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The Cost and Times

Budgets. A nasty but needed word in the gaming industry. Almost every game, with few exceptions, are constrained by a budget. Oftentimes a video game is cut short, or lacks something because of these budgets (Or is pushed out by the publisher/parent company we spoke about a few articles ago.) Can you guess what the average Triple-A (Big games, think Madden, Last of Us, God of War, etc) costs? Gaming developers are on record reporting that the average blockbuster costs about 60 million dollars. A lot of the bigger games such as God of War, cost an estimated 100 million dollars to create.

Putting that into perspective – Avengers: Infinity War cost an estimated 316 – 400 million dollars in budget. The most expensive movie of all time is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides at 410 million. In Television let’s look at Game of Thrones – each episode is estimated at around 10 million – with the final episodes clocking in at 15 million a piece.

As we get deeper into gaming, the worlds get bigger, the stories vast – but not all games do this. Some have constrained budgets, indie developers, or a leadership team that can’t get the game out of the door. What budgets do is keep things in perspective, and keep everyone focused. A game developer could go on forever and never release their game if it wasn’t for them. Usually though, the budget eats into story pieces, mode types, characters cut completely from the game due to development times (another constraint), and other cut content. That leads to DLC (Downloadable content, most of the time this is paid for outside of the original cost of them game.) – oftentimes you’ll see people who dig through games, find DLC content on the disc before it’s released. Most often this is due to the team meeting their budget and finishing the game, but also continuing to work on a different budget for downloadable content (don’t get me wrong I know there are developers out there who have been caught just cutting sections of their game out to charge for it on an online store after release).

So what does this all mean added together? Games are getting expensive. Their budgets are climbing, just like movies – but movies cost almost quadruple what a video game does. Gaming is gated by the purchase of a console or PC to partake in playing it, while movies are easily accessible through a theater. Theater tickets are skyrocketing, and video games are staying, for the most part, a steady $59.99 base price – but it’s almost impossible not to find a brand new game at 10% off through various retailers.

A PS4 for instance, as a cost of entry, is a big investment, but so is a television. Each game you buy, the value of the PS4 increases in regards to your time investment. What does that mean? Time is the most valuable resource of your life. Each second is precious, it is finite, and you should always see it as currency of your life, because that is exactly what it is. The job you work, the games you play, the movies you watch, the Facebooks you read, the Tweets you send, all take time as a currency from you – and you seek value from that said outlet.

Let’s get grim for a moment – time is going to run out for you. How you spend your time is up to you, and your morals, but you should always get the most out of it that you can. The value of the almighty dollar is integral to the investment in time you put into something. I think gaming is one of the most bangs for your buck, and in return you get hours of content that you can consume for a very small amount of money. The quality of that content is very important, because each minute you spend playing or consuming content, you are giving them your precious resource of time in return.

Let’s lump this all together for a moment, and maybe you can really see what I’m talking about here. If I wanted to go watch ‘Venom’ in theaters – Where I live one ticket to see this movie is $12.00 with tax. That’s crazy. Venom’s running time is 112 minutes. I’m paying almost .11 a minute to watch this movie.. You’re probably thinking, wow that’s absolutely cheap TBG, why are you even complaining. Let’s look at the value of gaming. A game like The Witcher 3, that does have a definite end, it is clocked in at 49.5 hours just doing the main story, and 103 hours doing most of the side content.  Did you just read that? If you bought The Witcher 3 on release you would have paid 59.99 for it. Let’s break it down: 49.5 hours is 2,970 minutes. That’s .02 a minute. You want to take it to the next level? 103 hours with all the side content is 6,180 minutes. That’s less than a penny per minute of content.

You want to get even crazier? Let’s take the purchase price of a PS4 and add it to the purchase price of the game. If we take the lowest cost of entry – the basic 1 terabyte PS4 at $299.99 and add it to the original release dated cost of the of The Witcher 3 at $59.99, you get $359.98. I am no math guy, so for the sake of simplicity let’s bump that to $380 with tax. It might be more or less, but I’ll keep it simple. For 49.5 hours that’s a cost of .13 a minute! At 103 hours that’s .06 a minute! If you buy a second game the cost of the PS4 halves in value to your purchase because you already have it! Example: If I bought God of War, the cost of the PS4 is now about $150 to you. Add the game and tax you’re looking at $230.. ish (I hate tax and math.) Your time value is now about .08 a minute for 49.5 hours, or .04 a minute at 103 hours. WOW!

Venom cost 100 million to make. The Witcher 3 cost 81 million to make. These numbers are obviously rounded and estimated. At the surface, it feels like you’re getting good value for a movie, but gaming is almost 10 times more valuable. There are games out there that never end, with infinite content, that cost nothing past the purchase price, you can’t put a value on that.

The problem is we sell a whole hell of a lot more movie tickets (then blu-rays/dvds)  than video games, so the return for the theaters is much larger, so they pump more budget into the movie. Pay closer attention to your purchases, look at what value you’re getting out of it.



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