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Placing value on video games

I’m a value gamer. Despite the fact that hype works on me in most cases, I’m very mindful (too mindful) about which video games I spend my money on. I’m always in a value debate with myself. What’s more important, the replay or one-time experience?

My typical game is brief but infinite

Most of the games I own and enjoy to play are, in many ways, endless. They are games without a hard ending. There’s typically not much story and they don’t require a lot of solid time investment…they’re chunkable.

The games that fall into these categories are ones like fighting games, arcade games, simulation games, and on-line shooters. Games that don’t get thrown in here are usually RPGs, strategy, and action/adventure titles.

This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the latter…the Metal Gear series is one of my all-time favorites and I’ve played them all but MGS4. I played them, I loved them, I finished them, and was done with them. Same with Prince of Persia and others.

Are disposable games worth it?

Metal Gear, great game but disposable
Metal Gear, great game but disposable

And therein lies the problem. Case in point with Metal Gear. The game provided a great, high-quality experience with all the action and shooting I love. But when I finished it, I didn’t go back to it. I played out the story and that was it. The replay value was pretty low…and that’s where I usually put most of my weight into games – replay value.

If I’m not motivated to play the game after it’s done, why spend the money?

Some games try to do both – like Modern Warfare 2 – which provides a weak story experience but superior on-line experience. I’ll play through the story once in under 24 hours and then play on-line for years, never returning to the story. Is this game a good value? …only because of the extended game play. However…Modern Warfare 2 is unique in that both story and on-line play is very high quality. I’ve purchased many cheaper games that provide less of a gaming experience but are fun for a longer period of time.

It’s hard to spend $50+ on a game you expect to only play once. And honestly, with the downloadable games averaging a much lower price point, it’s almost getting hard to spend $15 on a game you’ll only play once. Sad but true. I’m sure I’m not alone in this thinking but at the same time I’m kind of bummed because I’m certainly missing some great game experiences. I need to loosen the reigns on being a Gaming Value Nazi.

So where does the value lie?

But I ask you, what would you rather pay for…

  • A game you’ll play again and again for months/years/forever that isn’t as engrossing?
  • A game that is higher quality but you’ll only spend 25-30 hours playing, be done, and not play again?

Or in other words….Quality vs. Quantity

And some of you will be quick to point out other one-time experiences…like movies…of which I pay $20 for a mere two hours of entertainment. I get your argument, but movies and games are entirely different. I go into a movie knowing it’s limited. I go into a game expecting it to be fun and lasting. They are two totally different experiences.

I don’t like spending money on a movie and then when it’s done thinking, “That was it? Well that was a waste.” And I don’t like thinking that when it comes to games either. It doesn’t matter what the price.

What helps you pick which games to play…your wallet or your one-time thrill seeking?


  1. goodday goodday December 8, 2009

    I’ve always tried to buy games that offer good replay value, though I too have a collection of games collecting dust. Whether it’s a game, movie or car part I think people are choosing to spend their money on items they feel will value them or someone they know down the road.

    P.S Great article, very interesting topic…thanks.

  2. King Tom King Tom December 10, 2009

    I’m the type of person that can get engrossed in one game for a long time.

    I still find myself from time to time loading up FF6 or Chrono Trigger on ZSNES and just picking up from the last time I left off. I’ve played and beaten those countless times, yet for some reason, I keep going back. Same thing with Vice City and GTA 4- even though I’ve beaten them, I get some level of enjoyment out of going back and playing.

    You’re right- it’s hard to spend a lot of money on a game you’ll only play a handful of times. The last game I spent money on that I haven’t touched in a long time was MLB 2k9 – the new “hot” baseball video game. For some reason, most of the modern baseball games, while they have great graphics and gameplay just don’t hold my interest. Sierra had a baseball game, Front Page Sports ’98, which I had played for a number of years. If I could get it to work with Vista, I’d probably still be playing it today. Sure, it’s ancient compared to the games out there today, but all of the stuff that counts (at least to me) is there.

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