Does Money per Hour of Entertainment Matter?

Time is the most valuable resource when determining how to spend the day (I still stand by that statement), but lets not understate the value of money. Money matters. We are all on a fixed income – most people cannot afford every release they are interested in, either due to a limited budget, an insatiable gaming appetite or you know…being a kid dependent on birthdays and Christmas.

In order to justify the most appropriate purchase, some turn to algebra (Thanks Mrs. Phillips!!). The belief is that the more time spent with a game the more valuable the purchase. The goal for these types of consumers is to have the maximum amount of time spent for the lowest asking price possible. It’s a value proposition that makes logical sense on paper, not in practice.

Money ÷ Time = Dollars Per Hour (DPH)

If Tommy bought a $60 JRPG that he played for 90 hours his DPH would be (hold on, I need to grab a calculator to continue writing this blog) $.66 DPH. That sounds like a great return. However, if Tommy bought a different new release, say a FPS single player campaign that lasted 12 hours, his DPH would be $5. According to the math, the JRPG is a better investment!

One small problem, Tommy despises RPGs. Obviously Tommy wouldn’t purchase or ask for a game he hates so this example starts to lose weight. But if we tone down the ridiculousness of the terminology from Tommy hates JRPGs, to Tommy would rather play a new FPS than a JRPG we have a different discussion.

If preferences matter, than the DPH ratio no longer has priority. No one would ask Tommy to play a game he hates (well maybe his brother Jason…but that guy is a dick). If we believe Tommy should play games that he would rather play, instead of ones that are a ‘good investment’ than we should do the same with ourselves.

Once we evaluate games not just on their DPH, but also their potential fun, the equation loses merit.

Fun is unquantifiable. You can’t put a price tag on it (publishers and developers can…you can’t). It is what drove you to gaming in the first place and why you continue to stick around. Gaming is more than just killing time; it’s about experiencing what makes you happy. If you boil games to their DPH, than you are concentrating on the wrong thing.

Instead of focusing on the DPH try to maximize the opportunities for enjoyment – this means sometimes picking the shorter, better game over the longer one.

It can be tough, especially on a budget. For people who do need a low DPH, I recommend living in the past. No, not just sitting in your room, remembering playing a Sega Genesis, but instead picking up a last-gen console and running through the other team’s exclusives. The games are cheaper, readily available and you will expand your gaming footprint.

Chasing the new-shiny-best will always result in a higher DPH, but if you can wait a few weeks (on PC) or a few months (on consoles) than you can oftentimes pick up a premium experience at discount.

Money matters and consumers want a good value, but its important to balance the potential enjoyment your hobbies will bring, not just the amount of time they will kill until the next release.


Have you ever calculated the DPH of a game you played? Do you hold true to this philosophy? Are there any games you kept playing to ‘get your money’s worth’ even when you didn’t enjoy them?

Level Up, Friends!