The last RPG that I played was Arcania (formerly known as Arcania – Gothic IV). In total I spent about thirty or so hours playing the game. Like so many RPGs, as well as the central storyline, there’s a wealth of side quests, usually based around factions or specific zones. I think I possibly completed about a two thirds of these. However once I finished the main story, my interest in the game began to wane. I briefly toyed with the idea of installing the expansion pack but my attention was already focused on the “next game”, so I abandoned my character and uninstalled Arcania from my PC to free up some valuable hard drive space. None of this is a negative reflection on the game. I enjoyed the time I spent playing this quirky RPG. I’d simply had my fill and voted with my feet.
100% game completion is a perennial subject of discussion among gamers due to the fact that so many of us never seem to do so. Titles such as Lifeless Planet, which I purchased last year, are designed to have a definitive ending. Once the player reaches it, they have completed the game. The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is another title with a very linear narrative and a specific conclusion. However although I reached the end, I didn't necessarily complete all the in-game achievements. After spending over three hundred hours playing Skyrim, I did clear all the quest content available and was eventually only left with repeatable activities. However this was a unique experience for me, as I seldom find a game that engages me to this extent.
At present I have Deadlight, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger and a host of other titles in my Steam library, all in an unfinished state. This got me wondering why exactly does this happen so often? So I had a quick brainstorming session and collated a few bullet points. There’s no particular order to them. I've simply written them as they've occurred to me.
- Finite leisure time: Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in a day to finish a game. A game can fall off the radar due to other demands on your free time.
- Familiarity breeds contempt: Sometime it’s simply a question of over playing and burning out.
- You don’t like the game: A very straight forward reason. I bought Watch Dogs and didn’t care for the interface or controls, so I went and played something else. I walked away from Dragon Age: Inquisition due to its ponderous narrative that cease to be interesting and became a chore.
- The remaining content is not as good as the main story: When I completed the central narrative in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor the ending proved a little anti-climactic. The minor quests proved arbitrary so I left the game and didn't return until DLC became available.
- The grass is always greener: I think this is the greatest malady that afflicts gamers. I regularly fall victim to this and am always keeping one eye on the future. Why complete a game you've already got two thirds of the way through, when there’s something else that’s new and shiny, to do?
I also think that there has been a major shift in perception about gaming in recent years and that many titles are now regarded in a more disposable fashion. Perhaps this is something to do with gaming becoming more casual and the growth of mobile games. Gaming on these platforms is often about letting off steam and relaxing, rather than complex achievements. Discounts and bundles also have an impact. A games cost certainly influences customer’s perception of it. Abandoning something that cost only a few dollars is no big deal. Something else that may be relevant is that I don’t think that as many gamers treat their hobby as seriously as they use to. As gaming has become more main stream, it has joined the list of other popular and transient pastimes we indulge in as a society. Being top of the leader board or having 100% completion may not be as appealing as it used to be.
Even the MMORPG genre, which used to be a bastion of hardcore gaming culture with its never ending list of deeds and achievements, no longer seems as compelling. I remember a time when I use to ensure that I completed all the slayer deeds in LOTRO as well as gained kindred status with all reputation factions. In recent years, unless such tasks offer something tangible, then I don’t pursue them. A while ago, I was aiming for 100% world completion in Guild Wars 2, where all areas of the map are fully explored. The effort to reward ratio of that task was not to my liking, so I stopped trying and am happy to leave this task unfinished. Gear grinds, weapons upgrades and all the standard activities you find in MMOs are often dependent on a sizeable time investment. I think this is perhaps the biggest obstacle for many gamers these days.
It’s also worth taking a moment to consider what the game developer’s perspective is on this situation? Much of the content that they’ve laboured on often remains unseen to a large percentage of customers. From a creative and artistic point of view this must be very frustrating. However I’m sure it doesn’t matter at all to the bean counters. Once the revenue has been secured all other considerations are secondary. As I get older my compulsion towards game completion has slowly diminished. Gaming is no longer about the achievements and bragging rights but simply a question of having some semblance of fun. Therefore I’m sure that in the years to come I’ll continue to leave a swath of abandoned and incomplete games in my wake. I suspect this will become the norm for a lot of other gamers as well.