Just Because You Play A Game For 100 Hours Doesn’t Mean It’s Good

One of my favorite things to see on X is developers dunking on bad Steam reviews for their games. Sure, it’s petty, and it can come across as a bit of a desperate need for validation, but it never ceases to amaze me what kind of wild takes people will come up with to justify a negative review. Bigoted screeds about how woke Caves of Qud is give me life. I live for them. I especially love it when Devs respond to negative reviews to tell the reviewer they’re wrong, like when the War Thunder devs responded to a review claiming the game stole the reviewer’s wife (via IGN) or, more recently, when Bethesda started replying to negative Starfield reviews.


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There’s been a lot of discourse about Starfield reviews lately, as its recent review score on Steam has dropped to Mostly Negative, and its overall score has dropped to Mixed, despite no major recent changes to the game. Both devs and fans have been picking about the reviews looking for evidence of foul play, and there’s an emerging theme that critics of critics have latched onto: bad reviews with loads of play time. I was as excited as anyone to dunk on deranged Starfield Steam reviews, but I don’t think this is the smoking gun everyone thinks it is. You can play a bad game for a long time, but that doesn’t make it good.

I’ve seen quite a few takes from people claiming that negative Starfield reviews aren’t valid if the player has more than 100 hours in the game, and a meme that makes a similar claim has gone semi-viral. But the sentiment that putting lots of hours into a game means you like it takes for granted all the reasons people play games, as well as the way games are made to be played these days. Just because you do something a lot doesn’t mean you like doing it, including playing games.

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We understand this more intuitively when it comes to TV. People hate-watch trashy reality shows and sink hundreds of hours into watching things they don’t even like. Just because I saw every episode of Game of Thrones doesn’t mean I liked it. Maybe I did at one point, but if I had to write a review for it at the end, it would be a negative one. I’ve watched terrible shows for many different reasons over the years, and the length of time I spent watching them had little to do with how much I liked them.

A lot of games evolve and change over time, and our opinion of them can change, too. I’ve loved Destiny 2 for many years, but last year’s Lightfall expansion was such a disappointment that my opinion about it changed. Opinions can also be affected when games don’t change over time. When I started playing Ark, its major technical issues bothered me a bit, but over the years, the developers’ inability to address major issues had a growing effect on my enjoyment of the game. I have over 600 hours in Ark: Survival Evolved and feel utterly betrayed by it.

Why would we think play time is firmly connected to enjoyment when games are purposefully made using dark design and manipulative techniques to keep people playing. As someone who has struggled with compulsive gaming, I know exactly what it’s like to log into a game day after day and never even stop to consider whether or not I’m enjoying it. When games are intentionally designed to drain your time, it’s no wonder people are playing things that they don’t even like for hundreds of hours.

Plus, who’s more qualified to review a game than someone who’s played it for that long? We have to consider the context within the argument of the review itself. If someone’s bad review says there isn’t enough to do, but they’ve played for 800 hours, that’s probably not a review we have to take seriously. But if they outline in detail all of its problems and they’ve played for 800 hours, then they probably know what they’re talking about. I have a way bigger problem with someone writing a positive review after playing for one hour than someone writing a bad review after playing for hundreds.

I think the takeaway here is that whether you play a lot of Starfield or a little, it’s just not a very good game.

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