GamerSushi Asks: Are 100 Hour Games Necessary?

Dark Souls

With the price of games on the rise, so too have a series of complaints risen around the idea that longer games generally mean better games. In particular, RPGs are expected to be bloated to colossal lengths, from the Elder Scroll series to Mass Effect and even Fallout 3. Gamers want more game for their money, more world to explore, more weapons to collect, more foes to conquer and more time to invest. But is this always a good thing?

In a rather interesting (if somewhat controversial) review of the game Dark Souls, Slate writer Michael Thomsen wonders if 100 hour games are a waste of time for gamers instead of a boon to their hobby. Even though I haven’t played the game, and always hear the opposite of his assessment of it, I do have to say that I find his prodding question to be thought-provoking. Honestly, there’s so much that people can accomplish in the amount of time it would take someone to clamber through all of Skyrim – but does that mean that it’s pointless for the person that enjoys it?

It seems that Thomsen would argue that yes, it is. In his view, it’s never necessary for a game to take 100 hours to tell its tale, and that many games have done better with far less time. When put that way, I do have to agree: some of my most favorite games have accomplished what they did in around 20 hours or so, without ever overstaying their welcome.

So, while I’m not sure I’m on board with everything this article states, I did want to kick the question to you guys: are 100 hour games just a waste of time? Go!


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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

9 thoughts on “GamerSushi Asks: Are 100 Hour Games Necessary?”

  1. I think “necessary” is a weird way to put it. Is a 1 hour game “unnecessary”? It’s all about expressing things as succinctly as possible, without cutting too much. By that same token, if it takes you 100 hours to fully express everything that has to be explained, go for it. But when developers fill up space so that one of their blips on the case can be “OVER 80 HOURS OF GAME-WORLD TO EXPLORE” that’s just cheating.

    I’ve spent hundreds of hours replaying the same 10 – 20 hour games like Deus Ex, Max Payne, Valve in general, Mafia, etc. None of those games needed epic 100 hour RPG 4-player co-op sync-to-twitter operations to keep me hooked. A good game is a good game.

  2. I think games that force you to put 100 hours into them are a waste of time. However games like the Elder Scrolls series where the main quest only takes you 8 hours or so, and you make your own fun from there, aren’t. You are voluntarily staying within that world. Gamers are absolutely obsessed about getting the most for their $60 (I swear some of them act like that $60 is $300). For example, the Witcher 1 boasted 80 hours of non linear story play on the back of the box, however it had many pacing issues throughout. The Witcher 2 came out and had a solid 30 hours, and was a well oiled machine with flawless pacing and a better narrative. Yet gamers complained, as if they were cheated. People need to stop viewing games in numbers, and start viewing games as quality of experience.

  3. Some of my favorite games of all time were about at the twenty-ish mark, like Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto IV, Half Life,and more. Not all games should have that length though. The length is one of the things that makes the game what it is. Some of my other favorite games are much shorter like Halo: Reach, and others that are much longer like Fallout: New Vegas. 100-hour games are almost always going to be the hardcore RPGs and that’s what RPG fans like. Shooters aren’t made to be very long because most people simply wouldn’t want to play it for a large amount of time.

  4. I really don’t know why “necessary” is key in this. Sure Skyrim has a lot of hours you can log into it, but that’s not even the story. Half of the over 60 to 80 hours I logged on that game were both story, side, quests, and mainly LOOTING. The story itself I believe only takes about 10 hours, maybe 15? I’m not sure on actuals, but if you play and focus only on the main story, it gets done fairly quickly. It’s just Bethesda’s evil concoction of getting you hooked on looting the shit out of every cave. I really have never ran into a game story that took longer than at least 15 hours.

  5. I read this article yesterday and it’s kind of pompous, but that might just be me having the POV of a gamer that happens to love the game in question, as well as many other long games. He says books that take 100 hours to read can teach you life lessons, but any lesson you can learn in a game can be learned in the first few hours. The rest is just, in Dark Souls’ case, a masochistic desire to win.

    However, speaking for Dark Souls, finding out the history of this world can teach anyone playing valuable inference skills, which as a high school teacher I know is in short supply for kids at that age. That’s just one example, and I don’t want to go on a rant, but even if I pointed out something to continually learn from every game ever, it still doesn’t touch on the fact that everything someone does does not have to provide intellectual stimulation. Yes, reading is important, and you should not sacrifice reading for games. But if you can both, how can that be a bad thing?

  6. I believe that it’s purely subjective. Did you enjoy that 100 hours of gameplay? If so, then of course it’s not a waste of time. You enjoyed yourself and got something out of it. Some games need the long play times, some don’t. There’s a time and place for each kind of game which is great. Sometimes you just need a quick fix, a short well crafted shooter perhaps. Other times you need a world to dive into and not resurface for ages or else invest time in it over the course of a few weeks, months or even years.

  7. I found myself grappling with this question after I noticed that I had clocked over 150 hours in Skyrim and just recently got around to putting the Dah in Fus Ro Dah. Distractions, distractions!

    Skyrim’s hundreds of hours of content arguably feel “unnecessary” because it’s main quest feels a bit lacking, but Fallout 3’s hundreds of hours of content were a fun detour from the main quest which added a breath of life to the Capital Wasteland. Is it just me, or is Skyrim’s writing worse than Fallout 3’s? I coulda sworn that I felt connections to even the sidequest characters in Fallout 3. Even Fallout New Vegas developed a bond between me and my followers. Boone is officially my favorite NPC Companion in any game. I love what Obsidian did by spacing out his quests and conversations over the course of the game. It makes sense too; as you fight together, you open up to each other. In Skyrim, many companions don’t even talk to you after you recruit them. That’s really pathetic, honestly.

    I personally enjoy 20-/30-hour experiences a lot more than sandbox games. The only sandbox game that comes close is Fallout 3, but that’s because its universe is so interesting. Games like Deus Ex and Mass Effect have well-written, well-designed narratives that sit the player down, engross them in a story with refined characters, pacing, and challenges. As opposed to dropping the player in a wide-open sandbox, the game leads you from confrontation to confrontation, with non-combat things like dialogue and city exploration to take the place of cutscenes which would appear in a game like Call of Duty’s campaign. Mass Effect isn’t really a 100-hour game like Skyrim; you’re really experiencing the story along a well-structured path. Any planet exploration or planet mining is just a minigame pretty much.

  8. Articles like this drive me nuts. Just because this gentleman doesn’t like it means it shouldn’t exist.

    Allow others to play what they wish, sir. And you may play what you wish without me telling you it’s “unnecessary”.

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