The pace at the beginning of a story can be so important to get the consumer to stick around. It's like when you're creating a product, your aim should be to get users to the a-ha moment as quickly as possible. With stories, you want to get the consumer hooked as soon as possible. You want to deliver that moment that tells them what kind of story is about to unfold very early on.
This came to my mind while comparing two games in the same franchise. A few months ago I decided to try Tales of Berseria. It's the latest in a long-running series of JRPGs. I love JRPGs for the grand stories they typically tell and the detailed cast of characters they feature. They focus on creating richly detailed worlds and people that suck you in and stick with you long after.
I was sceptical I'd like it within the first ten minutes, but about 15 or 30 minutes in, the story hooked me. The entire world that I'd experience at the beginning was shifted. I felt the loss of characters I barely knew. I felt the main character's desire for revenge. And at that point, I was sold. I needed to complete this journey.
Once completing it I went back to an older entry, Tales of Vesperia. It's widely regarded as the best of the series. My expectations were now a lot higher. So far I'm a couple of hours in and...no hook. The world is interesting and I can tell I'll grow to love the characters. But I haven't gotten that emotional connection that compelled me to finish Berseria. Still, I have faith in the franchise now and if it's supposed to be the best it'll probably hook me eventually.
This illustrates to me the importance of delivering that a-ha experience as early as possible. You never know when it might be someone's first entry into your franchise or product. They could be highly sceptical going in. If you can sell them immediately and then fulfil that promise you gain a lot of goodwill for future stories or products. That goodwill can keep them around through rough patches and slower moments. Everything doesn't have to unfold quickly but you do need to earn it.