Oh Penny Arcade, thank you for giving me something to talk about. Recently Penny Arcade posted a comic comparing buying a used video game to pirating one. Whether that is an accurate comparison or not isn’t what I’m going to talk about. I’m going to talk about value.
When Modern Warfare 2 came out I didn’t buy the game. It wasn’t because of the lack of dedicated servers or the controversial Airport level. It was because I didn’t think I would play the game enough to pay $60 for it. The game has approximately 10 hours of single player game play and I’m not a huge first person shooter guy so I would only play it online a limited amount. Over a 3 year period I’m sure I would have got $60 worth of entertainment out of it, but why pay $60 if I wasn’t going to get that enjoyment relatively soon. I wanted an entertainment value return sooner than 3 years.
You know what I did? I waited until Steam had Modern Warfare 2 on sale for $40 then bought it. To me that was a fair price for getting the game relatively close to release for the amount of play I assumed I would get out of it. Since then I’ve played the single player for about 4 hours, no I haven’t beat it, and about 12 hours of online. That comes out to about $3.75 an hour so far… still not really worth it. That’s okay though, I have the game and I can play it in the future if I get the urge, and I’m sure I will. The great thing is that it will never get MORE expensive to play. If I never played MW2 again it would cap at $3.75 an hour but every time I play from here on out it always goes down.
StarCraft 2 is in the same boat for a lot of people. StarCraft 2 has approximately 20 hours of game play at a casual pace. I can understand that at $60 20 hours seems like a rip off, but it has an online feature just like Modern Warfare 2. So then it could offer an unlimited amount of playtime… for free. No extra cost. So assuming you NEVER played StarCraft 2 online you are at approximately $3.00 an hour of game play. If you play any online games, or replay any levels, the cost starts to drop.
I’m a huge StarCraft 2 fan. I played StarCraft at launch and Brood Wars from day 1 of its release. To me buying StarCraft 2 was a no brainer. A lot of hoop-la has been made about voting with your wallet over the past few years, and I did just that with StarCraft 2; I bought the Collector’s Edition. I bought the CE because I love StarCraft 2 and Blizzard and I wanted to support one of my favorite gaming franchises of all time. I paid $100 for it, so assuming I didn’t play any online I am at $5.00 an hour. Guess what though? I’ve played StarCraft 2 through on single player twice now and I’m on my third time. I play online nearly every night with my friends. I would estimate I’m at over 40 hours of online play. To me StarCraft 2 was worth it.
However I can completely understand that if you don’t care for StarCraft 2 the way I do. Maybe you feel about it the way I feel about Modern Warfare 2. The game could be fun, but you wouldn’t play it enough to justify the full price. I fully support you in this. However what I don’t support is your claim that these games don’t offer enough game play to justify the price tag. $60 is the standard for video games, when I was a kid we paid nearly $80 for Rampage on my Nintendo. Just because you do not like all the features offered in these games does not mean they aren’t available.
Consumers need to learn that there is a difference between what a product offers and what you want it to offer. I think a major hurtle the gaming industry is facing right now is that every consumer wants every product to be targeted at them, and the internet being what it is gives every consumer an open microphone set on HIGH to yell that at the developers.