When I was in college my art history Teacher use to tell us that while historians agreed the Roman empire had ended in the year 476 the romans of the time did not realized it during their life time. For all intend and purposes they would be born, live and die on the roman empire. No matter what todays historians claim.
Ten years ago Jamin Warren from Killscreen wrote about games being too damn long, and his desire (or preference) for shorter games that respected more the time of players which after all were getting older and acquiring more responsibilities. He was not alone in this feeling, Adrian Chmielarz developer of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter called for shorter games with sounding business reasons, as did Ben Kuchera in Kotaku a year after as well.
So after all this years, is the era of the shorter games finally upon us? let's dive in:
A quick look at the top selling games on steam shows us the usual 2020 suspects, Biomutant, Days Gone, The Witcher 3, Mass effect legendary Edition and so on.. The "shorter" game in this list, lasts around 9 hours, "It takes Two" from EA. the rest of games on the list are multiplayer online games or sandbox games wich rather than shorter, can have players commit hundred of hours into them.
what about awards? what are the best games for 2021?
Game Awards game of the year 2020 The last of Us 2
Game Awards best indie game Hades
Independent Games Festival Main Award A short hyke
It would seem that not much has changed, the AAA industry keeps producing 15+ hours games, a lot of the best selling or more profitable games are online service based games were players spend hundreds of hours, if anything during the last ten years, the rise of the unique situation generators games has emerge over all other genres.
And them we have A short hyke, by Adam Robinson-yu this little game takes 2 hours to play and is a wonderful experience that leaves you feeling cozy, while a short hike found a wider audience, the last decade has seen a stream of constant and ever growing in quality shorter games. The platformer Gris, What remain of edith finch, Minit a game where your character dies every 60 second and that can be beat in a couple of hours. Firewatch had a 4 hour campaing and also found success. Even on the AAA side of things, did you now Titanfalls 2 excellent campaign lasts about 6 hours? I wish tthey would just sell a version of that game that was just the campaign.
Ten years ago the context was different, the third party engines weren't free (as they are now) and making and distributing games was hard. short games did not make total sense business wise. Today anyone can download unity, make a game and sell it in Itch.io it probable won't make it's creator rich, but it can definitely find a market. As the bundle of shorter games with worst graphics proved.
Sure, the numbers on those games, both players and revenue numbers aren´t high. But that´s a leisure shorter games can afford to have. So while the mainstream media, the marketplaces and the awards might still be pointing in the direction of the 30+ hour games as the standard. Game Historians in the future might mark the 2020s as the time when the shorter games took over.
Even thought as the roman before us, we will not realize the empire has fallen, and a new Era of shorter games is upon us.
Hey! I am also launching a shorter game very soon, this is Ura:
Ura is new take on the rhythm adventure game formula, where you will explore, play different instruments and do magic to save the world. It is early on development but plays so much fun already I can´t wait for you to be able to play it!
So I will be starting a URA devlogs with more in-depth content about the makings, in and outs from the game. So please do check out the game site for more details:
We made it to three posts in a row! who would believe it, not me to be honest. thank you for reading, remember to share this post please, I wish you a great day!