Financial outlet Bloomberg put out a report calculating the (monetary) cost of being a gamer. I specify that the article (well it is really a gallery with captions, but I’ll let that slide) and my response will focus on the monetary aspect of the hobby simply because delving into the full economic cost/benefit analysis is beyond the purview of this post.

With that said, everything about this article is fucked. Perhaps if it was written within the bylines of “Hey Fortune 500 CEO! Does your kid like video games? Do you have an unlimited budget? Well here is what to buy to make everyone think that you are a gamer!” it would be more forgivable, but broadcasting to a financially minded audience with a purely fabricated metric is both irresponsible and lazy.

No one, and I mean no one (save for the aforementioned 1 percenter), ever on a whim decides that they are going to give gaming a try. Gaming is a cumulative hobby with a relatively low barrier to entry compared to the down-payment on a house dollars that Jennifer Prince would have you believe. To get really nerdy, the monetary cost of gaming can be expressed by a logarithmic function as opposed to the seemingly exponential model that Prince proposes.

For most casual consumers, gaming starts and ends with their smartphone. Smartphones, and specifically the iPhone, have evolved to the point that anyone with even a passing curiosity towards gaming has an easily accessible, and low investment space to experiment within. If one of these smartphone gamers decides that their needs aren’t being met by their phone, they don’t all of a sudden go and buy a $3,500 computer, they start small and work their way up. A smartphone might lead to a handheld, a handheld might lead to a console, a console might lead to a gaming PC, etc etc. Along the way you may find it necessary to pick up some of the accessories and auxiliary components like those featured in Prince’s article, but to present them as a requirement comes off as blatant vilification of a (growing) consumer group.

For the sake of argument, lets make up a hypothetical friend that has just come to me asking for recommendations for a new gaming device. While I would first determine some of their gaming habits and recommend a product based on usage and gaming preferences, lets assume I recommended an Xbox 360 (as it is the home console example that Prince bases many of her figures on). Along with the base cost of a console (around $300), games would naturally accompany the purchase, and lets choose 3 because it is the number I bought when I first got my Xbox 360. For Less then $500 you have a set up that will keep you busy and happily entertained for years to come.

The cost of games is an expense to keep in mind, but to be able to quantify and accurately depict a gamer as spending $1650 on 30 full priced retail games a year is staggering, and in most cases is a fantastical number. To bring this 30 games down to a more reasonable number, to find the average number of games a consumer will purchase over the lifetime of a console you simply divide the number of games sold by the number of consoles. Using information gathered from VGchartz (although not entirely reliable was the most readily available and up to date source for LTD information), 604.8 million games sold/64.43 million consoles sold gives us an attach rate of 9.38 games/per console. So unlike the 30 games per year that Bloomberg would have you believe, the actual number is closer to 9 across the lifespan of the console, not per year. Certainly if you had multiple consoles this number would rise, but even so the average consumer would probably not come anywhere near the totals that Prince throws around.

Gaming is not a cheap hobby, but that doesn’t mean it commands the yearly salary that is depicted by Prince. The barrier to entry continues to fall with each year simply from the massive proliferation of Smartphones, which give every user a glimpse into the medium. As one commenter poignantly offered as rebuttal to Prince’s article: “Do I need to buy $10 million worth of supercars to be a car enthusiast?”

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