Poll Question 086 – Are PC games good value?

8th June 2008

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Disposable income is in short supply for most of us and I have recently been comparing the price I pay for things. SO this week’s poll question is…

Are PC games good value?

The Background

When making these types of comparisons it’s hard to choose the right things. In this case I tried to compare things that would compete with my time and money in the same way.

However, what really got me started on this value question was going to a fast food outlet. Whilst I love this type of food I generally only eat it once or twice a year. Anyway I went to one of these restaurants and ordered a takeaway chicken burger, fries and a drink. I can’t remember the exact price because I was still in shock but it was around 7 Euros. Having fumbled my money across the counter and stuttered Ttthnak you, I sat down outside to consume my caviar-priced delicacy.

Being a little hungry it was gone with 4 minutes. FOUR MINUTES!! That’s nearly 2 Euros a minute. More expensive than one of those sex phone lines. Cough, cough, so I am told. So, here began my constant comparison between my chicken burger meal and everything else I encountered. When living abroad many people initially make a mental exchange for the currency back into the native currency to decide if something is good value, I started doing it with chicken burger meals!

One last point, your location is very important in these comparisons, so your equivalent may be significantly different from mine.

Movies

I haven’t been to the movies for a LONG time. Partly because I’m too lazy and partly because most of the films I’ve seen have been disappointing. It’s probably a case of me getting old, but that doesn’t stop me from watching them if they are on TV. My local cinema charges around 5 Euros for a film. Quite expensive per hour compared to games but much better value compared to a chicken burger. Having said that many people I know also go to the multiplex and have dinner out at the same time, along with popcorn and drinks the night becomes a lot more expensive. Of course it’s turned from a direct comparison to something else. A night out with friends or loved ones is very different from sitting at home playing games. 90 minutes for 5 Euros.

Books

This is the winner hands down. Most of my books are bought second hand but even new hardback books give me many, many hours of pleasure. Not to mention the fact I can lend and borrow books with my friends. There are no other costs involved and I can read them almost anyway. I better stop now before I convince myself to sell my PC and games and buy books with the cash! ~20 hours for 16 Euros. (For a new hardback)

DVDs

Well, rental can be good value and sometimes even buying the DVDs is cheap. But for some reason there’s something that makes me think it’s not as clear as it seems. I can rent a new DVD movie for around 4 Euros. Just less than the price of seeing the movie in a cinema. Of course I can stop the movie to have a pee or get something to east but that big screen is so much better. 90 minutes for 4 Euros.

Any Others?

I could have added TV but that doesn’t seem far because that’s just soooo cheap. OF course most of the stuff is absolute rubbish but how do you quantify quality in this case?

What about other comparisons? Maybe music but since most people listen to music whilst doing other things that didn’t seem a fair comparison either, especially since you may listen to a piece of music hundreds of times.

Can you thing of other comparisons I should have used?

Conclusion

It’s hard not to conclude that PC games are pretty good value but one thing I haven’t mentioned is the cost of the PC itself and its running costs. Having a huge power supply and electricity draining video card must cost something, especially as the price of electricity is getting higher and higher.

Valve’s games stand out as being excellent value, as this page demonstrates. Other publishers’ newer games seem a little steep to me. In my local hypermarket Crysis and Bioshock are still priced at 50 Euros, the same price as the Orange Box. Even Timeshift is 50 Euros.

There’s no doubt the games are getting better as the price increases but there’s no way I’m paying 50 Euros for a game, even Half-Life 2: Episode 3. It’s a little worrying to think that there’s a possibility of games not being made because the price they would have to sell them for is beyond most players acceptable range.

The Poll

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10 Comments

  1. andyb

    I picked yes.ok just because only some are.Valve has proven that the games are replayable and you can get many years of enjoyment from them and the mod community.However games like crisys,stalker etc will probably never see another day on my pc.Far Cry is about to get reinstalled thou for the tenth time so I give kudo’s to them too.

    Phone sex here can be had for $3.99 so I’ve been told :p

    As for the cost of a pc well…That comes down to alot of things.Do you do other work on it?Book keeping?Pay bills?Kids homework?etc etc. It all comes down to if you use it why not use it to full potential and get some ejoyment for a few years.

  2. Senator33

    Agreed with the above comment with one caveat……IF the modding community responds with lots of hard work and free maps, such as in the HL series. Thank goodness for all these hard-working folks!

    There have been several games that have few SP mods and maps written for them, which has diminished the original game’s value to me greatly. How many times can I play the original? Boring.

    This of course is limited to SP. If you are into MP, there may be a significant enhancement to “value”.

    BTW, just bought Crysis at Best Buy for $50. Also downloaded about a dozen user maps and put them in the “bank” for later enjoyment.

  3. Sabre

    I depends greatly on how long you are willing to wait, shopping around ect. For example, most new games here (in the UK) go for £35 to £60, but most are around the £40 mark. Give it a couplke of weeks, and the prices drop like you wouldn’t believe. Some of the bargains I’ve had include-

    Resident Evil GamdCube for under a fiver.
    Supreme Commander and FA add on for £10. Normally £40 and £20 respectfully.
    and my most recent, a Xbox 1, with 8 games for £50.

    With extra games being £2-£4 pounds, you can get alot for very little when it comes to last gen gear. My 6800GT card cost me $40 when I got it. While most new games (CoD4 and up) will play on min/mid settings, most older games I can play maxed out with great framerates. So it depends on if you wait and shop around in my opinion.

    On a related note. People are currently moaning about petrol prices, but if you take the fuel price before tax, it’s cheaper then orange juice.

  4. fragmaster

    Im Canadain but still we have taxes that make us choose before we spend sometimes incase of food we do go the cheap fast food route or even the fresh food route.
    An Apple or Banana is about 50 to 75 cents or 50 or 75 pennys for 2 minutes or 5 to enjoy what your eating.

    I buy atleast 1 pc game a month or like the orange box (triple-pak) for around 50 to 70 dollars im guessing Euros are dollars. A bargin Bin copy for around 10 to 30 dollars/Euros.

    Dvds are around 10 to 100 $$ & come as Singles , Boxsets , Complete Series.

    Music I buy 1 cd a year usually a greatest hits because it has a huge track selection.

    Movies I go on a cheap day for 4 dollars & 20 pennys just the ticket.

    Other stuff well its not needed.

    How are you spending your time well I do day by day

  5. i voted “depends”.

    i, like many objected the high price of pc games until I made a similar comparison a few years back. my findings were also similar so I wont repeat this. books first, dvd second, games and movie just after them. I dont think that food can compared here, first its a necessity not pleausre, second if it is pleasure you pay extra. you could have bought a pair of rolls for half-1 euro I guess but chose enjoyment to mere sustenace.
    in case of games just like dvds or books I always look for bargain: high value with good price. I never buy new games or dvd hits. im patient and theres so much that I didnt have time for from the last few years that theres always what to watch/play, I also buy dvds and games that I can watch/play many times/for a long time.
    in books I like terry pratchet eg, and although I know the story after the first reading I reread his books many times only for the laugh.
    i have a dvd collection of about 200 discs and I regretted buying only a few: most of the time I knew exactly what I was spending my money on.
    i collected cds in the past but I listen very rarely to them anyway, and they are in my opinion daylight robbery.
    games are different to these, there a few factors that can give that extra value that you are looking for:
    -replay value
    a relatively simple way to make an fps game a bit more attractive by giving some choices in the game that influence playing the game to some degree and also the ending (dark messiah). this goal is not achieved if there are too few extra features with a replay, if theres a lot, it means much extra work, production time and cost.
    with crpgs replay value is traditionally high, the abundancy of races, classes, subclasses, attributes, alignments etc. ensure long gaming hours of these games (fallout, morrowind).
    for rts games the situation is similar to fps (tps) games: there must be a very attractive single player part to make it a hit (graphics, story, voice acting etc) and/OR a very compelling multiplayer part.
    adventure games regrettably have a very low replay value, although nowadays they are also frequently spiced up with alternate endings.
    -multiplayer:
    in the era of cheap and fast internet it seems that most creators think that mp is compulsory. we see a lot of games with great sp and forgettable mp mode (deus ex) and vice-versa, games that seem to be born mp but the developer/publisher just has to force a poor sp part into it (dawn of war). anyway, a good and well established, popular multiplayer mode can sell a lot of copies (diablo).
    -modding:
    if necessary tools a good engine and documentation are provided, a lot of enthusiasts work on mods from new models and skins through extra levels to total conversions. it is not necessary to emphasize the significance of this to the added value of a game. the best examples are of course the half-life games.

    some thoughts about individual games here
    half life1: I havent played this one until a few years back although I had it for counter-strike. it was a 3 years game then, for about 12usd, it was about 7 years old when I played and enjoyed it. count in the mods: well worth it.
    half life2: I bought 3 years ago (collectors edition) but played it only this winter for the first time. the package had all hl1 games + hl1:s + counter strike:source, cost about 125usd, was worth its price, but not because of hl2. I enjoyed it somewhat , it had some great ideas but the environment was so dull and nowadays im so easily bored – then I played the so much undervalued dark messiah and could not understand why got hl2 so much praise compared to this one for example… what is invaluable in hl2 is the opportunity to run mods which are sometimes so much better than the original.
    counter-strike(:source): I bought both hls for these, I never played professiaonally but there were times in the last 7 and half years when I spent a LOT of times with these. the best money spent on games. ever.
    gorky 17: I just want this to be here as a bad example, I bought it for a few bucks but is worth even less. I played it for about an hour.
    deus ex1-2: I love these games replay them every 1-2 years and cant get bored. 20 bucks was a good price.
    sin emergence: I loved the original, which was included in the package. if it hadnt been, I wouldnt have bought the new one, maybe for 5 bucks 8).
    orange box: I had fun on the tf2 open weekend + I didnt have ep1-2, thought maybe id like portal too, for a change I had some extra cash so what the heck I bought it for 40. played tf2 for a few hours, neither of the episoder nor portal. so far it isnt a good investment but I will play all these if I find the time. of course orange box will be cheaper by then, so I should have waited.
    morrowind+expansions: I got these from my brother for christmas and I spent a lot of time with these. if youre not mmoging, these games (and oblivion and stalker) offer the most freedom and immersion you can get. the best money my brother ever spent 8).

    always come some good games with magazines, 2-4 years old, these may also offer good value but I hate that they dont print the game on its own disc its together with a lot of garbage on the cd/dvd so I stopped buying these.

    bottom line: I would never, ever, ever pay 40-50usd for one new game, no matter how anticipated, shining, vacuum-cleaning, garbage outtaking, flower watering it is. if it is REALLY good, ill buy it after a year or two.

    now, this is really long, sorry, but this is a most interesting topic, so I give you something to read 8).

  6. Hoyy

    A night out with friends or loved ones is very different from sitting at home playing games. 90 minutes for 5 Euros.

    Who can say the family or bf/gf warm is better than anything, eh?

    OF course most of the stuff is absolute rubbish but how do you quantify quality in this case?

    HAHAHAHA!!

    Phillip my friend, games trully are fun for the price, specially Valve, and as you say, the books can be of value too, both brings you to like an other dimension.

  7. Memobot

    I live in the UK, where everything seems to be more expensive and is released after the US and mainland Europe.
    It probably doesn’t help that I live in South Eastern England either, as it’s the more expensive part.
    Yet still I maintain that PC games are one of the things that are the better value for money. Browse this site. ENDLESS CUSTOMISATION! Updates, fixes, improvements etc.
    The list goes on. It’s just that if you leave the UK, PC games are better value for money.
    Why would anyone pay £69.99 (price of COD4 in a local GAME) when it’s going to be £30 MAX on PC?
    You can argue that a console is designed for games, and upgrades are at a minimum, but the small tweaks made to a PC make it’s games much more worthwhile.

  8. Ol" Scratch

    I voted “not really”, because outside of HL1 and 2 and DOOM3, I haven’t bought a retail copy of games in years. I’ve hesitated in getting Ep2 because the only real “value” way to get it is through the Orange Box, and it’s still expensive. I won’t download it because my satellite connection just flat won’t let me–350MB limit per day, and some severe throttling on big downloads just makes a 3+ gig Dl impossible.

    Most of the games I get are from Half Price Books, for less than $10 in most cases, which leads to some disappointment (Pariah, so far, isn’t as good a game as I hoped; AvP2 is decent, tho), but that’s the cheapest way to get some games (I got Far Cry that way, for about $5, but it pissed me off bigtime).

    I think we’re at a point where the gaming industry needs to either make games that reflect the value of that $50 bill (larger levels, more detail, better gameplay, better involvement, more levels, expandability, moddability, etc.), or dial them down some and put a cheaper price point on them that makes them easier to swallow.

  9. they’ve been good value since I started playing them, but I rarely ever buy new or full price for anything.

  10. All you need to do is look at nintendo.. Almost every year they come out with a new box that require you to buy the new cartridge so you keep having to rebuy the same games over and over..That is pure BULLSH T

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