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Are Games Getting Shorter? Raptr Data Helps Answer The Question

Here at Raptr, tracking gameplay hours and the number of users playing games is kind of our thing. This massive flow of data that pours into our database privies us insight into trends in the video game industry. Having all of this data to ourselves is great, but sharing it is better.

We dug through our data and pulled out some interesting nuggets of information on some of the top games. With the help of our data, Timothy Seppalla, writer at the popular site Ars Technica, was able to shed more light on why video games are becoming shorter with his article, “The incredible shrinking game: The truth of game length in the modern industry“.

It was always thought that gamers prefer longer games; they could spread out their playtime over months, getting the most bang for their buck. However, recent Raptr tracking shows this may not be the case today. Our data shows that longer games that have an average 20-30 hours completion time like Red Dead Redemption, actually have a lower number of total hours played compared to shorter games like Black Ops that require only 5-8 hours to beat.

Obviously games with great multiplayer keep players invested in the game long after the singleplayer campaign has been cleared. It makes sense with people playing Black Ops longer than Red Dead. That’s why we chose to look at the completion rates for just the singleplayer components of games.

Our data shows that longer games have poorer completion rates compared to shorter games. Only “7 percent of registered gamers on the 360 version of Red Dead Redemption completed the final story mission”. Comparatively nearly 58 percent of registered 360 users beat the campaign mode in Black Ops.

Developers use tracking of achievements and trophies of gamers to determine what kinds of games to create. If they see that the majority of their users have not completed the single player, or even reached the final campaign section, developers will take it as an indicator to make shorter games.

Our Raptr app serves as the perfect bridge between your gaming preferences and the developer. If you sign up for Raptr and download the app, we can log your game hours. Game developers can then make more informed decisions about what kinds of games you as consumers like to play.

24 Comments
  1. Dekamaster says:

    Actually, Red Dead Redemption (that is a really cool game) have a little problem, after “that thing” happens to John Marston, must ppl thinks that they got to the end of the game and stop playing, or get upset about “that thing” and stop playing as well.

  2. Hess says:

    The only reason games like Black Ops have very high game time counts is because everyone plays the multiplayer. Looking at the list of games on display, it is pretty obvious that there is a real lack of RPGs in that list. The only RPG there is Mass Effect 2, which has the longest play time for the single player campaign and the highest completion rate. Traditionally RPGs are very long as the story is far more important to the overall feel of the game, and many RPG fans feel short changed if a game takes under 30ish hours to complete. Look at some of the complaints for Dragon Age 2. Many people felt it was far too short, despite taking me over 5 times as long as BF2:BC to complete. So whilst games that are more focused on multiplayer can afford to go a bit short with the story, the same cannot be said for all games.

  3. Celld says:

    Yeah, but you should fix the achievement tracking first..
    e.g.: Forza Motorsport 3 on 360

    Welcome to Forza Motorsport
    Complete the very first race in the game. 59.42%

    vs.

    Weekday Event
    Complete your first weekday event in Season Play mode. 79.95%

    Impossible ;)

  4. Valkyrie says:

    I agree with Hess. And if you only count the single player hours in Black Ops, it’s definitely high, but only because people are nearly forced to play it again and again so that it feels like they actually did something. Also, the people who use raptr, are usually people who play shorter games, and only a percent of gamers. Those who use steam don’t bother using another game-time tracking soft since steam has it in-built and majority of non-steam gamers still use x-fire. This means that any statistics you have on game popularity is quite probably false.

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  6. R4VI4TOR says:

    “Also, the people who use raptr, are usually people who play shorter games” – Where did you get that from ? ^^

    “Those who use steam don’t bother using another game-time tracking soft since steam has it in-built”

    I do use steam, and I am bothering using a second software to track my time. AS you can see now on the recent news – the PSN hacking still going. So imo it is important to have a backup software in case one has a total blackout.

    “and majority of non-steam gamers still use x-fire” True, but they aren’t just aware that Raptr is the superior Game Messenger, lets change that asap ;)

    The theory that games with singleplayer modes become shorter is interesting but I just think the games with long singleplayer modes have been rare from the beginning and are mostly RPG’s like Elder Scrolls: Oblivion or any of BIOWARE’s games (Just to mention few). Who wants an FPS with very long campaign ? Noone… People love to play with other people these days, and many haven’t even played the Black Ops Campaign once, they bought the game just for the MP. So why developing a huge deep long SP campaign…

  7. Nick says:

    I agree with everyone on here. Personaly, I stick to shorter gameplay due to the fact that I have to balance family,school,work and gameplay. I purchased games like new vegas and FF but rarely play them due to the fact that I don’t have the time to put in them. I stick to games like COD and Fight night, along with arcade games like poker just for the fact that I can ” pick up n play”. Then I forget where I left off on the long games and hesitate to play them again. It’s a vicious cycle.

  8. zubalove says:

    Brilliant. I’d be interested in looking at crosstabs of all this. FPS, RPG, Action/Adventure, Sports… Then look at the demographic data with it. Especially if education level was included…. Neat stuff. Raptr should interest the gaming industry for data modeling work and market segmentation.

  9. toliman says:

    kinda ridiculous skew to the results, since you’re speculating on games with multiplayer vs RPG vs FPS vs platformer. of course people are going to attain achievements in a multiplayer game if it gives them a competitive edge. RDR is just too vast, as is GTA4 or FNV, to compare it to MOH/COD/BO

    would be nice to have some PHP chart-fu on the results so you could see what genre was popular, to segment audience by geography, genres, demographics, etc. i dont think the sample size raptr has is indicative, but it’s fun to poke the “stats” bear.

  10. I prefer short play times because of my busy schedule. I need time too for my family!!

  11. Raye says:

    I agree, it’s largely dependent on genre. RPG fans, in general, like some meat to their games, a long and involved main quest is a huge selling point, and anything below 20 hours or so is considered sub-par. Mass Effect in that graph shows this. And most fans of the genre will happily play well over that. Bethesda’s games are famous for having people play for, literally, hundreds of hours thanks to their sandboxy nature and strong modding community. But 20+ hours would be too much for some other types of games, Portal 2 would have been way too long if it had gone that long. Shooters, RPG’s, MMO’s, Adventure games etc. all have different ideal lengths.

  12. DigitalOtaku says:

    The main thing that “kills” this article is the fact that PS3 play time is not counted by Raptr. PS3 users have to add their play times manually. Considering PS3 has a good bit more RPG’s than the 360. So it’s hard to take this info as “facts” when really the only true data is from the 360 & PC games only. And even the PC is short on “console RPG” like Tales series. That, and the fact that ME2 is the only game being compared that is an RPG. And going by achivements alone does nothing to help, Ive beaten many games that only gave me less than 10% of the achivements after my 1st play through. But none of that is taken into consideration when writing these type of articles. I just hope publishers & developers don’t see this as the truth without a huge *.

  13. I agree with DigitalOtaku the PS3 rocks, and as he also has said ps3 has got more fps games. I think its rasicm :P

  14. Jive Turkey says:

    “Our data shows that longer games have poorer completion rates compared to shorter games.”
    Duh. That’s because longer games take more time to complete.

    “Red Dead Redemption, actually have a lower number of total hours played compared to shorter games like Black Ops”. Have you considered that Black Ops is just an easier games, or a better game, or at least a more popular one. With the sales records Black Ops broke, it’s no wonder it has a higher number of total hours… it has a higher number of players!

    If this is the kind of short-sighted analysis your service provides, you are doing a disservice.
    I mean come on, only 13 games were compared in this! And there are huge differences between some of these games. There are too many variables and not enough samples. Try comparing all the games in a popular series.

  15. downsouth420 says:

    Really, the perfect example of this is the fighting game genre, not the FPS genre. Ever since the genre even came out, the idea is that you play against other people. The single player mode on the average fighting game takes 8 minutes or less to play through, yet people log more hours playing and perfecting fighting games than almost any other genre.

  16. Pavel says:

    This is a useless graph cuz achievement completion has nothing to do with game completion. GTA and RDR are very stingy with their achievements , it’s well known. I can’t even remeber if there were achievement for completion certain parts of the game, and Blops gives about 50% of acheivement points just for completing every mission. Of course less people are going to finish a massive game like RDR where there’ tons of stuff to do apart from beating mission after mission. I’m sure people who felt that they got enough out of this game after 20 hours even if they haven’t comleted the story are happier with their purchase, than people who have beaten CoD in one sitting.

  17. t0ester 12 says:

    yes i agree that the red dead redemption thing does look like it ends the game, if it wasnt for a fellow gamer i too would not have finished the game

  18. lordfirefox says:

    I have to agree with Pavel. Achievement completion does mean anything. And thus is not a good system of measurement. Not only because not everyone will get all 100% of the achievements but mainly because most “real” gamers don’t even care about them.

    I’ve completed 99% out of the 200+ games in my collection without getting all the achievements and I move on to completing other games that don’t even have them. And I’m sorry just because someones doesn’t 100% a game like GTA: Vice City doesn’t mean they haven’t played the game to it’s conclusion. It just means they haven’t done EVERY menial thing in the game.

    In other words Raptr; Your graph is BS at best.

  19. Why is black ops at 57,8% that game is anything what i did’nt expect.

  20. Brian says:

    I have Red Dead Redemption and I beat it. But at the end when Jack is looking for his dads killer. I did stop playing it for about a month or so because I was so mad at it because I could not find where to go. But I come back to it and I beat it. I rented black ops 2 from red box and beat it in a day an a half. Then I went and bought it because I thought it had more single player on it. It didn’t so that was a wast of money. And I bought halo 4 and i beat it.should a have jut rented it. Because I don’t like multiplayer shooting games. There really hard for me. U got to be fast on the controller or your dead! I’m not fast! I bought just cause 2 and its a good long single player game. And I like the GTA games. I like playing GTA 4 on both

  21. Brian says:

    Make longer single player games your tracking system sucks big balls!!!!

  22. Brian says:

    Why do people want to pay $60.00 for a game to beat it really fast? If I’m going to pay that much I want to take my time. And have fun. But I don’t pay that much for my games. I like to shop on amazon.com I buy the use copy’s if there a batter price then the new ones

  23. Billy Bob says:

    I’ve been a gamer for over twenty years and I’ve loved every bit of it until this generation consols (Ps3 360 wii) the games of this generation have been too short for my taste. I use to by my games new even somtime per-ordering them. But after getting screwed out of my hard earned money one too many times. I finally learn to wait and bye a cheaper used version. But with Sony and Microsoft scheming to do away with that and yet again screw US over. Instead of fixing the problem. It’s highly doubt full that I’ll be wasting my money on the Ps4 or the Xbox 370 or what ever its called.
    But at least I still have my backwards compatble Super Ps2 Ps3 Xbox and Xbox360 and my GameCube pluse a nice collection of games for them all.

  24. Michael says:

    Is raptr really an accurate source for this kind of stuff? Their game time tracking is not good.

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