Does It Make Sense For A 10-Hour Game To Cost The Same As A 100-Hour Game?

Yes, I know. The first reply is, “Well, it’s all subjective.”

In other words, not only do people enjoy their entertainment in wildly different ways, but some spend a lot more (or less) time than others. While there are those who maybe spent 75 hours getting the Platinum Trophy in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, there are also those who ripped right through The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in half that time. It’s perfectly feasible, despite the fact that one is considered “long” while the other is seen as “short.”

And let’s not forget that smaller, lower-budget games DO cost less. This never used to be an option back in the day but now, after the indie explosion, such offerings are everywhere. You can buy video games of all sizes and types these days, and many are less than $10. Hell, some are free. ¬†Well, “free”…we all know how the Free To Play model works by now, don’t we?

The point is, it’s difficult to quantify and objectify, especially when it comes to entertainment. We digest the hobby so very differently from each another. Besides, just because one title is a single-player-driven 10-hour adventure doesn’t mean it cost less to produce than the 100-hour open-world extravaganza. Granted, we always heard the crazy stories over how much each Grand Theft Auto took to make, but Naughty Dog spends a pretty penny on games like Uncharted and The Last Of Us.

Frankly, being a supporter of the free market economy, I believe everything should have a retail cost that properly reflects two things: The production cost and the demand. In the case of most games, the demand is always there; it typically is for well-established industries. At that point, only the creation cost comes into play. What YOU get out of it is entirely on you and is NOT part of the pricing structure.

Though some outside the industry don’t quite understand. I was talking to someone unfamiliar with gaming¬†and we were in fact on the subject of “bang for your buck.” He was complaining about the cost to play a round of golf, while I was trying to ascertain if those four hours were worth the cost of admission to him. If they were worth it, then that his question was answered.

On the flip side, when he found out I paid the same for a “short” game as for a “long” game, especially two games with such wildly different play-lengths, he was thoroughly confused. “Why would you pay as much for 10 hours as for 100 hours?” he queried. Again, I tried to explain that the enjoyment of both is highly subjective, that I happily paid $60 for the 10-hour game because I knew it would be an amazing experience.

“But is it really worth the same as something you could enjoy for 100 hours?” he asked. I said the enjoyment was different; the entire experience was completely different. And yes, provided the 10-hour experience was stellar enough, it is indeed worth the same. On top of which, the developers of one worked just as hard and as long as the other development team, and employed similarly significant resources.

The point is, there’s just too much subjectivity for a publisher to make any changes to a pricing structure based on length (or rather, intended length). Yes, the indie games that needed only a fraction of the time and resources shouldn’t cost $60. Of course not. But when it comes to all those big-budget productions, they should indeed all cost the same. Besides, with the advent of multiplayer, just about ANY game can be worth the price tag, right?

Bang for your buck comes in so many shapes and sizes and formats these days. I don’t play multiplayer shooters and I don’t think any shooter campaign is worth my $60. That’s a lot different than most people, who are going to spend hundreds of hours enjoying the multiplayer, despite the short campaign length. At the same time, just because I spent a hundred hours on Horizon: Zero Dawn doesn’t mean there aren’t others who spent 1/3 of that time.

Subjectivity and perception factor in, so when you ask 10 people, “Was it worth it?” you’re almost always going to get 10 different answers.

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