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Is the very low completion rate for singleplayer games an issue the industry should care about?

Is the low completion rate for Singleplayers games an issue that devs should be concerned about?

  • Yes

    Votes: 45 28.7%
  • No

    Votes: 75 47.8%
  • Mods, please take away this man's poll-making privileges

    Votes: 37 23.6%

  • Total voters
    157

kicker

Banned
This is an article from 2012 https://www.digitaltrends.com/gamin...nging-their-style-to-get-you-to-finish-games/ talking about how some developers were implementing ideas (like making games shorter (haha), and frontloading the opening so people get more enticed to stick with a game) to get more people to complete their singleplayer games. . It also talks about how there is really very little concrete data on completion rates since trophies/achievements are often used as sources, and they might not tell the whole story, but a lot of sources (https://www.resetera.com/threads/ga...evements-trophies-a-in-depth-analysis.113394/
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https://whatculture.com/gaming/10-video-games-with-insanely-low-completion-rates, ) agree that most players don't complete games.
I think it's safe to say that the trend hasn't changed. Rare is the game where even 50% of the people who buy end up getting to see the credits.



The question is, since the gaming industry keeps posting record profits year-on-year and decade-on-decade, and this trend has been part of gaming for so long, does it matter that most people don't finish games?

I believe it matters. Some of my reasons:
- There are far more ways to indirectly enjoy games than playing them yourself these days (Weird, but true if you think about it): The proliferation of alternative sources of tangential game experience like Twitch or Youtube playthroughs suggests that some people don't care about playing the game themselves as much as they do just seeing what happens next through other people (In 2012, I don't think a lot of people were saying they finished a game since they watched the ending on youtube, but it's more common statement these days).
At some point they stop playing it for the fun of playing and start playing just to see what happens next, and If a site just gives you what happens next, why not just go there instead.
- The development costs (time and money) for games have ballooned compared to previous years: Why would an investor put millions into a game that will take 5 years to develop and market, which may or may not end up breaking even, on top of a vast majority of players not playing until the end.
- It will, and kind of already has, lead to a push for alternative sources of income: Why design a 15 hour innovative singleplayer campaign like hi-fi rush's that most won't finish, when you can instead make a live service game at a fraction of the cost and several multiples of the return on investment?

Add to this the fact that the vast majority of the gaming industry's mammoth profits come from mobile and gaas experiences, not singleplayer games. Experiences that have a reputation for scientifically designing gameplay with inbuilt monetization systems to extract as much money from a player for as long as possible.

Do you think the low completion rate is an issue for singleplayer games? Why or Why not?
 
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kicker

Banned
What can be done about it?
Is it that much of a problem if games are still selling?
What devs have successfully boosted their completion rates?
goddamn, why is your avatar so creepy?
Can completion rates even be boosted without limited the ambition of games?
 

The_Mike

I cry about SonyGaf from my chair in Redmond, WA
A vast majority have bought GTA V for the online part, so thats a given.

But what are you gonna do about it? The games got high MC, but people fall away all the time in single player games.

Either they grew bored, or something RL stuff gets in the way or they go play some online, and then forget about the games they are playing.

The games you have listed are several years old. People who really wanted to play these did so at release or the first time it has a good discount.

Many people have bought these games at bargain prices by now, which probably always were on the fence, and eventually dropped off.

What do you want devs to do OP? Why does it matter to you if they complete the game or not?
 
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reksveks

Member
No, they only care whether it has an further effect on increasing the users engagement with the publisher/developers current or future portfolio of games.

I also like shorter games so a bit biased.
 

Robb

Gold Member
I wouldn’t think too much about it. I don’t think I’ve completed the story in any of the GTA games but I’ve played and enjoyed them a lot.
 
they are fuuuucked.

they cannot make a 8-10 Hrs AAA game an sell it at full price.

and if they do (Lost Legacy,FirstLight) they have to charge less, which creates the perception of less value to the consumer and the games is seen as less important or relevant.

EDIT: i think the exception is Miles Morales but, "That was different" 😛
 
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StueyDuck

Member
This has been an "issue" for a very long time.

Most people never finished San Andreas or vice city. If you have had the fun you want and not finished the game there isn't anything wrong with that.

The problem comes from playing 2 hours and finding the game mindless or crap
 
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T4keD0wN

Member
since the gaming industry keeps posting record profits year-on-year and decade-on-decade, and this trend has been part of gaming for so long, does it matter that most people don't finish games?
It shouldnt really matter to the studios if theyve got their money already, unless their SP games have microtransactions (looking at you ubisoft, i know your games are so long to make people feel less bad about spending money in your in-game stores), get paid extra based on things like time played which i imagine some games on subscription services might or theyre making direct sequels in which case it might hurt or actually help (by selling the previous entry).

Its ultimately up the players whether they choose to finish the games or not.
 

jorgejjvr

Member
No. I dont finish every book, movie, or show I start. Same for games.

Got wife and kids and work. Time is limited. I play something until its fun, and when I had my fill im okay to move on, some i finish, some I dont. I also split time to play onlinr games with buddies. Absolutely nothing wrong with it
 
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Wasn't full price I don't think.
that is the point. it wasn't and sold.....wait a minute. yep, it seems didn't sell as well as Spiderman (at lunch) but ended up selling amazingly.

usually, these shorter/not full-price games sell less than their counterparts Full-Price Big 30-50 hours games. Miles was an anomaly.
 

sloppyjoe_gamer

Gold Member
Openworld Bloat is an issue why i think many people don't finish the bigger single player games.

And honestly, i may be in the minority here, but single player games just shouldn't go beyond 20hrs for a campaign story. 20hrs is my max as a fulltime working 40ish adult.
 
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GhostNTheBashShell

Gold Member
It should be looked at to many games just become a grind fest and it just isn't worth it. To many studios and publishers look at length of a game instead of quality content. Most non-rpg's don't need to be 40 plus hours.
Gotta agree with this here, so many games I hard drop when they do some bullshit that ask me to spend hours doing a task.

Mad Max was awesome then about 8 hours in suddenly they tell you to liberate 3 giant areas to continue the story vs finding a compelling way to do it via the story.

Fallout 4 suddenly forcing me into base building to open a portal to the next mission made me drop it

Assassin's Creed 2 was the fucking worst and I don't care what anyone says, stopping the story to go on a collectathon to finish a map was ridiculous but I loved every second of it till that point.

I just feel like the moment you impede my progress to force me to interact with mechanics says you didn't know how to structure it so you just make me do the leg work.

Somehow though, I did well over 100 hours of Death Stranding but I guess that's largely because you can accomplish the game how you see fit. I loved this one mission where I ended up slowly descending down a mountain with my ropes vs being greeted with an invisible wall and forced to walk around the entire thing. More games should encourage player agency than taking it away.
 

SmokedMeat

Gamer™
Some of those numbers don’t look too bad.

Did people buy our game? That’s what developers care about.

They already know a small fraction of those players won’t complete it - and that’s fine. You can still love a game and want more of it, despite not beating it.
 

GhostNTheBashShell

Gold Member
Openworld Bloat is an issue why i think many people don't finish the bigger single player games.

And honestly, i may be in the minority here, but single player games just shouldn't go beyond 20hrs for a campaign story. 20hrs is my max as a fulltime working 40ish adult.
Gonna add it's just so wild to me the best Shin Megami Tensei games like Persona 1 and 2, Nocturne, Devil Summoner, etc are over in under 40 hours meanwhile, starting with P3 the times to finish those games are more than double requiring a minimum of 90-110 hours
 

GHound

Member
I'd say the real problem is that a lot of this can be chalked up to FOMO and needing to play New Thing™ immediately.
 

Robb

Gold Member
They already know a small fraction of those players won’t complete it - and that’s fine.
But looking at this it’s the other way around. Only a small fraction of players actually complete them. The vast majority (70-80%) will never complete the game.

Or maybe I’m misinterpreting you?
 

sloppyjoe_gamer

Gold Member
Gonna add it's just so wild to me the best Shin Megami Tensei games like Persona 1 and 2, Nocturne, Devil Summoner, etc are over in under 40 hours meanwhile, starting with P3 the times to finish those games are more than double requiring a minimum of 90-110 hours

And dont get me wrong lol.....i love a good long game i just cant do it all the time. I spent 117hrs on Persona 5 a yr or so ago, and like 38 hrs on Horizon FW, and 73 hrs on Elden Ring. I have to pick my choices carefully for long games. My next one is FFXVI.
 

kicker

Banned
I don't think it's a big deal or that the industry should work to get more players to finish their games, as long as they enjoy the hours the play
In general a person playing the game for 3 hours pays the exact same as the person completing the game 10 times in a row. They don't care.
What do you want devs to do OP? Why does it matter to you if they complete the game or not?
This has been an "issue" for a very long time.
Doesn't matter much unless the completion rate interferes with sales. Movies studios don't really care if a movie patron falls asleep during a screening....just as long as they paid for a seat
But the industry is changing. Low completion rates means low investment in the massive amount of work put into games. Live service games on the other hand give publishers what they want. A guaranteed return on investment.
There are alternative sources of income now and more options for people who don't want to go through the trouble of playing a game (hah, trouble) like twitch. Do you remember when Bethesda had a whole marketing push to declare that singleplayer games aren't dead? Obviously that still isn't true, but a lot more publishers are paying serious attention to the live service sector. Twitch is far more popular for people to enjoy games without playing themselves.

We have a situation where publishers pay millions for developers to crunch for 4 -5 years to create massive amounts of content, that millions of people have to buy to even break even, while the vast majority of the people who play don't even get to see 80% of the work put in.
Do you think this is sustainable, especially when there are alternatives for publishers and people's habits seem to be changing (re. twitch, mobile games and live service)?

Imagine if the majority of videogame discussion was punctuated by "I didn't finish it myself but here's what I think" or if the completion numbers for games were attached next to people posts. It would be weird to see but that's the reality we all have at the back of our minds, no?

I don't know what can be done about it, but the obvious alternative I see for publishers is to focus on live service stuff instead since there's less risk involved. But that's just my opinion. And I asked because it seemed worth discussing

No. I dont finish every book, movie, or show I start. Same for games.

Got wife and kids and work. I play something until its fun, and when I had my fill im okay to move on. Absolutely nothing wrong with it
If the point where you've had your fill is at 10 hours in, and the game is 70 hours long, don't you think devs should make 15 hour games instead, and work for 2 years instead of 5? Books, movies and Shows are different. Most people don't walk out 20% into the start of a movie, and someone who keeps dropping out 20% into books will probably buy fewer books down the line right? If the majority of the userbase is like that (70 - 90% for games) Isn't that an issue for the people making said games?
 
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DaGwaphics

Member
I don't think I've ever not finished a game I liked. That's the only takeaway for the publishers. in regards to how much momentum there might be for a sequel or whatever. If basically everyone checked out really early there might not be much forward momentum there.
 
It's a data point to look at, sure. It doesn't necessarily mean that you need to chase 100% completion because data can be pretty misleading in multiple ways if you misinterpret what it's saying. Chasing 100% completion could mean that you're continually dumbing your game down to appeal to a lower common denominator, and ultimately end up sabotaging the appeal of your game. It could mean that you need better attention paid to pacing, or to put more effort into creating variety. It could mean you have one particularly difficult and unbalanced section of the game. It could have literally nothing to do with your game at all and just be the result of people being busy. Pretty much means nothing unless you investigate a ton of other data points and try to find some kind of narrowing down of the possibilities.
 

SmokedMeat

Gamer™
But looking at this it’s the other way around. Only a small fraction of players actually complete them. The vast majority (70-80%) will never complete the game.

Or maybe I’m misinterpreting you?

That’s what I was saying. But I don’t see it as a big deal of concern for developers.

Not beating a game doesn’t equate to the player didn’t enjoy themselves.
 

DaGwaphics

Member
But the industry is changing. Low completion rates means low investment in the massive amount of work put into games. Live service games on the other hand give publishers what they want. A guaranteed return on investment.

You sure? There's a litany of failed projects that hint that things aren't that guaranteed there either.
 

kicker

Banned
It's a data point to look at, sure. It doesn't necessarily mean that you need to chase 100% completion because data can be pretty misleading in multiple ways if you misinterpret what it's saying. Chasing 100% completion could mean that you're continually dumbing your game down to appeal to a lower common denominator, and ultimately end up sabotaging the appeal of your game. It could mean that you need better attention paid to pacing, or to put more effort into creating variety. It could mean you have one particularly difficult and unbalanced section of the game. It could have literally nothing to do with your game at all and just be the result of people being busy. Pretty much means nothing unless you investigate a ton of other data points and try to find some kind of narrowing down of the possibilities.
They don't need to chase 100%, but the opposite is also weird. I don't think devs saying that nothing is wrong when the average is 20 - 30% is a sustainable state.
 
They don't need to chase 100%, but the opposite is also weird. I don't think devs saying that nothing is wrong when the average is 20 - 30% is a sustainable state.
They might be right though. We all know that most hardcore gamers buy infinitely more games than they actually need, and in many cases buy more games than they even physically have time to play. They probably are very happy with that status quo.
 

kicker

Banned
You sure? There's a litany of failed projects that hint that things aren't that guaranteed there either.
My bad, not guaranted, but far less risk. A greater guarantee than the almost dice roll that is modern AAA development time and money costs
 

kicker

Banned
They might be right though. We all know that most hardcore gamers buy infinitely more games than they actually need, and in many cases buy more games than they even physically have time to play. They probably are very happy with that status quo.
Maybe. I can't speak for devs.

I just think it's strange that we all just accept this is the way the industry is. Not like I have any ideas either way, so, eh
 

SF Kosmo

The Trigglypuff
No, the flip side is people spending less impulsively on games they don't have time for, which is obviously worse for the people selling those game.
 
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Braag

Member
I play almost exclusively SP games but I've dropped some games due to excessive bloat and repetitive structure of the game to pad it out into 100 hours. I'm not gonna play your game that long if it's just samey repetitive crap. Make it shorter and improve the quality of the content.
 

ReBurn

Gold Member
Depends on what you mean by completion.

If it's a narrative-driven game and seeing credits means completion then those developers should care. I've dropped a bunch of games like that where the gameplay was just a repetitive slog required to move the story forward. And if the gameplay is great but they keep interrupting it with a mundane story that's just as frustrating. In either case I'm less likely to buy their next game.

If it means doing all of the side quests and collecting all of the trophie/achievements then who cares? Developers bloat their games with stuff like that because people moan about their games being too short. That's an attempt to placate people who need to play a game for 80 hours to feel like they got their money's worth.

For pick up and play games I don't think it matters.
 

Ev1L AuRoN

Member
Games are too damm long for their own good. That's why I don't finished most of my games, but I beat games like Megaman X and Super Mario World hundreds of times. I think gamers are to blame too, demanding value measured in campaign length. I much prefer smaller games that are to the point than big titles that don't respect my time.
 

aclar00

Member
But the industry is changing. Low completion rates means low investment in the massive amount of work put into games. Live service games on the other hand give publishers what they want. A guaranteed return on investment.
There are alternative sources of income now and more options for people who don't want to go through the trouble of playing a game (hah, trouble) like twitch. Do you remember when Bethesda had a whole marketing push to declare that singleplayer games aren't dead? Obviously that still isn't true, but a lot more publishers are paying serious attention to the live service sector. Twitch is far more popular for people to enjoy games without playing themselves.

We have a situation where publishers pay millions for developers to crunch for 4 -5 years to create massive amounts of content, that millions of people have to buy to even break even, while the vast majority of the people who play don't even get to see 80% of the work put in.
Do you think this is sustainable, especially when there are alternatives for publishers and people's habits seem to be changing (re. twitch, mobile games and live service)?

Imagine if the majority of videogame discussion was punctuated by "I didn't finish it myself but here's what I think" or if the completion numbers for games were attached next to people posts. It would be weird to see but that's the reality we all have at the back of our minds, no?

I don't know what can be done about it, but the obvious alternative I see for publishers is to focus on live service stuff instead since there's less risk involved. But that's just my opinion. And I asked because it seemed worth discussing


If the point where you've had your fill is at 10 hours in, and the game is 70 hours long, don't you think devs should make 15 hour games instead, and work for 2 years instead of 5? Books, movies and Shows are different. Most people don't walk out 20% into the start of a movie, and someone who keeps dropping out 20% into books will probably buy fewer books down the line right? If the majority of the userbase is like that (70 - 90% for games) Isn't that an issue for the people making said games?

Can't really reply to everything, but the point is that people are buying the game. Live service is another animal in that it's a continual monetary source. That's more of an argument for publishers to move to those types of games than completion rate.

Often times people have a backlog of games too and just never get around to them.

Also, live service Games are not without risk either. Those games generally have to be interesting and havlelomgevity....otherwise devs abandon them within a year, possibly losing more than a SP game because the product was dropped entirely and the return on investment was reliant upon in-game purchases that would obviously not be happening anymore. This is compounded even more if the game was F2P or had a low entry cost in order to make up on the back-end.

It's a huge gamble but could pay off in the long run if (big if) the game is a hit.

Market is definitely changing, but I don't see doom and gloom for SP games. If anything, publishers are attempting to push the industry toward live service games given the unfettered revenue source....got shareholders to take care of you know.
 

Sleepwalker

Gold Member
30% on average for ubisoft games is like completing 3 other whole regular games, I dont blame people for dropping those lol
 
Maybe. I can't speak for devs.

I just think it's strange that we all just accept this is the way the industry is. Not like I have any ideas either way, so, eh
Games are a luxury good, you buy them for enjoyment. As long as you enjoy what you buy, what you do with them is up to you. Finishing the story mode is just an optional goal the game developer put it, but that might not be a player's goal.

For example, i finished Skyrim's story exactly once, and then never again despite still playing it long after. And I litterally never finished Oblivion despite spending 2 years playing that and had fun. Sometimes the plot just isn't what the player was after.
 

Nautilus

Banned
I personally don't think its a problem, but maybe its a good sign to take to make your games more compact and to prioritize better pacing.
 
I think having a strong story helps.

People like to shit on Sony's "cinematic games" but they have very high completion rates.

Last of us 1 and 2, God of war/ ragnarok and spiderman all have above 50% completion rate.

Spiderman even had a platinum trophy rate of 10+ % at one point.
 

brian0057

Member
I think having a strong story helps.

People like to shit on Sony's "cinematic games" but they have very high completion rates.

Last of us 1 and 2, God of war/ ragnarok and spiderman all have above 50% completion rate.

Spiderman even had a platinum trophy rate of 10+ % at one point.
Well, when your games are combat arenas interconnected by hallways with characters that won't shut the fuck up, completing a game becomes an easier affair than completing good games.
 
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