Viewpoint: Why don’t we finish games?

If there’s one thing I have a habit of doing, it’s not finishing my games before moving onto the next. It’s something that I’ve never really thought of before, but I recently cast my thoughts to my pile of shame. Being honest, we all have one, some larger than others, but we’re all guilty of leaving one or more games unfinished. When I look at mine, there are some games on there that you wouldn’t expect either; GTA V, The Witcher 3 and Mass Effect 3 to name but a few.

So why is it? Why can’t I finish a game before moving onto the next? When you look at the three that I’ve mentioned, it’s clearly not because of their lack of quality, so what could it be? The common denominator for those three would be that they are all games with long stories and feature many hours worth of gameplay before reaching a conclusion. With that in mind, are they too long and are other games for that matter?

Now this is probably a question that isn’t asked too often when we see far too many games that don’t overstay their welcome. But with that in mind, is a game that lasts between 50-100 hours as off-putting for some as those that last 10 hours? Dedication of time to gaming is something I suspect most gamers will struggle with these days, and some games can feel disjointed if not played continuously. There’s nothing worse than playing a game and coming back to it at a later date and not knowing what’s going on, (agreed, ed). So is that the problem; is there not enough draw in games these days to keep you hooked to the end?

Think of it this way: how many games share a similar control scheme or share the same mechanics? A number of games lend ideas from one another, giving the industry an air of familiarity regardless of the genre. You need to feel lost when starting a new game to keep you learning how to play it, so if you start a game with a sense of familiarity, your interest levels are bound to drop.

I recently started playing Horizon Zero Dawn (I know I’m way behind here) and since starting it, I’ve never once felt comfortable. By that I mean I have a constant sense of anxiety when entering a new area of the map; I never feel like I have the upper hand over the mechanical beasts. Robotic animals and dinosaurs are something new, something we’ve never seen before so require different tactics to overcome.

This is getting out of hand…

This is what keeps us coming back to a game, not one that has rinse and repeat enemies whose design took less than five minutes to finalise. I can honestly say Zero Dawn is one of my favourite IPs on any console to date and it’s not just any old open world game. I could easily forgo other games until I finished it, and there are a number of other games out there that could fight for a spot in the disc drive.

That in itself is a problem – look how many games get crammed into the same release calendar at any one time. If you look in particular at the holiday season, everyone fights to be the number one seller at Christmas. Of course, games need to generate revenue but surely a game needs to be launched to give people enough time to savour it? I don’t think enough games launch over the course of the infamous ‘summer drought’, which would be a perfect time to give people exposure to a new title.

The selection of games we have to choose from isn’t a complaint as such, it’s great to see so many, but I think we only suffer as a result. I love getting excited about new games just like the next guy, but I always question when I’m going to fit them in given that games are getting longer and longer.

Just look what we have coming out from October onwards; Assassin’s Creed Origins, Shadow of War, Super Mario Odyssey and Crackdown 3 to name but a few. These are all games I want to play, and will at some stage, but it’s impossible to have them all going on at any one time. So this, most of all, is the main reason why I don’t think we complete games as often as we used to before moving on.

Having new games is great, but they need to be released to give us, the gamers, enough time to enjoy them to their fullest. It’s no surprise that many opt to wait for games to drop in price before picking them up, which is a shame, as this does not support the developers as much as we should be able to.

What do you think reader? Let us know in the comments below, if you please.

8 thoughts on “Viewpoint: Why don’t we finish games?

  1. You’re right on all accounts on this article. I have just started horizon myself and I was blown away. I bought Nioh at the same time and just loaded it on the HD and installed the updates. I can’t out horizon down to even start the other.

    I try to discipline myself to finish a game before starting another now, since I have kids and try to practice what I preach lol but it’s hard.

  2. Because the games people buy are not the result of innate interest, but echo-chamber hype. There is a constant fear or missing out on the next release. And actions speak louder than words. All these games that go unfinished just reveal the lack of innate interest.

  3. Oh yeah. Off the top of my head, I have the following games pending across several game consoles, some I started years ago and haven’t touched them for a long time: The Last Story, Dark Cloud 2, Child of Light, Tales of Xillia, Rogue Galaxy, Rise of the Tomb Raider, X-Com 2, God Eater for PS4, Gravity Rush 1 for Vita, Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time, Persona 4 Golden, Yggdra Union, Tales of Berseria, Breath of Fire 2 (Wii Virtual Console), Valkyria Chronicles Remastered, Nier Automata, Majora’s Mask (Wii VC), Tales of Graces F, Tales of Vesperia, Final Fantasy IV (The one with Cecil, I’m sure it was IV), Megaman Legacy Collection…

    There are too many games coming out at once, plus there are the sales that offer past games with big discounts. I have some games I bought on sales but haven’t even started once yet, such as Oceanhorn, Tales of Xillia 2 and Gravity Rush 2. Perhaps the best we can do is to “disconnect” ourselves from the Internet and other gaming-focused mass media, and focus on the games we have at the moment.

  4. I have a backlog on my Xbox 360E, trying to finish Skyrim Legendary Edition, I will get into the 8th Generation with the Xbox One X… and have a backlog there too… but it is not the length of the game, I like long games like Skyrim where you can get into the game for a long time… If a game is short, I don’t buy them unless they are FPSs… on RPGs and Action RPGs, I like long games

  5. You’re absolutely right. The games are great but it’s just so hard to dedicate even 10 hours in a game. And longer games do feel disjointed when coming back to them.

    Back in the day I thought a game less than 20 hours wasn’t long enough. Now I’m older and the tables have turned.

    I focused last month real hard to only play Breath of the Wild. And I finished it, but it took a good 2 months to do it. 8o hours total. It’s just real hard to take on that one big game and ignore the rest. Realistically it’s what I need to do to actually finish these long games.

  6. Sometimes I don’t continue to play certain video games because like you aptly said, “You need to feel lost when starting a new game to keep you learning how to play it, so if you start a game with a sense of familiarity, your interest levels are bound to drop.” I used to play platform games and sports games all the time but the concept became repetitive, so I have stopped playing them for a while.

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