How To Know When Video Games Are “Worth It”

long term cost of video games
SO MANY GAMES! SO MUCH MONEY!

Video Game Costs Are Dynamic

There are just SO many video games out there, I think about everyone has a game they still want to try. That is certainly the case for me, and the biggest factor is money. New games can range from $20 Indie games, to $60 new AAA MMO titles.  It’s the up front cost that gives me the most pause, but it shouldn’t. Free To Play games like League of Legends have such HUGE followings because there is no up front cost. There is no barrier to entry. Of course you can buy stuff later, as I always say, free games are never really free.  I’ve already done one post where I broke down my gaming spending on a per year basis, but if I told you I’ve played a game for a year, that doesn’t really tell you much. It’s how long I played it for during that year that matters. I’m going to break it down so that you can determine if a game is worth it – or not.

Cost Per Hour Makes Games CHEAP

The defining factor here is going to be time. The best way to break down a game’s monetary value is by total time spent in the game. Steam does a great job of tracking your time in games. World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic have a handy /played command to see your time spent on each character. Tracking time can be pretty easy. I got the times off of several games I have played in the past, broke them down by time and price. The results were pretty awesome.

Game Cost Hours $/Hour
The Division $48 36 $1.33
HotS $45.97 219 $0.21
WoW* $1,398 10205 $0.14
SWTOR $307.89 3,669 $0.08
LoL $70 756 $0.09
TW: Arena $31 722 $0.04

The Division is less than 1 month old, so of course it’s going to be a little off. I just wanted to show a little contrast. HotS I have access to for about 16 months, and looks to be about twice the ‘average’.  WoW, SWTOR, and LoL are all in the range of what i’d consider average, or “worth it”. Of course they have been out for YEARS now. Total War: Arena is just an exceptional game at about 6 months. I am biased though. Love me some Arena.

Determining When To Buy Games

Of course the formula for yourself might vary.  Still, with the above method you have a powerful tool to evaluate whether to buy a new game or not. You can guess how long said new game might hold your attention for, and then start playing with numbers to see whether or not you might get your money’s worth. I’ve done a few examples below to show you what I mean, and to give you a quick reference. Just bookmark this page and come back to it.

Cost Hours $/Hour
Steam Sale $5 50 $0.10
Indie Title $20 200 $0.10
AAA Title $60 600 $0.10

Games Aren’t Just Races, They’re Relays

You have to look at actual time spent over the long haul. Hardcore gamers may reach 100 hours in a month, but casual gamers may take 4 months. It’s still 100 hours no matter how you look at it, the hardcore gamer just got there first. Look at my World of Warcraft spending – $1,398 – that seems insane! But then look at my time spent. Over 10,000 hours in the World of Warcraft, and that’s not even counting all my characters.*I spent more time in WoW, but had to use old screenshots to kinda estimate played time in my last few months playing WoW. So make sure you’re using the long-term view when evaluating game costs. $60 might seem like a lot, but if you can stretch it out far enough, it might actually be less than the $20 you spent on that last movie you bought. It’ll still require a little guessing on your part, but next time you want that new game, see if you’re sinking enough time into other games like it.  You’ll be able to make a more informed decision, and spend your money more wisely.

What’s the best money you ever spent on a video game?

2 Comments

  1. Day of the Tentacle remastered?! Woot!

    Honestly, I can’t remember the last time a game wasn’t worth it to me. I mean, looking at your list, even the currently “worst” value for money is incredibly cheap compared to even a night out.

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