How should we define “value” when it comes to gaming?

the order

Damn you fine; but you’re too short for me

We are just around the corner from the biggest launch of 2015 so far; ‘The Order: 1886’. Sony has placed a massive emphasis on the marketing of this title and once again a developer has gone and put his foot in it.

Amid claims; made by a YouTuber, that the game can be beaten in less than six hours Ready at Dawn responded by saying that we should be worried about “quality, not quantity”. The reason that this has kicked up so much controversy is because Ready at Dawn also came out and knocked down the claims saying that it was a lie – then backtracked and stated that it is possible to beat the game in 6 hours but only if you ignore the story and race through the game as quickly as possible – they intend their game to last 8-10 hours.

Hardly epic proportions there. It got me thinking about how I value the games I buy, what is it that makes me think “yeah; I’ll get my moneys worth here! Have my £40-£50”?

I am one of those people who used to use the classic ‘how many hours can I get out of this game?’ type of value. Recently however I have found this simple system to be flawed.

value

how do we justify the money spent?

The explanation

Two years ago I bought ‘GTA:V’ on Xbox 360 for £39.99; lets round that up to £40. I proceeded to put 80 hours into the single player (in order to gain 100% completion) so if we do the math 40 divided by 80 gives me 50p an hour. GTA:V cost me 50p an hour – that is some serious value, no matter what way you look at it.

GTA V

less than a quid an hour, value added?

On the flip side I bought ‘ICO’ for £40 – the game lasted 4 hours. The math says that ‘ICO’ cost me £10 an hour – 20 times more than GTA, more than a trip to the cinema, very little value to be had…

…and yet. I remember more about ‘ICO’ than I do ‘GTA:V’ – I’m no more inclined to play ‘GTA’ again than I am ‘ICO’. I value my time spent with ‘ICO’ more than I do my time with ‘GTA’…

…maybe the experience should be the common denominator when it comes to measuring value!

Experience is the answer?

‘ICO’ left me in awe when I finished it, it was not original at all (a save the princess puzzle game, hardly the epitome of innovation) nor was it beautiful. What it was though was supremely crafted, it weaved a beautifully told story; with enough ambiguity to allow you to fill the gaps, which made it relevant to the players. The conclusion stayed with you long after the credits rolled.

‘ICO’ also played it very simple with its mechanics, it literally had 3 or 4 that had been perfected, there were no random little glitches that you associate with modern gaming, everything worked the way it should 100% of the time. Sure the game wasn’t perfect, but its mechanics were and combined with the story it achieved a level of artistry not always prevalent in the industry.

journey-game-screenshot-1-b

Another experience to be had my friends! As good a game as you can get!

Therein lies another problem, we cannot reasonably expect every game to achieve this level of artistry. I’d argue that if every game did the industry would be weaker for it. Much like the movie industry has movies that’ll never win an Oscar – we need those popcorn games and I enjoy Platinum games as much as the next gamer – because they are immense fun!

Is fun a measure of worth?

Maybe fun is a good barometer of value – there are a number of games that I’ve had a ton of fun with, and gotten my moneys worth because of how enjoyable they were, not because they were great games. I’ve lost countless hours to many titles in my life. ‘HOTD  2’ is one I’ve played for countless hours, same with ‘TMNT: Turtles in time’.

TMNT-Turtles-in-Time

This is my shit!

Conversely there have also been games that have offered me no fun and I’ve never finished (nor will I ever). ‘Dark Souls’ was one such game, although I plowed 100 hours into that and never really enjoyed any of it.

Fun doesn’t always seem to be the best barometer – as gamers we hate to admit defeat; for example Man Vs Game has been battling the final boss in ‘Wings of Vi’ for three weeks now. He can’t quit because he’s come too far, gamer stubbornness cannot be brought into account when it comes to measuring value. Games are made to be enjoyed; not persevered.

Dark souls

I hate you!

The external variables

Then we have the issue of PS Plus – Sony’s value bundle of online play and 6 free games a month (if you own all 3 platforms) with ratings of; at least, 70% on metacritic (although this has been questionable on the Vita as of late). I have read a lot recently on the danger of this subscription de-valuing games. I also examined this issue in the summer last year.

PS Plus and Games with Gold are great services; but I have found myself wanting a game but refusing to pay money for it because “it’ll be on plus soon” – even before any announcement; usually these are indie titles that really need my support! I feel guilty; but I won’t stop doing it.

The fact that I’ve read several other articles saying the same shows how devalued games are becoming.

The scariest thing is how much people complain about the free titles they receive through these services – there are a small but vocal segment of gamers who are becoming entitled – they want new AAA titles through plus almost on release day. This is of course unfeasible and would ring the death knell for many a developer and publisher; if games become worthless then it will die as an industry.

The real measure?

The only legitimate measure of a games value is the one you give it.

For me a games value is a combination of everything above and some more factors. The time I spend playing it (even if it’s not enjoyed), the challenge it offers me, how much fun I’m getting for it, who I’m playing it with and finally; above all else, the quality of the title.

For me a game has to be well crafted in order to grab me and give me the feeling that I’m being offered the chance to gain ‘value’ for my purchase. There are games I haven’t enjoyed but got my value out of (hello Dark Souls), these are not bad games but they haven’t captured me. These become titles I get rid of and have no remorse.

How do you measure the value from your games?

Tell me in the comments below!

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6 thoughts on “How should we define “value” when it comes to gaming?

  1. I think fun is a word that doesn’t really capture the full weight of a truly entertaining experience. To me, entertainment means something that will captivate me in some way. In video games, that typically means giving me an interesting test of my skill or strategy while navigating an overall immersive experience. I have no issues with a game being shorter, assuming sufficient quality, but most “cinematic”-style games are shorter and lack in meaningful gameplay content. They are also so linear that replayability suffers dramatically.

    Like

    • I read somewhere that games should strive to be more ‘gamematic’ and thought that was an absolutely brilliant line!

      I rarely play through cinematic games more than once, the illusion of interaction is lost on multiple play throughs but they do give thrills! Uncharted is a great game because of that thrill ride! The caveat is it must have a good story and set pieces as you say Murf it’s gotta captivate!

      Liked by 1 person

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