This column was original published on the ITV Teletext service GameCentral in 2003
What kind of idiot would make a good game?
Think about it – it’s nothing short of commercial suicide. The better a game is, the longer you’ll play it, right?
But the longer you play it, the less likely you are to buy other, newer games.
Which means less money all round for shops and publishers and developers.
Map editors, multi-player modes, alternate endings. There are games which have the potential to keep you occupied for a year or more.
Are you still coding your own missions in Operation: Flashpoint? Waking in a cold sweat with the perfect Chu Chu Rocket level burning in your brain?
How much more would you have spent if you’d exhausted their possibilities months ago? Filthy cheapskates.
But you’re not cheapskates, and that’s the problem.
Games are pricey little boxes, and publishers want plenty of promises to make on the back of the box.
50 hours of gameplay! 22 levels, 18 modes, 8 unlockable characters!
But are these little minxes really adding value to your purchase?
Not if 6 of those 22 levels are sprawling, empty, repetitive clones.
Not if half of those elusive extra characters play exactly the same as the ordinary ones, only with crazier hats.
Not if the extra modes feature the same
juddering camera and clumsy, broken controls as the main event.
Not when epic games become obviously, desperately rushed towards the end.
So what’s the solution? Cheaper games across the board? Hardly fair on those masterpieces which do absorb you for months on end.
Or how about pricing games according to their length?
A pound an hour? Metal Gear Solid 2 would have been yours for a nifty 6 quid then, but you’d be mugged by crazed and starving Final Fantasy fans as soon as you left the shop.
So no. That’s not the answer. But once, just once, I’d love to see bullet points like this on a box:
– Actually good game!
– Four compact, interesting levels!
– No cut-scenes!
– One playable character!
– No unlockable anythings!
– Will only last you the weekend!
– Only a tenner, mind!