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The Price of a Video Game: Is it worth the money?


Video games cost money because, like other software programs, they cost money to develop and developers need money to survive. Video games can take thousands of hours and millions of dollars to create and players are asked to pay a fraction of the cost when to purchase the game or other extra content. In this doc, I provide a way to help determine if the game is "worth the money" to buy.

This doc is focused on purchasing games and downloadable content (DLCs), but you can use similar principles for determining whether in-game aesthetics or "skins" are also worth your money.

Entertainment Value

We can estimate the entertainment value of a video game by comparing it to other forms of visual or interactive entertainment that you might pay for, such as a movie in a theater or an arcade pass. I suspect that watching movies is probably more common, I use that as a reference measurement.

So, I begin by assuming that the most entertaining movie that you have seen in theaters was 3 hours long, was 10/10 in "entertainment value", and cost $$15. Then the price per value was $15 / dnmnm

think aTo quantify the value a videddo game is worth to you, we want to To determine how much value the video game is worth to you,

Let's begin by thinking about the best

Consider three measurements:

  • Price (in dollars). Call this PP
  • Time (in hours). Call this TT
  • Entertainment value per time: how entertaining it was for you on average per time in (in value / hours). Call this VV

I begin by assuming that the best movie you have ever seen in theaters was 3 hours long, was 10/10 in value, and cost $15. Then the price per value was $15 / (3 hours * 10value/hour) = $0.5/value

Let’s refer to this price per value as “the ratio” and denote is as r. The ratio represents the most expensive price per value for frequent ordinary entertainment (watching a movie). You can choose another activity based on your preferences

So, PTVr=0.5\frac{P}{T*V} \leq r = 0.5

Or PR(TV)P \leq R * (T * V) p <= r (t v) = 0.5 (t v)

Thus, the highest price you should pay for a game is 0.5 times the amount of time you expect to play times how much value per hour you expect to get from the game (using the same value scale as for movies / the activity chosen above)

Oh, oops, I think r might actually be a minimum and not a maximum. It’s the cheapest. If a movie isn’t as good, then r is actually higher because v is lower

Then r (t v) <= p, So then this p is the highest price you’d pay to make it have the same value/time ratio as the best movie

p is the highest price you’d pay to make it have the same or better value/time ratio as the best movie. An actual price that’s lower would then be a “better deal”

I think my formula assumes that social, artistic, and entertainment can all be combined into one constant called the “value”, so I think the total combined value / time * time may not make the game worthwhile, but maybe you can’t capture it in a single number, or maybe it’s still worth buying even if the is number is low, for other reasons

That makes sense. Value definitely fluctuates over time. Some games are more fun at some times than others. Even during the game, playing it is more fun than being in the waiting room. But since you played it so much, the price you paid was ‘worth the money’ given how much value it gave you over all the hours you played it (according to this formula)

The Formula



The value of a video game can be difficult to think about because, at least on desktop, the games are intangible. When you purchase a game from a platform such as Steam or Epic Games, you are buying a sort of "right" to download the game, run it on your computer, and expect to find an experience similar to the description of the game on the store page. But games are software programs — they are digital and can be easily deleted, so any value assigned to it can vanish. Nevertheless, it is possible to estimate the value of a video game, and I explain how below.