The Cost Of Entertainment

There is no denying that gaming can be an expensive hobby but is it good value for money? We all pay for entertainment, most of the time without actually thinking about it. Whether it be a subscription to a streaming service, drinking with friends or paying a couple of hobos to fight in car park of the local grocery store we put a value on our entertainment and i was curious to how gaming measured up even taken to its extreme.

For this completely accurate and in no way made up science experiment we need a baseline. An estimated cost that normal people would be willing to pay for entertainment and the best way to get this is to start randomly googling the cost of whatever I think may support my argument regardless of how relevant it is.

First on the list we have the good old fashion Cinema visit. For those younger people who may be reading a Cinema was once a mythical place people would go to and pay to watch movies on a big screen without needing an internet connection. The sticky carpets, the smell of popcorn, the dirty looks given to those people two rows in front who won't shut up, nothing beats the Cinema but how expensive is it? At a rough estimate a regular adult ticket will cost you around £14 and with movies tending to be 2-3 hours long we can baseline this to around £5 for an hours entertainment. This obviously doesn't include snacks, drinks, fuel expenses to get there or the parking fine you received when you get back outside but £5 an hour seems reasonable for this.

Next up we have Golf. In olden times when people were allowed outside this "sport" was played by getting a stick and trying to knock a tiny ball into a hole. Points are scored by how many whacks it takes you to get it in the hole and somewhere in the rules is something about wearing brightly coloured shorts / trouser hybrid tucked into your socks and some sort of flat cap. An 18 hole round of golf will set you back around £35 for non members and should take about 4 hours according to some random article I found somewhere. So cost per hour is around £8.75

Finally we have Bowling. Cost of Bowling is on a per game basis and averages out at about £6 per game. Each game is supposed to take around 10 minutes per person playing, so if there are 3 of you it should work out at around 30 minutes. We will call that an hourly cost of about £6 because math is hard and it kinda makes sense.

So in summary we have £5 an hour for Cinema, £8.75 for Golf and £6 for bowling so lets go with £6.50 an hour as an acceptable rate for entertainment.

Now that we have our baseline, how do we quantify entertainment for a gamer and how does this compare to our £6.50 baseline? For video games this is fairly easy to do as many will have ways to record play time so lets look at some examples.

Total War: Warhammer 2. 
This was released towards the end of September 2017 and costs £40. Since it came out however there has been a total of 17 DLC's for this game, 9 of which were free but the other 8 range in price from £7 to £15 so if you were to buy the base game and all the additional content that has been produced since release you are looking at £107.42. Now obviously you don't need all of the DLCs and the total cost for everything may seem a little high to most folks but according to my steam page I have played that game for a total of 245 hours. Or using the same formula above it has cost me roughly £0.44 per hour of entertainment.

This is another one with a similar story. The base game on steam right now is £34.99 and there are 3 DLC's available each costing £15.49 for a total of £81.36 but I've clocked 224 hours into it giving me a cost of £0.36 per hour of entertainment.

In both of these cases its clear that these have been great entertainment value and well worth the price even if it does seem a little high at first. Now lets take that to the extreme....

There is a game called Shroud of the Avatar (SOTA) which is an MMO developed by Richard Garriott of Ultima fame. Sota has a reputation at the moment of having a massive issue with real money trading which puts a lot of players off playing it. In reality however the game is free to play and everything you can buy is cosmetic only but there is a lot of it. And i do mean ALOT. To give you some background knowledge there is player housing. You start by gaining a Row lot deed through a quest which is considered a starter home. You can then upgrade this to a village size home which is roughly double the size (you can also get through doing more quests...). This continues through Row > Village > Town > City > Keep > Castle. Part of this game you can also purchase a player owned town which is a static location on the world map and other people can come and place their deeds in your town. Why am I telling you all of this? Because the biggest town size you can buy currently costs $9,000 (£7,072) and can house up to 200 village size lots. To most people, that price seems obscene and they would be right. There are other factors involved in that you can sell off in game items (even gold) for real cash and i do know a few people who actually play the game as a business either through trading or power leveling services but for the average player seeing something on the store for $9,000 is rage inducing and clearly no one in their right might would pay that for something digital.

That being said....I've been playing Sota for almost 6 years and according to steam:

Yes that is almost 10,000 hours played so using the entertainment baseline if I were considering becoming a town owner (which i'm not) and wanted to spend that kind of cash on a game (which I don't) and i could afford it (which i can't) it's still technically less than £1 an hour of entertainment. Even taken to this kind of extreme its less than Bowling, Golf or a trip to the Cinema.

So is a new game really worth £50 when it comes out? Probably.

Now lets switch this to table top gaming using something similar.
I'm not going to do a full break of the cost of an army because I know some of you want to stay married but lets put a number on it of around £400. Obviously this is slightly arbitrary as some armies and game systems will vary wildly but it seems a nice round number. For those husbands and wives who are reading because your partner plays but you don't, then you should be aware that a full army bought from a gaming store is usually about 90% the cost of this and you can get a full army for about £37....ahem.

Anyway, now we have a rough cost for the army consider the entertainment time this will give you. From building, painting, playing, list building, reading rules and background, talking to friends about how it was built, painted, plays, history, etc etc How much entertainment do you get for your models? To give one example I saw a memory on facebook from 5 years ago where I had posted up my first squad of 5 deathmarks and asking what people thought of the colour scheme. Curious I checked the GW website and saw them listed as £25 for 5 models. Has that £25 given me an appropriate amount of entertainment? Absolutely.

So with GW just announcing their intentions of increasing their prices take a moment and consider the cost of entertainment. Before flying into a homicidal rage because you have to spend another £30 on a rule book for this edition of 40k ask yourself are you are getting enough entertainment for your money? Now I've justified the cost I'm off to try and convince the wife I need another Necron Seraptek Heavy Construct...


  1. Its something that absolutely doesn't get understood by the general 'non-gamer' public when you look at how many hours you get out of this or that game. I'll occasionally leap into an MMO for say, 3-4 months of glorious nostalgia and in that time, I might spend a couple hundred bucks on shiny things. While non-gamer friends are shaking their heads, I'm thinking, I got 4 months of enjoyment out of this for what you'd spend on one single evening going out for a meal and drinks. Not only that, a lot of the purchases you buy for online games are persistent - you've unlocked it once, its yours forever, for the duration of the account, and maybe you only play for four months NOW but you know, you'll be back. I recently re-delved into the evil waters of Everquest 2 and was able to pick right back up where I left off with everything unlocked already (no additional costs) and 12+ years of veteran reward content to boot for being a subscriber 'back in the day'.

    Its interesting to note also that if you look at your baseline 'hour of entertainment' cost, gaming beats pretty much everything. Each hobby of course has its ancillary costs, and you can argue that either way - your cinema example excludes transport, fuel, and food, which would easily triple the 'per hour' cost, golf requires a set of clubs, shoes, golf cart rental (I'm not WALKING 18 holes, forgetaboutit), appropriate clothing, gloves, kit - ditto bowling, ditto any other sort of hobby that requires equipment. In gaming, the up front costs, namely, the computer or console you are gaming on, tend to be a bit higher as an initial one-off purchase - but then again, I've seen some people spend what (in my mind) is an absolutely obscene amount of money on say, a pair of shoes appropriate to whichever hobby and I think to myself damn, I could get a crazy video card for that.

    At the end of the day everyone has their preferences and everyone gets their own intrinsic value out of what they choose to spend their hard earned money on. For me personally, I think its absolutely ridiculous to go spend £100 on a haircut when I can achieve the same goal (making hair shorter) by leaning over the garbage can with a pair of scissors I nicked out of the kitchen. Hair has been cut. Objective unlocked. Now it will quit getting stuck in my headset. >.< So much money gets spent on what I see as transient, temporary stuff - hair's just going to grow back again. Going out to see a film, have a meal, get your nails done, etc. all are spending money for temporary things that are enjoyable only for a short duration. In the gaming sphere, most of your money goes toward objects of either physical (or digital) permanence, you've bought it, its yours to play with from now until the end of time. I don't know how many times I've gone back and had a glorious nostalgic evening in some game or other years after the fact and it doesn't cost me anything.

    So yeah, I think people who give gamers flak simply don't get it, or don't look at it comparatively against other entertainments. For me, I'd much prefer that my husband buy a new Necron Seraptek heavy Construct than spend the same amount of money on a few drinks and a game of pool. Having a new Necron Seraptek Heavy Construct will also keep him quiet and busy lovingly painting it for days and ultimately result in him going away to go play with his toys with his friends giving me and Nan a peaceful evening at home...;)

  2. Couldn't have worded it better myself, simply brilliant!


Post a comment

Popular posts from this blog

GW Game Testers

I'm back!