Long or Short Games?

All games have only a certain amount of content in them and that may be constrained by the media size, by the dev time - all sorts of things. It seems to me that game makers then follow one of two models;

1/ The game has a dense, detailed content. But you can play through it in 5-10 hours. The game keeps a constant pace up, rarely slowing down or repeating itself. Unless you die and repeat a few seconds to get back to where you were and try again. I would call this the "Half Life Series" model.

2/ The game has sparse content. It will take you 20-30 hours to play through. The game will often you need to complete things like "Fetch Quests" to progress, long journeys to places encountering identical enemies, grinding to earn equipment needed to pass a particular challenge, or long treks back to the fight when you die. I call this the "Skyrim" model.

One gives you a good, rich experience that may be over in a single day (which may not seem good value) the other keeps you occupied for much longer, but may not be as intensely enjoyable.

which do you prefer, and why?
Cards on the table. I prefer my games the shorter one. I can spend 40 quid easily on a night out that lasts only a couple of hours. I'm not concerned if my gaming experience is 40 quid, over in 8 hours. That's still only £5 an hour, which is cheap entertainment. Sure, I'd like more. But I'd rather have 8 hours of riproaring, exciting, fun gaming than 20 hours of what I call the magic flag game.
I prefer expansive and immersive games. Recently Assassin's creed Odyssey. I like to get lost in the game world and simply do stuff.

But I like short story-intensive games as well (recently Oxenfree). Because I don't always have time for the big ones.
Depends on the genre for me, sometimes even more specific.

If it's something like a full on FPS such as DOOM. Then I'd like it a bit shorter, say 10, 15 hours. They have to be careful here not to cut it too short and make the player feel short changed. A good example of the this would be RAGE. Started well had some great ideas in the middle and rushed the heck out the end third and I felt cheated.

But if it's an RPG with heavy story elements then it has to be longer. A good example being the witcher series, or Divinity Original Sin series. They need to be careful though because longer doesn't always mean better, quality has to be maintained throughout.
All games have only a certain amount of content in them and that may be constrained by the media size, by the dev time - all sorts of things. It seems to me that game makers then follow one of two models;
There are several other models, though.

Something like Mini Metro, or to take a much older example, Space Invaders or Tetris - the individual game will be over in maybe 15 minutes. But you learn skills while doing it to be better the next time round. How much content the game has - how much you can basically learn about playing it better - isn't really related to the play time of an individual game. This also applies to roguelike-style games - something like Spelunky if you make a successful playthrough it'll take you about an hour ... but it can easily take 40+ hours to get to the point where you can make a successful playthrough ... and considerably more to get to the point where you can reliably do it.

On a slightly different branch, you have things like Sim City or Dwarf Fortress where the game doesn't really have a defined endpoint (you can lose, you can't win, but you can keep going indefinitely if you set things up right). Often you'll restart those games to try a new idea - but even an individual game can last much more than 20-30 hours, without feeling like it has sparse content (the "just one more turn / just one more issue to fix" model)

Scenario-based strategy/builder games - things like Heroes of Might and Magic 3, or Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom, or perhaps something like the Civilisation series in a slightly different way - the scenarios can take a couple of hours each, with a defined beginning middle and end, but there can be a lot of distinct scenarios. Again, these can last far more than 20-30 hours without feeling sparse.
Both. It really depends on what kind of game it is. 15 hours for action games is too long. If it's a huge open world type of game then more than 100 hours. 🤷‍♂️

But to answer your question: 2nd option.
Massive open world games like Red Dead Redemption 2 just keeps on giving, until the game doesn't have any content left to see or experience. But even then, just roaming the world is just a magnificent feeling.
I prefer expansive and immersive games. Recently Assassin's creed Odyssey. I like to get lost in the game world and simply do stuff.

But I like short story-intensive games as well (recently Oxenfree). Because I don't always have time for the big ones.
AC is pretty good at creating a immersive world, however the stories are not always that good. I’ve played black flag, good story, origin, a not so good story, unity, until now a good story, however all the worlds has been very detailed and immersive.

If you speed run through the main story you can probably finish it in 20-30 hours, if you do all the side missions it’s most likely on the other side if 100 hours.

The problem in these worlds is some of the stuff you can do gets really old fast, I like AC unity because there more options available, and a lot of freedom to complete the missions. Kind of hitman meet Spider-Man 😂
The OP question assumes that long games necessarily lack dense content, but fortunately that is not entirely true.

There are indeed long games that are long for the sake of being long and are ultra-padded with "filler" (like Dragon Age Inquisition and others). But there are also those games that are very long and are rich in content (Like the Witcher, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Kingdom COme Deliverance or original Mass Effect series).

These are the kind of games I prefer, long but rich games with rich worlds where I can immerse myself for months or even years. I find short games in general to be a waste of money, unless they have excellent replay value.
I like this topic, as I've been thinking about it recently. The reality is a bit more nuanced. I "lived" in Skyrim for over a year, enjoying everything about it. It definitely falls under the second category the OP mentions, but it stands out to me because I never really found it tedious or a grind. Meanwhile both Uncharted 4 and Horizon Zero Dawn sit on my drive unfinished. Someday I'll push through and finish the main story line, but like a TV series that goes on for too long, both of these feel "too long" to me. HZD in particular is a beautiful open world, yet unlike Skyrim I still feel like I'm "on rails" since I'm playing a predefined character with a very specific "calling". No blazing my own trail in this game.

In contrast to HZD, Spider-Man felt just the right length to me. The pacing was good, it nicely integrated side-quests with the main story and exploration of the "world" (Manhattan), and it finished about the time I was finished. That said, someday I'll grab the DLC and play through the new story line, because playing through a story as Spider-Man is almost as rewarding as watching a Marvel Movie. The HZD DLC, on the other hand, just doesn't grab me.

And then there are games like Subnautica, which I'm enjoying (still early days, so please no spoilers), but that game does feel like a grind a lot of the time. While I like resource management and all, games like Subnautica and NMS take it too far IMO. I mean, I have a gun that can spray paint a base into existence, but I have to harvest salt from the bottom of the ocean so I can drink water every 2 minutes and not die? I never finished the NMS story because of this, but I'm hoping I can push through and finish Subnautica.

TL;DR - it depends :p
Now that there is a auto super cruise mode to Hutton Orbital. There is either an opportunity for a nap. Who hasn't dosed of just before docking loosin gship and gargo. NO? Just me then.

A mini game shotem up. Short it flight film. So many ideas if only everyone would play along. That's what you needed back in the 8bit/no bit days lots of imagination.

I understand planning permission for a hyper gate has been submitted for local council approval.
Generally prefer the longer games. Huge game worlds or high complexity give me a perception of value in that I get good value for my money. A 60 dollar game that I play "through" within 20-30 hours, nope...regardless if its story is ace or it plays really well. Thats the equivalent to a video novel, you play it once and then shelve it....I dont like such games. Or PvP centric games that often have a trivial single player component and offer incredible replayability through the community.

And thats what it comes down to.....replayability. Games need to offer content that keeps you occupied, how they do that varies heavily but usually in a way that certain demographic groups prefer. A short game needs to offer multiple endings or challenge modes aside from the regular story play-through. Something that lets you boot it up again and justifies playing it...variations that enable you to make new experiences.

Others put the end goal behind so many "walls" that you are going to need a lot of time to reach it (AC:O 180 hours in, lv 71....my type of game). A game that offers only 20-30 hours of gameplay simply isnt worth anything to me and I would pick it up for a couple bucks but certainly wouldnt pay premium amounts for.

Whats important to me is that I have games that cater to my current need. Sometimes I like to log in and chill, relax and put my feet up...dont need challenge....just entertainment. Other times I dont have a lot of time on my hands and just look for something that lets me fill 20-30 minutes in a meaningful way. Then again I am feeling confident and am looking for a challenge etc etc.

Its pretty much impossible for a single game to fullfill all these requirements in one. Some try via variant game modes but in the end I just gonna have a lot of games to satisfy all my urges.

That being said my first point stands, my library is heavily leaning towards large, long games and those are also the games I spent most of my entertainment time in.
The longer, the better, in general. Whether this length is granted from story-telling or in-depth gameplay both works for me.

ESO has both lol.
Long games definitely.

Games that are replayable once you finish the story, like Mass Effect, Dragon Age and Deus Ex. Sandbox games like the Elder Scrolls series and Elite that I can spend thousands of hours playing and finally MMOs that can keep me playing for years in some cases. I also used to like shooters, PlanetSide 1 and 2 kept me playing for years, same with flightsims like Falcon 4.0

Age of Conan, great game but eventually you have seen it all, and there was also some MMO fatigue due to being a part of a raid group, took me 6 months just to get a full set of Black Dragon armour for my tank, 4 hours a day, twice a week. Good combat and good classes was a big part of what kept me playing.

SWTOR was good for the class story. I only finished the Imperial Agent and wanted to try a class on the republic side. Picked Jedi Consular which almost put me to sleep with the story so I just lost interest even though the class itself was good, should've stayed on the dark side.:p

Now I'm playing ESO and waiting for a modder to release his latest perk overhaul for Skyrim. ESO is good for the casual solo player and you can obtain gear, gold and crafting mats without having to engage in a grind that requires a group or raid.
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