How Much Is Enough?

Last games I played all the way through? Mario Galaxy 2, Borderlands, and You Have To Burn The Rope.

BREAKING NEWS! Recently unclassified development documents reveal astonishing details about our views on game length!

CONFIDENTIAL Unclassified Fire Hose Game Length Guidelines

1. A game should have a length that is reasonable given its price point and its genres. The pricier the game the more depth and game play it should have. It’s fine if a $1 iPhone game only has 10 minutes of game play, but a $60 PS3 game better be waaay longer. Games that rely heavily on multiplayer (like fighting and FPS games) can have much shorter campaigns, while JRPGs can have entirely unreasonable game lengths, to the point where you want to stop playing because they are so longwinded and boring. For example, Wind Waker [redacted]

2. It’s ok if an experimental/highly innovative game is a bit shorter, while well established genre titles should have more meat to them. Making generic Mario-like platformer #18? It better have some real depth to it.

3. Games should end around an hour before they lose my attention or when [redacted]. This usually occurs right around the time that game mechanics start getting reused wholesale.

4. Replayability is more important than game length. A short game that I want to play over and over again is better than a long, boring monstrosity I’ll never want to touch again.

5. There are a small, vocal minority of nuts on the internet are very sensitive about game length vs. price (see Limbo complaints). Generally they only complain about games that they like, so if you are a developer and they are complaining about your game then MAN UP AND MAKE THEM HAPPY! Add in hooks to make the game more replayable so they get their money’s worth. Don’t piss off your fans! I’m looking at you [redacted], [redacted], and [redacted].

6. You Have To Burn The Rope is hilarious, and way better than Don’t Shit Your Pants. Actually… I’m not so sure it’s better.

7. Games designed to waste your time suck and I have no intention of ever playing them or making them. See: Farmville.


This is part of an industry wide day of talking about game length. Want to read more? Check out:

Jonathan Blow of Number None:
Ron Carmel of 2DBoy:
Chris DeLeonL:
Dave Gilbert of Wadjet Eye Games:
Eitan Glinert of Fire Hose Games:
Mike Gilgenbach of 24 Caret Games:
Cliff Harris of Positech Games:
Chris Hecker of Spy Party:
Scott Macmillan of Macguffin Games:
Noel Llopis:
Peter Jones of Retro Affect:
Lau Korsgaard:
Martin Pichlmair of Broken Rules:
Greg Wohlwend of Intution Games:
Jeffrey Rosen of Wolfire:


  1. @ Ava: Yeah, it’s possible I’m mixing up terms here. I want more awesomeness when I have an established genre, not necessarily more length. Why the hell would I want to play more of the same stuff that I’ve already played before, for a longer time?

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