As the current state of the gaming industry, as any other industry is to make money. Therefore, the players in the industry (unlike other mature industries) are relatively few and just to name a few: Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Sierra, Activision, Atari Games(formerly Infogrames) et al look at this new game, and judges its sellability, or commercial potential. If it'll sell, it'll cough up the cash the developer(s) need to have a green light.
Before I go on I do not wish to delve too deep into the financial side of the industry, but rather the relationship between the financial success and the game itself. It'll make sense, read on
Let's take a look at some commercial successes:
1. Warcraft 3
Without a doubt one of the most successful games financially and "gamially" in the history of gaming; it is fun, it is fast, and it is simple enough for the average gamer to get a hold on.
2. Battlefield 1942
A touch of Counterstrike, stir with incentives to act together finally polish it until the chrome comes off. Counterstrike was cool because it was action but with added suspense of avoiding the downtime as a result of ones demise. It sucked because given the right circumstances one or two guy(s) could make or break the game, with or without cheats*.
I could go on and on but I have been thinking the past few years on these commercial successes and suddenly I have noticed something in common with all these games:
This is self explanatory, but I'm not taking into account the multiplayer online worlds, where commercial successes, like EverCrack, as I've only heard not played. I've played MUD's for a very long time so I know pretty much what it is. I've also heard that the developers of EverCrack used to run the most popular MUD in the world. Too bad I thought it sucked.
In the case of Warcraft 3, games rarely last longer than 30 minutes. Hey during my normal day I got plenty of 30 minutes or two to spare, but I'd hesitate to load up a game that will take hours and hours to play to reach the same "satisfaction". Granted the "satisfaction" is different with different games but the sense of achievment (I smell dopamine) is released in a shorter period of time.
Battlefield, like any shooter (or any game for that matter) lasts as long as the time loaded until you press Alt-F4. You can come and go as you wish without any bound commitment.
Therefore, in this new era of "do more, sleep less, play more", these games kind of take into account of our lifestyle, thus perfectly fitting into our schedules.
Recently I loaded up one of my favorite games, Heroes One of the best "one more turn" games I've ever played. Single player, 3DO last AAA title before they bellyed-up, so conclusions can be drawn that Heroes 4 failed to keep the struggling 3DO alive, thus financially a failure. However this great game (and I'm sure I'm not alone on this), takes forever to a scenario, don't even mention the game!
There's a lot more but I won't bore you with details, I'll debate and fill those in as the replies get in.
*Subject to debate, but I you know what I mean .