I remember when I was a kid, long before the age of the interwebs, every videogames magazine used to give a rating based on:
While the first 3 features are pretty much self explanatory, the 4th one can be a bit tricky. Some games require a lot of time to complete (especially RPGs and some adventure games), while others are fairly quick to complete but you enjoy playing them other and other to get better scores and/or just for the fun of it (I’ve finished games like Sonic and Streets of Rage an embarrassing amount of times just because they were a joy to play).
Most of the games I’ve played in recent years have a totally different idea of “longevity”.
Some of them give you a reasonably long experience that you may want to repeat if you enjoy the game. The first Dragonage didn’t require hundreds of hours to complete, but it offered a good amount of content and I stopped playing it only after the 3rd walk-through.
Other games offer a main story that’s not too long, and then many hours of gameplay coming from side missions. I enjoyed Skyrim a lot, even though the fighting mechanics were pretty dreadful, just because of the amount of freedom the game gave me, and I spent much longer on side missions and random exploration than on the main quest.
Some games have the random factor: every play through is different from the others and will give a different experience. FTL is excellent at that: encounters, itemization, maps etc, it always feels like the first time, and the only thing that you can bring with you is the knowledge you gained from previous attempts.
And then there are achievements, I personally find them useless so I’ll not consider them a real feature when it comes to the longevity of a game. The game is finished when I complete my adventure, win the finals or defeat the final boss, not when I get to talk with a specific Npc that only appears between 5pm and 5.10pm in-game time, who will give me the magical recipe to craft the giant Worm-Beating Stick of Destiny, which has no use apart from unlocking an achievement.
I see fewer and fewer games that offer the “replayability through fun” feature, and most of them are roguelike games, some platformers (that I don’t enjoy) or multiplayer stuff.
It’s 2013 and I still play Lord of the Realms 2, a turn based strategy game with real time combat that required a lot of time to complete, was extremely hard and punishing as well as pretty buggy. It was released almost 20 years ago and I still enjoy it, not for the nostalgia factor, but just because it’s challenging and fun.
In the last 10 years there’s has been very few games that I played, finished and played again many times: Dark Souls, FTL, Deus EX:HR…uhm….that’s basically it. And the only one that I see myself playing in the future is FTL because of its combination of fun and ramdomness.
I find it awkward that some low-budget titles can be played over and other for dozens (even hundreds) of hours, and then the vast majority of triple A titles with million of dollars spent on development offer a shallow experience that can be completed in few hours, offers next to no replayability (aside from achievements) and pushes gamers to look for a new game to buy.
Oh no wait a second, it kinda makes sense.