'Cost Per Hour' Is a Terrible Way to Judge a Video Game

Digital storefront Green Man Gaming is breaking games down by their value per hour.

As first pointed out by video game publisher No More Robots founder Mike Rose on Twitter, GMG publishes assorted stats and facts about its games. The stats include how many GMG users have purchased the title, the average amount of time people played it, and the average cost for each hour of play. Just Cause 3 costs about $1.68 an hour. Pillars of Eternity clocks in at $2.02 an hour.

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ArchangelMike181d ago

Yeah cost-per-hour is a terrible metric for "value", for a ton of reasons; primarily because the "value" a person gets from a gaming experience is subjective - obviously.

I would not be able to put a value on my experience of playing Metal Gear Solid for the first time. How do you put a value on experiencing Rapture in Bioshock. What is the value of playing The Last of Us and getting to the end and witnessing That scene between Joel and Ellie. Or playing Journey, Ori and Blind Forest, Oxenfree etc etc. Many such games offer much more than just value per dollar., they offer immersion and even emotional experiences.

Now you also have games like The Witcher 3, Skyrim, GTA V etc which offer a different kind of value proposition to Call of Duty, OverWatch, PUBG etc etc. I put many more hours into The Witcher 3 and Skyrim than I ever did in any COD or multiplayer FPS. But nobody can ever try and convince me that COD offers more value than The Witcher 3 or Skyrim.

The sooner GMG scraps this ridiculous metric the better for the whole industry.

conanlifts181d ago

I agree to an extent. But at the same time I do think longevity should have a baring on scores. For example a game like the order which I enjoyed, but completed in just under 5 hours seemed like a rip off. Plus does anyone actually agree with or like user reviews where the reviewer scores the game between 0-4 and then states that the game was terrible because they became bored after 30 hours of play ( these are very common on Metacritic). For me if you are able to play a game and decide to spend 20+ hours on it then you must like it a fair bit. So value for money and review scores should be influenced by game lengths to an extent. But actually calculating the cost per hour is somewhat pointless. A game needs to last a reasonable time but does not need to last hundreds of hours.

rainslacker181d ago

On top of that, someone who will 100% a game, or become addicted to a single MP game, can greatly skew the numbers compared to the median average.

For instance, the bulk of players may only play a game for 20-30 hours. But 5-10% will play it for 200+ hours. Those 5-10% will have a greater weight on the average than the bulk of the players due to the nature of averages.

edeprez180d ago

There's also an even larger group that gives up after an hour or two. It should all even out.

rainslacker180d ago

But it's impossible to say in which way it's evening out. The metric is stupid in terms of trying to indicate value for the consumer. It's only good on an individual level.

porkChop181d ago

"Yeah cost-per-hour is a terrible metric for 'value'"

The thing is though, cost and value are not the same thing, and GMG isn't using cost-per-hour as a metric for value. GMG lists a bunch of stats, and one of them is "Average cost per hour". GMG didn't equate that to the value of the game, the writer of this article is the one who made that connection. Saying a game costs $4 per hour on average doesn't mean the game is or isn't worth the asking price. This cost-per-hour crap isn't about value.

ArchangelMike180d ago

I completely understand and agree with what you're saying, but it still comes down to how 'value' is defined in this case. The very statement "cost-per-hour" presumes in the first case, an objective monetary value.

A game like The Order 1886 was derided because despite it's graphical prowess, voice acting, motion capture and narrative, etc. it was widely criticised for not offering enough 'value-for-money' as it was only a 5 hour game which was being sold for $60.

Similarly, a while ago bought 2 copies Tamriel Online because they were being sold for £5 each. I considered that this was incredible value for money. However after about 5 or so hours I realised that I wasn't having a great time, and that I had been spoiled by RPG's like Dark Souls and The Witcher 3, and in comparison Tamriel Online felt too.. dated. In other words my initial reason for picking up the game was the cost-per-hour proposition. So it's still definitely a factor.

kneon180d ago

The equation is worthless because while a dollar is worth a dollar, the value of an hour of gaming is variable.

How much value do you place on an hour of loot grinding in Destiny vs an hour in a great story driven game like TLOU?

pabadamus1180d ago

Cost/completion time≠Value. Cost per hour is a very simple metric that takes cost and divides it by an average or fixed amount of time necessary to experience something to it's predetermined completion. There is absolutely nothing subjective about it. Value and worth are subjective and are not intrinsic (maybe implied) components of the equation. The cost/amount of time equation does not account for value just like the miles/gallon, cost/gallon or the kilowatt/hour equations cannot. For example, a truck has an mpg rating of 24 while a hybrid has a rating of 38. Which one is more valuable? Any answer to this question will be subjective. To a contractor the truck may have a greater value proposition whereas to a salesman with a multi state territory the hybrid may be of greater value. The Order was about 6 to 8 hours long whereas Horizon Zero Dawn was approximately 100 hours or less on the first play through on normal. Which is more valuable? The cost /hour equation cannot answer that because each person wants different things. Knowing that HZD is about $.60 per hour becomes irrelevant if an individual does not like open world RPGs. Cost/hour is just a number. We attach the value.

Rates and averages are there to give us more information. Our individual experiences may vary from the average rate but knowing what the rate is does not negate our individual experience and visa versa. WE attach value to such numbers. The numbers do not derive their own value. If some view cost per hour as a metric by which they derive value then so be it. Don't blame the metric.

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 180d ago
porkChop181d ago (Edited 181d ago )

I understand the argument here, but there can be legit uses for something like cost per hour.

Sometimes people are just looking for a quick game that won't break the bank, something to play on a rainy day or if you're going away for a weekend. In that case, cost per hour can be useful.

Or maybe you're looking for a longer game, but you don't have a lot of money and want the most bang for your buck.

It shouldn't be the only way a game is judged, but I can understand how it could be useful for some people. It all depends on the situation, and what the gamer is looking for.

DialgaMarine181d ago

I can only see this metric used for games like Quantum Break or The Order, where the game is fairly short and offers little to no replay value upon completion.

conanlifts181d ago (Edited 181d ago )

I also think it should be taken into account by those who voluntarily choose to spend 30+ hours playing a game, then review it saying it offers no value,scoring it 1-2. If you can get 20- 30 hours of enjoyment out of a game i think the game has succeeded in providing value for money. So should at a minimum be given a medium range score or higher.

porkChop181d ago

Like I said, I think it just depends on the gamer and what they're actually looking for. I don't buy my games based on cost per hour, and I probably never will. But I could see why someone else might in certain situations.

DialgaMarine180d ago

Yeah, but as much I liked The Order, there’s no denying it was incredibly short, and offered little on the replayability front outside of a very easy trophy list/ finishing the game on a harder difficulty. Point is, it’s an example where this metric should’ve been used because it should’ve never had a $60 price tag at launch. Guaranteed it would’ve fared better on the review/ sales front if it was cheaper.

Bathyj181d ago

The first 15 minutes of The Last of Us had more impact than I would get from a thousand hours of Call of Duty or Fortnite.

As a single player only gamer I think judging a game by a dollar paid: hours to complete ratio is ludicrous.

Since when is the quality of an experience measured in time?

Skull521181d ago

I’ve played single rounds of PUBG with my friends that were a much more enjoyable experience than The Last of Us. It goes both ways.

AspiringProGenji180d ago

You probably didn’t plat TLoU Multiplayer with friends then. That MP is freaking good

DialgaMarine180d ago

To each their own, but I have no idea what the similarity between the two are.

rainslacker181d ago

My issue with it is that everyone plays games at a different pace, and for varying amounts of time. You may spend 15 minutes running through the prologue of TLOU. I might spend 25. I could run through TLOU 2-3 times on different difficulties, or over a set period of time to do different things, whereas you may play it once, on easy, and breeze through the game in 6-7 hours.

There is no way to really get a definitive average which would be accurate enough just because of the way games and gamers play. A good number of people will only play a game for a few hours then never touch it again, thus bringing down the average. Others may spend hundreds of hours in a single game greatly increasing the average over the median. It's a useless statistic, because there are too many variables.

ArchangelMike180d ago


Take God of War for example, I've spent just as must time post-credits trying to find and defeat all the Valkyries, as I did in the main story. There's no way to get a good average playtime for a game like that, because there will be people who won't ever finish the game, then there will be those who will finish the story and never touch the game again - but for who the cost-per-hour is not diminished at all. Then you have completionist guys like me who will play the game multiple times to find every chest and trophy. The cost-per-hour becomes variable and not an average at all.

AnubisG181d ago

Oh I got into many arguments about that. I always say, than buy a deck of cards for 50cents and you can have unlimited amount of hours of fun wirh your friends. Usually, people stop talking when I say that.

I heard it all before...a movie ticket is $15 and a game is $65 but a movie is 2 hours long while a game can last 50 hours or more so a game is a better value. That is the furthest thing from the truth.

lociefer181d ago

It IS a terrible way, as long as the developers produce a good game, and have a passion for what they are doing - last of us, titanfall, ninokuni, wolfenstein, witcher etc - and not just in it to milk it ( lookin at u cod and ac ) then i support them and buy their dlcs

Dark_Knightmare2181d ago

I agree with cod but not ac. Those games barring unity which was rushed for new consoles are always quality and worth playing especially Origins which is probably the best ac yet

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