This week brought with it a little bit of controversy in the world of video games, when word surfaced that the highly anticipated new PlayStation 4 exclusive title The Order: 1886 is short. Like, really short. Five to seven hours short. While still costing the full $60 you’d spend on most new games.
This re-sparked the always interesting debate: are you willing to shell out the full $60 retail price for a game that’s only as long as a few movies, even if the game in question is actually really good?
Early reviews of The Order are mixed, with most agreeing that it looks really nice, but that’s about all it has to offer. It also sounds like those short few hours are half cut scenes and quicktime events, and the game leaves questions unanswered as it tries to set up future games, which, to me, is an even worse offense than being short in playtime if true.
When you add these things up, it becomes clear that, if you are going to play this one, it’s probably in your best interest to wait a bit and pick the game up when it’s cheaper. This is the same smart strategy used for games like Titanfall, which also cost $60 but offered no single player campaign, just multiplayer action. Sure, you’ll get many more hours of playing out of a multiplayer game—and if that’s all you enjoy doing then it would be worth it—but for those who expect a full game when they pay for it the price tag is simply not worth it.
When you think about shorter games that many would agree are worth paying full price for, a few names come to mind. The Halo games are generally fairly short. As are the Gears of War games and the Call of Duty games. All of these have multiplayer options fans of these particular series enjoy, though there’s also plenty of people who have no interest in multiplayer.
Personally I’ve always found it insane that shorter games can still charge full price, even with a multiplayer option. There should be tiers based on the length of the campaign. $20 to $30 for games under 15 hours. $30 to $40 for games under 15 hours that also offer multiplayer and games 15 to 20 hours in length. And finally $40 to $60 for anything over 20 hours. I’d love to see a sort of sub-genre of games that are fast-paced, cinematic, run only four to five hours, and cost $20 or so. Almost a fusion of the things that make video games and fun popcorn flicks so much fun. There could really be a niche market for such a thing.
Some games already practice this in a way. The Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain prologue, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, was released starting at $30—though many thought even that was too much for how brief it was—before dropping to $20. Telltale’s games, such as The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Game of Thrones, and Tales from the Borderlands, are released episodically in seasons, with each season being five to six episodes. Depending on whether you buy each episode individually, pay for the season pass, or wait until the season is released as a whole, each full season will run you about $20 to $30 for around eight to 10 hours of gameplay. Not bad at all, though the games don’t offer nearly as much actual gameplay as regular games, focusing more on interacting with people and objects and making many dialogue and other choices that can affect and alter your storyline.
An argument can also be made the other way here as well. If you feel a short game shouldn’t cost full price, does that also mean that massive games should cost more than $60? Take for example Bethesda’s games, such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. That game offers an unbelievably massive open world to explore and get lost in, and does it in a way that makes it difficult to ever get bored no matter how long you play. This is a game that can be played for hundreds of hours—something that’s become very clear to me, someone who’s been trying to stretch it out as long as possible, as I’m currently multiple hundreds of hours OVER the hundreds of hours I estimated—so would it be fair to charge $80 or more for such a game? Probably. It’s certainly worth the extra coin. Though let’s hope that never happens.
How do you feel about the subject? Obviously everyone would rather pay less if possible, but are you accepting of the fact that most new games, short and long, cost the usual $60 to start, or do you feel publishers should charge less where applicable?
Here’s the launch trailer for The Order: 1886, and you can check out previous trailers and gameplay demos right here.