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Steam Power (Overwhelming)!

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The sheer volume of games I've accumulated on Steam (and other lesser platforms) over the past few years is staggering and there's no end in sight to the growth of this tumorous collection. Inspired by a fascinating post on, I decided to take a tally of my Steam and bundle purchases over the last few years to get a real sense of what I typically spend on games and more importantly, how much (or more likely how little) time I actually invest in the majority of those purchases.

The result is this ugly but informative spreadsheet:

I should briefly note that I only included games in that list for which I had actual receipts/cost information, and also only for games which I paid for directly, so gifted games or those in my Steam library or elsewhere that I've lost my transaction records for are not included. In total, this excludes about 20 games of my Steam library from the calculations, but overall it's still a good indicator.

Now before I analyze the results, I should briefly mention my expectations. First and foremost, I expected to find a great portion of the games in my library that I purchased to be simply never played. Second, I further expected another large portion of games to have been played, but only for the briefest period (30 minutes maybe).

Beyond those basic notions, I didn't know what to expect but ultimately wanted to find out what I'd spent on Steam purchases/single purchases compared to bundles (which I'm a big sucker for), and what sort of hourly rate I was technically getting out of these games, again comparing the Steam vs bundle purchases.

Looking through the Totals worksheet gives a good overview of the data, but I'll highlight a few interesting points.

My total Steam games (which includes standalone game purchases outside of Steam as well) came to 78 games compared to 74 games acquired from bundles, so remarkably close quantities form both sources. In total, this is a cost of $1241 for Steam/single-release games, compared to a mere $64.92 for bundled purchases. However, the staggering difference, while expected, is still quite massive: The average paid price for Steam/release games compared to bundled games.

Thus far I've paid $15.91 on average for single-release/Steam games, compared to a mere 88 cents per game for the bundled-release offerings.

However, the flip side is the actual play time in each category, which is again not too surprising but interesting nonetheless. I've spent 929 hours on Steam/single-release games compared to just 152 hours on bundled games, putting the average play time for a Steam game at 11.92 hours compared to a mere 2.05 hours for bundled games. This particular statistic makes sense from my own perspective, as typically I purchase single-release games on Steam when I know or suspect I'll enjoy each and every game I buy, whereas the bundle purchases are often simply to get a good deal with little to no concern for the actual games within. Typically if a bundle is only going to cost me a buck or two I'll happily buy it just for the chance of being drawn in by a single game in the pack.

Alright, so knowing that on average I spend nearly 6 times as much playtime in single-release/Steam games as those from bundles, what should the average hourly rate be for each game type then? Interestingly, the hourly rate for playing a single-release/Steam game is $1.34 compared to $0.43 for a bundle game on average, so the difference in cost per hour is closer to 3 times or half that of the actual play time.

It could, therefore, be feasibly argued that the factor of enjoyment per dollar, if such a thing were measurable, could be in favor of the Steam/single-release titles. For me at least, the trend seems to indicate that while bundle games are certainly monumentally cheaper and significantly less expensive on an hourly-rate basis to play all told, the discrepancy between the play time and actual hourly rate of the two categories shows that in spite of the higher costs, I'm often finding more games worth a much higher quantity of my time within the Steam/single-release category.

A few more interesting tidbits of these Steam vs. bundle purchases are the highs and lows of my history. For example, the Most Disappointing Purchase Award (in terms of hourly rate) in my library goes to the much-beloved Fallout 3, which was a $54.49 purchase on release and has tallied up a grand total of 0.9 hours of my precious time, for an hourly rate of $60.54. Yes, I realize this is an insanely popular and loved title, but I've tried multiple times to get into it and it just never clicked. Dunno why. SimCity (the new release) gets a nod as well, since although it did get 5.5 hours out of me for an hourly rate of $11.80, we all know the debacle that release was and it's a shame how disappointing it was compared to my expectations.

The award for Best Value has to go to Jamestown, which at the cost of 46 cents, enthralled me for 12 hours putting it effectively around 4 cents per hour! Other honorable mentions in this category should be listed briefly, as all these games were a bargain and have been tons of fun:

Terraria: $10.81 - 51.18 hours @ $0.21/hour
Dungeon Defenders: $10.95 - 74 hours @ $0.15/hour
Defense Grid: $2.81 - 21.32 hours @ $0.13/hour
Super Meat Boy: $2.81 - 31.41 hours @ $0.09/hour
Darksiders: $0.79 - 8.9 hours @ $0.05/hour

Finally, since this is a World of Warcraft website and I'm a long-time player, I thought it would be interesting to figure out what sort of costs I've invested into WoW over the years as well, and how it stacks up to these Steam and bundle games as well.

For the calculations, I totaled up my /played time across all my characters on Hyjal (620.3 days), as I don't have enough playtime elsewhere to make any noticeable difference. For the costs, I included just the costs for all releases/expansions at full price (when I always bought them) as well as the subscription fees for the 3135 days (at present) I've been playing.

All told, it has cost me approximately $1,870 to play WoW all this time (I excluded the few random charges here and there for an extra account or name change or what not, as again the difference would be minor). With the total time /played however, this ultimately comes out to an hourly rate for WoW of $0.13. I always knew this hobby was pretty inexpensive, but it's incredibly staggering just how inexpensive it really is when you get down to brass tacks.

Ultimately, this little project hasn't dramatically changed my views on my games or my buying habits, but I am certainly more self-aware of them moving forward. I suspect if there is any personal impact, it will be to actually purchase fewer bundles, in spite of the fantastic apparent deal when I can spend $1 for four or five games, since with few exceptions, the trend seems to be that I know my personal tastes and unless I've purposely avoided a single-release purchase for some reason (such as saving money or waiting for a bundle-release version), I'm unlikely to play a bundled game much at all. Conversely, outside of a few foolish purchases (many of which were peer pressure to buy things on release for full price to play with a friend), the majority of the on-release/Steam games I purchase I tend to put in more time and seemingly, get more enjoyment out of.


  1. Dougall's Avatar
    Any time spent gaming with Kull is priceless if you ask me! <3 <3 <3


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