The Price of Games vs Apps – Value For Money.

If there’s one thing that frustrates me is people who suggest 3DS and Vita games will not be worth the extra money now the App Stores on Android and iPhone exist. Not least others who state games on consoles are too expensive now.

To this I say – piffle. Stuff and nonsense. And here is why.

Now, I want to say I think whilst there’s an awful lot of crap on all these machines, there are however some very good titles – games and apps – that justify their pricing. This is not a debate of quality – we should all want if not demand quality in whatever we buy. Encouraging rubbish only leads to copycats cloning said rubbish. We should want them to clone the good stuff, no?

But for me, the issue comes down to value for money. The simple equation that I use for this is as follows;

Price of Game (£) / Hours of Entertainment (h) = Value per hour (vph).

Here’s some examples of this.

Gears of War 3 – I got 10 hours out of this. So that’s £40 divided by 10.
£40/10 = £4 an hour.

Skyrim – I’m at 80 hours. So £40 divided by 80.
£40/80 = £0.50 an hour – 50p an hour.

Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D – I got 40 hours from this.
£30/40 =  £0.75 an hour – 75p an hour.

Zombieville USA – I got 30min from this before I got a bit bored of it.
£0.71/0.5 =  £1.42 an hour.

So regardless of the actual PRICE of a game, when you use this equation, it doesn’t really sound so bad, right?

And this is the point so many people miss in their incessant whinging of the price of games. I’m all for trying to lower the cost of games – I love indie games as much as I love the full-fat commercial games. Their development cycles and values are totally different and marketed as such. But at the end of the day, I want to feel when a game is over, I have got my moneys worth from it. I want to think, “That was good value for money.”

And it’s by using this basic equation that I tend to justify the cost of games for myself. A £30 that’s good for ten hours sounds like a bargain, but that’s £3 an hour. Whereas a £40 game that’s good for twenty hours is £2 an hour. And a 69p app that entertains me for one half hour journey to the shops is £1.38 an hour.

At the end of the day – as long as you enjoy the games, then enjoy them. But arguing over pricing is a pretty fallible argument. Different games carry different expenses – and, by token, are worth different amounts in the Value Per Hour stakes.

It’s simple a case of asking for value for money. I harbour no ill-will towards the smartphone developers – it’s a growing industry, and the quality is as choppy as it is on any other machine. But I just expect a certain degree of enjoyment – a certain amount of fun. And by breaking them down into a simple value per hour, you can often see which games are better value for money than others.

Of course, it’s not always this simple. I of course adored the original Assassin’s Creed as a technical exercise and I’m glad I paid the £30 asked for it, even though I only got about eight hours from it (£3.73 vph). I also enjoyed VVVVVV, which I paid £6 for, and got about £1.50 vph from it.

What this equation does for me though is it breaks down the argument of pricing into something that is a much more tangible ideal to debate. We all want value for money. And different games appeal to different people. It’s in breaking it down in this way that you can often see what you get for your money – be it a £2.99 app or a £44.99 console game.

From there, we can debate not if games are too expensive – but if we’re really getting value for money at those price points.

And more often than not, we do – especially when compared to the average movie, which is £8-£12 (roughly about £4-£5 an hour dependant on length). Games and apps in comparative terms are better value for money.

Even the crap ones, oddly enough…

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