Back in 2010, I tackled the hypothetical-at-the-time metric of cost-per-hour relative to valuing a video game. Even in my cursory glance at the challenge, I poked a few glaring holes in the idea to the point where it didn’t make sense to me as a worthwhile metric. In spite of that, it appears that Green Man Gaming has implemented cost-per-hour as a metric on its storefront. No, they didn’t find the magic workaround to make the metric make sense, and I vehemently disagree with Green Man Gaming’s CEO Paul Sulyok’s defense of its implementation.
Over the past few years of following podcasts, message boards and reviews, there seems to be this weird metric that creeps into discussions in one way or another. For the purposes of this post, I will refer to it as ‘cost per hour’. It’s a metric that people directly or indirectly use to judge a game’s value based on how much it costs and how long the experience is. I will express it with the following formula:
Value = Cost of Game/Number of Hours Played
In a perfect world, where money directly translates into valuable experiences, these types of metrics could work as a means of judging a game’s value. However, this logic is flawed, because neither cost or value variables are consistent. You can’t make a blanket statement saying that Limbo is too expensive at $15 dollars because it’s only a 3-hour experience, because it might go on sale, someone may take longer/shorter to beat it, and subjective opinion may say that their time with it was totally worth that price.
The price you pay for that experience and the length of that experience are viable factors in determining a game’s value, but not the whole picture. However, what if we did take away all of the other factors? Is it possible to come up with a consensus cost per hour rate to determine whether or not a game is worth it? I take a few examples from my collection and crunch the numbers to find out.