Destiny, Call of Duty and other epics expect you to play not for hours but for years. This endless games monoculture isn’t just bad for players – it’s bad for innovation
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Reading our games correspondent Keith Stuart’s feature about the joy of game compilations, it struck me that playing five games over a weekend has become almost unthinkable. My friends who grew up in the 1980s consumed as many games on tape as they could, but by the 90s we had slowed down. Games were more sophisticated, they had more to offer, and it would take the whole weekend (or sometimes the week) to get the most out of whatever cartridge you had borrowed from Blockbuster or spent months’ worth of pocket money to buy.
Things started to change in the 00s: games didn’t last 10 or 20 hours, but 50 or more. There have always been long games – think of Japanese role-playing games, which stole many hours of my teenage life through random battles and grinding, or PC strategy games that could swallow about as many hours as you gave them, or indeed Championship Manager and Football Manager – but landmark open-world games such as Grand Theft Auto and The Elder Scrolls started to make huge games the norm. And of course, World of Warcraft, EverQuest and Guild Wars also appeared, starting a boom in online games that has just … never ended.