There’s Nothing Wrong With Short Games – Mike Matei Blog

I’ve often seen games get blasted critically for being too short.  A lot of my favorite games have suffered this fate, and I want to make a case why short games should exist too.

Time Crunched People Benefit From Short Games

If you’re a busy individual, a tight hour of gameplay can feel like a satisfying lunch break on a difficult work shift. It’s a mini-vacation for the mind.  Even if you’re not a busy person, getting a full gaming experience in one sitting is a refreshing change of pace.

Highly Replayable Short Games Can Be “Longer” Than Long Games

There’s lots of brief games that I enjoy revisiting often.  There’s less of a commitment, so when they call out to me from the shelf it’s hard to resist running through them again. All that time might add up to more than a single playthrough of a long game.

Developers Can Polish Short Games Easier

Many short games are perfect from start to finish. A longer game can become a sprawling problem and developers might not have the chance to chase down every last flaw.  A small, cozy game can be a less daunting task for a game designer to tidy up, and the results can be awesome.

“Another Day, Another Try…”

Short games can be daringly difficult. If you get a Game Over, it’s not too much of a loss to just try again from the start.  Beating tough games in one stretch results in a nice sense of accomplishment, and short games facilitate this.

Short Games Can Be Priced Accordingly

There’s an economic incentive for games to be long, because gamers want value for their money.  But, a short game can cost less to make, so it’s not too much of a sacrifice to sell for less. Sometimes this results in more sales, and the customer gets inexpensive fun as well.

Long Games Aren’t Always Long For Good Reasons

Lots of long games artificially extend their length with a lot of questionable aspects, such as requiring the player to grind excessively, sit through long unskippable dialog segments or play through a lot of recycled material. Is everything really worth spending more time with?

The Arcade Experience Is One-Of-A-Kind

The short game originated in the early years of arcade gaming. We played on our feet, surrounded by other fun games to try next. There’s a reason why arcade games feel different. They existed to collect quarters from passersby, and this strongly influenced their design.

If they’re good games, don’t think of them as short. Think of them as concise.

I could go on for pages about why I think short games matter, but I think this article is long enough.

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17 thoughts on “There’s Nothing Wrong With Short Games – Mike Matei Blog”

  1. I agree 100% of course. In fact I prefer short games over longer ones. That’s not to say I don’t like long games but I usually find myself playing through them once, and then never again. It’s just too much of an investment to play again and you can’t pull it down and have fun right away without sitting through tutorials and cut-scenes, etc. And with so many games to play, how am I gonna have time to play through all of the good ones? I can’t. If a game is good, you’ll wanna play through it many many times. Just like I’d want to watch a good movie many many times. But I don’t want the movies that I watch to be 40 hours long.

  2. I agree with everything you said here, there is something to be said for shorter more concise experiences. It’s why I think so many 16-bit non-RPGs (some RPGs like Shining Force and Chrono Trigger did age well though) aged well. Games got a lot more bloated in the 32/64 bit era and it wasn’t for the best in a lot of cases.

    This is a major reason why starting with the GBA I primarily became a portable gamer, I am just too busy to sit in front of a couch for hours at a time. For what it’s worth my favorite sub 2 hour game is probably Ristar for the Sega Genesis. Shinobi III is also very high on my list.

    1. Not sure if troll, but I really appreciate the blog. Some people prefer to read rather than listen. I was able to read and absorb Mike’s thoughts in 1/4 the time it would take to listen to a video.

  3. I kind of agree, but variety is a must in short games, and that isn’t always accounted for today. “The Order: 1886,” anybody? Not to mention, that game could’ve been stuffed to brim with variety, and it would STILL be $20 overpriced. Value for money is a factor in games, remember that.

  4. Games are long because people want games to be long.I am man in my 30s and I like to play a games that are long.

    Also what the fun in it to finish a game in a week.sure you can play it again but that can get boring.

    Are people getting lazy with their entertainment?movies and music were a lot longer .maybe Ian Anderson was right long entertainment is dead because of our fast lifestyle.

  5. I’ve been gaming since 1983 and I’ve played more than my share of short games and long games. But as life happens and i got older today I’m more inclined to play a good short to medium game than a long game.

  6. It all depends on my taste at the moment. Im glad to have a choice cus sometimes theres nothing better to dive into a beautiful journey with lots of characters and a colourfull world. But sometimes there’s that sonic game that i love to pick up and rush through

  7. I can kinda see where you are coming from Mike, I know you’re more of an arcade guy and don’t care much for plots and cinematic cutscenes in video games so I get that you would rather play games that focus on great gameplay.

    But I don’t know, as an adult with very limited game time I sometimes appreciate when a game is short. However a lot of times I feel like games are too short and after replaying them 2-3 times (as I do with most games) I’m bored by them, even open world games that you have to spend 100+ hours to get everything but the main quest line takes 7-9 hours to complete.

    Not to mention games length rarely have a real impact on the price, 10 months ago we would see Persona 5 (average 90 hours to beat) for $60 next to Resident Evil 7 (average 9 hours) for the same price.

  8. Hell no. Most arcade games like Contra are only 15min long once you figure out how to get through it and that game is one of the best

  9. Long or short games are relative to a player. For me a long game is a game where the main story (not including optional side quests) is 30+ hours including trial and errors. A good short game does not necessarily mean that you can beat in one sitting, and we should not count speed running as deciding factor for short games. Well balanced games are the ones that I go for, they can be maybe 10-15 hrs but then they add replay value like collecting all items in the game so you can unlock certain features. Games that comes to mind are the Batman Arkham games, recent Mario games, Metal Gear and others.

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