Why Don't Gamers Finish Games?

9 out of 10 gamers do not finish their games

Why don't a lot gamers finish their games, and how many don't finish?

How many gamers leave games unfinished?

According to Raptr, and Keith Fuller, 9 out of 10 gamers do not finish the games they play.

"What I've been told as a blanket expectation is that 90% of players who start your game will never see the end of it unless they watch a clip on YouTube."

Red Dead Redemption only has a 10% completion rate, which was one of the most critically acclaimed games of the year, in 2010. So it's not only bad games which are not finished.

Here's a handy little chart to show how many games get completed and the time it took.

Thank you GameFront for this image.


With an average game length of around 53 hours, that is a hefty amount of time.

So who do we blame? The gamers, or developers, maybe even the publishers?

So why does this happen?

Time, age, length?

In 2001, the average age of a gamer was mid-to-late 20s. But now the average age is 37, says the Entertainment Software Association. Careers and families limit time that they have for games, and all gamers need time--just like avid book readers.

Jeremy Airey, head of U.S. production at Konami says:

"People have short attention spans and limited time now".

So is the issue time, or aging gamers? Well maybe neither: it may be about distractions.

Jermey Airey continues with:

"The amount of digital distractions now is far greater than it's ever been before, people need time to check their Facebook, send a Twitter (tweet), be witty on their blog, play with their phone -- oh, and that game you made. If they feel as though the end is far away, they'll simply say, 'I don't have time for that' and stop playing."

So it looks like short games are the ones which get finished. But do we want all our games to be like a Call of Duty 8-hour campaign?

Red Dead Redemption was loved by most, but most did not finish it, and lots have said that 30 hours for the game was the perfect time--any longer it would have dragged out, and any shorter it would have felt rushed. To which I agree.

Distrac...ooo look a butterfly...what was I saying?

So along with Facebook, Twitter, your blog and many other internet things, which are made to help you do less work in your day, people are also met with more and more games being released. This gives you less time to finish those longer games.

What...a...load...of games!

Keith Fuller says:

"In the last two decades the growth of video games has produced a huge influx of games, there are more players today, but there are also more games per player. Since you can't spend as much time on each game, you're less likely to finish the one in front of you."

So it's the amount of games? Well, not exactly.

The massive open world games, like Red Dead Redemption are not finished because they have such big worlds. Does this mean not many people will finish Grand Theft Auto V? I hope not.

Let's keep using Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar might give me free stuff; ok, they won't but one can hope.

The platform has a compact on how many gamers finish the game, too: the super short web games get finished by 85% of players, according to backloggery.com.

Let's blame the publishers!

Game development costs are getting higher and higher.  

Jeremy Airey says:

"I worked on a project that took 50 people and 18 months to produce 20 minutes of game play, with the expectations so high for visual and audio fidelity, lifelike animations, enemy behavior and movie-quality cinemas, it can take two years for a team of 100 people to create six hours of playable story. At an average burn rate of $10,000 per man month, that's $24 million just in developer cost. You're not likely to find a publisher that will foot the bill for extending that campaign to 20 hours."

So is it the publisher's fault by wanting high fidelity audio and visual? Along with animations? Well no, not really.


Online gaming has grown massively in this fading console generation. It will only continue to grow, and consoles may adopt similar systems like with PC and have multiple digital distribution platforms.

What also has grown is playing online; in the early days of multiplayer, it was hard to find a game, because of the fact that no one was online, and there was only 56Kb/s of bandwidth. Since Dreamcast first made multiplayer a feasible option, Xbox 360, PS3 have taken this a lot further.

So with this comes great amounts of time spent playing online, and it means the death of single player. I wonder what the stats for players getting to which levels in multiplayer games is...

So maybe multiplayer is at fault? Probably not.

So what is the issue?

The issue, in a nut shell, is that people have less time for massive worlds with long stories because the gamers are getting older. Bigger budgets and publishers not wanting to spend billions, causing games to be shorter. So is the future shorter games? I think it will be --for a little while.

Gamers are getting older. This means that we will see two things.

  1. The older gamers getting too old to play games, and so stopping, making the age get lower.
  2. Younger gamers popping up all over the world. Driving down the average age along with it.

So when will this be? I don't have the answer to that, but we will be finding out all in good time.

So keep spending your money on the games you want to play, keep playing the games you love, and finish them!

Maybe buying fewer games is an option? It may drive development times up for polish, and story, who knows?

What do you think of all of this? Do you finish your games? Do you give up after 10 hours? Let everyone know in the comments below.

Thank you CNN, Kotaku and GameFront.

Published Jul. 29th 2013
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