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. 🙄 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?