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Love Letters Discovered

Does Anyone Finish Games? 2009 Edition Ian's avatar
I finished secret of mana once and took this screenshot
Do people really beat games? For years there was no way of telling. Probably?

Luckily, its the future now and services like Xbox Live are watching our every move. It has occasionally been used for good, for example Valve used the tracking they put into Half Life 2 Episode 1 to identify and fix a sequence which was killing players far more remorselessly than they had intended. The achievement system is the first time that anyone has really promoted a system like this as a feature and encourage people to compare how they play games with others. If you know someone's Xbox Live user name then you can easily find out exactly what games they've played and how well they did in them.

Of course all this data is stored on Microsoft's servers and they don't really provide a good way of analysing it en masse. Fortunately, the good people over at Giant Bomb have come up with a good way of letting us look at a small portion of the data. Microsoft allows third party sites to access an individual users achievement data if the user provides correct login details. Giant Bomb have used this to create a system which will grab all your achievement data and put it in their database if you sync up your account. Over the months this has been active they've ended up with a database containing thousands of users complete achievement lists which is updated daily.

Obviously the userbase of Giant Bomb isn't going to be a true cross-section of the gaming public, it probably leans towards the "hardcore" side of things. Practically this might means that games with Halo in their title somewhere probably have a more people finishing them than usual. The data will still be indicative of how people are playing the games though. Unfortunately Sony do not give such open access to their trophy data so I can't take that into account.

For this article I have gone through the major releases of 2009 and identified the achievement most closely associated with finishing each game. If there are multiple achievements for different difficulty modes, I have chosen the most normal sounding one, so nothing with 'easy' or 'casual' in it. This is because most people will probably at least start on this mode, and be more directly comparable with games that have no difficulty settings like Assassin's Creed II.

Ideally you'd probably want everyone who plays your game to finish it. Realistically though, I'd think if two thirds of players got to the ending then I'd be happy. Any less than 50% though, and either your game is a bit too long or a bit too bad. I'm sure games companies don't want to spend time making content that the majority of players won't ever see. So, in order of what percentage of users who have played a game completed it, highest to lowest, here are 2009's games:

Modern Warfare 2 - 81.30% - Complete the Game
I'm not particularly surprised that this was top. It's the universes best selling game and it has a short, relatively easy, controversial, and hugely entertaining single player campaign.

Assassin's Creed II - 72.80% Complete the Game
This is the longest game by far of the top 10 in this list. You normally wouldn't expect a game with an open world structure to have nearly this many people finish it. The most interesting thing about the series to me is the out of animus mystery, which I can see people beating it for. That's not to say the story of Ezio isn't also awesome, but they managed to give the plot with Desmond an almost Lost-esque quality. There was indeed a great pay-off at the end of this game as well, so that's 72.8% of people locked in for a third game.

Wanted: Weapons of Fate - 72.70% - Complete on Assassin Difficulty
This game's presence so high up on the list only goes to highlight how astonishingly short it is. I'm positive most people who beat it weren't really intending or expecting to beat it, it just sort of happened without their consent.

Shadow Complex - 72.40% - Complete the Game
This game had a great combination of quality and pacing that must have kept people going till the end. It always points you to exactly where you need to go to get the next upgrade with a big red line. Only 37.18% of people beat it with 100% items though, and a mere 8.52% of people levelled up to Level 50.

Batman: Arkham Asylum - 71.80% - Complete on Normal
Again, a game that always let you know what you should be doing. There are no real road blocks that I can see people getting too stuck on with this game, except perhaps the slightly irritating Killer Croc section.

Halo 3: ODST - 69.99% - Complete on Normal
It's a shame only 21.64% of people found all the audio logs, because I thought that made the overall plot of the game that much more interesting. Most people I know who played it didn't seem to work out what the signs of a nearby audio log even were. Maybe they were too subtle, and it might have helped if they had explained it properly the first time. Subtlety and nuance is sort of lost in a game involving a large scale alien invasion of a metropolitan area. It's also quite a short linear experience, which definitely aids people actually seeing credits.

The Beatles: Rock Band - 67.20% - Play through Story Mode
I wasn't too sure whether or not to include this, but as they did such a good job making a story mode I thought I might as well. Of these, 46.55% of people also managed to get the Day Tripper achievement for seeing credits within 24 hours of starting the story. I personally managed to get through it one bored afternoon without much trouble. It's pretty fun! I learned things about the Beatles, and realised that a few songs I knew from other things were in fact Beatles songs.

Terminator Salvation - 65.08% - Complete on Medium Difficulty
Like Wanted, another one of the now defunct GRIN's super short games that probably contributed to them now being defunct.

Resident Evil 5 - 63.20% - Complete on Normal
I can understand what probably made some people stop playing this one. There are some tough fights that could have easily made people give up. This is one of those games that has an achievement for beating the very first level, and apparently 5.39% of people didn't manage to get past an area that was available for free in the demo area before giving up.

F.E.A.R. 2 – Project Origin - 60.60% - Any Difficulty
This game drags a bit in the middle which could probably have put people off. I thought it was a quality game though. Don't tell anyone, but I liked it more than Killzone 2 which I played immediately afterwards.

Borderlands - 59.90% - Complete the Game
This means that 59.9% of people were slightly disappointed with the ending of Borderlands! A very long game, so I think that getting 60% of people to play through all of shows that other people must have that seemingly limitless desire to play more Borderlands that I had. An impressive 31.9% of people got one of the zombie island DLC achievements as well. I hope they release more DLC soon. Please!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled - 59.00% - Complete on Normal
I am astonished that this isn't higher considering how short the game is. It takes less than an hour, and is at no point particularly hard. Unfortunately it is at all points particularly bad, so that's probably it.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game - 56.90% - Complete the Game on Easy or Normal
Another short but pretty janky game. There's a weird sounding achievement for called Payday which only one person has gotten. It's described as "Be the overall top earner in each Xbox LIVE campaign setting." which sounds pretty messed up to me.

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand - 54.88% - Complete on Normal
Man, what a dumb game. It's fun dumb though, fortunately. 27.44% of people got the 0 point negative achievement "Died on easy difficulty" which is a concept I wish more games used.

The Secret of Monkey Island – Special Edition - 49.29% - Complete the Game
Most of the drop off here happened during Chapter 1. 65% of people beat Chapter 1, and 59% of people beat Chapter 2. I'd wager money on it being the insult sword fighting that caused most of this. It's a funny concept, but grows into far more of a hassle long before it's over. Monkey Island 2 was always my favourite anyway.

Left 4 Dead 2 - 48.80% - Survive “last” Campaign
Okay, this is a bit of a stretch. This achievement is for surviving the mission called "The Parish" is the last mission in the list, and I imagine most people would play them in the order listed. More so than the first game, the 5 missions do form something of a narrative, and this of the five missions has the least people completing it.

Street Fighter IV - 48.10% - Complete Arcade on Normal or Higher
As you can unlock characters by playing on much easier difficulty modes, I can see people not really bothering with the harder difficulty Arcade mode settings. There is nothing fun about fighting Seth's AI even on the easiest setting either, which is about the level of Street Fighter player I am.

Saw - 45.90% - Finish Game one way - 45.80% - Finish Game the other way
From what I understand, you make get a choice of endings right at the end of the game that lead to one of these two achievements. Looking at this it's probably super easy to just make a save directly beforehand and try both endings.

Dragon Age: Origins - 45.20% - Complete the Game
While it's a shame that only 45% of people got through this game, I can understand why. The 360 version seemed like it had some issues. I played through this on the PC, and watched Sam suffer through parts of the 360 version that gave me no trouble because of how much extra control I had over everything. They've promised to do a better job for the next game's console release, so let's hope they do.

Halo Wars - 43.80% - Complete Act IV
You can practically hear the people who didn't know this game was an RTS screaming in rage. Still, 83% of people gave it enough of a go to get through the first Act of four missions. Here's my secret strategy for completing this game: Set the game to easy, select All Units, then move a horde of units around the map till the missions is completed. It's pretty fun.

Brütal Legend - 43.80% - Complete on Normal
Again, you can here the cries of people who didn't really know what type of game it was. Less than 50% of people beat it on Casual mode as well, which is extremely easy. I'm gonna say that if they removed the stage battles from this game, this percentage would be tonnes higher.

Tom Clancy's HAWX - 43.70% - Complete on Normal
Another game with a big trackable dropoff of players. 93% beat the first mission, 82% beat the second mission, 77% third, 72% fourth. This continues quite evenly all the way down to 44% beating the 17th. Not a particularly good game then?

Bionic Commando - 43.50% - Complete Game
What a weird game. Considering how much the games media went on about this game in the year or so before it came out, I feel like no-one even really ended up playing it. I think it's totally worth it for the completely nonsense ending, and the swinging is cool. It's like Spider-Man but more hard work and most of the places you swing to are bathed in magical instant death radiation.

WET - 43.10% - Complete on Normal
Now this is a short easy game that no-one finished. It's a bit of a one-trick pony though now that I think about it, and only worth playing if you need a Malcolm McDowell fix. Now I will go on for ten paragraphs about why I think Eliza Dushku sucks...

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood - 42.10% - Complete on Normal
Not a game I've played, though I did like the first Call of Juarez. A quarter of people didn't manage to make it through Chapter 1, so there must be something quite immediately wrong with this game. It got decent enough reviews though.

Red Faction: Guerrilla - 42.00% - Complete the Game
I can understand this one. The thing that's fun about this game isn't really playing the missions, it's just about sticking 10 explosives to a chimney stack, and then almost getting crushed underneath it when it falls right at you. Also it's about hammering soldiers through building walls. I felt the game was a bit too hard on its normal difficulty setting, so that might of put people off after a while as well.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 - 41.24% - Complete one way - 34.60% - Complete the other way
Another one with no definitive final achievement. You picked one of two roads a third of the way through the game. Considering how little I wanted to keep playing this game after I had finished, I imagine there isn't 100% overlap between the people who picked each side, so this should probably be a bit higher. No way of telling though.

The Saboteur - 35.70% - Finish Game
About the one thing I know about this game beyond having played the opening 30 minutes is that the ending is really good. If I ever find out, I'll update this article right here:

Wolfenstein - 32.20% - Complete the Game
In the grand scheme of things, this game was sort of mediocre, and I can see how someone could give it up. There is a really dramatic drop off achievements; the first two you get during the opening mission were both got by 93% of people. The next most common achievement is 45% for fully upgrading one gun.

'Splosion Man - 30.40% - Complete the Game
I've often said that this game would be much better if it was about a third as long as it is. As I was playing missions 40-50 of this game it occurred to me that only crazy people would still be playing it. The 1.76% of people beat the game on hardcore mode, they are definitely crazy.

Tales of Vesperia - 29.30% - Complete Game
Not surprised to see a lengthy JRPG down here. I wonder if the Japanese audience have a higher completion percentage, no way of knowing that though, and they probably mostly played it on PS3 anyway.

The Chronicles of Riddick – Escape from Butcher Bay - 27.50% - Complete on Normal
While I enjoyed my playthrough of this obviously last generation title, it was pretty friggin hard.

Ninja Blade - 23.50% - Complete on Normal
Ninja Blade is awesome and dumb simultaneously. Its definitely worth picking up if you can find it cheap. Only 2.6% of people beat this game on hard mode.

The Wheelman - 22.00% - Complete last mission
More mathematical proof that people don't like to complete games with Vin Diesel in them.

The Chronicles of Riddick – Assault on Dark Athena - 21.80% - Complete on Normal
I separated out this from Escape from Butcher Bay because they were technically two separate games. Poor Vin.

Star Ocean: The Last Hope - 21.40% - Defeat Last Boss
Oddly, Infinite Undiscovery's existence put me off ever playing anything Tri-Ace make. I guess I should give it a go anyway, but I've heard nothing but bad things.

Velvet Assassin - 18.40% - Complete on Normal
A frustrating stealth game? In 2009? Well 18% of people were fine with that.

James Cameron's Avatar: The Game - 16.50% - Complete as Blue People 15.54% - Complete as Soldiers
Another game where you have to chose sides. I doubt many people liked this game enough to play both sides, so probably should be a bit higher.

Overlord II - 15.30% - Defeat Last Boss
When only 15% of people beat your game, I hope you didn't put too much effort into the ending.

Trials HD - 13.90% - Complete Extreme Tracks
Maybe this was a bit harsh. From what I've seen of Trials gets way too hard for the Extreme levels, but hey. You haven't completed the game unless you've beaten them right? Tags: achievements