Money makes the world go round. It’s an old adage, but its truth has never diminished. Our lives are predetermined based on our financial situations and our life pursuits are usually modelled around getting enough money to survive. Gaming is a hobby and by that definition, it’s also not something vital. Spending your money on PCs, consoles and games is a luxury that is only granted to those that have disposable income. The less disposable income you have, the more careful you have to be when making your purchasing decisions. It’s at this point where the concept of “value for money” gets introduced.
As a game reviewer, it’s absolutely crucial for me to look at the value for money that a game can give to a consumer. If the sum of the experience is worth the often hefty price tag at launch and if you’ll be satisfied with your purchase. This has been an extremely important factor in my evaluations for years and it holds such importance to me because getting ripped off or getting a mediocre experience for your investment is a soul-crushing thing to go through. However, we quickly run into the problem of what can be considered good value for money.
Gamers have very different definitions of a game giving you “value for money”. The most common determiner is the number of hours of entertainment that a game can provide for you. The more hours, the better. If you want to be purely mathematical about it, it’s the ratio between hours and money spent. But this is often a shoddy way of measuring the worth of a game because I can come up with countless examples of games that have massive amounts of needless padding that gives the illusion of worthwhile content. This is why open-world games got such a bad rap in recent history because they were often filled with dull activities that don’t do much to enrich the experience and were just there as a way to populate a map with a violent splash of markers.
A game’s amount of content means nothing if the content isn’t worthwhile or fun. Games that excel in this area usually have quality and quantity overlap to the point where it’s worth it to spend hundreds of hours in the world. Games like The Witcher 3 is evidence of this with almost every facet of its large populated world being worthwhile to delve into. Then you get games like the contentious Mad Max which populated its open-world with often needless distractions that have no real merit to them and fooling people into thinking that it’s a content-rich experience. Some people like myself sometimes even prefer the monotony of a large open-world with a ton of throwaway activities in it.
A linear game that is over in 8 hours can also provide you with value for money. It doesn’t actually matter how many hours it takes to complete a game. If the experience was enriching in any way possible, you’ve gotten your money’s worth. Extremely short games like Journey hold a special place in many people’s hearts. A game like The Last of Us is also a good example of getting your money’s worth even if the game is linear and doesn’t have a particularly long runtime. It’s all about what you determine to be worth it.
So that’s my question to you. How do you define a game’s value? By the number of hours you get you out of it, how much replayability there is, if the experience was worthwhile or simply if it’s a game that caters to your particular niche. Sound off in the comments!