Tag Archives: eBay

Not Quite Calculating Gaming Return on Investment

There is a site and a chart going around that shows some games quantified in terms of return on investment.  The original source is the Video Game ROI site, hosted by Ebay of all things.

Of course, this is a list, and we love lists!  So I went to see the top ten value rated games, which are:

The Top Ten

The Top Ten

To me that was an interesting list, if a bit odd.  How did they come up with this?

Well, they are pretty up front with how they did.  How they calculated the value rating is there on the front page.


Not bad so far.  Hours per dollars spent multiplied by the rating percentage.

So the original Animal Crossing currently costs $6… this is Ebay, I guess they know the used price, so we’ll give them that… and the hours to beat is rated at 69.5 hours, while the average rating for the game is 88%.

So 69.5 divided by $6 gives us 11.58, which multiplied by .88 ends up with a rating of 10.19, which is the best rating of the lot.

Now, you might ask if a game from 2001 qualitatively delivers an experience you would want to spend nearly 70 hours on here in 2014.  Fair point, and something not addressed as far as I can tell.  And the cost of the game certainly seems to favor used games, but this is Ebay and they want to sell you some used games, so go figure.

I was a little more interested in how they came up with the hours to beat a game.

As it turns out, there is a site called How Long To Beat that is just brimming with this sort of data.  I was curious as to how accurate it might be, but didn’t know how I could assess that.  I would have to actually beat a game to get that number, right?

Oh, wait, I did just beat a game!  I finished Pokemon Y, and all I really did was the main storyline as noted in my post.  So I went and looked that up on the site and, naturally, found Pokemon X and Y listed with lots of data.  But the essential bit, hours to beat for the main story was there.



So they peg the main story at 33 hours of play time.  And I finished the main story in…

Pokemon Y Hall of Fame

Pokemon Y finish time

… 31.5 hours.  Pretty close.   Close enough that I am probably willing to accept the H2B numbers.  Meanwhile, the average rating is as close at MetaCritic, so I am good with that.

So it seems like we have some pretty solid numbers, even if they seem very biased towards older games, which are less expensive.  There is Civilization in second place, from 1991.  I am not sure, even if you could buy a copy for the $1 they show, that it would run on a modern operating system.  The ROI on unplayable games should be pretty low.

Of course, I am interested in MMOs, so I went digging to see what they had listed on that front.  Way down at 109th place I found World of Warcraft.  Current price, $20, hours to beat, 11.2, and overall review rating of 93%, giving it a value rating of 0.52.


Now, I expected the value rating to be low because I figured that they would account for the subscription model in some way.  But no, they figure you’ll be done with that free 30 days yet, since it only takes 11.2 hours to beat.

That seems sort of fast, 11.2 hours.  I mean, I am running through the 1-60 on the whole Loremaster achievement thing, so it seems like that number should be higher for somebody new who doesn’t have heirloom gear or what not.

So I started going further down the list and ran into Minecraft at 127th place.  The cost is $27 and the rating is 89%, but the hours to beat was 11.2, the same as World of Warcraft.


Now, if 11.2 hours seems very low for WoW, which sort of has a 1 to 60 main game, for Minecraft it seems very much off.

Reading through the site more carefully, I found that if a game is open ended or doesn’t have a well defined main game… which is to say the How Long To Beat site doesn’t show one… they went with the number 11.2 because that was the average of all the games measured.

Color me unimpressed.

Still, I suppose it is an interesting data point for discussing older games.  And, of course, it markets older games for Ebay.  But you’re not going to convince me that Pokemon Red and Blue, which ran on the GameBoy in 1996, provides a better return on investment than Pokemon X and Y for any qualitative measures.


You Don’t Have to Drink to Play EverQuest… But It Helps…

I was following up some bad idea that involved comparing the number of eBay auctions posted for various MMORPGs… primarily SWTOR and WoW… and the type of items listed when I felt I just had to throw EverQuest into the mix.

EverQuest turned up 755 items, though you get anything related to EverQuest II as well, including one odd item on the first page, an EverQuest Players cocktail shaker.

Makes the elixir that'll fix yer problems...

You can see the auction here while it lasts.

My first question… as when I saw EverQuest Zippo lighters or that Free Realms suggie thing (one company’s April Fools is another’s reality)… was “Why?”

Why can't I get one in game?

Who would make an EverQuest Players cocktail shaker?  Was it created in celebration of something?  A game milestone? An expansion launch? An admission that most of the community team had fallen off the wagon yet again? (Which I am pretty sure was when that snuggie idea came up.)

Unfortunately, the description on eBay is not very forthcoming.

Everquest Cocktail Shaker Set.

Items are made of metal – the Shaker says “EverQust Players” on it.

No other writing can be found on any of the items – no paperwork is included neither (I do not think it had any).

Item comes in a black box with foam molded to support and protect it.

CONDITION – New, but Box has Damage.   Please see pictures. The items are in excellent shape, they were never used and were for the most part kept inside the box and protected.  The bottom of the box is in good shape, but I do see the box has a very small dent near a corner, but the top part of the box is the worst of it, it has a blown out corner.  Otherwise, this lot is a good one, the metal cocktail set is in unused, new condition.. it’s just the box that is questionable.

Glad to know it is made of metal I suppose, but I wonder what the story behind this particular metal vessel really is.

Anyway, if you are a real EverQuest die hard, you have six more days to bid!

(And shiny though this item is, the listing appears mercifully free of reflecto-porn.)

$500 for a WotLK Beta Key?

My wife, walking by my office door, casually asked, “You’re not going to pay $500 to play this Lich King thing, are you?”

As I was expecting something more along the lines of “are you coming to bed?” “is the house locked up?” or “don’t forget to set the dishwasher,” I was a bit taken aback.

As usual, several separate thoughts rushed for my mouth and got jammed in together like the Three Stooges in a door way, leaving me muttering, “Who? What?” (Which sounds like “hooowhaa?” when I am in that state.)

She had already passed by and settled down in front of her computer. I walked over and she showed me an article on Yahoo! about Warcraft testers paying big bucks for access.

Yikes! People paying for beta access? Paying to test somebody else’s software?

Okay, it boggles my mind, but I get paid to test software, not the other way around.

But sure enough, we went to eBay and searched on “lich king beta” and found more than a few auctions up selling beta keys.

I have to wonder what the Blizzard stance is on that?

That and how many of those codes for sale are just scams? I mean, PayPal is good on giving you a refund if you do not get something tangible from an auction, like LEGO minifigures (don’t ask), but if all you are buying is an n-digit code number, how do you get your money back if it did not work? PayPal is NOT good at refunds when it comes to intangibles. They used to explicitly exclude such things from their refund policy, and may still, I’m just too lazy to check.

So, in answer to my wife, I said that if I had a beta key, I would happily sell it for $500 and just wait for the expansion to ship.

I went back to my office while she headed down the hallway. Arriving at our bedroom, she called out to me yet again.

The cat had just thrown up on the bed.

Reality was back to normal at our house.

Mutually Assured Negativity

Over on Potshot the whole “asshats” discussion hit a new stride with the suggestion that an eBay feedback system might fit the bill for a social feedback mechanism to correct antisocial behavior.  An excellent way to turn in this discussion in my opinion.  There are certainly questions raised by the idea.  Who gets to rate whom?  How often do you get to rate somebody?  How long until ratings get pruned?  Should the ratings people give out be visible so you can weigh them or should there be a calculation in the rating system that gives weight to the person giving the rating?

But those are details, really.  They can be solved.

There is another problem however.  One with a solution that is not so obvious, at least not to me.

For a while I was the front for my wife and mother-in-law when it came to eBay, so I have a some feel for the dynamics of the feedback system.  Not that it is rocket science, but you generally have to get more than a few transactions in before you start running into the odd scenarios.

I always play the buyer.  I pay promptly and follow the directions of the seller to the letter, asking for clarification if I am at all confused.  My expectation is that I will get a positive rating no matter what else occurs.  I have done my part.

And, 90% of the time, that is the case.  I get a positive rating, sometimes right away, sometimes after some delay, but usually without my having to do anything further.

But once in a while I run into a seller in the grip of “mutually assured negativity.”

That seller will not give me a positive rating unless I give them one first.  I have received notes from sellers following payment that include a requirement that I give positive feedback before they will consider giving any feedback.  And in such a case I find that the seller and I often end up in a stand off worthy of any south of the Rio Grande. 

Having performed my part of the deal successfully I resent having my feedback held hostage.  Since this communication generally occurs before the buyer has delivered, I generally ignore the request.  In fact, being quite stubborn at times, I usually go beyond that and take the position that I will give no feedback until I have received mine.  Two can play at that game!

Generally this means that nobody ends up getting any feedback on the transaction.  Once in a while the other side will look at my record and see that I have never given a negative feedback and only two neutrals and will relent.  At other times I have ended up in email exchanges with the other party that rival the strategic arms limitations treaty negotiations.  I had a 7 month long, once or twice a week email exchange with one seller.  Well, exchange might be stretching it, since it was mostly him sending the email.  One more rating didn’t mean much to me, but he seemed determined to get every single positive he felt he had coming.  Unfortunately, he started out with a very aggressive demand that I give positive feedback first, which put my back up and my Catalan stubbornness in play, and that was about it for any resolution.

Despite my stubbornness, I do understand the position of the seller.  While I am conscientious about my feedback, generally declining to give feedback rather than give a negative, there are a lot of people who are much more capricious with their ratings.  You do not have to look too hard to find people who have given negatives because they felt the shipping and handling charges that were spelled out in the auction on which they bid were too high.

So the whole stand off about getting a positive rating is also to ensure that if you get a negative rating you can retaliate in kind.

eBay put in a response system so that if you received a negative, you could explain yourself.  While this ended up generating a lot of amusing excuses and counter claims, it did not actually solve the problem.  Eventually eBay but in a function that let the buyer and seller remove a negative rating by mutual consent.  While that can take care of those who rate on a whim and regret later, it just extends the “mutually assured negativity” issue another step, so now you can get to, “I’ll remove mine, but only if you remove yours first.”

Sorry, but that is where I came in and I still refused to play.

So how do you solve this problem in an MMO if they cannot (or will not) solve it at eBay?  Or is it even worth solving?