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
  • Federico Senence
    Featured Contributor
    I have a variety of reasons for finishing or not finishing a game. I finished Red Dead and loved every minute of it. I think the story to a game probably holds the biggest factor on whether or not I make it to the end. I finished Uncharted 2 pretty quickly because I loved the story it told. Assassin's Creed 3 was the most recent game I played through (not 100% for all side missions like I did in RDR though).

    I also have to be able to finish the game. I didn't finish Dead Island even though I enjoyed the game because in the final mission the game glitched on me and would not allow me to restart the level or any level at that, so I traded it in the next day frustrated. I also had this issue with GTA4.

    So I guess the story has to be good and the game has to flow well for me to play it all the way through, unless it has a low completion time like the CoD or Battlefield games which are easy to beat in 8 hrs or less. Great article by the way!
  • Kazz in space
    Featured Contributor
    I gave up on Witcher2 and Fable3 because they were just so horrible to play on PC. They were just too painful to play. Also I've never completely finished Fallout 3 or New Vegas - but I still play them and love them. I just don't want the story to end so I'm dragging it out for as long as possible!
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Contributor
    Ok, Fable 3, as a port, given, but Witcher 2 was made for PC, it was fine on PC. They made it even better with the Enhanced Edition, try it again, it's fantastic!
  • Steve Lawton
    Great article. I can honestly say if I love a game enough, whether the story is good or not, I finish it. It makes me feel accomplished actually like I've done something. As though I'm checking off something on my to-do list.

    Side Note: I've had a backlog of games I've been playing through and to do this I pick one and play it straight through before I put another game in. First Tomb Raider, DmC, I'm on Dishonored now then Far Cry 3.

    A friends roommate (24 year old) always bought the newest game and sold his old games before finishing them and I thought that was an isolated phenomena. I can't imagine getting into Fallout 3 (my favorite game of this generation) and not wanting to reach the end. So maybe it is a "there's too many games and not enough time" for most people. Although he probably just had ADD.
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Contributor
    Do you know what I never finished Skyirm, the main story anyway. I have about 200 hours+ on it. I have done all the DLCs but never the main story. I Think it's because I simply got bored, I prefered the other stories, the civil war, the companions and the Dark Brotherhood and the world. I am going to go back to it. And finish it. Infact I will do that now. After finishing the DLC, it makes me want to.
  • Amy White
    Former Editor in Chief
    Sometimes I quit playing games, watching a show, or reading a book just before the end because, though it may sound odd, I've really enjoyed it.

    Once you finish, it's done. Sure, you can watch it/read it/play it again (replayability willing) but it will never be like the first experience you had.

    I usually get around to it, but it can take me awhile to decide the suspense isn't worth it anymore.
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Contributor
    Well you are an odd one one, it's usually me, congratulations! :) But this is an interesting point, and point of view, thanks for sharing!
  • Cupcakecrisis
    Featured Contributor
    I finish all of my games. I'm pretty poor lol and I can only afford limited amounts of games so I do a lot of research on what game I want to play and by the time I stop playing I am usually very acquainted with the content.
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Contributor
    So would you say, if you did get lots of games, you are less likely to finish them all?
  • Charlie Owens
    I'll finish XCOM when they fix the damn teleport bug and not a moment sooner.
  • Harry ;)
    I can't think of a single single player game that I played that I did not finish...

    I am not counting the games that I played like 5 minutes and started hating..
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Contributor
    I have a few, some because yes, I don't have time, and I record them, like BioShock Infinite. Yes, I am still dodging Spoilers....god I need to finish that! Might need to quit my job...I'm an apprentice and don't get payed much anyway.
  • pixelissue
    I remember seeing a satirical photo of the difference between gamers when they are young, playing a few games 100% of the time, and gamers when they are older, having a collection of games that they never play. I feel exactly like this. When the Steam Summer Sale hits, I find myself buying games that I had previously bought on PS3, for PC, because they are so cheap, simply as a collectors item, and perhaps to try out some mods (ICEnhancer for example). I buy new AAA games that are not high on my list of games to purchase, but I'll buy then because they are half price, and hopefully one day I'll have the time to play them. But it's true, having a busy life as an adult, leaves little time to play all the games, so I'll play those that I've been eager to play for ages, and the rest just gather digital dust!

    But a few decades from now I'll be retired and can play my backlog of 'retro' games, when I'm not getting my ass kicked by the kids at the Virtual Reality Videodrome in 2037.
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Contributor
    For some reason I think in 2037 we will be kicking the arses of the kids, you know being retired, have all the experience of being old, and the advances of exo-skeletons! I predict a riot, of old people winning in the Videodome.

    Onto the meat if your comment, yep, I agree, I used to do the same with my PS2...just got lots of games when they were cheap, and they literally collected dust, and am doing the same with Steam as you are. I would also love to play GTA IV, but it is not Cross-Fire compatible, and disabling it is effort.....well I can set CCC to disable for GTAIV.exe, but I want more graphical power....to run it smoothly, even on med settings it runs badly, and my GPU is great....right sorry about the tangent. I'm off...*swooshes off the screen*
  • AndyLunique
    Featured Contributor
    I'm on board for having shorter games at a LOWER price. There is nothing wrong with an amazing experience (Look at Journey) if the price is right. I'll easily spend $15 dollars more often than $60 if I have great options, plus even if the game isn't quite what you expect, it hurts a little less than $60 dollars for a game you really hated, even with a trade proposition.
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Contributor
    Oh yes of course. But the issue is it will not be lower, because they will just put more and more money into 6 hours, so that they can make the graphics better and better, well maybe. But yes, Journey is amazing value for money!
  • Makhaon
    I'd agree with the 30 hours gameplay time. Most games I have finished on Steam show about 30 hours of gameplay. I started Assassin's Creed 1 a year ago and then got super busy with work and other things, so I stopped playing. But a few weeks ago, I picked back up where I left off and played through all 5 AC games. The stories are what keeps me coming back for more. If the story is boring or there's too many repetitive quests with too little lore behind them, then that's what will cause me to stop playing. If I don't feel attachment to a game through it's story, it's not worth spending the 30 hours to play it.
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Contributor
    I agree, story is very important!

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