Are You in the Habit of Half-finishing Games?

Posted on July 15, 2013 9:15 AM by Rob Williams

Over the weekend, I finished something that I began in May of 2011: I beat CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher. While the game is rather large, sporting a massive world and many quests, the game only took me about 60 – 70 hours to complete – not 5x as long as the 2 years it took me to accomplish would suggest. So what was the problem? Was the game just not intriguing enough? Nope – that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Two days before I began my The Witcher quest, I commended CD Projekt RED on all that it was doing right with its just-released The Witcher 2. At that point, I knew nothing about the game or its story, but it became clear to me that CDP likes to make sure it takes care of its loyal customers. Anyone who’s played either the first or second game can attest to that… free digital goods are just the start; free mammoth content updates come later. Oh – and let’s not forget that the company has so much respect for its customers, it sells its games DRM-free over at

The Witcher
The Witcher

It’s for all those reasons that my curiosity was piqued, and I decided hop into the world of The Witcher with the original title. I quickly became sucked in… the world was simply magnificent, as were the quests, story and other game mechanics. While to this day I don’t much care for the fighting mechanics, they didn’t hold me back from being able to experience what a grand game it really was.

So again, why for the love of Geralt did it take me so long to beat? After all, I’ve been taunted by The Witcher 2 over those two years… which I’ve been dying to play.

Well, you see… I have a problem with finishing games. I’ve always been horrible at it. This became really clear to me back in the original Wii days. I enjoyed both Zelda: Twilight Princess and Super Mario Galaxy quite a bit, and sunk quite a number of hours into them. I didn’t finish either. Same goes for the great Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction for the PlayStation 3.

Deus Ex Human Revolution
Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Having a look at my Steam library reveals just how bad I’ve become. Games I’ve began, and enjoyed, but never completed include: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Crysis (1 & 2), Darksiders (1 & 2), Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Just Cause 2, Mirror’s Edge, Lara Croft: Guardian of Light, Serious Sam 3: BFE, Sonic Generations, and Trine 2 – and none of that includes the games that I ended up deleting just to save hard drive space.

I clearly have a rather severe case of noncompletionitis, but I always knew the number one cause: MMOs. As any MMO gamer can attest, your time can be sucked away before you know it. Because I’m foolish, I’m actually juggling three MMOs at the moment (Asheron’s Call, Defiance and Rift). It’s those that keep me from completing games, and it’s gotta stop.


It’s not just MMOs that can cause that, of course. Steam sales are another excellent way to make sure that you never complete a game. “Ooh, just one more game.” *20 games later* – this kind of thing just happens, and it’s easy to understand why.

I realize that The Witcher shouldn’t have taken me two freaking years to complete, and when I begin The Witcher 2, I don’t want to follow-up to this post two years down the road to say “Oops, I did it again.”. I’m conscientious about this problem, and plan to forcibly limit my MMO time to make sure I get in these other games that I like. It’s almost foolish to think about – avoiding a game you happen to really like just to put a couple of more hours on top of the hundreds into your favorite MMO. It embarasses me to admit that I haven’t completed a couple of the games listed earlier, especially a game like Deus Ex: HR which I go gaga over every time someone mentions it.

How about you guys? Are you also cursed with never finishing most games, or do you have a lot more determination and willpower than I do?

  • Ikerkin

    I force myself to play a game for an hour to get the general feel of it, after that I either never play it again, or 100% it.

    • Rob Williams

      Any games you were forced to NOT complete because they were just so danged difficult?

      Some games, I’ve put like 20+ hours into, and THEN just got side-tracked, to never touch them again. Trying really hard to go back to these games soon.

      • Ikerkin

        For me, not since I was a kid and got stuck in Banjo Tooie :P

        It’s rare for me to get sidetracked from a game with that kind of investment unless the story really takes a nose-dive. I tend to weed out games i know I’ll never get hooked with (example being Hitman) before ever purchasing by reading tons of reviews.

        However, there are always those surprisingly slow games though, Metro and STALKER being two games that I wound up buying but lost interest due to an uneven story distribution (2 hours of boredom then 1 hour of action).

        This really is the season to take a look back at games you never really played, what with the steam sale ravaging our wallets :|

        • Rob Williams

          I had the exact same problem with the original STALKER, even though I -did- consider it to be a good game. I’ve had an urge to go back to it in recent years though, installing some of the mods out there, and give the game another go. It just seems like a game that shouldn’t be ignored, because it has huge potential. Metro… I could never get into that at all. Too much of the game just looks the same :S

          I never had the pleasure of playing Banjo Tooie, and it’s unfortunate because I -loved- the original (not as much as Donkey Kong 64, mind you, but it was still quite good).

          The Witcher is a game I almost didn’t beat, actually, because a boss near the end of the game just whipped my ass so bad. I ended up having to load up an older save just to correct things (aka: craft more important potions).

          “This really is the season to take a look back at games you never really played, what with the steam sale ravaging our wallets :|”

          LOL, yup!

  • JD Kane

    I’m quite unlike you, in that once I’m entranced by the story a game tells (I like SP campaigns; MP, not so much), I feel an obligation to see it through. Sometimes I regret it, since not all SP campaigns have good stories.

    I don’t have an obsession to go all the way to 100% completion, but I almost always try to get to the end of the SP campaign.

    “I clearly have a rather severe case of noncompletionitis, but I always knew the number one cause: MMOs. As any MMO gamer can attest, your time can be sucked away before you know it.”

    Hehe, I think this is the key here. It’s no accident that I’ve never played an MMO.

    • Rob Williams

      “It’s no accident that I’ve never played an MMO.”

      Probably very wise. I told myself that outside of Lineage 2 and Asheron’s Call, I’d never play another MMO. Here I am playing Defiance and Rift.

  • The Focus Elf

    I am exactly like you Rob, for better or worse! In fact I am probably worse than you! In solo-play games I rarely play them to their completion, when games get to the point that I must walk a specific line, dodge this and that hail of bullets, execute a crouch-jump-prone move at EXACTLY the right time to avoid being hit by a carriage I just tune out completely. It seems to get that way with most games, as they expected skill-curve begins to level out (that is to say, the expected abilities and maneuvering dexterity you have now been trained by the game to be able to execute) I do not like simply having to master a situational series of abilities to overcome an arbitrary hurdle. I’ve kind of laid it out there in the first-person shooter example, but this goes for almost all examples I can think of. At some point a game expects you to expertly and repeatedly regurgitate some series of abilities on demand, and it is at that point that it becomes less about the game or the compelling story for me. Hell, even on my ipad I’ve not bothered to finish games like cut the rope and others like it because it gets BORING! Screw you Om Nom!

    • Rob Williams

      I see where you’re coming from, and tend to agree. Difficulty usually isn’t the reason I give up on a game though… I just get seriously sidetracked. I can’t recall many games right off that got so difficult that I just said “screw it”. Usually games like that are difficult from the get-go.

      Mobile games bore me to tears, usually, including Cut the Rope. I usually get past the first major tier and then just wondering what I’m doing still playing.

      • The Focus Elf

        Well it isn’t the difficulty factor Rob, I want to cite a game like Prototype for instance. That is the game with the morphing human hybrid that can turn into weapons, fly, etc. I just don’t like having to memorize 7 key combos to execute an essential move to beat a mission.

        For the same reason, and don’t kill me here but I’m being honest, GTA3 annoyed me with the timed driving missions. Going to the in game purchases, I’d gladly pay due to the amount I enjoy some of those games at least at the onset to skip a mission here and there. Much love #Techgage

        • Rob Williams

          Ahh yeah, I can understand that just fine. Reminds me of the “last” boss in Defiance… major, major pain in the ass. My wrists hurt afterwards for all that I was required to do.

  • Derpanese

    Easy : When you think of trying a new MMO, don’t. Don’t start playing MMOs because you know that they are never-ending time drains.

    • Rob Williams

      That’s good advice. The MMOs I’ve started to play, I’ve done so because I planned to review it h ere (Defiance, the most recent example). I’ve been playing one MMO for 11 years… once that goes away I will likely play way less MMO.

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