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Monday, October 13, 2014

How Do You Value Your Games?

Here's something that came up over the weekend that's still on my mind. I was watching Shatteredhip's Twitch broadcast of his first hour playing Shadow of Mordor, and I admit I am impressed. It's a game I am certain I would enjoy. The problem is, I don't want to buy it at $49.99. I've got Civilization: Beyond Earth (CivBE) to purchase in just over a week and after that Assassin's Creed: Unity (AC5.) That's my budget for the next two pay checks. But that's not the reason I don't want to pay $49.99 for Shadow of Mordor. The game is designed to give 30 hours of game play, not including replays. That's what I discovered with just a little research. There's the rub.

You see, I see a game's inherent value as how much it costs divided by the number of hours of entertainment I can expect from it. The value of Shadow of Mordor to me is $1.67 per hour. Frankly, that sucks.

If you want to compare it to a so-called comparable game let's dig out the numbers for my playing Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (AC4.) According to Raptr, I've played 138 hours of AC4, no DLC. But let's be fair, Ubisoft only advertised up to 80 hours of gameplay while completing the mainline quest. And though I bought Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag in February for $29.99, I'll be kind again and calculate using the original list price of $59.99. So 80 hours into $59.99 gives a per hour of entertainment value of $0.75. By my calculation, that's twice as valuable as a game than Shadow of Mordor. If you use my actual hours played and actual price paid, the price per hour of entertainment I received was $0.22. To me, that was a fantastic purchase.

But AC4 isn't even the most valuable game I have by that measure. Of games I've purchased over the last year, the most valuable game by far is Kerbal Space Program (KSP.) I paid $18.08 for KSP last December. According to Raptr I've played 314 hours, including the five hours I got in this weekend. Using my equation, my cost per hour of entertainment is a paltry $0.06. Woot! That's a game definitely worth buying.

Then there are games with purchased DLC like Civilization V (Civ5.) They can get stupid crazy to calculate. I've played Civ5 for years, and like EVE Online, I didn't start tracking it until after I'd played it. Fortunately it is a Steam game for me, so I can get the hours from there. According to Steam I've invested 221 hours into Civ5. I can also get the prices I paid for it and the one DLC I bought. I initially paid $49.99 for the base game in December 2010, and a further $29.99 for Brave New World in August 2013. That comes out to $0.36 per hour of fun.

This can also be applied to subscription MMOs. Let's take The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) for example. I'd use EVE Online, but I played that game for years before I started tracking hours played. And there are other complications, like paying for three accounts, etc. It's simpler to use TESO. Raptr has my time in-game pegged at 83 hours. I purchased it on March 30th for $79.99 (Imperial Edition.) Since then I've paid four monthly subscriptions at $14.99 each. Adding it all together that's $139.95. That's $1.69 per hour of entertainment - yeah, that sucks. That's partly my fault. I put TESO aside to concentrate on AC4. I should have cancelled the monthly subscription until I was ready to play it again, but failed to do so. Had I, I would have dropped the total price per hour of entertainment to $1.14. That's still way expensive compared to KSP or even AC4. and I could have helped that even more by not buying the Imperial Edition. But in the end, the key to getting any value out of a subscription service it to play at least 40 hours a month, and I've just not done that. So Jester, here I'm going to say you were right. :| And yes, I am thinking about suspending my account for TESO, as I don't see getting back to it until next year at the earliest. It's not like I've got training to maintain. :roll: I've until November 5th to decide.

So back to Shadow of Mordor. Will I just not play it? Yes, I will probably play it. But I will wait until the initial release fervor is over and I can pick it up on a 50% sale. That will make the cost per hour of expected entertainment $0.83. But then again, perhaps I'll have something else I'd rather do that'll get me a better price per hour of entertainment. I can't say for certain. Perhaps if the game wasn't so rinse, lather and repeat. I mean, how many Uruks can you kill before it gets boring? That's something I'll have to ask Shatterhip before I make a final decision.

And what about the two games I am waiting to come out: CivBE and AC5? Well, I expect to play CivBE as much as Civ5, so there really is no question to its value per hour of entertainment. I already know I love that type of game. AC5 is something I'm fairly certain I'll enjoy, but the price per hour of entertainment is something I've considered before deciding to buy it. I am just buying the standard package at $59.99, nothing fancy for me. I've learned that lesson. What really complicated my calculation is I can find no mention of how long Ubisoft thinks it will take to complete the game. However, knowing the way I like to explore side missions and with my AC4 experience taken into account, I'm sure I'll get 80 hours of gameplay out of AC5. Therefor, I can expect a minimum price per hour value of $0.75, the same as AC4's projected value. I can live with that, because Paris - accurately reproduced. Wow.

So how do you calculate game value for the buck, or do you?


  1. I do not calculate a subscription MMO's value on hours played - but by the cost per day. EVE costs me about $0.60 a day for two accounts. A week of EVE costs the same as one large take away coffee. I also consider all the time I spend reading up on blogs and watching YouTube or writing about it or theory crafting to be EVE time, even if I am not logged in. An interesting question.

  2. I do something similar, mostly to justify that MMOs aren't a bad deal as far as cost per hour of entertainment (compared to other entertainment options).

    I also play boardgames and have done a similar calculation to rank my owned boardgames against each other. It's more complicated since I've given away or traded some games, others are new and I haven't been able to get them to the table yet, how do you factor in time to learn the game (reading rules, watching videos), etc. Plus, the value of face-to-face interaction is important to me.

    In general I think it's good to have an idea of what games and genre (computer and/or board) are good bargains for you. I'm kind of a dabbler, I enjoy playing a wide variety of games so my rule of thumb is if I can get the cost of a game under $2 per hour (basically, still high on your scale) I'm good. I mean, I toss in $10 for indie games all the time and some of those aren't quite uh... well like I said if I can get 4-5 hours out of an indie game and just put it aside, that's fine too.

    However, it is awesome when you find a true gem, something like KSP for you (which I own by the way, I just don't have many hours in it... maybe have to change that!). I think the game with the lowest cost ratio for me is probably the original Guild Wars, followed my Elder Scrolls 3 Morrowind. Lowest ratio of "current" games... hm I'll have to check. I'll guess Space Chem? Picked that up in a Humble Indie bundle for cheap and months later I got around to playing it and think its an awesome puzzle game.

  3. Only once did I calculate game value by dollars, and that was when I started playing Star Wars Galaxies. Could I justify a monthly charge of $15 to play a game?

    At the time I was in two bowling leagues, and I realized I was spending $30+ a night twice a week for less than three hours of bowling. So by that measure, $15 for unlimited entertainment the whole month was a steal.

  4. I've probably put several hundred hours to Evil Genius. While I could cheat and use the Good Old Games Price of $2.99, even if I consider the original price (in the $40's probably) its still outstanding. And the game, especially the music and artwork, is very much current. I leave it be for several months, then beat the game over a couple of weeks. Rinse and repeat, slowly.

    The next in line would have to be Supreme Commander - forged alliance. This is my "feel like beating up on the computer in a strategy game for an hour or so". Hundreds of hours here.

    As for overall game value, I just have to compare to a round of golf. I can have 3 EvE accounts paid for a month for a single 4-hour round. And that doesn't cover the cost of lost balls. EvE is inexpensive entertainment no matter how you slice it.

    My worst value? When I had a boat, but the kids were too small and the wife isn't fond of sailing, so for the 2 hours of sailing that summer, if I add up the mooring fees, and the winter storage, etc. . . . . yeah, not a good $/hr choice.

  5. I'm not much into calculating game value... I can use only steam for this, but if you're asking...
    My most played game is Path of Exile... 481hrs of mostly fun and paid a paltry sum of 10€ only once (as it being F2P).
    The next one is Europa Universalis 4 with it's 276hrs (and I'm sure Steam lost at least 100hrs of it when it made a crash, so it's closer to 400). I picked up the base game in a 50% sale for 20, then the 3 big DLCs for normal price of 10+15+5€... 50€ for 400+ hours of entertainments is a bargain I would hate to skip. And I'm far from letting it to rust, so expect several more hundreds into it. And I did not count those long-long hours of watching playthrough vids, reading AARs, tips'n'tricks and whatever else.

    So in overall... If I get only 1€/hr, it must be really good, or I have to love it's predecessors. If it's 0.5€/hr, then it's a decent price for me.

  6. Hours per dollar is a fine start, but fun should appear in the equation as a numerator, or even as an exponent. Stories per week seems like another valid measure.

  7. Now that would assume I buy games I know I won't enjoy. ;) That's generally not the case, and I'll only take a chance on really cheap ones.

  8. Just a heads up, like u I usually waited till the 50% sale on the games I didn't really look forward to or know about. However green man gaming website usually offer 20 25% off upcoming titles and even preorders ( I got both civ beyond earth and mordor at 25%)
    So it s becoming harder to wait for 50% steam sale a couple of months down the line... I just go ahead and buy early at 25%

    Anyways hope I was helpful...


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