About two weeks ago, CNN posted an article that showed that an average of only 10% of gamers finish the games they play. After reading the article, I was surprised by the numbers and to an extent, the reasons for these low numbers. However, after thinking about what author Blake Snow had to say, along with his sources, I came to the realization that this was completely true in most aspects. To paraphrase, low attention spans, a greater amount of releases and multiplayer are the reasons for the low completion rate. If you have time, I would check out the article here. It’s an interesting read and goes into more detail than I just did. You might be surprised by how accurate it actually is, despite perhaps your inability to accept it.
From a personal level, I am guilty of most of the accounts the article charges me with. To start with, I could say that I have a lot of games. I currently don’t own any new consoles like the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Wii due to financial hardship but I do have a Nintendo 64, NES and Sega Genesis, as well as my PC. I own five N64 games, 15 NES games (minus doubles), over 30 Sega Genesis games and over 100 PC games (thanks in no small part to Steam and their bundle deals). I’ve owned even more in the past. I love all kinds of video games and that’s why I own so many titles. However that doesn’t mean I’ve played all of them. Sure, maybe I’ve put the cartridge in the slot or disc in the tray and started it. Maybe played the first 15 minutes or so of the game but usually that’s just to test it and make sure the game works properly as I usually buy used. Of all the games I own, I’ve probably played, let alone beaten, around 25% of them.
The point I’m getting at is although I love video games, sometimes it feels like I’m collecting games rather than actually playing and enjoying them. As anyone who reads my posts may probably know by now, I’ve been working on beating Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas at 100% completion for some time now. What you probably don’t know is that I’ve owned this game for at least two years. What’s more is that I’ve own other versions of the game on other consoles before as well. I’ve never gotten into the game for very long. The reasons is exactly as the CNN article first described. Games like San Andreas demand such a commitment that I’m unwilling to give it that and I end up moving on to something else. How much I enjoy the game has nothing to do with it. The matter is made worse when I enjoy retro games still and there were many games I missed the first time around.
A low attention span isn’t something people who know me will say I have. I like to believe that I have good focus and can stay on one individual item or situation when it calls for it. However, one of the reasons I don’t finish games is because I give attention to my other interests. I love listening to music, I enjoy watching TV shows, I also play guitar, I like to read and I write. Not to mention there are every day things to tend to. So as much as I like to thing I can keep focus on one thing, it technically is impossible. As much as I’d like to stick to just one game, my attention span is too limited. As I’m playing San Andreas, I tried to start to play Final Fantasy V and later The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I’ve already stopped playing them because I can only handle one game with that kind of commitment. I’m trying to play a few games that don’t require much of a commitment (Unreal II on my PC, Mega Man 6 on my NES, Killer Instinct Gold on my N64, etc) while I still plug away on San Andreas but only time will tell if I keep with it.
I believe that the above point is the main reason why I at least can’t finish games. The other two points, multiplayer and greater amounts of releases I disagree with. The Sony PlayStation had over a thousand game releases. The Super Nintendo had nearly 800 games. I actually think that there are less games in retail than there used to be due to the high cost of development nowadays. I do think that there are more games that are considered great due again to the high development costs. Games need to be good because they cost too much to make. So I do agree that there’s more big games that we want to play now than before but I think in quantity, there’s less. Another thing is multiplayer. I don’t really play multiplayer games. I wrote an article about Team Fortress 2 and how good it was for new players a couple of months ago. It was an interesting development for me personally because this was the first online game I had gotten into since Street Fighter IV. I just am not into multiplayer that much and I believe most players don’t want multiplayer games that much because they’ll usually stick to just one or two. It’s pretty common to hear someone say that they only play Call of Duty and Halo online and they’ll just play a couple of matches a day or so. The rest of the time, they’ll working on a single player campaign like Uncharted 2 or Bioshock 2’s single player.
Ironically, I have found personally that as I’ve begun writing more seriously, I have more focus on the games I play. What do you think? Do you finish your games? Comment below and let me know. This is a conversation post. Feel free to post your thoughts.