Josef Fares says most single-player games ‘last a bit too long’ and focus on replayability is an issue

Hazelight’s founder and director, Josef Fares, is a beloved figure in the industry. With his infamous “F the Oscars” line in The Game Awards, the A Way Out and It Takes Two developer has been making headlines across the gaming space, Fares is an icon and an inspiration.

Fares’ has an insightful take on “replayability” in video games. Most developers, if not all, take most of their time to make games at least “replayable”. This is why we have unlockables, small trinkets that we look for, treasure hunting in short. But that’s not the focus of Fares’ team over at Hazelight. He sees it as a problem in the gaming industry that developers are too focused on replayability and not on how to make games fun.

Fares did mention this during a virtual press preview event of It Takes Two but he didn’t dive in deep into the topic. However, during this interview with Inverse, he expounded why he thinks this is a problem and that most single-player games ‘last a bit too long.’

“I do believe that many of the single-player games last a bit too long and mechanics are used for too long. Games are too long,” says Fares.

“It’s weird that people want replayability. Why the fuck are we talking about replayability? Do you know what percentage of people actually replay a game? I’m not sure if this is true, but I believe the people who buy games without playing once is a higher percentage than those who replay them. Yet, we’re still focusing on that small part.”

Based on statistics, there’s only a handful of gamers who actually complete a game. A good thread on ResetEra in 2019 shows a good idea of how many players actually finish a game, at least completed the main story/campaign. The list shows only 10.63% of players on Xbox One finished Alien Isolation, and 17.6% on PS4. There are more games like Mafia III, Yooka-Laylee, and Middle-earth Shadow of Mordor on the list.

“Don’t misunderstand me, it’s great if you love replaying playing games, but we cannot adjust development to replayability,” Fares continued. “Why do developers, publishers, and reviewers talk about replayability? What are we doing with that data? It’s crazy. We should focus on making a good game and not stuff like that.”

“We have a problem with players actually finishing games. Let’s take Witcher 3, one of the most praised games ever. 30 percent of players finished it. Witcher 3 sold around 25 million copies. 30 percent means 7.5 million people beat it. So you’re left with 17.5 million people who didn’t finish? And you’re still talking about replayability? It’s madness.”

It’s a sad reality that it is indeed true that not a big portion of those who buy games actually finishes the main campaign or story.

It Takes Two is now available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. Read our full review here.