Resident Evil VII: Village is one of the most anticipated titles of the season but it was also the subject of an unnecessary discourse prior to launch. It had fallen into the debate regarding the playtime vs. cost in video games. That is because the game has an estimate playtime of 5 to 10 hours. Those who are outraged see it as being too short and not worth buying at launch.
This has not been the first time such a debate has been brought up but it’s always the same black and white argument. If a title has a playtime that is under “X” hours then it’s not worth buying. Its understandable that someone want to get their moneys worth. However, there is so much nuance to this that it can’t be easily answered.
What has made this a terrible discourses is that the most vocal gamers seem to take a tunneled vision approach. Anyone who has actually played a game understands that a games value can’t be defined by its cost vs playtime. Unfortunately the conversations is driven by those who are both loud and close minded. Thus it helps to break down the fallacies in this discourse and why it needs to end.
Defining Playtime and Value
Defining the concept of playtime alone is when you hit the real problem in this discussion. One can’t simply define a games playtime due to multiple factors. There are so many ways to experiences a game, even for the first time, that it’s difficult to define the concept of a first playthrough. Then there is the concept of multiplayer and the factor it has on the playtime.
For example, how does one define the playtime of Cyberpunk 2077, a game with a playtime of 20 hours (if you ignore all the side quests and focus only on the main story). How do you define the playtime of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War single-player campaign that has multiple endings? What about PlayersUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a game that lacks a single player story and is just a multiplayer experience? See, this is not an easy question to answer on the spot.
Defining playtime is not the only issue in this discourse as many seem to omit the factor of replay value. Unless it’s awful, nobody really finishes a game once and then never returns to it. Video games are made to be played more than once and a lot of titles incentives players to return. Be it to do better, unlock secrets, alternative plot lines or a speed run; video games give players plenty of reasons to go back. Every Resident Evil game has given players a reason to go back to unlock bonus content and Village is no exception. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes had a playtime of about 1.5 hours but is also rich in replay value with bonus missions and unlockable secrets.
Unfortunately, the discourse of playtime vs. cost in video games always ignore replay value as a factor. Some could make the case that a title has no replay value, but even that is a matter of opinion. I’ve played AAA titles that I felt were not worth going back while putting over 100 hours into an indie titles like Cuphead.
Looking Beyond Cost and Playtime
The discourse regarding the cost vs. the playtime of video games is one that is extremely close minded. Buying a game at launch is pricey but one should be focused on if they will enjoy the title. There is more to a game and players should not be obsessed over the first run vs. how much it costs at launch.
Do you agree with my insight into the debate of playtime and value in video games? Was there a point I failed to mention or do you disagree with the argument? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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