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One of the biggest tragedies of our modern human condition is that, often times, we wish to play a video game that we know we would enjoy, but we don't have the free time to really sink our teeth into it like we used to when we were teenagers. Oof that was a long sentence. This sentiment was expressed recently by Ben Kuchera.
I want to propose a new business practice that may solve this problem: like some long books, release "abridged versions" of long video games. How much would you pay for a re-edit of Alien: Isolation that is only 5-10 hours long, without all the filler crap that most reviews have complained about? If I knew there was a shorter version, made shorter on purpose by the developers so it's still a full and cohesive experience, I would buy that right now for $20-30. But as it is currently, I'm going to wait for it to go on sale for $10 so I can play half of it and then quit.
From a developer point of view (I'm a developer), it definitely would take some effort to create the abridged version. I would estimate about 1-2 months of time, depending on how much of the game is just filler (which can be cut out easily) vs. crucial content. I imagine, for many games, there is plenty that is simply non-essential. Even games that aren't what we may call "long" could release abridged versions. Half-Life 2 could probably be cut into a 5 or so hour game without all the vehicle sections, which really didn't add all that much.
One could argue that this messes up the pacing of the game, but I would argue back that the pacing of a lot of games is too slow to begin with. When was the last time you played a 10+ hour game that didn't start to out stay its welcome a bit? That combined with my limited free time these days means that, more and more, I just don't buy games that I would otherwise be interested in. A monumental tragedy, indeed.
I imagine the hardest part of doing this, however, would be deciding what to cut. It's already difficult to get developers to cut things, since people on the team can get attached to the smallest of details. But then again, this is just for the abridged version - all that amazing stuff you worked on is still in the full version! So maybe the arguments would be less heated.
I can think of so many games I would gladly buy and play if they had abridged versions. Most of BioWare's games. Even a lot of first person shooters that are more than 10 hours long. How much they get abridged probably would depend on the original game. Maybe Mass Effect 2 shouldn't get abridged to 2 hours, but 20 hours may be reasonable.
What do you guys think? What are some games you would be interested in if they released abridged versions? Are there any examples of this already?