Pricing games by length

April 15, 2009

The Bottom Feeder is a great new blog by indie game developer Jeff Vogel. In his otherwise great article about how to price games, he makes one terrible misstep:

Braid lasts about 6 hours, or about $2.50 an hour. A little on the pricey side, but the game gets away with it by being so fun. Our newest game, Geneforge 5: Overthrow, lasts about 30 hours, or less than a buck an hour.

Games’ value is not based on length! This sort of thinking may be appealing to children or the unemployed, but most people don’t have a quota of game playing hours that must be filled. Instead, games need to be priced on how much enjoyment they provide. I had as much fun playing the four-hour game Portal as I did playing the open-ended game Burnout. I played Burnout for longer, but they were worth the same amount (maybe $25) because they had the same amount of total enjoyment. A game that spread that amount of fun over 100 hours would actually be worth much less, since I would never finish it.

© Allen Pike. See also Twitter and Steamclock.