Gaming Value

Syp has an article in related to Collector Edition costs.  Syncaine has one related to FF14’s long term subscriber benefits.  I know UO for the longest time had veteran rewards.  And with all this talk about F2P, one has to wonder how much value you’re actually getting for your money.  And not just in the MMO space.

Value per hour

Let’s not kid ourselves.  Gaming is a very cheap hobby, assuming you have the console/PC to run it.  Let’s say you don’t though.  A console is $500 with enough controllers and cables and crap, then $15 a month for multiplayer.  A PC is about $1500.  Both get you a solid 5 years before needing replacement if you game heavily.  So let’s say it costs about $280 a year for a console and $300 for a PC (closer than you thought I bet!).  That’s less than a dollar a day.

Games run $60.  People play about 22 minute a day, 22 hours a week, for a core gamer.  Games run all over the place in terms of completion time.  Single player games are around 8 hours, RPGs run 20+, multiplayer is all over the place so let’s guess at 100 and MMOs are even larger so let’s say 200 (3 months @ 22 hours) – but they also cost ~$15 a month in subscriptions.

So a singe player game is $7.5/h, RPG is $3/h, multiplayer is $0.6/h and MMOs are $0.3/h for F2P and $0.5/h for a 3 month subscription.  That’s pretty cheap if you think about it.

Value per event

Single player events are contained – you finish the game and you’re done.  Only a few have replay value and the number of people who just complete a game are below the 25% mark.  Multiplayer games are different, each session can be a new event.  You can join a tournament.  You could be grinding like a maniac, and I consider that a single event.  MMOs are quite a bit different.  Sandboxes make their own events, though they do have patches.  Burn Jita is an event that has nothing to do with the developer.  And the value of a sandbox event is typically higher due to the player’s sense of involvement – mind you they are more spread out.  I mean, you hear about a capital ship battle once every 3-6 months.

Themeparks have a set number of events (or rides I guess), usually dictated by the patch/expansion cycle.  I will take an example that is not WoW, but instead a patch cycle of 3 months of content, 18 months for expansions.  So launch, patch, patch, patch, patch, patch, expansion.  Now, expansions shouldn’t ever cost more than half of a launch price – so $30.  95% of the content is already there and the development has been fairly well subsidized by your previous payments.  It’s not a new game, it’s a big DLC.  The patches, content patches mind you, should as a whole equal half the content of an expansion pack.   By that I mean, content patches should have new zones, new events, new items, new systems, etc…What an expansion provides is a vertical progress (new levels) and a LARGE package of content (zones, events, etc…)

Value for extra content

And that’s just baseline content.  The original CE issue is that the prices are all over the place.  Early access, beta access, a pinky ring, some scarf that no one can see.  All of that junk makes no sense to me.  But hey, people still believe buying lottery tickets is a smart move.  A CE should have actual value.  Physical items (like coins, statues, maps, books), digital non-game items (soundtracks, art), digital in-game items (mounts, re-usable dyes, titles, costumes).  Why would you ever pay for $30 more for an item that has 2 hours of use (such as a ring that grants extra experience for 10 levels).

Player value

And this gets me to my final point, you the player.  You pump in quarters to the machine and get to play.  The developer gets money.  You are content for other players (certainly in F2P games).  The deal can be broken at any time and the reason to keep paying is a personal/social one.  FF14 (and a few others) have tweaked that a bit.  Play for X amount of time and get this bonus item (a mount, a trophy, etc…).  Or if you are a subscriber, get a significant discount on future items, including expansions.  I mean, you’ve subsidized the game this far, why keep paying?  Certainly in this age of instant themeparks, if you can get 3 months out and there’s no new events, why keep paying (outside of social circles).  You can just hop into another themepark and drop 3 months of cash and cycle through.  Games that treat you with respect as a client earn more business in the real world.  It’s about time the virtual one caught up.

What’s in a Game

Joystiq has finished their top 10 games of the year list and for the first time, I know what they are talking about. One of the site’s strong suits is that it covers all games, from the smallest to the largest and does it with blogging flair. Any given day can have 10-20 articles go up. Compare that to the big guns like Gamespot or IGN who can barely put out half that amount, plus fill your screen with more ads than content. The second good thing that comes from their format is the personal opinion pieces. While most sites will video chats (which is good) they have next to no text about their opinions. The Best of the Rest gives us an inside peek to writer’s minds, especially those we tend to align with.

There’s a saying that people go to the internet to find people that agree with them and while on the whole this is true, I like to read dissenting ideas. It makes me appreciate the medium as a whole rather than the specific flavours I am accustomed to. It’s like going to a restaurant and only every ordering the club sandwhich when there is a whole world that can be on your plate.

 Which brings me to the main topic for today, buying games. I’ll buy just about any game as long as the perceived value is there. I won’t pay full price for a game that I’m hesitant on but I will buy it if it comes on sale. The Secret World is a great example of this. I’ll dump money onto Torchlight 2 in a jiffy but Halo 4 needs to be on sale before I’ll touch it.

 This sort of puts a tiered structure for fun. I am willing to pay 1$ per hour of fun for a game I’m not so sure about but willing to spend 5$ per hour on a game I am very sure I’ll have fun with (Batman comes to mind). Other than multiplayer, which I don’t consider “fun” in terms of value, how many games pass the 10 hour mark, let alone the 20? FTL, a game I adore, already has over 20 hours into it and I got it on sale for under 10$. WoW has provided hundreds of hours of entertainment but also cost me hundreds of dollars. I stopped playing – and paying – when the fun value no longer matched the price value.

 In today’s day of Steam and Used game sales, we are all being taught to better value our entertainment dollars. While there will always be a mad rush to the door for CoD on launch day, other than 2-3 games a year, every other game needs to find the right balance and every gamer needs to do the same.