HowLongToBeat’s “48.5 hours to beat Tears of the Kingdom” claim sparks debate 

HowLongToBeat, a site that collects data on the time needed to clear games, recently made a tweet which is generating some controversy. The tweet indicated that the recently released The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom can be finished in 48.5 hours on average, and Twitter users are debating whether the data is accurate or not. 

HowLongToBeat is a user-driven community where users post how long it took them to complete certain games, and this data is aggregated and hosted on the site. Data is posted based on various conditions, such as whether the player only followed the main storyline or took side trips, whether the player completed the game 100% or not etc. The average of these numbers is calculated and posted as the average clear time for each title. 

For example, for Resident Evil 4, the average time needed to clear the main story is 16 hours, the average time including side quests is 19 hours and 30 minutes, and the average time to achieve 100% completion of the game is 55 hours and 30 minutes. Although this is based on user reports, it is possible to check the numbers and data in detail, such as how many people have contributed, which platform the data is from, whether DLC is included, and whether the game was played for the first time. Users find it useful in that it can directly answer the question, “How much time does it take to complete this game?” 

As HowLongToBeat accumulates a variety of data, it has many users and is generally well received. However, the tone changed somewhat when the official HowLongToBeat Twitter account posted the average clear time data for Resident Evil 4 on March 27, a few days after the release of the title. This post received over 1,500 likes and circulated on social media considerably. 

Up until that point, the official HowLongToBeat Twitter account had mostly posted average clear times of games two weeks to a month or more upon release. However, since Resident Evil 4, the website started posting average clear times for major titles before too much time has passed since their release. For Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, HowLongToBeat made a post 12 days after the game’s release, stating that the average clear time for the game is 19 hours, and that it takes an average of 49.5 hours for 100% completion. These numbers caused controversy, with some saying it’s impossible to clear the game that quickly, others commenting that 19 hours of content is too little for the price. In short, there was a fair amount of engagement on the posts made about major titles quickly upon release. 

Then, on May 15, the official HowLongToBeat Twitter account posted the average clear times for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. The average clear times cited were 48 hours and 30 minutes for the main storyline and 96 hours for 100% completion. This post has met with significant controversy, with users commenting that it’s impossible to clear the game in such a short time and that the data lacks accuracy.

Such a reaction is unsurprising as this data was compiled during only 3 days after the launch. The main story clear time average of 48 hours is based on a small sample of only 10 data submissions. For other major titles, the number of data submissions was well over 100, with some titles having 500 to 2,000 submissions, and the average was calculated from these submissions. Besides, the only people who could play the game for 48 hours within 3 days of its release would be members of media who received the game in advance, or people who temporarily abandoned their everyday lives in order to play. The data is based on a small, biased sample and cannot be said to be informative, especially considering the fact that Tears of the Kingdom is an open-world game with a larger volume than other games. The fact that the average clear time was thrown onto social media only three days after the game’s release and with such a small sample size is surely what caused so much doubt.

One user replied to the post by HowLongToBeat, calling them “the biggest liars in existence,” as it is not possible to clear the game within that time. This was echoed by others, saying “It took me 50 hours just crafting” and “I can’t see the end even after 100 hours of playing.” Note that the average main storyline clear time has continued to increase since the data was first posted, now reaching 50 hours and 30 minutes as of 11:00 a.m. on May 17 (JST). 

HowLongToBeat is useful as a database site, especially in the way that users can look up clear times for games on their own. On the other hand, if the site itself posts the average clear times on social media shortly after release using a small sample size, it can be misleading. HowLongToBeat is affiliated with the major media company IGN. It is likely that they are taking various measures to create a business presence, but for a trusted site, caution is needed when presenting data. 

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is now available for Nintendo Switch. I (the original author of this article) have been playing the game focusing on the story, but it is unlikely that I’ll be able to complete the game in 48 hours and 30 minutes. 

Written by. Amber V based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2023-05-17 11:544 JST)