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Opinion: The Real(istic) Cost of Being a Gamer

Opinion: The Real(istic) Cost of Being a Gamer
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$4,800 on an LED-LCD TV? $3,300 on a gaming tower? Those prices are too rich for our blood, and probably yours, too.

Image via ToxelImage via Toxel

An article published by Bloomberg last week titled "The Real Cost of Being a Video Gamer" garnered plenty of attention yesterday, as gamers from around the Web took issue with the author's (Jennifer Prince) various product choice suggestions. The average gamer (or family of gamers) is not going to spend $4,800 on a television, or $3,300 on a gaming PC, just to name a few examples. This article doesn't appear to be a "dream gadget list" for gamers to salivate over; rather, it comes off as a poorly educated guess on what gamers actually buy, and what kind of money they spend on the hardware they need.

Frankly, I think Bloomberg published an article that seems to be rooted in fantasy, or just poorly researched.

I've been a hardcore gamer all my life, and like many of you I've been buying my own hardware and software - be it for consoles or the PC - since I started my first job. To presume that the majority of gamers don't practice the art of frugality is a mistake, especially because so many of them sit in that always-coveted 18-35 age group. How many fresh-out-of-college whippersnappers do you know who spend five grand on a TV?

This article--a rebuttal to Bloomberg's--has one goal: to offer a realistic estimate of how much it really costs to play video games in 2012. I'm taking Bloomberg to task, page by page, to show that gaming isn't a five figure affair. The author states that it costs over $17,000 to play games in this day and age; in reality -- if we're running on the assumption that one would buy all of this gear at once -- it costs significantly less.

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  • 1 Hide
    ronml , February 1, 2012 1:34 AM
    I'd get a gaming system with a SSD and a better graphics card, if I were still into that. In fact, I'd wait a few months for an Ivypoint processor, which can be overclocked. But I digress. The point is that lazy journalists need to do so research. And why should I trust any article in Bloomberg?
  • 1 Hide
    shin0bi272 , February 1, 2012 1:40 AM
    Your PC choice on page 3 isnt bad but your video card is sorely lacking. A 560ti is not going to be able to "handle any game you throw at it in 2012 and beyond." It is a 225 usd video card that's about 2-3 months from being a last gen card. If you want to build a game rig right now A) that would be a good PC if you were planning on upgrading asap. You can also get a HannsG 27.5" monitor with 3ms response time for 265. Personally the keyboard and mouse are overpriced as well. While yes you want a good one there's no reason to (unless you are trying to go pro) pay 100 bucks for a keyboard and 60 bucks for a mouse.

    Wasnt it Toms that ran a contest a couple of months ago that required the newest intel cpu and an asus mobo that combined cost ~900 bucks out of a total pc build cost of 1500? And to counter an article about spending on gaming hardware you present with this 1200 dollar machine and some overpriced extras? Seriously? You could have taken your own contest winner's pc build and posted that and had something better than what you selected here.

    Lastly Gamers build their own boxes they dont buy OTS rigs.
  • 0 Hide
    shin0bi272 , February 1, 2012 1:45 AM
    Oops forgot my B) if you are talking bang for the buck you probably shouldnt build right now since like I said the new video cards are coming out in a couple of months and you'll see a huge price drop on the card thats in this rig. Thus destroying that whole bang for the buck thing you were going for.
  • 4 Hide
    dconnors , February 1, 2012 2:25 AM
    shin0bi272Your PC choice on page 3 isnt bad but your video card is sorely lacking. A 560ti is not going to be able to "handle any game you throw at it in 2012 and beyond." It is a 225 usd video card that's about 2-3 months from being a last gen card.


    ...but we aren't talking about building a machine in three months. We are talking about building one now. And I think I said in the article that I would build my own machine as well, but not everyone wants to do that, homeslice. If everyone wanted to build their own gaming rigs, Alienware, Origin, and iBuyPower wouldn't exist!

    ronmlI'd get a gaming system with a SSD and a better graphics card, if I were still into that. In fact, I'd wait a few months for an Ivypoint processor, which can be overclocked. But I digress. The point is that lazy journalists need to do so research. And why should I trust any article in Bloomberg?


    Ivy Bridge*, and the Sandy Bridge CPUs (at least the K series models) are pretty OC-friendly.

    -Devin Connors, Tom's Guide
  • 3 Hide
    Hazbot , February 1, 2012 3:21 AM
    This is why the majority of people stick to one form of gaming. Because being an omnigamer can be ridiculously expensive.

  • 5 Hide
    dconnors , February 1, 2012 3:54 AM
    HazbotThis is why the majority of people stick to one form of gaming. Because being an omnigamer can be ridiculously expensive.


    Very true! And it lends credit to building a collection over time, too. Most gamers aren't going to buy a current-gen console AND build or buy a gaming PC in the same calendar year.

    -Devin Connors, Tom's Guide
  • 3 Hide
    phamhlam , February 1, 2012 6:05 AM
    The cost of gaming is crazy. The upfront cost is cheap. $1000-2000 for your gaming rig and set up. The true cost comes in the hours you waste sitting behind that chair. Gaming is crazy expensive.
  • 0 Hide
    waxy_27 , February 1, 2012 6:59 AM
    Got a PS3, HDTV 32" (enough for my room, as it is for many) , PC that will last me another 2 years and a monitor.

    PS3: $800 at launch
    TV: $900
    PC + monitor and peripherals: $1500
    Games: Fifa, another ps3 game and 2 PC games : $200 a year

    The PC was bought 3 years after I got the PS3 so cost was spread. Even the numbers here are really expensive. You get $4000 easily and you have everything you need.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , February 1, 2012 7:31 AM
    A 700€ rig, 22" tv/monitor ~200€, a ps3 ~250€, a headset ~30€, keyboard + mouse ~50€ for a grand total of 1230€, and given the taxes in Europe, it's roughly 1230$ for the same set in the US. Leaves me with ~16k€ for buying games =).
  • -1 Hide
    shoelessinsight , February 1, 2012 7:46 AM
    It's painful to see such a cheap sound system paired with that nice TV, especially when everything else in the article was so generously overpriced to give Jennifer Prince the benefit of doubt.

    Still, the article at Bloomberg didn't include any home theater speakers at all, so I guess it's only fair. How many people actually use nothing other than headphones when sitting at their TV?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 1, 2012 7:53 AM
    The numbers in this article are still WAY WAY too high.

    For $1000 you could easily have a modern gaming pc, along with about 20 modern games(as long as you dont buy all the games at msrp and buy them on steam sales instead)
  • 1 Hide
    proxy711 , February 1, 2012 10:12 AM
    phamhlamThe cost of gaming is crazy. The upfront cost is cheap. $1000-2000 for your gaming rig and set up. The true cost comes in the hours you waste sitting behind that chair. Gaming is crazy expensive.

    Yes because everyone would be working during those gaming hours, def not using free time to game.
  • 1 Hide
    eiskrystal , February 1, 2012 11:14 AM
    I'm a gamer because i play games. Not because I buy pointlessly expensive luxery items.

    The original article was just an excuse to pull up the tired trope of all gamers being spoiled fanboy layabouts looking for the next shiny item. Will they be doing another article on how owning a car is so expensive because everyone is buying both a lamborghini and a porche?

    No?!? Well what a surprise.
  • 0 Hide
    nebun , February 1, 2012 11:20 AM
    ok people that spend that much on a TV to use as a monitor are really dumb....and 3300 is way to much to spend for a gaming pc....
  • 0 Hide
    hardcore_gamer , February 1, 2012 11:52 AM
    Its possible to build a good gaming PC with $600 or less that can kick the a$$es of all consoles
  • 0 Hide
    robwright , February 1, 2012 12:30 PM
    Good rebuttal. The whole iPod Touch over the DS killed me....and I don't even like the DS.
  • 1 Hide
    cknobman , February 1, 2012 12:34 PM
    Good article and nice response to the tripe put out by Bloomberg. Heck you were even generous in you your product choices and bought a bunch of extra crap that many gamers would not even care about.
  • 0 Hide
    Novuake , February 1, 2012 12:55 PM
    ronmlI'd get a gaming system with a SSD and a better graphics card, if I were still into that. In fact, I'd wait a few months for an Ivypoint processor, which can be overclocked. But I digress. The point is that lazy journalists need to do so research. And why should I trust any article in Bloomberg?


    Please tell me you meant to type Ivy-Bridge and not Ivypoint....
  • 1 Hide
    xjchcxx , February 1, 2012 1:18 PM
    Toms Hardware wrote their article to reflect the Bloomberg article so I understand this Running Total thing; however, I do not understand why Bloomberg did this. This article should have been extended further as there are many types of gamers. This article was composed in a way that suggests if you play games at all, you play games on your PC, a console with a home theatre system, and while you're on the go via phone and/or portable gaming console, which this may be true for some, but not many gamers – certainly not all gamers.

    For version two of the article the author should split the gamer in to realistic categories and create unique running totals for each category, and then one category for the super gamer who buys them all.

    My personal observation is that most people pick one game style and stick with it. Meaning, you're either a console gamer or a PC gamer, rarely both, and if you do play both you still focus on one and skimp on the other.

    Thus, we have a running total for the PC gamer. Although, it's expected that every American now have the internet and a PC; thus, to be objective as a journalist ought to be, you'd have to project the cost of an ideal gaming PC (as TH has done) and subtract cost of a low-end PC used for day-to-day computing. In doing so, you have created the proper projected total of a PC gamer.

    Likewise with consoles, then with portable gaming... With portable gaming, I believe the statistics are showing that iOS games are out selling Nintendo game sales on the DS, which surpass Sony portable game sales as well. (correct me if that's wrong, can't recall that source, but i'm not a paid journalist!) So, the portable gaming world is being taken over by phones, which throws another kink into the mix. Who buys a phone with the purpose being to play games on it? You buy a phone so you have a phone, you want a phone with toys and games to entertain you during the 2-3 minutes of boredom while you wait on the bus, or wait in line at the store.

    Home entertainment and internet costs... we need to be clear on this as well. Again, we're expected to be on the web, so we're expected to be paying monthly for internet and buying routers and wireless cards... Thus, this needs to be taken in to account and subtracted from the running total. You don't bump up your download rate to play games, you bump it up for multiple people or for downloading copious amounts of data. Home entertainment systems are often bought to entertain guests, watch films, and play games. If it's not exclusively the latter, than the former should be taken in to consideration and the running total should reflect such data.

    That's a lot more work than doing a quick search on best buy's webpage and sorting by cost and selecting the most expensive items and throwing them into an excel data sheet, but that's what a journalist ought to do; it's their job.

  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 1, 2012 3:20 PM
    3300 on a gamging tower? I have spent 50% more than that on custom liquid cooling alone
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