There was an article on CNN last year, “Why most people don’t finish video games”, highlighting a stat from Raptr that only 10% of tracked gamers had completed the final mission of Red Dead Redemption (a game taking upwards of 30 hours to finish). The conclusion for single player games was the future being shorter, campaigns of around 10 hours, with further content in expansion packs.
Update: UnSubject has done some sterling work digging in to the numbers and 10% is at the low end, but the stats seem to confirm the shorter single player campaign, more than half the titles taking on average less than 10 hours.
For an MMO player, of course, 10 hours is “not a bad first session”. 30 hours is “a decent headstart weekend (with 18 hours of queuing and server maintenance)”. 100 hours will do for launch week (I seem to recall Raptr reporting one user with 149 hours logged in the opening week of Cataclysm, though that’s just the game client running as opposed to active play), but there’d better be more than that to warrant a subscription.
I don’t envy a company trying to keep both camps happy…
 OK, obviously it’s a certain subset of MMO players. Or a certain subset of all game players, there are probably 100 hour-per-week Spider Solitaire fiends, engaging in flamewars of eye-popping obscenity with those Freecell noobs between hands.
Funnily enough, I just looked at that article and completion rates on a number of games (sorry for the blog plug): http://unsubject.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/what-proportion-of-games-actually-get-completed-by-players/
Out of the games I looked at, on average only 35% of people play all the way through them and I think there will be a significant negative correlation between times and completion rates (i.e. the shorter the game, the more likely it will be completed).
Ah, good stuff! Apologies, had flipped through your piece (probably what reminded me of the CNN article), but blog catch-ups over Christmas were a bit hurried and all blur together slightly.
I’ve finished three games in my life – Half Life, Starcraft 2 and Arkham Asylum. And one of those was just last week. That’s about one for every seven years of my gaming life.
I’ve always known that I’m a terrible slacker, but that’s rather shocking even to me. On the bright side though, my current Steam/GOG lists give me plenty to look forward to until at least 2901.
I think I’m at least in double figures for lifetime game completion, but just looking at UnSubject’s list reminded me that Braid and Portal 2 (amongst many others) sitting in my Steam library waiting to be finished, fine games both, but for some reason I haven’t got around to actually finishing them off.
If you look at it from a completion standpoint, it is actually lower in MMOs even if you look at it from a raiding or collecting or level cap. While MMO’s by designed cannot be “finished” there are a lot of those “solitaire” players in MMOs as well.
I don’t think I have finished many games besides Mario or Mega Man. I don’t think I ever truly finished a Zelda game. I did finish one final fantasy.
I didn’t look at MMOs because they don’t usually have centrally tracked stats for max level. Some do, but I wasn’t willing to hunt them out. However, I’d suspect that it would be quite low as well since the time investment factor is very large.
And no problem on blurring together who said what – I’m just glad someone reads it!