What is a valid comparison for relative worth (re: sim/game purchases)?

So here’s a question I have. Occasionally, when I’m talking about games (usually bargain ones) and/or flight sim modules (FSX, DCS, or whatever) I try to use a comparator that has some meaning, but I’m not sure if it is a proper way to ascertain value.

For example - a DCS DLC campaign that sells for $9.99 and gives roughly 15 or 20 hours of gameplay. Is it a valid value comparison to say:

“For about the price of a movie ticket, which buys you two hours of watching Robert Downey Jr. fly around in a metal suit, you can pick up X campaign and enjoy 15 to 20 hours of immersive air combat.”

I mean, I often see comparisons being drawn like that: “For the price of a good meal, you can get X aircraft for FSX and enjoy months of learning its systems…”

Are these valid comparisons? Is the value we derive from watching a movie or eating a meal analogous to the value we expect from a PC program/game?

Just curious what the prevailing opinion is.

BeachAV8R aka Jack Handey

For some types of games, I think it’s a good way to compare. The latest wolfenstein, bioshock and tomb raider games for instance, were probably about 15 hours of entertainment for me, and compare quite favourably to the price of cinema tickets, but a great movie may pack a bit more entertainment punch. Other games like ARMA3 (300+ hours) and DCS have almost unlimited replayability potential and are hard to compare to one off experiences, but are obviously fantastic value for money. The witcher 3 deserves special mention - i found it extremely compelling for all 100 hours, and would choose it again over many times its price in movies or meals…

Yeah - if I looked at the sims that I got the most value for the money it would have to easily be both FSX and X-Plane base purchases. Now, add-ons muddy that up a bit because you are talking about lots of money added over the decade…but I still think those two are the highest value derived.

I suppose the winner might be someone who downloads the free DCS World and just flies the free Su-25T - then you have zero dollars invested and any number of hours gives you a really good ratio of money to time.

I’d also guess that Falcon 4 would have a very high ratio given the base purchase decades ago is still reaping benefits…

I (or to put it more precisely: the OCD part of me) have struggled for decades about the question of putting value to things, especially to my main hobby PC games.

Those values have changed over the years because having a job, a house and a car changes around values pretty severely, but overall I do something similar to what you did above.

My PC game value looks roughly like this:

assumption: games are about half as “fun” as movies, because you have to do something yourself (note: this is not necessarily true, in fact for me many games are worth more time than a movie. But I still apply that factor, I see it as a handicap because in a game being able to have fun with it depends on more factors.)

So if a movie is around 12€ for 3 hours (assuming a long movie) a movie is around 4€ per hour.
I apply the factor (see above) that puts a game around 2€ per hour.

Let’s take a look at games:
I bought Ryse:Son of Rome during the Steam sale for 8€. I have played it for six hours and don’t intend to play it more, since I finished the campaign and there isn’t much to do otherwise. It was worth it, barely. It would not have been worth it at full price.

Other example: I play the Star Wars MMO “The Old Republic”, but not much, just a few evenings a month. It is 12€ per month. So I need to play at least six hours a month to make it worth it. If I play less I quit the subscription.

For DCS modules it is roughly the same. If I am interested in a module they are worth it at full price. A-10C was 60€ IIRC, that’s 30 hours of flight. I easily beat that after a short time.
I haven’t beat it in the Mi-8 though, so I would be unhappy if I bought it for more than 20€ (which I didn’t I think, I got it during a sale).

Basically, a $/h comparison: This is my base formula for purchasing games as they compete against other forms of entertainment. This has been my benchmark for some time … however with the rise of Netflix and the decline in my willingness to sit through a crappy movie, I have had to rethink this. Books cost me between $10 and $40 and usually net me about 8 hours of reading time (these are best guesses or how long I feel I spend reading a book over it’s active life).

For comparison:

  • A movie usually costs me about $30 (movie+food) for 2 hours of entertainment: a 15:1 ratio;
  • A book can cost me $40 for 8 hours of entertainment: a 5:1 ratio;
  • A computer game can cost me $50 for 20 hours of entertainment: a 2.5:1 ratio;
  • Netflix, at my current watching rate is about $10 for 15 hours of entertainment: a 0.667:1 ratio;

That may be why I am starting to seriously curb movie watching I do add a couple of adjustments.

  1. I am willing (very willing) to take ‘interactive media’ over other alternatives. This means I value TV and movies much lower as they are a one-way medium. Books are not included in this as I consider them interactive: requiring my active participation either through imagination or thinking/understanding;
  2. I am willing to take fewer hours of entertainment if there is an educational aspect. This means that flight simulation and some strategy games get a bonus - but in the end, that bonus ends up playing out (pun intended) as a much higher hour component of the above ratio. For example: DCS: M2000 (or DCS: MiG-21, etc) can consume 20 hours on it’s own (2.5:1 ratio) making it equivalent to a stand alone PC game but I am more likely to spend much longer with the M2000 (or DCS: MiG-21, etc) learning systems and flying online with MudSpike virtual pilots which will increase the number of hours beyond the 2.5:1 ratio. Civ V is a good example of this with me spending 270 hours (a 0.222:1 ratio) learning and playing with it’s game play - which is also why Civ VI is an automatic purchase for me;

Granted - I do not have children to plan for (that I know of :slight_smile: ) and that gives me more disposable income. Other hobbies are measured against this, though I am getting more critical of my purchase decisions instead of using the above metrics as a ‘reason this purchase is a good idea’ and instead, starting to ask, ‘do I really need this’ :slight_smile:

Kayaking: ratio is about 20:1 at the moment but it gets better each time I use the equipment and resist purchasing anything additional;
Biking: ratio is about 5:1 at the moment but it gets better … as above;
Martial Arts: ratio is about 5:1 … assuming I am not lazy and skip a class or two a month :slight_smile:

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Fridge pretty much wrote what I was going to reply with. I think that it would be extremely hard to beat the value of a sim like DCS, Falcon 4, FSX (which I don’t fly, but understand it’s value) and so on. My wife and I watch a lot of movies, but we buy them on DVD once they are for sale at a reduced cost and watch some of them multiple times over. When you factor in the replay ability value of dvd movies bought at a discount they become a very affordable form of entertainment.

Now, compare those to my muscle cars, Harleys, snowmobiles and you see what the worst possible value per dollar scenarios are. There could be a argument made for the old cars as they have a lot of resale value, but you never recoup all of the money you invested unless you got a very lucky buy at the front end. Harleys also retain their value, but not nearly as well as they did 20 years ago, when you could buy one new, ride it for two years and sell it used for as much or more than you paid for it.

I’m in the process of buying my first new bicycle in 25 years, and hope to get a lot of value per dollar and get fit at the same time. I too would like to try kayaking, but for me right now it would be more like “submarining” as I think I’m still a little too heavy for the equipment ;-).

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[quote=“Mudcat, post:7, topic:2084, full:true”]…

I can see where you are coming from.

I was wondering the context of the comparison. But figured what I said could be taken the wrong way, which is why I deleted it, seems i was too late in doing so.

I think an alternate title for this thread could be “How do you rationalize your entertainment purchases?” Some thoughts without any coherent structure:

I do think movies are a good comparison in general. Especially for me when it comes to first person shooters. COD2 Modern Warfare was the best movie I have ever starred in. Arma 2 and 3 have given me more stories that I was a part of than a hundred movies. I am still waiting for the Half Life movie to be made. So in all of those cases those games were easy to rationalize for me as worth the money and a good comparison for their relative worth.

Some games and Movies are just automatic purchases as well - The DCS F-14 is a must buy for most people here, the same way that seeing the new Star Wars movie in the theater was a given. They both have been in the pipeline for years so their costs have been already factored in for most of us.

I like boardgames and so for some titles that is the comparison for me - Stellaris, Civ, Total War, - they are games that provide an opponent for me when I can’t get a boardgame night going. So those purchases are weighed against a similar purchase at the local game store in terms of value.

Sometimes I rationalize not buying a game even though I know would like it. I didn’t buy Fallout 4, even though I know I like that engine and those games. I loved Skyrim and I could easily spend 60 hours in Fallout. But I didn’t have the 60 hours for it. I just new that it would sit unplayed. Maybe I will get to it…but the list of games I am going to get to in retirement gets longer every year.

On the other hand I rarely view DCS modules in terms of hours flown. For me they feel like a ticket to an aviation museum that I now have a lifetime attendance card to. It doesn’t matter to me whether I have 3 hours or 300 in the MiG-15. Anytime I want I can walk around it, Taxi in it, Take off, crash, take off again, land (crash), land again. it’s like going to the worlds greatest museum and the usher goes “Nice huh? Wanna take her for a spin?” Totally worth the price of admission.


I was about to call a similair argument :smiley: It is easy to quantify time spent on a game versus money invested. But some rewards gaming provides are intangible. Who here has ever played a Metal Gear game? How long does it take to complete the story? Maybe 20 hours if you do some side jobs and try to get some weapons unlocked. Perhaps I paid €50 for it. That means I got €2.5 an hour out of it provided I didn’t play it again ( I did :slight_smile: ). I also once got some sort of Final Fantasy game. I think it was called Final Fantasy X-2. I got it on a sale for maybe €20. I spend maybe 100 to 200 hours to complete it, but then never touch it again. So I got 10 cents an hour out of it. Now the value per time spent is clear for either game. But if I had to choose one of the two to get deleted out of existence and omitted from my memory, I’ll have to say it’s the final fantasy game that has to go. Somehow the Metal Gear game has more than 25 times the value to me.

And what about games that offer near infinite gameplay? Maybe not everyone’s favorite example but let’s think about something like Minecraft, or the many survival games out there like ARK, 7 days to die, Rust or The Forest. Rendering a new world every time you want to. Every time you struggle to survive for your first few days only to progress into prosperity and thrive in your enviroment. A game a bit like those I mentioned, but perhaps more interesting to a community interested in flight sims is From the Depths. A minecraft-ish game where you don’t need to dig tunnels. Instead you create platforms at sea that harvest valuable materials from the ocean bed. You then use those materials to construct weapons of war, Warships, Submarines, airplanes and helicopters, all of your own design, and wage war upon other nations. I might do an AAR about that one soon! Back to my point what’s the value? Near zero per hour spent? I’m currently down to 15 cents an hour for From the Depths and I can forsee myself enjoying it for years to come. FtD has proved more cost efficient entertainment than Metal Gear ever was, but choosing to delete one game or the other out of existence would be an impossible choice for me.

Don’t get me started on flight simulators. Some time ago I decided to ‘complete’ my flight sim expierence and learn to properly navigate some of my favorite DCS hulls instead of relying on F-10 or the kneeboard. The time spent learning was less than spent on most games, but the satisfaction was immense. Doing something complicated like flying the A-10C, receiving MGRS coordinates from a JTAC and then hitting a target with a JDAM through a thick layer of clouds was more satisfying than most complete games ever where. Not to mention the skills gained may prove useful for a near infinite amount of time.

As for DCS campaigns. I’m a bit more cautious. The 2nd law of thermodynamics have not been favorable to many campaigns in the past. I appreciate the oppertunities ED provides to many skilled mission makers, but I am afraid some people may move on, leaving some campaigns in shambles the coming years. However if some campaigns where tied in with product updates. Par example a paycampaign to accompany and fund the upcoming Su-33 and MiG-29 updates I’d be more than happy to buy them. I’d even buy some F-15 or Su-27 campaigns if those aircraft received a few modernizations, although I hope neither plane loses their charm in the process :smiley:

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The thing about hour per dollar comparisons is that the context is hard to equate. If I go to a movie with my wife and we have a good time, with some food and drink after and a few hours out and about then it doesn’t seem mathematically equivalent to a DCS module or a joystick. We could spend a couple of hundred dollars that night, but that doesn’t mean I’ll go buy anything for X-Plane just because it’s a similar amount.

Put another way, if I didn’t do social things like movies etc then I could save a lot of money. But then I could save a lot of money if I didn’t do anything at all. I’d have money, but then apart from staring at a number online, it’s not that much fun :slight_smile:

There’s a comparative value in video games and sims, and as long as I am not blatantly shopping just for the thrill of buying something and never playing it, then I just want to have a reasonable level of ‘value’ out of it. Comparing it to other things I spend money on (do you really need a nice car, do you have to go on that vacation, is it worth spending triple on a business class seat etc etc) isn’t how my lizard gaming brain works when shopping. I don’t compare the costs for those things I guess I am trying to say.

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These are all great posts on how each of us individually value stuff (not just games/sims) - and how we shift our determination of value based on what it is we are expecting to get out of it. When I saw Avatar 3D, I was amazed at the price of the ticket…but so impressed by the movie that I walked out thinking “yeah…I’d totally pay that much again…”

I tend to be less critical of game values because (personally), I enjoy the interactive nature of games and sims moreso than passive stuff (movies and TV). My wife and I had a discussion tonight about perhaps getting rid of TV completely - I don’t think I’d miss a thing about it other than perhaps the show Alone on Discovery and watching the Tour de France each July (yeah, I still watch the dopers…boo for me…)…

Oddly enough - I get almost no value out of my Netflix subscription. God…it makes me sick to think I’ve paid for probably three years of it and have probably watched a total of 20 hours of it over that three years. It just has so much good content that I generally can’t watch in front of the little guy, and later on at night I’m usually wrapped up in my computer. Although if we do get rid of DirecTV, I could see leaning more on Netflix.

And yeah @Tankerwade - I agree, Arma 2 and 3 have given me soooo much good gameplay for the investment. My current Steam backlog of games I haven’t played that I’ve heard are fantastic is enormous.

Interesting reading the replies here and seeing such thought put into the responses. Now I really will feel guilty if I put “for the price of a movie” in any more content I wrote…LOL…

My wife cancelled Netflix about a month a go and didn’t tell anyone in the family. Her plan was that we wouldn’t notice, and it worked.

Live news and sports is pretty much the only reason for TV nowadays, and even the news stuff is just of the variety of ‘There is some big XYZ happening, so you can see a live feed on a big screen’. For sports like Hockey, it’s getting harder to anchor the entire cable/satellite bill around - especially when I go through phases of either forgetting to watch it that much.

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I bought Kerbal Space Program when it was $7 if I remember correctly. Steam shows I have over 400 hours logged in that game but I have way more than that (I had it years before it became available on Steam). Best $7 I ever spent.

Dang…at that rate…they should be paying YOU!

Oh you have set my devious mind to working. What things can I cancel in my house and wait to see if anyone notices…

All the magazines - probably
Newspaper - yes, I’m the only one that reads it, but it also doubles as paper to put around the cat liter box
Cats - Hmm…two indoor and about six outdoor. I’ll bet if half went missing nobody would notice (immediately)
Hot water - Hmm…probably won’t happen
Alarm service - If I just made the pad say the thing it says when it’s armed, that would probably work…
Storage unit - Could burn it down with no loss I think
Air conditioning - “No…I don’t really think it feels warm in here…”

Hmm…must expand list…


LOL your wife is cool! :smiley:

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