"Value for Money" is a topic I feel is interesting enough to discuss. How does one reconcile spending $20 on a Player's Handbook which gives you ten years' entertainment vs. $10 on a movie which gives you 90 mnutes' entertainment (if you're lucky)?
It's not a new topic by any means; I've seen it a thousand times before. But it's always worth discussing. This particular instance is inspired by this thread:
I was emailing my players about the Player Handbook bundle, as not all of them have purchased one and it got me thinking, how much have I spent vs how many hours of enjoyment. There have been a number of replies. But, hey, it's my website - so I thought I'd write a few short paragraphs on my thoughts. They're hardly new or original, but here they are anyway:
We play every other week, from 7:30-2:00. It works out to be about 6 hours, after we get settled. We've been playing about 1.5 years. So 26 weeks + 13 weeks = 29 weeks * 6 hours each = 234 hours of gaming.
As the DM and organizer, I've probably spent the most, PH 1,2, MM 1,2, and DMG 1...DMG 2 will be a Christmas gift from my players. Add in some extras and other odd expenses and I've probably spent less than $125, maybe even less than $100.
234 hours of enjoyment for $125. Now that's impressive to me, but I suspect other people here have even better ROIs.
It's not even a debate; the fact that we've all bought it and are here is indicative of the fact that we rightly consider it a fantastic investment. If we consider what we'll pay for 5 minutes' pleasure (a coffee, a Big Mac) compared to what we pay for a PHB which provides 10 years' pleasure...*
Hell, I'll be the first to put my hand up. If the 5EPHB costs $100, I will still buy it. Of course, I still won't buy anything but the core rulebooks, but then I've never bought a setting in my life and never will, and my players provide themselves with the class books they need.
*It's a weird dichotomy of perceived value, though, and doesn't work as logicially as that. I posit EN World subscriptions as an example of that - if you view it on a strictly mathematical basis, 99% of people here value the benefit they get from this website each month as less than they value a cup of Starbuck's coffee once a month. So applying numbers to it doesn't really work; I strongly suspect that if an EN World subscription was $10 per month instead of $3, the number of subscribers wouldn't change substantially (although I'd be three times better off).
The point I'm trying to make is that people make emotional decisions, not logical mathematical decisions. That's not a bad thing, of course - the market sells to how people are, not to what it wishes people were or believes people should be (well, successful players in the market do; plenty of others fall into the latter category). And it's a fundamental truth that people make emotional decsions on their purchases, and that that is a good thing - because a world where everybody acted according to logic and mathematics is not one I'd care to live in.
So, one can point out the hours vs. cost of a PHB vs. a movie until one is hoarse in the throat, but really that equation does not matter to real people; people don't live their lives like that**, and no matter how many posts you make on the intrawebs about it, you won't change the nature of what is human. Thank goodness!
**Nor should they, because Vulcan doesn't sound like a planet I'd enjoy***.
***Besides, Nero blew it up.
Any company who views their sales in a pure hours-entertainment value ratio is going to fail. People will spend hundreds on a two-hour concert, and thousands on a wedding. These things are emotional choices, and applying logic just does not work. As evidence I posit the following statement (with the knowledge that saying anything of interest angers a certain percentage to the point of frothing mouths and rage) - "If you haven't subscribed to EN World for $3 per month, you consider the value you get from this site less than that you get from a cup of coffee."
We all know that's not true. We know that if given the choice, you'd forsake one cup of coffee per month for the ability to read and post on EN World. But that's not how a person's mind works.
And the same holds for a D&D book. Which is why I posit that it could cost $100 and we'd still all buy it. Or, if we didn't want it, it could cost $5 and we'd still not buy it.
Entertainment hours vs. cost is an oft-repeated, frequent cliche (at least, on the intrawebs it is) - but it has nothing to do with the reality of how people in real life choose to spend their money, and as oft-repeated cliches go, it's pretty useless. People just aren't Vulcans. If they were, it'd be much easier to sell products or services in this world!
I'm no marketing expert. I'm sure there is substantial research done into this stuff, and that companies like WotC form market strategies based on this research. This is just what occurs to me - and probably to you - as an obvious observation of human nature.