Up For Debate - How Do You Define Value For Money In Games

Written by Jon Sutton on Mon, Jan 2, 2017 2:00 PM

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!

What most creates value for a game?

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17:39 Jan-04-2017

For me I would say that a valuable game is a game that I can play multiple times or keep playing It without getting bored of it, so I say REPLAYABILITY. My top games usually have flaws, they might not have the highest quality visuals, scenario, gameplay mechanics, etc, but for reasons unknown I still like playing them

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13:34 Jan-07-2017

im with u

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21:49 Jan-03-2017

used to be length, for a single player campaign at least 8 hours to finish it, for a multiplayer game definitely quality

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19:44 Jan-03-2017

The problem is when you usually need to wait and buy a GOTY edition of a game (after its price reasonably drops) to get "full experience" or "value for money"...

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19:02 Jan-03-2017

The quality of the game is definitely important, but length and cost are also very important to me. I'm not saying all games need to be the Witcher 3 length to be good (far from it actually), but at the same time, I'm not going to pay $60 for a 5 hour game. I actually prefer shorter games nowadays, but if the amount of content I get does not equal the asking price, then I'm either not gonna play it or I'll wait for a sale.

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08:32 Jan-03-2017

For me it's a mix of quality, price and length. If a game is at least 15 - 20 hours long then I'll be happy with picking it up at full price, if it's good but not long then I'll usually wait for a sale and if its long but isn't good then I'm not gonna pick it up.

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07:51 Jan-03-2017

Spoole's one-dollar-one-hour policy

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18:59 Jan-03-2017

^This lol

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13:10 Jan-04-2017

thats my policy for multiplayer games xD

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13:59 Jan-04-2017

AYYY Funhaus (IG) fans in da house

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07:48 Jan-03-2017

For me it's hard to pick one of these values, because how expensive a game could be here in Indonesia. so for me to buy a game, the game should have a great, basically everything mentioned above minus the visuals.

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06:18 Jan-03-2017

Both customer support and quality for me.

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03:19 Jan-03-2017

I would say length. Take trine 3 as example I found the game quality wise pretty amazing, but it all blew up in my face when I defeated a dragon that was way too easy and the game ended all of a sudden.

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00:58 Jan-03-2017

I'd have to say it's a price/quality balance.... the game isn't a good value if you can buy it for a low price but the game itself sucks, and the game isn't a good value if it's an amazing game but selling for an unspeakable price... gotta have a balance of both.... Steam sales are great!

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01:03 Jan-03-2017

I try to grab all my games on sale..... that might mean not being able to get them on day one... or sometimes even a few months away... but $60 for any game is kinda steep if you ask me... so generally I'll just wait it out.

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00:34 Jan-03-2017

Quality. One great thing recently is how good quality RPGs can really give you your moneys worth in terms of length. Great bang for buck in hours you can play.

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23:31 Jan-02-2017

As long as a game is fun, it's worth the money. As such I can pay 40 bucks for a no-replay game without issue if it's a great game (good looking, fun). On the other hand, paying 10 bucks for something that isn't fun, is 10 bucks too much and will itch me for a long while.

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21:56 Jan-02-2017

Well in my opinion Quality= Replayablity, Lenght, Visuals, Price and more sooo it's a no brainer :D
I do actually value Story, Characters and Atmosphere (Visuals+Sound+Map Design) a lot.

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20:39 Jan-02-2017

I just like to play a game with good story and mechanics

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20:27 Jan-02-2017

Because I'm a semi-completionist(I dont care for achievements) and also I dont have alot of patience,but i cant let a single sidequest pending.I choose quality.Because sometimes i finish all the optional activities and after that never continue with main story,because the side quests were too dull.

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20:33 Jan-02-2017

I finish all the side quests in Mad max and before i played like 5 story missions,but i cant finish it now,almost the same with shadow of mordor(but havent finished all sidequests),idk why.I like to complete everything but not if it takes alot of time,that's why i never played skirim.

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08:03 Jan-03-2017

Play Skyrim, don't worry:)
NO ONE does the main quest.

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20:35 Jan-02-2017

I enjoy to play more games and complete them than few really long titles.

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19:37 Jan-02-2017

The vast majority of votes I see are for Quality. Can the term Quality even be defined? I would think Quality is kind of all encompassing. Any sort of examples I can get from anyone?

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20:35 Jan-02-2017

I'd say Witcher 3 would be a great example. It has all of those descriptions in the graph listed above except for the multiplayer one. In my opinion, Quality should be an overall measure of the game regarding Visuals, Length, etc.

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21:00 Jan-02-2017

I have to agree with you there. Having said that, I dó have a preference for open world rpg's like the Witcher, Far Cry and Just Cause, Skyrim etc. I don't mind paying a pretty penny for a good open world rpg where I can immerse myself in the game and get lost for a few days on end. Graphics, length, quality, replayability and price all play a role but in the end it's the whole experience which ultimately makes the purchase worthwhile or not.

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17:43 Jan-02-2017

I actually never replay a game. Once I've beat it, I move on to the next. So that category doesn't mean much to me. I'd say a combination between quality and a minimum of 20-30 hours of content is what I'm looking for.

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18:28 Jan-02-2017

Off topic,why did you buy a high-end CPU like i7 4790K with lower-mid-range GPU like 1050Ti?

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20:25 Jan-02-2017

Budget?

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20:59 Jan-02-2017

Yeah, Basically. My PC is always evolving. I have a few parts that are as old as 2011. But upgrade as necessary or when budget allows. I put the 1050ti in there to upgrade from a 660ti and basically tide me over until I can put in a more powerful card.

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14:14 Jan-03-2017

Thats a very good gpu upgrade

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20:26 Jan-02-2017

Probably doesnt need anything more for what he does.

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21:02 Jan-02-2017

Most of the games I play, I can run at 1080 and get 60fps. A lot of the games I play aren't super demanding. Witcher 3 is probably the most demanding, I'm getting 50-60 with mostly high/ultra settings.

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16:25 Jan-02-2017

Well don't all other categories also fall into quality in some way?

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20:39 Jan-02-2017

That's what I was thinking, that its more of an overall measure of those categories

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15:55 Jan-02-2017

Typically, it's 50p/hour and it's all good, but some games will just not do that, like DOOM. But that doesn't mean that DOOM wasn't worth the £40 I spent.

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19:34 Jan-02-2017

And here is where opinions can differ. I payed full price for DooM at launch on pc. Heck, I even have it on my Xbox! I've put about 40 hours into both versions combined, and for me at least, I'm not bored with it.


I still enjoy the campaign immensely and see myself playing it for years to come off and on. I still crank up the original Halo from time to time and I've beaten that game at least 20 times by now.

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15:36 Jan-02-2017

In order from highest:
-Gameplay
-Graphics and audio/BGMs
-Story


Voted for quality.

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Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz Radeon HD 5450 1024MB 4GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-9400F 6-Core 2.9GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti MSI OC 4GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
Core i7-11700K 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3090 32GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
935
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
Core i7-11700K 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3090 32GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
935
Core i5-11600K 6-Core 3.9GHz GeForce RTX 3070 Zotac Gaming Twin Edge OC 8GB 32GB
Core i7-4790 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Palit StormX 4GB 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen R5 1600 Radeon RX 570 4GB 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 720p
Core i5-4590 3.3GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Asus Pheonix 4GB 10GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i5-9400F 6-Core 2.9GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti MSI OC 4GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 16GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 4k
Ryzen 9 3900XT 12-Core 3.8GHz GeForce RTX 2080 MSI Gaming Trio 8GB 32GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
| 60FPS, 1080p
Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz Radeon RX 570 MSI Armor 4GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 7 3750H 4-Core 2.3 GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Mobile 16GB
50% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-2450M 2.5GHz GeForce GT 635M 6GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen R7 1700 GeForce GTX 1080 MSI Sea Hawk 8GB Edition 20GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 2070 Super Asus ROG Strix 8GB 32GB
100% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
Ryzen 3 3100 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB 16GB
0% No [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 3 3100 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Super MSI Gaming 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1440p
Ryzen 9 3900X 12-Core 3.8GHz GeForce RTX 2070 Asus Dual OC 8GB 32GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
Core i7-5930K 6-Core 3.5GHz GeForce GTX 1080 Ti ASUS ROG STRIX 11GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]