Tobold's Blog
Saturday, November 28, 2009
 
5,000 hours

I installed the AllPlayed addon in WoW yesterday, to get a better overview of all my alts. Although that isn't really a goal of mine, it turned out I'm already one third of the way to the gold cap, I think I need to waste some more money. :) But what struck me more was the realization that I had now /played WoW for over 200 days of online time, 5,000 hours in the game.

That was probably something which I should have mentioned more in my Dragon Age comparative review with World of Warcraft: Even with playing several origins you'll finish Dragon Age in 50 hours, and most people will leave it at this and not play it through again, at least not immediately. It is hard to imagine a single-player game which would entertain you for 5,000 hours.

As a consequence, good MMORPGs are also cheaper than single-player games. Over the years I spent less than $1,000 on WoW, for the game, expansions, and monthly fees. Thus I spent less than $0.20 per hour of World of Warcraft. I would need to play Dragon Age Origins for over 250 hours to get the same value out of it. And DA:O is still a relatively long game, other games are much shorter for the same money.

5,000 hours in business terms is 3 man-years. So if I had played WoW *instead* of working, I would have wasted 3 years of my life, and 3 annual salaries. But fortunately that is not the case, I played those 5,000 hours after work, and on weekends, and didn't even pull all-nighters or similar stunts which would have affected my work performance. Thus I consider those 5,000 hours well spent on something that relaxes me. If I hadn't played WoW, I would have played more other games, watched more TV, and read more, not worked more or earned more money.
Comments:
Wow. The result for Dragon Age is extremely good.

To finish Dragon Age in 50 hours, you have to be fast, leaving out sidequests and skipping dialogue. Remember: if you reload a game to retry a fight or a dialogue, this time isn't counted within the game.

Me and some friends bought it over Steam, which counts the time on its own. To finish the game, trying several origins and three endings - you have a LOT of choices in the last hours of the game -, I needed 90 hours. My friends played between 40 and 60 hours, but none of them is past the landmeet!

You can easily get 80 hours out of DA, I think. So the hour would be three times as expensive as in WoW. Okay for me, because the storytelling is much, much better.
 
Cool, you're halfway there to getting Malcolm Gladwells outliers 10000 hours rule http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outliers_(book)#Synopsis

You're on the path to true greatness!

But seriously... of course. If you'd spent this time doing pretty much any of activity/type of game you'd probably be really, really good at them. If you'd spent this time playing an fps you'd probably be very good at fps's even despite you're self proclaimed ineptitude.

Do you feel that in this time you've become good at wow? In what way?

(and no, I'm not questioning the worth or the time you've spent - I still consider playing a social game like an MMO far more enriching than zoning out in front of the TV like most people I know do)
 
Were those 5000 as fun as the 50 hours in DAO, on average? Or does that include time spent waiting around, hours spent gathering, and other time doing stuff that wasn't really fun just so that you could eventually go do stuff that was?

I like WoW but I don't think a pure hourly comparison is fair. Spending time in a MMO can be like surfing the web, you do lots of random pointless stuff in between the fun. Spending time in DAO, you are probably either playing through the storyline or playing tactical group combat -- every minute is spent actually gaming.
 
Congratulations on the gold! And the hours played too :) I know you've mentioned in the past you were selling scripts, but is that all you're doing to make the gold?

I only make about 5k a week doing dailies and selling a relatively few things on the AH each week. But I'm still around 25k total gold, down from 30k gold because I end up spending a lot of gold for achievements, and for gemming/enchanting upgrades I get through raiding.

What kind of expenses do you have on your characters? Are you making your gold because of aggressive AH'ing and low expenses? Or do you have similar expenses and just make that much through sales?
 
I know you've mentioned in the past you were selling scripts, but is that all you're doing to make the gold?

What kind of expenses do you have on your characters? Are you making your gold because of aggressive AH'ing and low expenses? Or do you have similar expenses and just make that much through sales?


I make gold both with inscription, and with the production of epic gems through alchemy + jewelcrafting. I don't regularly engage in buy-low-sell-high auction house deals, except for having bought 8 or 10 tankards of terror and selling them at twice the price.

I don't have much in regular expenses, as quest rewards etc. more than cover the small repair and transport costs when playing my alts. But I do tend towards spending binges when reaching specific levels: I bought a set of boe epics for my warrior when he hit 80, buy mounts for my alts when they have the level for it, and aggressively buy recipes and materials to powerlevel tradeskills when I have the level for the next skill cap.
 
Agreed that mmorpgs are much better value in terms of hours per euro than single player games but an awful lot of those hours are very low grade entertainment - little more than repetitive time filler. It could be argued that single player Flash games provide a similar quality of entertainment at an even better price (free).

It is very interesting to note that there is a trend among single player games to make them shorter rather than longer but to improve the quality. Call of Duty games are a very good example - their recent offering offerings are as meticulously crafted and as tightly scripted as a Hollywood movie but offer less than 10 hours of single player gaming. I personally balked at paying €50 for the most recent version but I have no doubt that intensity of the gaming experience is superb even if it only lasts for a few hours.

I personally would love to see a similar trend among mmorpgs. I would love to see games that were designed to provide high quality multiplayer gaming for 100 hours or so rather than a never ending drudge. Obviously the subscription model cannot work in this case but Guild Wars episodic content model could.
 
Hitting 250 hours in Dragon Age: Origins is certainly not unreasonable. 4-5 playtrhoughs of retail may be a bit much, but there is modding.
 
You got away cheaply then, Tobold!

For me – or rather, for our household – WoW has meant... new monitor, two new graphics cards, one prematurely replaced computer and a second laptop for the home so that my wife could play too. That probably makes WoW the most expensive game I have ever played :)

Of course, I could argue that all that new hardware would have been bought anyway and that we're getting lots of extra value from it anyway. But deep down inside, do I really believe that?
 
I'd say that of all the games I'd be likely to play, WoW has one of the lowest hardware requirements.
 
That's probably true, but the only other game I've played on the computer the last four or so years is Europa Universalis II, which has a significantly lower req.

On the other hand, WoW is distinctly more demanding of my hardware than Pages. ;)
 
If we're looking at games that got me the highest return on investment, i.e. most hours played ever, I would count:

Rollercoaster Tycoon 1 and 2.
Forza Motorsport 1-2. FM3 is catching up.

X-Wing and Tie Fighter ages ago (and I got REALLY good at those ;) )

WoW.

Lotro.

I doubt I'll ever be as hung up on one game again as both the MMO's. I still do some EvE and AoC on occasion, but... They're not as compelling as WoW or Lotro were. I don't find myself wishing the metro would go faster so I can start playing sooner any more..

I do agree that in money per hour, games do rather well. To be correct though, you should also count the cost of hardware and electricity etc. Seeing how my TV pretty much only serves for the XBox now..
 
Ah, I'm also at about 200 full days. And my account got hacked this week ><. My armory page shows a character with depressingly little gear.

All those wasted hours getting levels, gear and gold, sigh.

As for non mmorpgs. Multiplayer games score heigh. I've spent months with a copy of Age of Empires two or return to castle wolfenstein.

And for single player games? Tycoon games do well. Bundles are also great. The Lucasarts bundle on steam this week offers months of entertainment for less then thirty pounds. Not even an mmorpg will beat that.
 
Imagine what my /played for all MMOs must be after 10 years. No, don't.

Still, most of that time would have been spent watching TV, which I haven't done at all since 1999, so I think I come out ahead...
 
Just a quibble. A man year in business is 2000 hours which would mean 2.5 years and not three. At least that is the defination in the USA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man-hour

Oddly enough for entirely different reasons I was thinking about this topic last night myself. What a strange coincidence.
 
If you don't mind my asking, over how long were those hours spread - have you been playing WoW since the beginning?
 
If you don't mind my asking, over how long were those hours spread - have you been playing WoW since the beginning?

Since before the beginning, technically. :) I started in the beta in September 2004. I've played on the US servers when WoW was released there, but dropped my characters there in favor of restarting on the European servers when those opened up in early 2005. But I haven't been playing all those 5 years, I took several breaks.
 
> It is hard to imagine a single-player game which would entertain you for 5,000 hours.

The Civilization series?
 
I'd say that of all the games I'd be likely to play, WoW has one of the lowest hardware requirements.

I love that about WoW. Client size is one of the first things I check on any new game, and I am always amazed when I see tremendous client sizes like WAR and AION have. Completely unnecessary.
 
Now if you could have found a job you enjoyed, that was casual or work-from-home, and that paid a meagre $10 an hour, those 5,000 hours would look pretty nice in the bank account.

Only I'm not sure I can think of such a job. Anyone got any ideas?
 
If you count hardware, WoW has probably had a negative price for me over the last five years, in the sense that if I hadn't gotten nicely addicted to WoW, I probably would have spent more on hardware upgrades to play other games, than I have spent on my WoW subscription and expansions.
 
The only non-MMO games I can think of that gave me similar value for my money were multiplayer games (Starcraft, Counter-Strike, Warcraft III), and Neverwinter Nights. In other words, games that make it easy and enjoyable to play with others, and/or games that have immense flexibility in their customizability (like good map/world editors).
 
When you look at MMORPGs that way, they are definitely very good value for money.

I constantly argue with my colleagues at work who refuse to pay a monthly subscription out of principle yet happily spend a fortune on, say, going to the cinema.
 
Oh man, not the myth of cheap entertainment again!?

Take two games, and say you rate total fun had from start to finish of the game via a points system. Say both games give you 500 points of fun, but one takes 10 hours and the other takes 20 hours.

The myth arrises because everyone thinks the 20 hour game is greater, which is BS!!! It only gives 500 points of fun. The 10 hour game is actually superior, because it gives the same fun in a shorter time span.

I've written about this on my blog
http://philosophergamer.blogspot.com/2009/11/mmorpgs-myth-of-cheap-entertainment.html

And it's longer version
http://philosophergamer.blogspot.com/2009/10/mmorpgs-myth-of-cheap-entertainment.html
 
And it was the 'we fly spitfires' blog that first prompted me to write those articles on the myth of mmorpgs being cheap entertainment.
 
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