If you’re looking to get the best value for your gaming money, capturing monsters is the way to do it. A new study analyzed 150 of the most popular games over the past two decades and put together a list that revealed the most play time per dollar and there are some interesting conclusions to draw.
Namely, it seems that hunting monsters tends to take a while.
Forward2Me’s study analyzed games from multiple generations of consoles, both home and portable, as well as PC, and put together a report on games that give you the most play time for your money. It focused on single player titles since multiplayer games are difficult to accurately quantify, but the overall picture is one that’s dominated by monster-related games, both full and pocket sized.
In the top ten best value video games of all time, the study recommends six Pokémon games. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire on the original Game Boy Advance cost just £20 ($26) when released to Western markets in 2003. And get this — the average time needed to 100 percent the game is 231 hours.
231 hours! That’s more than a full week of gameplay. You have to wonder if crossover games like Pokémon Let’s Go, might end up offering even more.
To give some context, a fellow top-ten candidate, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, had an average time of 225 hours, but its launch price was much higher at £50 ($65).
Other Pokémon games make up the bulk of the best value video games include Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, Pokémon Gold and Silver, Pokémon X and Y, and Pokémon Black and White. They’re joined by the likes of Monster Hunter: World, which has an average completion time of 279 hours, but cost £60 ($78) at launch, and Final Fantasy X, which takes an average 155 hours to complete but at a price of £67 ($77).
Of course, most people don’t try to 100 percent complete a game. Even so, Pokémon games continue to rule as the field is narrowed to examining a game’s main story. The only change to the top 10 is the addition of a few extra Final Fantasy titles — VIII, X, and XI specifically — as well as a couple of Dark Souls games, and the first Witcher.
Retro Mario games and modern shooters are among the worst value
If you’re curious about the most expensive way you can spend your gaming dollars, the report has a break down for that, too. The absolute worst value game highlighted is the 1989 release of Super Mario Land for the Game Boy, and the original Sonic the Hedgehog for the Genesis. They would have cost you £20 ($26) when released, and yet they took on average of just two hours to finish. That’s almost $15 an hour — and that’s before we’ve accounted for inflation!
Other notable games that are the worst value for your money include Call of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4, and the original Halo: Combat Evolved.
If we zoom in on the platforms that these games are on, though, a surprising result appears. Nintendo has the best and worst value titles. Its original NES, Game Boy, and the Nintendo 64 not only featured relatively short games to complete, but they were also expensive for their time. Conversely, the 3DS, Switch, DS, and Wii U offer some of the best value gaming possible, with long games and relatively-low price tags.
Amazingly, Xbox and PlayStation platforms come within just a couple of pennies of one another in terms of cost per hour of playtime. Perhaps if they focused more on fighting and capturing monsters, Microsoft and Sony could bump up their numbers.
Limited, but interesting
There are admitted blind spots in the study due to its limited scope, which didn’t look at multiplayer titles. It also focused on the most popular games, so I know it’s missing my favorite 400+ hour games, Mount and Blade: Warband and Kerbal Space Program. Still, it’s interesting to see how some of the industry heavyweights stack up against one another.