Finishing Games

Recently, Roger from over at Contains Moderate Peril wrote an interesting article about completing games. I’ve always found this a really intriguing subject because, lots of people don’t seem to complete games all too often, which is a bit of an unusual position for an entertainment medium but I’m entirely guilty of it myself. Of the maybe 300 games I own across all digital platforms, I’d be surprised if I had completed 30. So, a completion rate of approximately less than 10%. I know I’m not alone in this, and I think the reasons are diverse.

In some cases, games simply can’t be finished in any real sense. I sink a lot of time into the Football Manger games, but due to the nature of the games ability to generate new players, managers and staff, those games only end when I decide I’m done with that team, or that career. Other games offer degrees of completion. Perhaps you can complete the story alone and ignore all side activities, perhaps you can replay on multiple characters or with divergent stories, or maybe just good old collectibles. This leaves some interpretation when it comes to defining completion, but I tend to think of it as seeing at least the bulk of the content available.

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Speaking personally, sometimes I stop playing a game simply because I’ve had my fun with it, or I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped. But other times, it’s more that I sort of forget to play them. They just, drop off the radar I guess. My usual pattern is buying the game, installing, and playing for a couple of hours. By then, it’ll have either worked its way into my schedule, or it ends up lingering on my hard drive for a bit before I uninstall it a few weeks later. And you know what’s strange about that? I feel sort of guilty about it. Sometimes, the weight of all those uncompleted games makes me feel anxious. The vast majority of course, I intend to play at some point, but still, it’s strange.

I wonder if all of this is something to do with the general increase in the availability and affordability of games, especially on the PC. This couldn’t be more different from when I was a child in the early 90s when games were expensive presents. As such, it was highly likely you would play them to completion due to lack of options. Now, I can pick up 4 good games £20 on any given weekend. And of course, all those Steam sales play a part. Sure, they’ve lost the wow factor they once held, but you can still pick up high quality titles at bargain prices almost every day of the week. And what is more, I can have it right now, this instant. No going to the shop, no ordering it on Amazon and waiting a couple of days. With some smaller games, I can be playing it in 5-10 minutes. I think this all adds to the compulsion to buy more games, and in turn to forget about some others, and it’s probably my biggest reason for failing to see a game through to the end.

I really would like to complete more games, especially as many that drop off my radar are perfectly good games that I genuinely want to play. I’ve often considered making some sort of plan to tackle them all in a certain order, and allow for some flexibility. I once tried this with my RPG collection, but one day realised that in just a handful of titles I’d set aside around 1000 hours of content. This is part of the reason I’ve taken up Skyrim again in fact. I’m sure I’ll get there in the end, but if not, at least I’ll be entertained throughout my retirement.

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6 thoughts on “Finishing Games

  1. I think you’re right! Steam Sales RUIN anyone’s resolve to keep on with what they’ve got when they can pick up something they’ve been looking at for cheap. Add to that the free to play trend means we can try games, and stick with them, if we can dodge the hard sell techniques.

    One thing I’ve considered, myself (seeing as how I’ve only completed Halo 3 and Skyrim…that’s it) is that the ability to return to a game much later on maybe means we’re not super tied to a game to the point where we feel that we have to complete it all RIGHT NOW. There’s cloud storage for saved games now, and MMOs and other online games store our characters virtually forever (seriously, last month I picked up my Ultima Online character from almost 15 years ago).

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  2. Steer away from steam and just enjoy what you are playing. Also consider that if a game can’t motivate me to keep playing and finish, that is the games fault not mine.

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  3. I just finished up the DLCs for Skyrim, meaning I’ve completed probably about 60-70% of all available content in that game. I’m not worried about completing every single sidequest. I am calling it complete. Outside of that, in the past year alone I’ve probably completed 30-40 games, given the above criteria.

    There was a time when I wouldn’t consider a game done until I earned all the achievements, or barring those, was a completionist with the side activities. Now I figure I I’ve beaten the main story elements, the rest being optional, then I’ve completed a game. Sometimes I do that side stuff, other times I couldn’t be bothered. The tricky part is games that don’t really have an end, like Rogue-likes and competitive games that are designed to be played over and over again. Those don’t really weigh on me since I know there’s not really a completion element.

    Sales are the biggest thing that keeps us from completing games. Like you, if I simply don’t like the game I delete it and don’t worry. But if it’s something I even remotely enjoy, it stays til I get around to completing it. Sometimes that means collecting dust for a year, but I take chunks out of the backlog year round.

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    • Yeah Skyrim is actually a tricky one, because to some extent, it never really eneds. There will always be some content to play.

      I am impressed by your game completion ratio, I take my hat off to you sir!

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