"Fahrenheit? Yeah, I hear that's an incredible game but I'm not going to pay full price for something I can finish in two days."
One of the things that I keep running into in talking about games with people is the concept of quality verusus quantity. At one end of the market, you've got a game like Fahrenheit or Psychonauts, generally agreed by critics to be among the best games of the last couple of years, but easy to finish within a couple of days. And at the other end, you've got something like Dynasty Warriors, which uses unlockables and level grinding to keep you playing the same twelve or so stages for potentially over a year.
Dynasty Warriors is great, don't get me wrong. (Says the man who has 7 separate DW titles sitting in his PS2 game collection.) But it's unimaginative, it's repetitive, and each successive sequel is pretty much identical to the one before it.
There's this theory in the game-playing world that buying games is some sort of investment/return equation - the more hours of gameplay you get per dollar, the better a bargain you've got. A Final Fantasy game, clocking in at over 100 hours of gameplay (mostly grinding) is inherently better than a short, scripted cinematic game like Fahrenheit with around 8 hours of play.
This probably seems natural to any regular gamebuyer. Heck, it even kind of looks natural to me. But it's garbage.
Take movies. When was the last time you looked at the offerings at the cinema and went, "I could see film X, but it's only 100 minutes, whereas the latest Spielberg/Hanks monstrosity is about 190 - clearly a better bargain!" I mean, they cost the same admission, right? Why wouldn't you factor in how long they're going to keep you entertained?
This is about the way the world sees gaming. It's seen as a timefiller; it's a way to occupy yourself. It's not in any way seen as an experience, or as a medium capable of delivering a message, or a medium capable of art. But is this perception causative of the way we choose what game to buy - or symptomatic of it?
Imagine if games were cheaper; let's say half the price. If a new game cost you $40 Australian, and a second-hand one cost you $20, would you be more willing to buy your games based on the experience and the art, rather than the length? Even if you were still only buying, say, one game every three months (as many of my friends do)?