The Tricky Topic Of Measuring How Long It Takes To Complete A Game

black stopwatch

I was recently doing some research to plan my gaming year. With that research came an interesting topic of thought.

Each year, I have a notebook I keep for all things gaming (I keep one for books, too). I list the games I’ve completed (and the dates), the games coming out that I want to keep an eye on (and I update release dates as they become available), and various other lists that likely only mean anything to me (games I’ve started but not completed, etc.).

This year, I went through all my current gen games for all platforms (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U), listed the games I have that I’ve yet to play, and went through and listed the estimated times to finish them as found on This gave me a far clearer idea of what sort of time commitments I’d be looking at for various games.

I like lists, and I like to plan.

As I was doing this, I ended up briefly discussing this topic with another person about how someone classifies how long a game takes to complete (oddly enough, this topic also came up on a video I watched recently).

It’s funny because, to me, I felt it was a given that, in real-time hours, the game takes from when you start the game, to when you see credits roll. Apparently that isn’t how everyone sees it.

Some people use an in-game clock (if the game supports such a feature) to gauge their completion. So even if a game took them ten real-time hours to beat, if the game says, let’s say, six hours to beat (due to deaths, setbacks, etc.), that’s the number they walk away with.


The more I thought about this, the funnier it became. I still can’t see completion in any other terms than how many real-life hours it took me to beat it. If it took me ten hours to beat it, that’s how long it took me (quite literally) to beat it. If the game for some reason said anything less, I’d still report that it took me ten hours. Sure I understand that someone else may beat it faster or slower than I, but that’s the number I’d have, as that’s the truth of how many hours I spent in supplication of completing it.

So I ask this: how do you tackle this subject? How do you consider how long it takes you to beat a game? Do you go off real-time hours? Or in-game hours? Or something else entirely? The topic kind of fascinates me, and I’m curious to see how different people view it.

Categories: games

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10 replies »

  1. Interesting blog! I could off of the in-game hours when it comes to beating a game. Like you, I too, try to stick with the hours that the devs or other gamers that seem to be in “close proximity” to myself gamewise. Hope to see more blogs about game completion & what your thoughts are on why some people have different attributing factors, ie. genre, controller settings, etc. For me, controller settings play a role in how/if I will play a game. You agree?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I get that there can be a difference between “game clock” hours and “real-time” hours. I suspect that perhaps cutscenes are also not included along with the other things you mentioned that might not factor into the “game clock” figure.

    For me it makes the most sense to consider the actual hours of my life spent with the game, that’s how long it took me to beat it, that’s how much time I spent with it. The problem I have is that I don’t really track that time so I’m left with the convenience (of not the accuracy) of the hours associated with my save file. I’ve also considered that time in number of days, weeks or even months. If it was four months from the time I started playing a game to the time I finished it, that’s a real value to me, especially if I wasn’t really tackling another game at the same time. Even though I wasn’t actually playing it the whole time because of sleep, work familial or social obligations, etc., that is still the period of time the game required. It’s also probably how long a similar game would also take, like a sequel, if that makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Holy comment parade, Batman!

      I am absolutely on the real-time hours train. But I do get why people measure alternately. I never thought about cutscenes figuring in.


  3. Generally, I’d say I’m in the same boat as you in that I count real-life hours (that is, if I count at all). I can certainly understand the other side, though.

    For example, I’m tempted to make the argument that the amount of time you spend looking at the title screen or the menus or the “You Are Dead” screens is time you’re not actually playing the game.

    Also, thinking of, it would make sense that they not count time lost due to deaths or maybe even cutscenes,because they might be looking for the minimum time it takes to beat a game, generally speaking.

    It’s an interesting point to bring up and one that I’d never really considered.

    Liked by 1 person

    • For certain fields on the site, I assume they take an average and report that number. Some people make fly through certain sections and less so in others. But yes, I default to real-time hours.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Real hours for me too, but unlike you I don’t set a goal at all. No goal to complete it under any given number of hours, not even the discipline to finish it in one go. I just game what I want to game at the time I want to play the game…does that make sense?

    Liked by 1 person

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