The REAL Cost of Being a Video Gamer

Recently, an article was published on Bloomberg detailing the ‘real’ cost of being a video gamer for a family of four. Author Jennifer Prince calculated how much it would cost a family of four to get into video gaming starting from scratch up to one decked out console and a fully-furnished PC rig. Her final total was over $17,000. You can read the full article here: http://bloom.bg/wblGQB
                
I’m here to state that this article is inaccurate, offensive and showcases a major problem with American culture – we don’t know how to spend money. So step-by-step, here is a recalculation of her totals.
Game Console

Original: $300: Microsoft Xbox 360 Slim 250GB. Comes with one controller — Wal-Mart
Evaluation: Big mistake. If we have to buy new, I suppose we will. However, she purchases a Kinect down the road for $150, so let’s put that all together in the nice bundle available from Microsoft. Note that this one is currently on sale at Gamestop for $50 off, but it MSRPs at $400 and comes with a bonus game.

Original: $50: Xbox 360 Wireless Controller — EB Games/GameStop
Evaluation: This one is okay. I tend to buy new on controllers and first-party is always the way to go. Inevitable buy. Our controller total is now two.

Original: $18: Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote — Amazon.com
Evaluation: Why did you buy this? It’s going out of the cart.

What is this thing?

Original: $90: FragFX Shark 360 for Xbox 360 — EB Games/GameStop

Evaluation: I didn’t even know what this was, so I had to look it up. Believe it or not, even though we’re buying a PC down the road, we’ve purchased a mouse for our Xbox. This is another thing that shouldn’t even be in the cart. Gone.

Original: $16: Xbox 360 Play and Charge Kit — Amazon.com
Evaluation: Another inevitable buy, so it stays.

Original Running Tally: $474
New Running Tally: $476 (Note that we already took care of the Kinect, so we’ll save that down the road)

PC Gaming

Original: $3,333: Digital Storm Dreadnought PC with Blu-Ray & DVD Writer/Reader — Digital Storm
Evaluation: She spent way too much money here. Build the rig yourself. A buddy of mine has a PC that plays Crysis at near highest resolution, which remains the benchmark for any PC today. He spent $1800. With the depreciation in things like graphics cards being what it is, that same amount spent today would definitely run Crysis and anything else you might throw at it. Other gamers commented on the article with even lower totals on their own machines, but we’ll stick with this.

Original: $800: Samsung SyncMaster 27-Inch 950 Series HDTV 3D Monitor Combo with Apps — Amazon.com
Evaluation: This monitor is bigger than my TV, which I suppose makes sense if you’re gaming on it. Ditch the 3D and bail on this TV/Monitor combo business – you just need it for your PC (we buy a television later). You can find the same size in HD for $330 on NewEgg, and that’s if you have to buy name brand. If it were up to me, we’d buy a different brand.

Original: $170: Logitech G19 Keyboard for Gaming – Logitech
Evaluation: Bought from Meritline.com, this thing runs only $130. Or you could get a regular keyboard, which does, in fact, play games. Let’s meet in the middle with another Logitech gaming keyboard that runs about $60. Still has programmable keys and integrated audio, and it even still lights up.

Original: $100: Logitech Wireless Gaming Mouse G700 – Logitech
You bought what?

Evaluation: A gaming mouse is also overkill. You can get it online for about $70, which is already $30 off, and if you must have one, it’s probably your best bet. Regular wireless mice are even cheaper, but I’ll let it slide.


Original: $80: Logitech G13 Advanced Gameboard with Joystick – Logitech
Evaluation: I don’t even know what purpose this serves. I’ve looked, and I can’t figure it out. It seems to me that it does what your keyboard already does – especially if you bought the expensive one earlier. So this is gone.

Original Running Tally: $4,607
New Running Tally: $2,736

The Experience

Original: $4,800: Sharp Elite PRO 60-Inch 3D LED-LCD TV — Amazon.com
Evaluation: The person she interviewed suggested something under $400. Does she realize how big 60 inches is? Regardless, my brother picked up a 40-inch on Black Friday for $250. Don’t get a 3D TV. We’ll put the spending cap for this particular avenue at $700 – and that’s being very generous.

Original: $2,400: For the hard-core gamer, Comcast’s Extreme 105 Internet service with download speeds of up to 105 mbps ($199 per month for one year in San Francisco). That’s 35 times the median download speed in the nation, according to speedmatters.org – Comcast
Evaluation: I can’t even begin to explain what is wrong with this. I’m at a University with pretty sub-par internet, but I do just fine. The internet at home is even quicker, and it’s the same thing everyone else gets. This family surely already has high-speed internet, so we can safely spend $0 on this.

Ohh, ahh!

Original: $180: APC Power Saving Back-UPS Pro with Surge Protection — APC.com

Evaluation: What looks like a glorified surge protector actually does some more. This nifty piece of equipment will keep power going to your rig during power outages as well as keeping it online. While a consistent autosave feature should negate any need for this thing, I think it’s a decent price and pretty cool. I’m taking it off the tally for gamers on a budget, but I won’t chastise the decision.

Original: $33: Monster Cable THX 1000 HDX-8 Ultimate High Speed HDMI cable — Amazon.com
Evaluation: A 15-foot HDMI cable that will do the same thing goes for about $5 on Amazon, including shipping.

Original Running Tally: $12,020
New Running Tally: $3,441

Gaming on the Go

Original: $400: iPod Touch 64GB — Apple Store
Evaluation: Whatever. If you’re going to be a ‘gamer’, then you should buy a dedicated handheld like a 3DS or a Vita, not an iPod Touch, and her interviewee who said otherwise doesn’t know what he’s talking about. A handheld device is so far superior to iPod Touch games that it isn’t even humorous that he suggested otherwise. A quick look at Zynga’s careening stock prices will tell you that ‘casual games’ are a bubble and won’t live to replace dedicated handhelds. More likely, handhelds will integrate phone-like features and will do it all. If we’re not getting a dedicated handheld, the entire family probably has smartphones already. That’s the America we live in. So no need to buy a new toy – all those app-games can be downloaded to any smartphone.

Original: $19: LevelUp Race Tilt Action Racing Controller for iPod Touch — Amazon.com
I don’t always waste my money, but
when I do…

Evaluation: If you really want to look like a loser, go for it. I’ll bet it’s about as awesome as the Wii Wheel, which, if you ask anyone, wasn’t awesome at all.


Original Running Tally: $12,439
New Running Tally: $3,441

Motion Control

Original: $150: Xbox 360 Kinect — JR.com
Evaluation: Oh good, we already bought this.
I think it really brings the room together…


Original: $30: Dream Gear Universal TriMount 3-in-1 Flat-Screen TV Mount for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii Sensors — Best Buy
Evaluation: This thing looks ridiculous. Also, we don’t have a Wii or Playstation Move at this point, so it doesn’t serve any purpose at all. Thousands of people every day leave their Kinect sitting on its own, and it does pretty well.

Original: $27: Kinect Perfect Range Anti-Slip Gaming Mat — Amazon.com
Evaluation: Only if the room in which we’re playing doesn’t have carpeting – pretty unlikely, but we’ll leave it on.

Original Running Tally: $12,646
New Running Tally: $3,468

Headsets and Speakers

Original: $249: For the Xbox 360 – Turtle Beach Ear Force XP500 Programmable Wireless Headset — Amazon.com
Evaluation: You can get a $20 headset, but I’ll agree that that thing bites. We’ll get surround-sound. For PS3 owners, the Sony branded headset is $100 and it rocks. But we need to find something that tackles both Xbox and PC. Turtle Beach’s PX3 does it for $149.95.

Original: $250: For PC players – Turtle Beach Ear Force PX5 for PC Gaming Headset — Office Max
Evaluation: Hey, we took care of this, too!

Original: $247: For PC players – Corsair Gaming Audio Series SP2500 High-Power 2.1 PC Speaker System – Sears
Evaluation: Speakers were built into the monitor I looked at. Also, that’s why we bought the headset. So we’re not buying this.

Original Running Tally: $13,392
New Running Tally: $3,618

Accessories

Original: $60: For racing, two Microsoft Wireless Speed Wheels for Xbox 360 — Best Buy
Evaluation: Nope. Can’t play Gran Turismo on an Xbox. If you want one for Forza, go for it, but that’s a niche market.

Original: $60: For combat, Xbox 360 Gears of War 3 Wireless Controller — EB Games/GameStop
Wait, real people can
be like him?

Evaluation: Another one of the regular controllers: $50. That puts the controller total at 3, and in today’s limited market of local co-op, you probably won’t use them.


Original: $150: Rock Band 3 Wireless Fender Mustang PRO-Guitar Controller — Best Buy
Evaluation: Oh right, some people still play this. Tell you what, with all the money we’ve already saved, let’s make it $400 and add $80 for a nice electric guitar and Rocksmith.


Original Running Tally: $13,662
New Running Tally: $4,148

Carrying Cases

Original: $30: Case for the Xbox 360 Slim — EB Games/GameStop
Evaluation: Really? Where are you taking it? Your backpack wasn’t good enough? Fine. Whatever.

Original: $30: Griffin FlexGrip Action for iPod Touch — Apple Store
Evaluation: Already have smart phones, so they probably already have these. Check.

Original: $15: Power Support HD Anti-Glare Film Set for iPod Touch — Apple Store
Evaluation: The things people waste money on. Fine.

Original Running Tally: $13,737
New Running Tally: $4,193

Gaming Furniture

At first, I thought she was going to suggest buying the $40,000 Emperor 200, at which point I would’ve stopped reading. She decided to forgo that one, however.
What-the-what?


Original: $500: Two BoomChair Sky Lounger Gaming Chairs with built-in speakers, subwoofers and extra-large seating — Best Buy
Evaluation: Or the recliner in your living room. Don’t buy these.

Original: $40: Atlantic Game Central M Rack — Best Buy
Evaluation: Since we bought a real guitar, it will go in its case. The console is designed to stand alone, so good there. And the games can all have the cases put on a shelf somewhere. If you don’t have any shelving in your entertainment center, buy a $30 CD case that you can even put movies and CDs in and find a different place for the cases.

Original: $60: Generation Game Tower, to organize gaming gear — EB Games/GameStop
Evaluation: Believe it or not, this serves the same purpose as the last thing. So we won’t buy that either.

$40: Rock Band Double Storage Ottoman — EB Games/GameStop
Evaluation: She didn’t actually buy the drum set in this piece, and since we don’t have fake guitars either, this becomes obsolete.

Original Running Tally: $14,377
New Running Tally: $4,223 (That’s right – we’ve saved $10,000)

Console Care

Original: $8: Disc Skip Fixer Pack with cloths for Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 — EB Games/GameStop
Evaluation: Put your games in the original case or the case we bought.

Original: $125: JFJ Easy Pro Disc Repair Machine — EB Games/ GameStop
Evaluation: Don’t bump your Xbox while playing it.

Original: $25: Cooling Fan Console Stand with Controller Storage for Xbox 360 Slim — Wal-Mart
Evaluation: At least we won’t have to worry about the red ring that doesn’t happen on the slim consoles.

Original: $10: SmartWipes for iPod — Griffintechnology.com
Evaluation: Assuming no one in the family has glasses and none of them wear clothes with which to wipe off the screen, we’ll buy these.

Original Running Total: $14,545
New Running Total: $4,258

Games

Original: $1,650: 30 new games for multiple consoles — EB Games/GameStop
Aw, I could’ve got a falcon!

Evaluation: She spent $55 per game here, which is estimating low…if you’re buying all brand new games. That also makes you an idiot. All these games will go on sale shortly after release for at least $10 off, not to mention that a lot of the games you should be buying are older and way cheaper. To wit – Arkham Asylum – $20. Red Dead Redemption – $25. Uncharted 1 & 2 – $40. So on and so forth. I can’t even imagine walking into Gamestop and finding 30 games on a single console still at brand-new price. Also, buy used. Peruse craigslist and pawn shops. Do anything other than buy all brand new games. Even this sheer number is ridiculous, regardless of how much she spent. I’ve had a Playstation for 3 years or so, and I own just over 40. This family is already on my tail, and they’ve only just begun. Your backlog should never be more than a few games anyway. Let’s estimate she spends $40 a game, which is still way high and can easily be done with a little patience.  This makes $1200. I doubt I’ve spent $1200 total on all the games I own.


Original: $100: Two Xbox 360 Live Subscription Gold Cards — Amazon.com
Evaluation: Should’ve bought a Playstation and gotten online for free, but what can you do. I don’t know when you’re going to play online with 30 single-player campaigns in your face, but some people just have to have it.

Original: $600: 30 PC games from Steam Online Game Platform — SteamPowered.com
Evaluation: I don’t do a lot of Steam, but I know they run sales like no one’s business. Portal and Team Fortress 2 are both free. This estimate is at $20 a game, but I’m modestly bumping it down to $15, once again, still estimating high. That makes $450 and an even bigger backlog.

Original: $10: 10 iPod Touch games — Apple Store
Evaluation: She just suggested we buy an iPod for gaming, and then invested in $1 games. Her funeral…

Original Running Tally: $16,905
New Running Tally: $6,018

Collectibles and Apparel

In her defense, she does suggest avoiding these.

Original: $100: Gears of War 3 Retro Lancer Replica — EB Games/GameStop
$10: Super Mario Question Mark Box Plush — EB Games/GameStop
$15: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood 7-Inch Ezio — EB Games/GameStop
$30: World of Warcraft: Stormwind Limited Edition Mug — EB Games/GameStop
$17: 1up Mushroom T-Shirt — ThinkGeek.com


Evaluation: All wastes of money.

Someone has their priorities in order

Original Final Tally: $17,077
My Final Tally: $6,018


The Bottom Line

As you can see, we’ve not only saved $10,000, but also given you a chance at becoming a proficient guitar player.

These are the things that get me when people scoff at gamers. They often say “What a waste of money”, but if you shop smart, it’s no more expensive than any other hobby that people have. Some people pay $15 to go to the movies, and some people pay $30 for a single entrée and wine at a fancy restaurant they don’t need. I pay around $30 for a game. $6,018 may still sound high, but note that this person is investing in both PC and console gaming – something not everyone does to this extent. They also have an over-zealous backlog and bought a brand new computer they can use for lots of things other than gaming. Not to mention my console also streams Netflix and Hulu. 

Many people need to stop for a second and think about the things they say. Contrary to what is apparently popular belief, many gamers like myself are in consistent relationships with other people and do real things like go to college and do real journalism. Meanwhile, Ms. Prince sits in her office writing very poorly researched articles.

This article also says a lot about the American mindset. We have to have the newest and the best, regardless of the cost. We need to take a real look at ourselves. Decide the real value of something and do some smart shopping. Do I need a new phone when the one I have works? Do I need a new copy when I can buy a cheaper used one and extend its life? No, no we don’t. It’s wasteful and selfish. It pollutes the environment with electronic waste and uses valuable resources that should be invested elsewhere. This article puts not only Ms. Prince, but the entirety of American character to shame.
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