In the realm of video games, the notion that “more is better” has long been ingrained. However, the landscape is changing, as developers recognize the drawbacks of excessively long games. They are now embracing the idea of creating more condensed experiences that prioritize quality over quantity. Star Wars Outlaws, an upcoming Ubisoft game, is a testament to this shift. In a recent interview with IGN, Julian Gerighty and Navid Khaveri, the creative and narrative directors of Outlaws, emphasized their intention to deliver a “dense” and “rich” game that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

The allure of massive open-world games often wears thin when players find themselves trapped in an endless cycle of grinding and completing never-ending to-do lists. Recognizing this, developers like Obsidian, known for their RPG titles, are deliberately targeting more mid-length adventures that offer depth and replayability instead of simply focusing on scale. The Outer Worlds, Pentiment, and the highly anticipated Avowed serve as examples of this trend, catering to players who seek engaging experiences without the burden of excessive playtime.

Ubisoft’s reputation has been closely associated with sprawling open-world games filled with various objectives to check off. However, the team behind Outlaws seems to have taken a different approach in response to criticisms of their previous titles. They have intentionally crafted a more compact experience that embraces immersion and thoughtful exploration over vastness. This pivot by Ubisoft reflects a growing awareness among developers of the need to balance scope with player enjoyment.

Exceptions to the Rule

While the demand for shorter games is rising, it is important to acknowledge that there are still exceptions where lengthy playtime is warranted and celebrated. For instance, highly anticipated releases like Starfield and Baldur’s Gate 3, set to launch in Fall 2023, are expected to fulfill their ambitious promises of providing hundreds of hours of gameplay. These exceptional cases, however, require extensive development periods and large teams of developers to achieve their grand vision.

The shift towards more compact gaming experiences signifies a growing appreciation for focused and streamlined gameplay. While there will always be a place for epic, sprawling titles in the industry, striking a balance between quantity and quality is crucial. Players crave immersive worlds and captivating narratives, but they also value meaningful engagement that doesn’t become burdensome. As developers continue to experiment with game length, we can anticipate a future where every minute spent in a game is purposeful and fulfilling, leaving players craving more rather than burning out.

Ultimately, the rise of compact gaming experiences embodies a shift in mentality within the industry. Quality content takes precedence over game length, proving that less can indeed be more. Developers now understand that the key to creating memorable experiences lies in crafting vibrant worlds that are enjoyable, manageable, and ultimately, finishable.


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