There’s an article on IncGamers in which the author adds up all the money he and his wife have spent on World of Warcraft over the years, and then complains about how expensive it is. Now, I’m not a fan of MMOs, but I happen to disagree with his conclusion, for one very important reason: cost per hour.
If we assume he and his wife each play World of Warcraft ten hours per week, then his $1700 over four years and eight months works out to $0.35 per hour of play time.
Let’s compare that to some other games. You know those $50 games you play once and never look at again? The ones where the whole game lasts 10 hours if you’re lucky? Those cost upwards of $5 per hour.
So realizing this got me thinking. How much have my favorite games really cost me?
Counter-Strike: Source cost me $19.99. I’ve played countless hours, surely more than 200 hours. Heck, just in the last two weeks I’ve played 14 hours. If we pretend that’s accurate over three years, that’s just $0.02 per hour. In reality, I used to play CS:S a lot more than I do now, so the cost is likely much lower.
I bought the Orange Box (with Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Portal, and TF2) for $49.99. According to my Steam account stat tracking, I’ve played TF2 a total of 34.7 hours (half of that in the last two weeks). I only played through Episode 2 once or twice; I’ll call it 10 hours (though it may have been more like 12). Portal, while entertaining, probably only racked up 8 hours of gameplay. So the Orange Box has cost me $0.91 per hour, but as I ramp up my TF2 gameplay that cost will slowly go down.
I preordered Left 4 Dead for $44.99 last year. Steam tells me I have a total playtime of 96.25 hours, putting its cost at $0.47 per hour.
My dad bought StarCraft for me years ago. I’d guess he paid $49.99, because the game was still fairly new. That was over a decade ago. I have played a lot of StarCraft. During middle and high school, I’m sure I played something like 8 hours a week (more during the summer, less during school). Looking at those six years, that’s just $0.02 per hour; I’ve played a fair amount since then, too, so the price is lower. (Seems like more of a bargain now, doesn’t it Dad?)
Obviously, I can’t go over every single game I own; the list is too long. I’ll also admit to buying some games and never playing them (or only playing through partway). But overall, it looks like gaming costs between $0.01 and $1.00 per hour, depending on the game – and despite both up-front purchase costs and monthly fees, MMOs are nowhere near the worst offenders.