Cost per hour a useful metric?

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soulcake

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So with the latest "controversy" about Green Man Gaming cost per hour metric. I was wondering what the forums take is on this tool. For those who don't know, key reseller green man gaming introduced a cost per hour metric next to there prices. I myself think it handy in some way, especially if your low on money to spend on games. When i was a kid i only got 2 games per year one for my birthday and one for Christmas so this thing would have being in handy. I am surprised people are up in arms over this, it's there website they can post what they want? if they want a how many times the average person go's to the toilet before they finish this game there allowed to do so IMO.

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Crommi

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Completely pointless, but that doesn't stop the general audience asking about it, which is why it has been one of the talking points in game reviews since the beginning. But when storefront puts it right there as a metric of "value", it sends wrong kind of message and is going to be a concern among indie devs who cannot necessarily afford to pad their games out with filler content.

I can understand that some are looking to get most (quantity) out of their game purchase, but first and foremost should the enjoyment. I don't think anyone would argue that LotR movies would have been twice as good if they were twice as long, probably the opposite. Same goes for many shorter games that are very condensed experiences with finely tuned design, padding them out would not do them any good.

Personally, I just want to play good games, regardless of how long they are and quite often, shorter games are more memorable and unique.

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splodge

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#3 splodge  Online

It's almost the most useless metric, just above whether a game is 3D tv enabled.

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vortextk

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#4  Edited By vortextk

No.

Ok ok. Definitely no.

All right. By that same logic, people should only watch free cable tv, eat huge shitty cheap meals that are literally difficult to eat and go out for a "week on the town" versus a night but bring $10 to last them the entire time. Stretching your dollar over the most amount of time you could be doing something per unit of money is a worthless metric.

I've played monster hunter world for 430 hours at this point and I spent 51 dollars on it. That's about 12 cents an hour. Yes, from a value statement that is great, but if I didn't like the game, I would've spent 5 hours on it and spent 10 dollars an hour. Way worse metric, but the metric doesn't matter because I would've actively disliked the time I spent on it.

Pick a random mario game and beat it in 5 hours. Whoops, not great time to money metric. Get everything in it and spend 20 hours, but maybe you had less fun doing that. Better metric but maybe it soured you on the game. Spend 1000 hours playing it and learning it to speed run; maybe you'll love this and you continue dumping hundreds of hours into something that most people beat in a handful.

It certainly is A metric, but I find it almost entirely useless. Some people might literally want something, anything, that will get them a lot of playtime and have absolutely no taste or bland taste that they don't care or don't feel anything for quality. I feel most people however want short games sometimes, and long games others, and almost always ALWAYS want to enjoy what they are doing(ironically, genuinely, what have you) in some way.

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Efesell

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It seems like a dubious implementation of otherwise useful info.

I just specifically bought Hyrule Warriors on Switch because I know I'm not going to be able to afford a lot of games coming up and I can spend frankly a terrifying amount of time on this one in the interim.

But being presented as such a universal and important thing.... doesn't seem right.

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breq

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It's a weird thing. People who are really into games (like everyone here) prob don't care about it, but I'm sure there are people that don't follow games as much as us that would find it very useful. But at the same time those people who would find it useful have no idea who/what GMG is.

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Cameron

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I think knowing how long a game will last is useful information. Short games should be priced appropriately, and when they're not it's good to know about it. I like short games, but I don't want to pay $60 for one. I don't buy Call of Duty games until they are about $25, because all I play is the campaign. $25 is about what a 6-8 hour shooter campaign is worth to me. However, I don't want the campaigns to be longer, I just want the game to be cheaper, so I wait. I'm happy to pay $15-$20 for a game like Firewatch or Gone Home, because that feels like an acceptable price to me. Those are interesting narrative games that would be worse if they were longer. If Firewatch had cost $60, I would have been disappointed. I think the Captain Toad game on the Wii U is a good example of this. It's a good game, but it felt more like a $20 game, not a $40 game. I understand that the value of money is very subjective, but I don't think most people buying games are fortunate enough to be in a situation where cost doesn't matter. I don't think $/HR is a useful metric on it's own, but combined with what you know about your gaming tastes and financial situation, it can be useful.

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OurSin_360

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I had no idea this existed and have visted the site plenty the last week( to see if battletech gets a giid sale lol)

Personally i think its a good metric, not as an evaluation of the games quality (that is subjective) but as to the evaluation of my time and how much i would spend to essentially 'waste' it on a game. I haven't touched a game in a month and probably have played 20hrs total this year so far. I think looking at something like this will have the opposite effect on me as right now time is my only commodity.

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clagnaught

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I'm not familiar with that tool, but I don't value that metric anymore (I think I did when I was a teenager). The important metric to me is "Is this worth my time?" If I spend $20 on a 2 hour game, and it was a good time, that's fine by me. If that $20 gives me 20 hours, or if $60 gives me 200 hours, that's cool. If that money goes to a bad game, that sucks, but the thing with that is largely I wasted my time on something I didn't enjoy. I'm also the type of person who will stop playing a game after 30-60 minutes if it doesn't grab me, regardless of what I've paid for it, so yeah.

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HellBrendy

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#10  Edited By HellBrendy

What @vortextk said.

It's even dumber than metacritic.

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Ares42

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I think presenting it as "cost per hour" is a mistake. I do however think "estimated length" is a valuable piece of information to know before buying a game. Not necessarily just to know if you're getting your moneys worth, but because a 5 hour campaign and a 200 hour grindfest are very different experiences. I've often found myself checking howlongtobeat before buying a game to check what kinda time investment I'd be getting myself into. Sometimes you want that 2 hour game, other times you want a month to disappear.

(this is actually one of my primary reasons for spending more time replaying old games these days, just because I know exactly what kinda experience I'll get.)

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shivermetimbers

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#12  Edited By shivermetimbers

I just find it silly. Games are more complex than the hours you spend in them.

Let me tell you something...I worked an office job before getting to where I am now. I counted the hours by because I was so miserable. Time should be irrelevant when it comes to games. They're meant to be fun. If you come into games for the sole purpose of widdling away hours, then get an office job, you can count the hours and the monetary worth you get out of those hours that way. Games are not like jobs, or rather shouldn't be jobs.

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mellotronrules

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#13  Edited By mellotronrules

it certainly isn't useful to me. not to get pretentious, but speaking from a personal perspective:

capital 'M' Meaningisn't derived from time investment- it comes from whether or not the work speaks to me (as vague as that might be). i've gotten more lost in 30-second passages of music than 150min+ double albums.

it's like- all about taking you to a place, man.

i remember back when i was getting into WoW lots of friends exclaimed, '$15/mo. for a game that NEVER ENDS is an insanely good deal!" and yeah, we had some good times. but something like 'gone home' is way more resonant than the 7+ months i had with WoW.

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nutter

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I’m going to buck the trend with a hot take and say “sure, why not?”

It’s just price/time-to-beat. It’s not information that isn’t easily found, so for folks who really want a lot of content that a price sensitive, it’s an okay metric.

Also, high cost per hour isn’t inherently bad. Some games are short and sweet. Others go on far too long.

Is there a larger meta-impact on perception and sales? Maybe. But making it a filterable field you can look at if you’re interested (like local co-op (y/n), HDR (y/n), seems pretty harmless to me, at first blush.

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nutter

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@shivermetimbers: Lots of things should be irrelevant. For me, time is a big factor as I only have so much of it.

When I buy a game, I’m much more concerned about whether I’ll have time for it more than how I’ll justify paying for it. The justifying payment bit only factors in if I waste money on something I’ll never find the time to play.

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dudeglove

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It's not just useless, it's a made up metric to justify something insidious and reeks of the (very bad) old school video game review argument of "hey this game costs 60 dollars, and you get 60 hours of play out of it, that's a dollar an hour!" It's also a gross merging of biz speak with "KPIs".

I put in over 400 hours in the various binding of isaacs. Both copies I bought were, like, two or three dollars at best. The value of a completely bogus "metric" such as this is fatuous, because it assumes all games are the same. Unfortunately, if you're the business figure in a suit, this is precisely the sort of logic you operate on because you do not discern nor do you care for nuance - only that it can sell.

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BabyChooChoo

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#17  Edited By BabyChooChoo
@ares42 said:

I think presenting it as "cost per hour" is a mistake. I do however think "estimated length" is a valuable piece of information to know before buying a game. Not necessarily just to know if you're getting your moneys worth, but because a 5 hour campaign and a 200 hour grindfest are very different experiences. I've often found myself checking howlongtobeat before buying a game to check what kinda time investment I'd be getting myself into. Sometimes you want that 2 hour game, other times you want a month to disappear.

(this is actually one of my primary reasons for spending more time replaying old games these days, just because I know exactly what kinda experience I'll get.)

This. I was going to say exactly this, but in a way that arguably sounded much stupider.

I think the way howlongtobeat presents that information is probably the best case scenario. For those who don't know, it lists the average submitted times for:

  • Main Story - if you just want to critical path your way through
  • Main Story + Extras - Critical path and sidequests
  • Completionist -100%ing the game. Story, sidequests, challenges, achievements, etc.

It also lists rushed and leisure times as well along with some other informative stats. It's a great little website.

Why GMG would choose the route they did instead of partnering with or even imitating HLTB is beyond me. Without any context, directly presenting it as cost per hour benefits longer games by making them seem like a better value regardless of the actual content. HLTB presents you with very straight-forward, factual information and then let's you decide on the cost per hour for yourself which is an infinitely better way to go about it.

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FrodoBaggins

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I will 100% not buy a game at 45 quid if I can't get at least 20 hours out of it.

But to me it's useless because I follow games that closely that I already know how many hours each game is likely to give me.

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someoneproud

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On it's own, not at all. Alongside reviews and other info it could be useful for those who care about longevity and can't/won't do sums. I like it when the games I love have longevity but I wouldn't base a purchasing decision on "cost per hour" alone. Personally I wouldn't buy a 4 hour game for £50, regardless of quality.

I also find HLTB has all the info I need to make a value judgement.

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maxszy

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No. A hard no and a hard pass.

I understand the reasoning behind wanting to make sure you get the most time/value out of something in that regard, but I think reading reviews and learning about the game is going to be best way to get that.

I think a value/hour metric is unfair. Games are so subjective and yes, if you can only buy a couple games, you may want to play longer ones but just based on a $/hour you may be inclined to get a bad experience. Would you love to play a bad game for 45 hours? Or would you rather play a great game that's 15 hours and play it twice? I would definitely go with the latter.

If we are doing a $/hour metric, everyone should just be playing WoW.

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Neurogia

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@crommi: I'm going to have to disagree. Granted, there's no standard way to properly measure such a thing as cost per hourly entertainment, but the metric is an important factor.

Game length is an important factor when prices and content fluctuate wildly across games. Paying $79.99+tax for a game with 10 hours of non-repeatable content is an important thing for a consumer to know.

Whereas, paying $20 for an indie game that lasts for 5 hours is also just as important to know prior to purchase.

Frankly, anything that indicates more information about a game is a good thing.

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Neurogia

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@maxszy: Several games are designed around endless, repeatable gameplay. Including free-to-play games like Fortnite, League of Legends, Smite, Paladins, Path of Exile, Warframe, even several MMOs...plenty of options besides WoW.

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TheHT

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The cost part isn't useful to me (which I guess is the whole point of the thing), but knowing roughly how long a game is is absolutely useful. But for that I just check howlongtobeat.com, typically to get a sense of whether or not I can breeze through a game or if it's gonna be more of an investment.

Trying to marry the two into a rate is a fool's errand imo.

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hatking

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It perpetuates a lot of the sickness in this industry regarding audience entitlement and the reactive tactics publishers force into games to squeeze money out of a thing without making it seem like they're squeezing money out of a thing. Here's my hot take: the weird value the gaming audience put on the hour count is no small part to blame for some of the worst shit in this industry.

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nutter

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@hatking: I’m a Vincent Hanna don’t-waste-my-mf’n-time kinda guy when it comes to entertainment, and I agree.

Too much filler in games. Too much filler on TV. I guess in games, at least, you can often avoid it. I’m not collecting Enzio’s feathers. I LOVED everything about the way Crackdown felt, though, and was happy to platform my way to 500 agility orbs and 300 hidden orbs. I collected all the orbs in Saints Row IV, too.

As long as the filler is optional and there to allow more time with mechanics some percentage of the population loves, cool.

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hatking

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@nutter: Yeah, I've definitely done a few 100% runs of games with far too many collectibles just to give my hands something to do while listening to podcasts. I still think I'd rather play something like Minecraft that is fundamentally a sandbox rather than collect the 300th diary entry I won't read in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

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Rebel_Scum

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There's too many outside parameters to warrant this metric as being of any value to the end user.

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nutter

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@hatking: Oh, man...Rise of the Tomb Raider...

That’s on my replay list.

Funny stiry about that game. I love it. I got EVERYTHING there was to get in that game and loved doing it...except for one treasure that still haunts me...

There’s a physics puzzle you need to complete to get to a treasure about a town. It’s suspended high above a town near a clocktower, or bell, or some such tower. Anyhow, I completed the puzzle and got to the treasure, but I slipped, fell, and died.

When I reloaded the game, the treasure was still suspended high above the town, but the physics objects I needed to navigate, which I believe fell apart as part of the puzzle, never returned to their pre-existinf state...making the chest unreachable.

It was the single last object to buy, collect, etc., in the entire game.

...haunts me to this day...

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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#29  Edited By OpusOfTheMagnum

Not only is it pointless, I have 0 faith in anyone providing a precise enough number for it to matter while also being accurate. Focusing on it as a community will and has led to bad design practices to draw out games and keep you playing for longer.

If money is that tight, maybe focus on other stuff in life.

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Redhotchilimist

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I don't really mind. It's not super useful for judging if a game is worth your money, but it's not bad to know if a game is gonna last you two hours or 80.

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Hamst3r

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What's the cost per hour on a CoolBoy 400-in-1 cart?

Looks like you can get a CoolBoy 400 + 380 bundle on ebay for $12. And there's a Coolboy 400 video on Youtube that's 7 hours 26 minutes...and that's only for games 1 through 132. Surely that's the best bang for your buck.

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soulcake

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CupOfDoom

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#33  Edited By CupOfDoom

There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to know how much "stuff" there is in a game. The problem is that no standard exists for measuring it. Is Assassin's Creed: Origins 30hrs to see credits or 80hrs to do all of side stuff? What about Crusader Kings 2? Or Rocket League? There are also plenty of games where the price per hour metric is useless.

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hatking

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#34  Edited By hatking

@nutter: Bummer dude. I recently got 100% in that game. Enjoyed playing it, but it is loaded with nonsense diary entries and voice recordings that I'll never listen to.

Not to tangent off into Rise of the Tomb Raider critique too much here but, one gripe about that game is some of the side objectives will be like "destroy all of this item in this area." Isn't Lara a preservationist? Why the fuck is she going around these old cities burning flags? Why is she destroying decades old communist posters? What the hell is the implication when she's being rewarded experience for doing this? This is shit she would be bringing to a museum or something, not flinging molotovs at. It's just obvious filler, and to bring it back around to the topic, the exact kind of fluff that exists so these dumb shit hour counts are high enough to justify a purchase.

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notnert427

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I think so, if for nothing other than a little perspective. It is infuriating to read a steam review where someone who spent $60 on a game they put 200+ hours into calls the game a "bad value" or some shit. Uh, how?

I see the pitfalls of this potentially becoming a game design target, as that would lead to padding, but from a consumer perspective, having more information seems like a good thing. Of course, there are exceptions. There are short, great games, and awful games rife with fluff. And then you have games like Destiny out there designed around grinding where the value is determined entirely on how much you enjoy the grind itself.

Ultimately, quality should be prioritized over quantity, but cost-per-hour shouldn't be dismissed, either.

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vortextk

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No Caption Provided

That's right Odie we don't have time to be fooling around! Specifically, this gem of a game could be had for as little as 1$/1.6 hours, and since Jeff hasn't actually beaten the game, the value will only increase. Act now!

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ajamafalous

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#37  Edited By ajamafalous

It absolutely is; people are insane about pushing back against it for whatever reason. It doesn't hurt you that other people come from different financial situations and value things differently than you do.

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FacelessVixen

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I like Spoole's one dollar per hour metric, but that's only something that I think about in hindsight after playing a game for hundreds of hours and remembering how much I spent on said game.

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Onemanarmyy

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HowLongToBeat info would be more useful. 5 hour games aren't worse than 100 hour games, but revealing that info can at least inform the customer about what they can expect.

That said, the idea of buying a game, without knowing quite a bit about it first seems wild to me already :D

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matatat

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#40  Edited By matatat

I don't know why you'd need a relation from money spent to time occupied. How does it help me to know specifically I am pay $0.11 per hour when really I would want to know just how many hours something will take me in general if I was worried about such a thing. Then again, how is this even calculated? Because websites like HowLongToBeat.com show times that I end up being way over usually, because the sample sets vary so widely. Some people blast through games so quickly while others might read slower, have more difficulty, or just explore more.

Oh I forgot, don't they have some monitoring client now? Or scraping Steam for playtimes?

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GenericBrotagonist

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I think it's a completely fair thing to want. People are always talking about how a game doesn't "respect their time", but what about respecting the money you spent? It's just a difference of perspective.

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TopCat88

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I recently played AC: Syndicate as it was free with XBL. I hadn't touched a collectathon game for years (maybe since AC2 which remains (alongside GTAIV) the only game(s) I've ever 100%'d. I didn't enjoy the game too much, and it's removed AC:Origins from my steam wishlist. In part this is because its too damn long. And I didn't even try to collect anything. I ended the (underwhelming) campaign with 54% completion.

Metrics like this at GMG will only further encourage big publishers to pad out games unnecessarily.

The opposite would be The Witness that I finally finished last night (5am :P). That thing was divine and I read on the wiki that J. Blow intended it to be an 8 hour game that ballooned to 25-40 hours. The difference is that this is 40 hours of worthwhile stuff and AC is 40++ hours of bullshit.

GMG's metric can't display this difference so is fundamentally useless to me.

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WrinklyDinosaur

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I used to think about this a bit. I'd see people complain that a campaign was 6 hours long at a $60 price point and just think it was a bit ridiculous claiming that 6 hours was not enough for the cost of the game. I'd always just compare it to a beer in a pub; takes me a maximum of ten minutes to drink and generally goes for anywhere from $5-10AUD. If we judge everything by the amount of time it takes to consume, I'd have to argue that video games are one of the better investments. I had some delicious KFC today for ~$13 which took me all of 5 or so minutes to inhale. Still loved every second if it :D

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TobbRobb

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Most metrics are useful if you know how to use them. In a hypothetical where you have several games you are interested in and a good amount of free time but not a lot of money. Comparing cost per hour will help you decide between the games you are interested in.

That said, floating metrics heavily on the website, especially one that is heavily misapplied all the time is maybe not the best idea. It's pretty easy to tell how this could hurt smaller games trying to get their small share of mainstream purchases.

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whitegreyblack

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I often like to know how long a game is, but I can ascribe my own value to the time spent. The $:time metric is silly and possibly the worst indicator of quality they could have on their store pages.

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GERALTITUDE

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What’s the cost per hour for fighting games, strategy & simulation? Or, uh... minecraft & the sims??

Seems largely useless except maybe for the small number of 100% linear, no sidestuff type games. Even then, so shaky based on difficulty.

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monkeyking1969

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@ I just don't think it works for games. That would be like saying "I saw Black Panther in a theater for $18...BUT Hamilton the musical I saw in a theater cost $500!"

Time that it takes to experience something and the cost per second or minute just does not break down that simply in every case. At the very least it needs to be apples to apples. I think it is possible to say, "Hamilton was not worth $500 for a seat", but does not mean ist wasn't worth $200. I think with games, seeing a museum, or visiting a country there is not a second to second break down.

It is a question of "the whole cost" vs "the whole experience"; and thus each experience is judged on it own whole against itself. Thus you can say "seeing Black Panther was worth it" and you can say "Seeing Hamilton Live on stage was not worth it." But that does not mean one is *better* than the other, nor that Hamilton was not better than Black Panther. It might merely says "Hamilton was not worth $500, but would have been 'well worth it' for less."


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BallsLeon

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My personal cost per hour is important... to me and me only. I could give a fart that 10 people have put 2,000 hrs into Lawbreakers or something like that.

While it's imperfect, and plenty of cases that don't meet this criteria I think it's interesting to see how many purchasers actually got the achievement for beating a game.

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baconandwaffles

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Well, cost per hour is about as useful as a review score. Which is to say, not very useful in a vacuum. If I know the reviewer and know the genre/game style, then a score can be an easy shorthand but I wouldn't use the score solely for a buy/no buy decision. CPH is the same thing. If I know a bit about the game, then I could possibly narrow my choices for purchase if money is a factor but using it as the only metric would not be helpful.

And for the record, I care very little about game scores. I don't really use any hard metrics.

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epic_thunder

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@soulcake: I think @ares42 said it best. It is controversial but to throw it out completely is also somewhat a knee jerk reaction. But like many are comparing it to review scores, it is relative as well. Personally buying a game and playing even if it was disappointing to my expectations is all part of the experience. Makes you appreciate the good games even more so I personally wouldn't look at it and just try the game out