It Turns Out Dying Light 2 is Not 500 Hours Long, Which is Obvious But Still a Weird Flex

No, it will not take you 500 hours to finish Dying Light 2, but it begs the question of why advertise the number anyway?

Dying Light 2 is probably a pretty long game. Over the weekend, developer Techland wanted to emphasize how long it could be by proclaiming that it would take around 500 hours to do everything in the game. This was, of course, not meant as a counter for the main campaign in the game, it was an approximate amount of time for how long it would take completionists to see every single thing the game had to offer. The developers followed it up by stating that the main game wouldn’t take 500 hours, but probably still under 100, which is still a lot of hours. All this kicked off a discourse, but it kicked off a discourse about the wrong thing.

Today, the Twitter account clarified that the game doesn’t actually take 500 hours. Techland stated that 20 hours is the likely time for finishing the game, 80 hours to do all the side quests, and 500 for doing everything including hearing every line of dialogue. Considering the branching paths, that probably means multiple playthroughs of the game.

Which, yeah! That makes a lot of sense. I doubt most people who saw that original tweet thought, oh, this game is the size of Final Fantasy XIV and every expansion or literally my entire Game Pass backlog crammed into one executable or five Persona 5 Royal playthroughs. What was odd, and what continues to be odd, is that that 500 hour number presents this advertising case that a longer game time is a more valuable product and I’m still left kind of wondering if that’s true.

For the first time since we switched to discs, games are more expensive on the sticker than they have been since. For $70, people expect a game to keep them busy for a long time, but does advertising an hour count really accomplish that? I think this kind of advertising exemplifies a schism between people who play 2-3 games a year and people who buy a new game every 3-4 weeks.

For the former, hearing that an anticipated title has the Skyrim-like quality of just lasting for-fucking-ever sounds great. Everyone I talked to that is more involved in the gaming sphere hears that and just gets completely exhausted. More than a few people responded to the Dying Light 2 tweet saying they were on the fence and have now fallen off after hearing how long it takes, which indicates that advertising the hour count loses people as effectively as it gains others.

I also imagine the age line matters here a bit. I’m older and have a job and a partner, “500 gaming hours” is a three-word horror story to me. But when I was 20? And actively avoiding doing college homework? That sounds fun as hell. Even if I didn’t play all 500 hours, it was always sitting there and waiting for me if I wanted it.

Either way, my actual advice to developers is to stay away from flexing your hour count. As Techland just learned, trying to tout a bigger number isn’t always better, and it’s very hard to un-ring a bell.