Used to be you played a game to a certain point (era before the veritable savegame) and you’d get a special ‘code’ to continue from that point on – if you got one. That was pretty much the start of being able to stop one of the long new games and continue later on IMHO. Course there was Zelda with the battery powered cartridge as well, a real savegame there. Time progressed, consoles got memory cards, new ways to save your progress and catch up whenever you wanted. Then consoles got hard drives, and the trend continued.
Now it seems that more producers are getting into making the savegame part of the gameplay. No longer can you save on the fly – you’ve got to save at specific portals in the game (its well done in games like Grand Theft Auto or poorly done in games like Dead Rising). Other games offer an auto-save feature (it’s well done when you can disable it, poorly done in games like Need For Speed: Carbon or Test Drive: Unlimited where the choice to buy / sell a car can pretty much wreck the game and leave you broke with a slow car and no money left to customize it).
If you’re going to use the save portal method, make it so that there are enough of them to allow a save without getting taken out in the process and eliminating the usefulness. If you’re going to use autosave, leave the capability to disable the feature so that if say… I want to sell all my custom cars and buy a Lamborghini, I can without being stuck with it at the end-boss and not enough money to mod the car so I can win… I could just run through a couple dozen races at 500 a pop until I get enough money to mod the car, or I can start over.
Keeps the game in my system longer, but I’m not the kind of guy whose life is irrepairably harmed by not being able to beat a game I like – it’s a game. I’m just as likely to toss the thing – I’m renting, not like I invested a full $60 into it.