3, waited for the latest update to load and started playing.

Eight hours later, I was finished. I sat looking at the end credits (which lasted almost as long as the game) feeling disappointed, let down, and yes, cheated. I know that a lot of hype was given to the fact that you could play the game on-line and “take contracts out on your friends and family.”


I do like on-line multi-player games, I play CoD a lot (I’ve clocked a lot of hours on Black Ops II) but some games just don’t “fit” the on-line arena. It just seems that games companies automatically assume that if their game is a “shooter” (either first or third person) it’s suited for a multi-player aspect.

*Of course it’s not just “shooters,” Assassin’s Creed started participating in the on-line experience with Assassin’s Creed II and the protagonist’s generally use sharp implements and only rarely shoots anyone.*

I am sure that a lot of gamers like the interactive concept of competing against their friends and neighbours. Competitive gaming is good, if you like that type of competition. But again, only some games really fit that sort of game play; war games especially fit the multi-player scenario. You’ve probably noticed that I have not mentioned WoW or any of its first or second cousins. That is because that type of game has never interested me and it never will; despite the fact that Felicia Day is a player.

Competitive game playing is fun, but there are different levels of competition. Most games involve competition of some kind even if it is just competing against the actual game and not another person. Of course there are exceptions; Flower, for instance, has no competition at all.

The only problem with on-line gaming is the emergence of players who “cheat” or hack the system. Anyone who has joined a game only to die repeatedly while their weapons don’t even scratch the opposing team members knows the frustration of playing in a match where the odds have been skewed to the other teams favour.

I don’t want to get on a multi-player rant here, so I’ll get back to my original point: actual game play being shortened. I loved the PS2 generation of games that took over 20 to 40 hours to complete and they did not rely on multi-player access to extend the “life” of the game.

The never-ending game…

Admittedly there are some games out there that do have a lot of game play hours. Skyrim, for instance, brags that you could conceivably never finish their open world game. But again, that is not my type of game. I personally do not find games that rely on swordplay and ye olde English dialogue mesmerising.

We all agreed that the new shorter game times were the companies attempt to appease the non-gamer market. The major complaint from this new market demographic is that existing games are too long. “I don’t have time to play a game that is over 20 hours long. I have to: work, clean, cook, iron, take little Timmy to school and pick him up; the excuses list for not having time to play is just about endless.

So the gams companies are, once again, catering to the non-hardcore gamer instead of  developing games that appeal to all gamers equally. Their answer is to tag a multi-player aspect onto every new game in the hopes of getting the real gamers to log on and shoot out. That way they can cut the main game’s running time down enough for the new or casual gamer.

These “new” gamers are an anomaly. Most of them are playing “because everyone is doing it” not unlike the race to lose your virginity when you were in high school (although arguably it appears to be happening much earlier these days) because of peer pressure. Since game companies have shifted their focus onto the “family” gaming market they’ve changed the face of gaming.

Not only have games become shorter, but they’ve become easier. It is a lot harder to get killed or die now-a-days. In fact you kind of have to work at it. In keeping with their new demographic of consumer, game companies don’t want to make the actual game play too difficult, they might lose money.

They will still put out the odd difficult game like Dark Souls where the game play actually seems to be hard just for the sake of it instead of there being a reason for the level of difficulty. They are also changing existing games in the area of genre just to increase their marketability.

Dead Space 3 for example now appears to be more of an action/adventure shooter, losing a lot of its appeal as a horror related shooter. Presumably this shift of focus will allow the more casual gamer to be interested. It is the only explanation for the change of genre that makes any sense.

Gee, all that’s missing is grandma and grandpa…

The introduction of the Xbox Kinect, the Sony Move and all of the Nintendo Wii shows that the game business is all about “family” entertainment now. Presumably every family will participate in fun short games play where everyone from great grandma to little two year old Timmy can spend a limited amount of time playing “group” games. Games that are really last generation arcade type games that used to be playable in the local arcade, bowling alley, or outside Wal-Mart.

I am all right with that whole concept.


Let’s not forget the core of the gaming market. The real gamers who love a long properly challenging game; a lot of these guys are in their 30’s and 40’s (and older) now and unlike the new gamer will make the time to play a longer game. Even if it means only getting to spend a half an hour at a time playing it; because real gamers will not begrudge spending three to four weeks (or longer) getting to the end of their game.

Because real gamers are going to be around a long time yet, long after these new casual gamers have moved on to the next peer pressure driven past time; one that has dictated that family gaming is dead. Hopefully that will mean that game companies will go back to their roots and develop longer games with a bit less emphasis on the multi-player experience.

In the mean time the new casual gamer has all those flash games and Facebook games to keep them busy while we wait for some good “old-fashioned”games with length and difficulty.

Look out for the chainsaw guy and hours of game play…

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

16 thoughts on “Video Game Trends; it’s Short but Look it has Multi-player”

  1. Great article. Personally I don’t care about multiplayer at all, so that means I don’t even look at that aspect when buying a game. Don’t have and Xbox Live Gold subscription either and I don’t miss it. I’m happy when I have some time to play a game, if I had to play against others I’d probably never would be able to finish anything. Recently finished Max Payne 3 and that was a nice long game and lots of fun.


  2. I’m not sure length has anything to do with whether a game is good or not. A quality game is a quality game and criticising a game on length is just simplistic. There are other factors. The question is rather – would the game actually be any better with more added on and I don’t think that’s a definite yes for every so called ‘short’ game out there. In fact I think most games that people deem too short would not have benefitted from being any longer – Deadlight for example.

    I’d rather play a quality title that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome than one with unnecessary padding. I’m not against longer games either but the longer you go the harder it is to keep up compelling gameplay and narrative, most games just can’t do it and fall apart in the needlessly long gametime that dullen the sharp point of what could have been a much tighter and better told story.

    A lot of people complained about Mafia II being too short for a open world game. I would rank it as the best open world game this generation. Why? Because it told the story it wanted to tell with perfect, compelling pacing – the game never dragged and meandered in it’s narrative like many other open world games – losing it’s focus. I think that is a good thing, let’s celebrate games not for their length in hours and minutes, but in the enjoyment they actually give us.


    1. Very valid point. I know I enjoyed both Hitman Absolution and Mafia II. Although in Mafia II a lot of time was spent driving, LOL, both games were cracking games though and as everyone seems to like fast paced games (like fast paced movies) it seems that this is the future of gaming, like it or not. Still, great argument from you! Cheers for the intelligent input! 😀


  3. (More on Hitman Absolution)
    I was stoked about Absolution as I too was a fan of the franchise, but something about this new installment didn’t feel right. I guess to “change things up” they decided to break the game into check points which felt really weird for me for some reason. Also, the game became a “checklist” game, collecting weapons, video tapes, ways to kill the target, etc. it felt tedious after a while and I couldn’t savor the kill (haha that sounded weird). At the end of it all, I agree with you with the game being just, “okay”.

    What are your thoughts on the game, sir Mike?


      1. Lots of replayability (is that a word?) though, playing on harder difficulty for a start lol

        The trilogy will be great because I never got chance to play the PC versions, so all new games. 3 for the price of 1 🙂


  4. Well stated. I despise multiplayer myself, but there are appropriate venues for it. I can see why people would want the challenge of battling against other human beings rather than unimaginative AI bots, and upping the difficulty of games only goes so far. Usually it amounts to an ungodly amount of hitpoints or additional shields for every enemy (I’m looking at you, Mass Effect) or enemies that do wacky cheaty stuff that you can’t. Being a fantasy writer and a fan of ye olde medieval swordplay, Skyrim can fortunately hold my attention, but open world gaming has other genres as well: Grand Theft Auto and Fallout, to name a few. Open world gaming has actually been my favorite aspect of gaming. I like going out and making my own way in the world and not having to rely on the writers to get it right all the time or else mess up a long investment in a series with a true stinker of an ending (I’m still looking at you, Mass Effect.) I also find that gaming on the PC more than console helps in that matter, since player-made mods can really extend the life of many games.


    1. Valid points all, but I’ve got to admit, I wasn’t a big fan of Fallout New Vegas…And PC gaming has never appealed because when I first started playing everything was slow and clunky, I know that has improved but I’ve not tried them again because of that slow clunky beginning. 🙂


      1. Yeah, it’s really a matter of “to each his own.” I happen to like both open-world and story driven games, but I tend to lean more toward the open-world games because I can make my own story in them. I got into PC games when I started programming and only recently started using consoles again, but I’ve fallen in love with modded games. It’s amazing what the general gaming populace is capable of. I’ve even seen a total conversion of Skyrim to a Super Mario Brothers game.


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