The Value of Dungeons and Dragons

I’m going to give Wizards’ a lot of love here, just to counter-balance the (valid) criticisms around the blogosphere about their p-poor forays into software and online initiatives (they should stop. Just…. stop). Here it comes: D&D is one of THE BEST VALUE hobbies around. Thank you, Wizards of the Coast.

I can prove it too, using the Magic of Numbers.

Y’see, if we divide the number of hours we spend doing a thing by the amount we’ve spent, we get a Number. The higher the Number, the higher it’s Value. If I spend a dollar on a comic and spend an hour reading it, it’s value is 1. Spend twenty dollars on a DVD that I only watch a few times (5 hours, say) and it’s value is 0.25.

(Incidentally, this is Why Movie Piracy Happens – the Value Ratio is far too low, so people set their own price point. Economics 101, something ignored by movie studios in much the same way that tobacco companies ignored health issues for decades).

Good computer games can be pretty good Value – if that £30 game keeps me playing for 100 hours that’s a Value of 3 and a third. If it’s a poor game I play once (2 hours, say) then it spends the rest of it’s days on the shelf then it’s Value is only 0.06: very bad Value!

(That’s one reason Game Piracy happens – the Value depends too much on how often you play. Casual gamers play less, and are therefore more likely to copy games to get a decent Value Ratio (though they don’t know that’s what they’re doing). Hardcore gamers are more likely to buy, because they’ll get Value anyhow).

On to D&D. £60 for the three 4e D&D Core Books gets me….. uhhhh……. let’s say 10 hours per week for 4 years – that’s 2,080 hours’ enjoyment, and a Value of 34.6! The more I play D&D, think about D&D, blog about D&D or prep games, the higher the Value too. Add in the excellent free (so far) content that Wizards’ is chucking out and the Value of this game just keeps getting higher and higher. Way to go, guys!

(‘course, replace D&D with Warhammer, GURPS, M&M or whatever – it’s all good Value!) :D.

To recap:

DVD: 0.25
Comic: 1
Good computer game: 3.33
D&D: 34.6 and rising

And that’s just me – the multiply the Value of D&D by the number of players ’round your table, and you’ll see that role-playing games are one of THE BEST VALUE hobbies there is!

We’ve got the Numbers to prove it.

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14 Comments on “The Value of Dungeons and Dragons”

  1. But also now you “need” – not mandatory but, like any hobby, considered de rigeur for serious hobbyists – the other supplements, and minis, and D&DI, and other stuff. I’m pretty sure most folks don’t just buy the three core books and that’s it for a year. Sure, you *can* do that – but you can also buy one DVD and obsessively watch it 1000 times. Not unheard of, but not the base case. People in my gaming group range from “Three cores plus a spread of Completes” to “Everything ever made and crates of minis”.

    Let’s run the numbers again. I play about 6 hours once every two weeks. I buy the core books for $100. Then, being a loyal Wizards drone, I subscribe to D&D Insider – we’ll call that $7 but they’ll be raising that. I buy one supplement a month (by no means all of them), for $30. I buy one minis pack a month for $15 (it’ll take me a while to get a good collection up at that rate). I think this is a reasonable depiction of the average D&D player’s buying habits – averaging those who buy less with those who obsessively buy everything (luckily this tends to average out over a gaming group).

    Over a one year increment (since I’ll of course be buying PHB2/DMG2/MM2 in a year), that’s $60/month for about 12 hours/month, or a value prop of .2. Of course there’s enjoyment time not spent playing, the reading of the new supplement, etc – let’s double it to .4. Which is OK but not a bargain.

    Also, the D&D value prop is falling behind that of other RPGs. Few other games have ever had the stones to require three core books – one is by far the norm in RPGs. Now, you can certainly say you get “more” enjoyment out of an hour of D&D because of the minis and D&DI and all that – but that’s not part of your value prop calculation, and leads to another discussion.

    mxyzplks last blog post..RPG Bloggers Network – One Week Old, Already Better Than Gleemax

  2. All very true! It’s easy to get pulled into throwing more money at the hobby, and the key is to find the right balance and find a Value point that’s right for you.

    If it were me, I’d say that you’re not getting good Value out of the hobby if it’s costing $60/month for around 24 hours of game per month; some folks could be happy with that, but not me. I prefer better value for money.

    ‘Course, I’ll buy new books (and PDFs) – but it’s always worth working out whether you’ll get Value out of them. Sometimes it’s a yes (3e’s Tome of Magic), sometimes no (MMII). It’s hard to tell until you’ve handed over the cash………

  3. Oh, and I 100% agree about D&D needing to be a one book system. I’ll save that for another time though :)

  4. Given that we’re talking book, and assuming that most RPG gamers actually like to read books, I think you need to factor in your reading time into the value equation. Yes, you might only end up playing the game 12 hours a month, but at one supplement and an Insider subscription a month, you might be looking at an equal amount of time spent reading (I’m not exactly sure how long it takes me to read a supplement, but that’s probably an OK guess). The value goes up as a GM, since you’re going to be actively using those books quite a lot outside of actual play.

    Which isn’t to say that other RPGs might not represent a better value, if played regularly (I’m thinking in particular of Savage Worlds, with it’s $10 core rule book).

  5. This is hillarious!

    Now I’ve got something against the PC-tards that tell me NVM is a better game than D&D.

    On a serious note, while the amount of gaming time is looking to remain static and the amount of products is going to keep on increasing throughout the edition, wouldn’t it depreciate the value?

    Questing GMs last blog post..Forgetting the Realms? Part 1

  6. @Questing GM. That depends; if buying that book extends the longevity of the game (meaning you play for 5 years instead of 4, say), then it’s good Value too.

    Looking at it another way, your Value from the Core Books is fixed – you’re going to play anyway. The Value from any other books you buy stands on it’s own; if you buy a $30 supplement that gets read and used a total of 15 hours, it’s own Value is 0.5 – not so good. On the other hand, a product like Ptolus at $100 (ish) might give out 200 hours of entertainment (reading and as part of your RPG sessions – yes, you can get Value from several things at the same time), so Ptolus is a solid 2.

    Food for thought, anyhow.

    Thanks, all!

  7. @Tommis, that sound about right to me :)

    Alternatively, just set a nominal price (say, 10 cents) and work from there. This means if a free download gets you an hours’ entertainment, it’s Value is 10 – excellent Value for Money, but not infinite.

    If the free stuff is good, it’s better Value than paying for the same thing, after all.

  8. Yeah, but D&D piracy is a better bang per megabyte. Pirating a song? You’re getting $1-$2 of value for 6 or 7 megabytes. Pirating a movie? You’re getting $12-$25 for 9 GB (assuming you get the uncompressed DVD.) Pirating D&D books? You’re getting a $50 value for somewhere between 7MB (on a good OCR scan) to 100MB (on a bad optical scan). It’s all about what to do with my bandwidth…the 6 to 7 gigabytes of PDFs I have represent a lot of money if I had to buy them…

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