Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Value of Entertainment

After watching a vlog by Jasyla over at Cannot be Tamed, Belghast then posted about the perceived value for games. He would be willing to throw $5 at a game that only takes four hours to complete, but certainly not $60 or even $30. I wonder what he would say to $16 for a four-hour experience.

This is not an endorsement of any Adam Sandler movie.
If the average price of a movie ticket (in North America) is about $8 (which happens to be about what I pay where I live), and the movies I usually watch are about two hours in length, I can use that as a yardstick for assessing the value per hour of a video game. We could go with hours per dollar spent on cable TV or internet; but there, I'm paying for access to far more than I could possibly view, and my TV watching time varies widely from month to month. Not to mention, Scooter and I have "cut the cord" on regular cable TV, and our internet access enables the MMOs we typically play along with services like Hulu and Netflix. Of course, when Scooter and I go to the movies, we almost always have a meal that costs more than the movie tickets. But that is optional, really.

So having said all that, to be a decent value to me, a $60 game would have to give me at least 15 hours worth of entertainment. Otherwise, I should just go to the movies or watch Netflix. Bring a subscription into the mix, and the benchmark for value increases, at least in the short term. Typically, games charge subscribers $15 per month; in which case, the game has to provide an additional four hours of entertainment each month on top of the 15 "base" hours from a $60 box price. Granted, many (most?) MMOs over the past decade have shipped with the basic box around $45 (11.25 hours); and any special/collector's edition would have to provide more value through swag.

Now, Dear Reader, if you were to look at my /played time on MMOs, you may guess that I have more than gotten movie-level entertainment value out of each one, and I certainly would not disagree. However, not every second spent in a game is entertainment, as you well know. I don't consider inventory management to be entertaining, but it's necessary in most RPGs. The other night, Scooter and I spent a good hour "window shopping" for speeders on the Galactic Trade Network (SWTOR's "Auction House"—which I just realized has no actual auction function. Hmm. . .). Window shopping can be interesting, but I'm not sure I would call it entertainment. All the time spent on chores I have to do in RPGs may make them appear to be a higher value if I am only looking at my Raptr stats, but they make it really hard to determine what the actual entertainment value per hour is.

What do you consider to be a reasonable value (cost per hour) for a game? Do you like to pay full price or more to be among the first to play, or do you wait to pick it up at discount prices?
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  1. "I don't consider inventory management to be entertaining". Hehehehe! I do!

    In fact it's one of my primary reasons for playing MMOs. I particularly enjoy sorting my inventories on a Sunday morning. I find it very relaxing and satisfying. It's not at all unusual for me to start at around 10 in the morning and still be at it at tea-time.

    Definitely part of the entertainment package.

    1. I'm sure every element of RPGs (and all games) is entertaining to someone. Jasyla's and Belghast's posts were partly about the fact that we all enjoy different things, and that's great.

    2. Oh my, I wish I were like you, Bhagpuss! I *dread* inventory management, so I'm always behind on it. Every once in a while I'll exclaim a heartfelt "wait a moment, I need to make space!", at which Conrad sighs deeply, takes over and clears my inventory in a matter of minutes (I have no idea how he does that!). :$