Up For Debate - Is the Cost Per Hour Played of a Game a Valuable Metric?

Written by Jon Sutton on Sat, May 19, 2018 4:00 PM
System Requirements Optimum 1080p PC Build Low vs Ultra Screenshots GPU Performance Chart CPU List That Meet System Requirements GPU List That Meet System Requirements

Green Man Gaming courted a bit of controversy this week with a new feature on its digital game storefront - a cost per hour played statistic. GMG’s cost per hour data has actually been publicly available for a few months now, but a few tweets from game developers have caught the community’s attention, and there are now plenty of folks question whether this is valuable data for gamers to know before they make a purchase.

The conversation stemmed from Mike Rose, founder of indie publisher No More Robots, who recently released downhill racing game Descenders. Rose said “Oh good, the Green Man Gaming store now shows "Average Cost Per Hour" for games, helping to perpetuate the massively dangerous idea that the price of a game should be based around how many hours you get out of it.”

From a developer or publisher’s point of view, this could evidently be a harmful statistic. Once value-for-money is associated with a game’s length, rather than its inherent quality, then short games may be unfairly punished by this metric.

A common thought among many gamers is that a short game shouldn’t cost as much as a long game, simply because they won’t get as many hours of entertainment out of it. While kind of rooted in sound thinking, the fact of the matter is that a short game can cost many times more to develop than a long one, simply because it’s of a higher quality and refuses to repeat content. I’m glad I spent £10 on the two-hour What Became of Edith Finch, but I certainly didn’t feel the same way when I handed over £15 for the awfully repetitive Mad Max.

In essence, a statistic like this is meaningless when taken in isolation. There are plenty of great, short games, and there are probably even more terrible ones. Likewise, there are fantastic games you can play for hundreds of hours, and others that are just needless padding to artificially extend its length, and therefore its perceived ‘value’.

Where things get further complicated are in the economies of scale. A short indie game may be far, far cheaper to make than, say, Destiny 2, but it’s also likely to sell just a fraction of the copies. The less attention a game is likely to get, the higher it needs to be priced in order to break even or, hopefully, turn a profit.

But, when spending cash, value for money is always going to be in the mind of the consumer. Some won’t mind spending £10 on a two-hour game, while others will point to the fact you can almost pick up The Witcher 3 on sale for that price. Depending on how you approach it, gaming is either one of the most cost-effective forms of entertainment, or it can be a huge money sink. Those with fewer funds looking to get the most ‘amount’ of entertainment for their money are clearly going to want a game which is both long and cheap, but for others, playing a game that’s anything other than great, simply because it’s cheap, is time that could be better spent doing something else.

Compared to just about any industry though, gamers have prioritised ‘value-for-money’ and game length like few others. I doubt you see many people going to the cinema and asking what the longest movie is; refusing to read Animal Farm because it’s only 112 pages long, or only listening to a record if it’s at least 20 tracks long. You don’t just do that, because there’s an acceptance in these established mediums that longer doesn’t necessarily mean better. We’re interested in the quality of a product, not its length. And yet gaming is different, for whatever reason, likely because it can become an expensive hobby if you happen to play a lot.

So what are your thoughts on this matter, is cost-per-hour an important metric when it comes to buying games? Do you hate buying short games? Would a buy a longer game, knowing it’s perhaps worse than a short game, but will last much longer? Let us know below!

Is the Cost Per Hour Played of a Game a Valuable Metric?

Our favourite comments:

Yes, people don't go to the cinema and ask what the longest movie is. On the other hand, they don't pay the same price to see a 15 minute movie as they'd pay for a 3 hour movie. They don't pay the same price for a 1 minute song as they'd pay for a 20 track album. Sure, you shouldn't judge a game by its length. But you shouldn't disregard it either. If a game has 100 hours of boring, repetitive content, it won't be a 100 hour game. People simply won't play it for that long. If a 5 hour game is the best thing to come out in the last decade, it will show in the ratings AND playtime - people will want to replay it.

Terminaato

Login or Register to join the debate

Rep
111
Offline
admin approved badge
22:46 May-24-2018

I pretty much have to be able to get a dollar per hour of entertainment for a game. If i think i will replay a game then i will take that into account.examples being BF1 or Total War Warhammer 1&2 i spent a ton of time in all 3 so 60 dollars seems fair for me because of how i play them. If i think i will only play it once then i just wait for the games to go on sale(generally black friday of that year).

0
Rep
213
Offline
admin badge
13:07 May-22-2018

this is the way i look at it some games have replayability some dont some people buy games for different purposes like cod some like campaign some like zombies some like mp everyones mileage would vary and i dont know about everyone i cannot speak for them however being busy in life i personally wouldnt want to dump 80 hours just to complete a game that also being said for those who think game length should reflect the price you think a long drawn out boring empty story with nothing to do in vast wastelands that takes 100 hours to complete is better then something interesting thats packed full of stuff to do with only 15 hours of playtime well be my guest to each there own i think quality of game justifies the price moreso then the length

3
Rep
6
Offline
11:09 May-21-2018

I think it absolutely belongs as a metric FOR quality. I absolutely will not pay a full 60usd for a game with an hltb under 18 hours. I likewise won't pay 20 for a 30 minute film or 100 page book. The length of the narrative and supporting content are parts of the equation in considering the quality/value of the title from a fundamental level of production.

0
Rep
383
Offline
senior admin badge
12:41 May-21-2018

Why 18 hours, out of interest?

0
Rep
108
Offline
admin approved badge
14:37 May-20-2018

Yes, people don't go to the cinema and ask what the longest movie is. On the other hand, they don't pay the same price to see a 15 minute movie as they'd pay for a 3 hour movie. They don't pay the same price for a 1 minute song as they'd pay for a 20 track album. Sure, you shouldn't judge a game by its length. But you shouldn't disregard it either. If a game has 100 hours of boring, repetitive content, it won't be a 100 hour game. People simply won't play it for that long. If a 5 hour game is the best thing to come out in the last decade, it will show in the ratings AND playtime - people will want to replay it.

14
Rep
9
Offline
13:26 May-20-2018

Not at all. My favourite game series are Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and PoP 2008. It took me circa 10 hours to complete each of the games. And they are still the most beautiful games I have ever played. Titafall 2's campaign took me -6 hours, but it told a story more amazing than any FPS I have played in years. And what about Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons? (continued)

0
Rep
9
Offline
13:30 May-20-2018

A 3-hour long story which is more heartwarming (and heartbreaking) than almost anything I've ever seen, read, or played. I could list other examples here all day. Suffice to say that quality is more important than quantity. (continuted)

0
Rep
9
Offline
13:32 May-20-2018

That being said, there are games like TES 3: Morrowind, my second-favourite game of all times. My brother and I must have spent over a thousand hours playing it, and even today, despite how old the game is, we still often install it and play the hell out of it. But such mind-blowing games are extremely rare, and it is not every day that they get released.

0
Rep
386
Offline
admin approved badge
16:08 May-20-2018

You and I have a lot in common... XD... except a brother willing to play anything, mine only plays dumb MOBA and BR games... and used to play CS:GO...

2
Rep
9
Offline
07:16 May-21-2018

Heh, my brother can't say no to a good RPG. I guess it runs in our blood.:)

0
Rep
76
Offline
admin approved badge
11:55 May-20-2018

Of course it is, you don't want to pay 60EUR for 5h of gameplay. It has to have more than that, be it with replayability, sidequests, things to do,... It isn't only important metric, but in general,it shows how much fun you had with game, if it was enough to return and if it is less than 1EUR/h, it was worth the money.

1
Rep
76
Offline
admin approved badge
11:58 May-20-2018

Also do note that cost per hour is not same as game length. You can have very replayable and full of choices game which in length is lets say 12h, but through replayability and trying different choices you can easily put in 5x more. Which still makes it great from EUR/h metric perspective.

0
Rep
76
Offline
admin approved badge
12:02 May-20-2018

And as important metric EUR/h does hold up. If other elements important to you aren't there, be it gameplay, story or anything else, it will remain bad, if they are good, then it might not get to really good value in first month, but at least over time, it will go down, as you return to game.

0
Rep
76
Offline
admin approved badge
12:04 May-20-2018

And even better, it scales with how expensive game is. You can't expect much from 5EUR or 10EUR game, it is not like you are paying for it. But you can expect a lot more from 60EUR game. Since you are paying full price. And that is the way it should be, I have no problem with short game if it is priced properly.

0
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
13:27 May-20-2018

hmm interesting,
so how much you'd expect for less-than-2-hour movie in cinema to pay for?
and also what opinion do you have on game sales/discounts? isn' that effectively devaluing the games?

1
Rep
76
Offline
admin approved badge
21:59 May-21-2018

That really depends on them movie, length isn't everything, same as with game. But generally, where I live you do pay less for movies shorter than 2h. Still, for value per hour, you do pay more with movie. Though that is due to them being different medium. And in cinema, you do pay premium to see it before DVD is out.

0
Rep
76
Offline
admin approved badge
22:01 May-21-2018

For sales, I wouldn't say it devalues a game, it just improves your EUR/h. Since you do pay less to get more. And some games in fact do become worth buying, once they came on sale. No Man's Sky definitely wasn't worth 60EUR on release, but for about 20EUR, I would say it is great game.

0
Rep
76
Offline
admin approved badge
22:04 May-21-2018

Meaning sale also can compensate for flaws, since you pay less. However once again, EUR/h isn't everything here. It also depends on how good game is and what it offers. Which is why some games, if they see poor sales, go for discounts fairly fast. Not necessarily because of length, but it happens.

0
Rep
0
Offline
07:59 May-20-2018

Game length is honestly not that important to me. One thing that I really look for in games is replay value. I like games I can come back to and enjoy regardless of how many times I played it.

1
Rep
25
Offline
05:43 May-20-2018

That would make Skyrim the most valuable game ever, then again, it is. :D A game that precious always makes its way into our hearts..

2
Rep
386
Offline
admin approved badge
06:19 May-20-2018

I agree, as almost all of the time played Skyrim is quality time as long as you like semi-old school, semi-modern RPGs, more leaning to the modern though. Oblivion and Morrowind are even better XD

4
Rep
79
Offline
admin approved badge
07:26 May-20-2018

Yeah when i started going heavy on mods. Skyrim without mods...man. Don't get me wrong. I liked it. Once i did all that i wanted and played it fully, i stopped playing.
Once they decide it's gonna be 2€ per hour, everyone will think otherwise.Not finished, unpolished and just plain old buggy games that go onto market, advertised in 2017 which is btw 2011 game launched with exactly the same bugs without mods is just "little" more of "beatified" crap, mmmrph!

1
Rep
386
Offline
admin approved badge
08:39 May-20-2018

Well Skyrim was the last true RPG bethesda released(even though it's watered down as well), and RPGs are NOT meant be as combat heavy, the combat in RPGs, is NOT the focus, the quests are, the combat is just a mean to get the quests done and should be of lower focus.


But nowadays action-adventure, open world games with some RPG elements are considered RPG... and for an RPG to be "good" it needs cinematic storytelling and fancy combat system... so yeah... I like it when people change the definition of a long-established word/concept... -_-

2
Rep
13
Offline
05:21 May-20-2018

Far Cry 5 got me very,very bored after 10-12 hrs,and with AC Origins,on the other hand,i start to feel that way after near the end of the second expansion,140-150 hrs.So it depends of the game.
But definitely not 1 hr SP = 10 EUR Call Of Duty style.

1
Rep
272
Offline
admin approved badge
01:58 May-20-2018

If the game is awesome then it can be either short or long - either works fine for me (but longer games, if they manage to keep my attention, are always welcome! Looking at you, Witcher 3!).
If the game is a big load of "meh" then its length becomes a boring drag, because I'm essentially getting more "mehhhh..." for my money that I wish wasn't there...

6
Rep
79
Offline
admin approved badge
07:31 May-20-2018

Heheh. It depends what you are looking for.Go try TW3 Enhanced Edition if you are looking to prolong your gaming exp with it. Essentially people buy games to have fun with it. Nowadays some people do it because it's their job and streams and so on and so forth. Some games are fast cashcrabs some aren't.

1
Rep
19
Offline
01:41 May-20-2018

But does that apply to games like battlefield or cod? I find the story to be so short with a full price of 60$, but there is multiplayer mode i wouldnt count it imo but they kinda deserve the money, and that also is similar to the repetitive mad max, i dont know about bo4 though

0
Rep
154
Offline
admin approved badge
23:49 May-19-2018

We need Spoole's expertise on this matter at once!

1
Rep
8
Offline
23:22 May-19-2018

Actually I would be happy if they make this way:
For example the amout of time you spend in a video game is paid for hours. For example 1 game cost 30$ or 50$ but u dont want to pay the full game. For that you just download the game and play. And for example you played the game for a couple of hours and now your amount u need to pay is 10$. If u want to finish the game u should pay 30 or 50$.

0
Rep
8
Offline
23:24 May-19-2018

Depends on the game. And if u dont like some game that cost 60$. U can play it 2-5h and this to cost u 10$ less or more depends on the devs. And u pay these 10$ and u are happy. Thats it. But the only problem will be: How to make the gamers pay for the product.

0
Rep
116
Offline
23:38 May-19-2018

That system would be absurdly abused by Devs and Publishers alike. Not only that but what you're proposing here is kinda a demo for which you have to pay for.

2
Rep
79
Offline
admin approved badge
07:33 May-20-2018

Exactly.

0
Rep
386
Offline
admin approved badge
16:19 May-20-2018

They already hire a lot of psychologists to make the games as addictive as possible, don't let them abuse it to no end...

0
Rep
8
Offline
21:55 May-20-2018

But u still can rent a machine where you can pay for a couple fo hours. Or u can rent a car to driver for a day, month, etc... Why not the same for gaming? Either rent the game or pay for hour to be made.

0
Rep
47
Offline
23:08 May-19-2018

if a game cost a fortune, i demand it to be worth some hours indeed. cheap games = short playtime, Expensive games = long playtime / highly replayable

1
Rep
38
Offline
22:34 May-19-2018

I don't think it's important at all honestly.
Of course an expensive game should give you many hours of entertainment, but it's more about the quality to me. Also I got 400h in Skyrim and about 300 in Fallout 4, most others got less than 50, it all depends on what you want to experience for many open world titles.

3
Rep
116
Offline
22:11 May-19-2018

I value my games by how much I enjoyed playing them. It's not a special system nor any kind of mathematical equation, just my feeling about the game. If I feel like I got my money back than I'm happy with it. That's the best I could describe this.
Judging games by hour spent feels wrong to me, like I'm not judging the quality of the game, just it's quantity.

1
Rep
116
Offline
22:19 May-19-2018

But it also kinda depends on the genre of the game to some extent. I have certain minimum expectations depending on the games genre. What I need and expect from a certain game.
If a game meets those expectations then I'll play it, and anything above that is a plus which boosts my enjoyment of it.

1
Rep
22
Offline
junior admin badge
21:28 May-19-2018

I think this is not a good metric for measuring a games value. this can actually entice some devs and publishers who r well known for their greed for more profit, to start pricing their games based on this metric. so I would say putting a stop to this now is safe. I prefer a good single player game which has a good story, the way it's paced, the writing, the characters, and the concept. above all by the end of the day it's all abt how much fun u had playing and not hours. RPG's would cost like a bomb if based on this stupid metric.

1
Rep
22
Offline
junior admin badge
21:34 May-19-2018

I have played some few short games but never I considered hours or time taken to play and finish it. I remember having fun, feeling despair when facing tough bosses or enemies, how badly I am skilled at it and lastly tht sense of accomplishment after having finished the last and hard boss or mission. never have I felt the time taken to play it. I buy a game based on wether I like it or not and after feeling satisfied on finishing it paves the way for a good and honest review from me and not hours taken to play it.

1
Rep
383
Offline
senior admin badge
11:44 May-21-2018

Mmm, I think the pacing is an important point. If you're having great fun the entire time, a 12-hour game is fantastic, but if they put 20 hours of filler in there, is it really worth slogging through a 30-hour game. Give me a well-paced game anyday.

2
Rep
45
Offline
21:19 May-19-2018

Depends on the game,if it's a great SP game but rather short(less than 1$/hour) I'll consider it a good deal.But generally when I buy MP games(Six Siege for example) this cost per played hour is important,'cause I'm a student so I don't really have money or a lot of free time,and I want to get the most out of my purchase.

3
Rep
58
Offline
20:15 May-19-2018

Depends if it's single player only or not.

1
Rep
54
Offline
19:55 May-19-2018

open world games are just filled with useless time consuming activities. so no, not at all

2

Can They Run... |

| Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 3 3300X 4-Core 3.8GHz Radeon RX 570 4GB 16GB
| 30FPS, Medium, 720p
Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz Radeon R7 250X Sapphire 1GB Edition 4GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10870H 8-Core 2.20GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
APU A10-9700E 4-Core 3.0GHz Radeon R5 M320 2GB 12GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Asus TUF Gaming 6GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i5-6500 3.2GHz GeForce GTX 1060 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3500 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Asus Phoenix OC 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Gigabyte Windforce 2X OC 3GB 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-12700K 16-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 8GB 32GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Ryzen 7 2700X Radeon RX 550X 4GB 24GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-10600KF 6-Core 4.10GHz Radeon RX 580 Asus Dual 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-11400F 6-Core 2.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 MSI Gaming X 6G Edition 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 580 4GB 8GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-4570 3.2GHz Radeon HD 7970 OC Sapphire Edition 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i7-8086K 6-Core 4.0GHz GeForce GTX 980 4GB 32GB
| Low, 1080p
Core i5-7400 3.0GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Palit StormX 2GB 12GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gigabyte Aorus Master 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gigabyte Aorus Master 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ultra 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
Core i9-10900KF 10-Core 3.70GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super MSI Ventus XS OC 8GB 64GB