Rhythms in Circuits

Amount of Play Time on Games is a Powerful Tool for the Player

July 01, 2019

Empower the player with analysis of the games they play the most



The State of Online Gaming 2019 states that gamers spend more than seven hours per week playing games. When players think about the amount of time they’ve spent playing video games two opposing mindsets occur quite often:

  • Those games were awesome and I enjoyed the crap out of spending my time playing them
  • Wow I’ve wasted so much time playing games what am I doing with my life

I’d like to consider a third viewpoint: All this time spent playing your games is the most unique information you have about specific parts of gaming you enjoy the most.

No one else has the same play time across their gaming library as you.

Now, what do you do with that number to make it useful to you? I say combine it with all the parts that make up each game you play. Example of this are the game’s number of players, release date, publisher, platform, etc.

Why? Doing so can paint a picture of your gaming interests at a higher level than an individual game while being unique to what you and you alone enjoy the most (or least). This can lead to interesting info that I believe is under-explored by players. For example, players could discover they enjoy specific game engines, specific ranges of time to complete, themes in games or specific years or sets of years of games or a multitude of other facets that make up the games they play — all of them unique to them as an individual player.

I’ve been working to help players do this at Games I Play. Currently in beta, it makes it easy for players to view their time played in combination with a game’s developer, game engine, theme and more. Player’s play time data is not sold to any third parties on Games I Play.

Useful services can be built around the player’s interest in games based on their play time. For example, inferring a player is interested in a game that is in their top 10 games when organizing by most play time seems like a safe inference to make. Based on this, the player is most likely interested in additional content revolving around those top 10 games. In many cases nowadays, the player needs to go and search that content out themselves. Most platforms make the player manually follow a game to receive updates on it. Providing some automation around this process can provide major benefits to both the player and the developer.

Specifically, the player could automatically get updates for games they actually enjoy based on a purer metric than purchase history or forcing a manual follow/tracking of every game they care about. It’s certainly useful for players to be able to explicitly choose to follow a game, but information can still get lost or missed if they don’t set this process up for every game they are interested in following closely.

Some major platforms allow the player to see their playtime for each game for all games:

  • Steam
  • Nintendo Switch (the 3DS and WiiU also did this)
  • GOG Galaxy
  • Origin
  • UPlay
  • Xbox One (and PC in some cases)

However, they don’t necessarily show player’s play time combined with other characteristics of their games. I’m interested in making it easier for players to take advantage of their play time on a broader scale. Not for simple game recommendations, but learning more about the games they play and making it easier for players to explore the metadata around their most played games. I’ve been working on Games I Play to help players explore characteristics of games they play on these platforms like Steam and Xbox. Currently with the site, filters can be built to create highly flexibly views into their gaming:

Create custom views into your gaming data based on only your playtime.

See the top game (by play time) in each group in your created view. Players can drill into each item here by clicking on the game or group.

The setup for this is just connecting your public profile for the gaming Platform you want to add (e.g., Steam). Additionally, a news feed is curated with top news about your most played games. This news feed is automatically kept up to date based on your most played games as that list changes while you play.

Automatically updated news only for the games you play most.

Consider the games you play. They probably have a multitude of characteristics in common, but just as many characteristics set them apart. Take advantage of your unique history of game play time and discover more about the games you play.

Jordan Polaniec

Written by Jordan Polaniec, who loves software.  You can follow him on Twitter