When I was a young whippersnapper, the concept of “value” was frequently part of review rubrics. The question is basically, “Is this game worth your money?” Eventually sites started to realize that was a foolish quesion. As the podcast touched on recently, it’s an intensely individual, circumstantial question. For some people, it’s worth $60 just to give a game a shot. For others, $60 might be prohibitive except in special cases. So, the question of whether a game is worth the money has largely disappeared from the review/critical space (to be clear, I am not talking about the Reddit/Twitter discourse here, where it’s still going strong).
What it’s been replaced with is the equally as vague “Does this game respect my time?” I’ve particularly seen it come up multiple times in discussion around AC: Odyssey and Red Dead 2. The consensus seems to be that Red Dead respects the player’s time more than Odyssey, but I personally find infiltrating and looting a Fortress far more fulfilling than wandering around looking for wildlife. A game like Odyssey is dinged for not respecting the player’s time because of the abundance of meaningless, optional side content, while multiplayer MMOs and ARPGs can have dozens of hours of cookie-cutter story content excused if the endgame is strong.
I’ve never really seen Respecting Time defined, nor why it’s any more of a universal metric than Respecting Money. (Incidentally, I don’t think it’s at all coincidental that when games media was mostly young, single dudes barely making scratch, the question was about money, and now that they’re growing up and having families, the question is about time.)
But, instead of me just ranting about replacing one meaninglessly subjective metric with another, I’ll pose some questions.
What does it mean to you for a game to respect your time?
How does that change depending on the game? RPG vs Action vs Puzzle, etc? Single-player vs multiplayer? Optional content vs quest content?
And the big one: do you find the discussion around whether a game respects the player’s time useful?