“Why put all that effort in for nothing? We should see games as experiences.”
If you’ve played Josef Fares’ A Way Out or even Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, the length for both titles would have stood out. While the former is roughly six hours long, the latter only requires three hours to complete. Fares believes that the length of the game should be in keeping with his vision.
Speaking to VG247, he revealed that, “If you look through the statistics of how many people actually play through a game – take a game like A Way Out, I think the playthrough rate on PS4 was around 52 percent.” When told that this was pretty good (especially when many people don’t always finish games), he criticized the industry’s obsession with game length and replay value.
“Yes! And that’s what concerns me, that you think it’s really good. Imagine someone like James Cameron going, ‘Oh, only 50 percent of the people walked out of the cinema, wow, that’s great!’ It’s insane. We have designer teachers who tell their students to focus on the first 40 percent of the game because the rest? People probably won’t see it.
“Why put all that effort in for nothing? We should see games as experiences. It doesn’t matter how long they are. If it’s so common that people don’t play through the games, then why should we even comment on replayability and how long they are? Why should that affect score? It shouldn’t. When my publisher [asked about game length] I was like, ‘Why are you asking that? I’m not even going to answer that s**t’.”
Replay value and game length are both dicey subjects – how do you deliver more content while ensuring it’s at an consistently higher quality? It’s not an easy task. Fares believes that while making a longer game is tougher, it’s all about going with whatever works with his design instead of increasing the game’s length for the sake of it.
Nonetheless, the question of replayability keeps popping up. “Sometimes it feels like we’re serving a table full of food and people get upset when all the food is not there. They’re only going to eat this,” said Fares as he mimicked a bit of food being scooped from a bowl, “But [the rest] has to be there rotten or they get super upset.”
What are your thoughts on the matter? Should games try to throw in as much content as possible at a decent quality? Or should they strive for an excellent experience that could potentially last for a shorter period? Perhaps there could be a balance of both? Let us know in the comments below.