When it comes to the extremely subjective viewpoint of whether a game is worth buying, there are an almost countless number of factors to take into account. No one person can be right or wrong in their take on a game. You need only take a glance at Steam reviews to see how they wildly differ. One thing that always crops up in regards to beloved games though is ‘this game’s fantastic value for money’. But what exactly makes a game great value for money though?
The natural instinct is to point towards the amount of time you could feasibly spend playing it. Civilization VI is £50, but you can potentially get thousands of hours out of it. At just a few pence per hour of entertainment that is surely great value for money. By that same token though, a game could be 200 hours long, or cost just 59p, but be absolutely terrible. Is that really great value for money, or just a waste of your precious time?
I went through this thought process and came out the other side thinking yes, yes a game can be great value for money, even if it is short. It could have genuinely progressive gameplay mechanics, unbelievable visuals or an engrossing story. These are all factors which could contribute to a game being a great buy. But then I got thinking about some of the short games over the years and how my expectations have changed. I spent £40 on Max Payne 2 and that lasted me about 5-6 hours. At the time I was absolutely chuffed with my buy, but if I pick up a game that’s just six hours long nowadays I’d definitely feel stung by it. It may be the best game ever but at the end of the day in six hours time I’m going to want to spend another £40 on a new game to play. Surely I would be better off buying the short game when it's cheap, and spending the original £40 on a more substantial experience.
Part of this is because there’s just so many games out there these days, and they really have never been cheaper. Prices for the most part have remained largely static despite inflation, yet people act surprised by the rise of DLC and microtransactions. We can’t have our cake and eat it. At any one moment there are potentially thousands of games available in cut-price deals though, so we're all making value judgments on what we want, all the time.
I’ve been off on a bit of a tangent there but the point remains the same - our expectations of games shift over time, as does what we’d consider great value for money. So what do you think contributes primarily to a game being a great buy? What titles are worth spending that bit extra to get on day one? Or do you always wait for a sale? Let us know!