Some people complain about the cost of designer board games. With most board games near the $50 mark, and some approaching $100, they might look at the price of a movie ticket, DVD, or video game and think that this is an expensive hobby.

What do you think is the approximate cost of playing board games per hour of enjoyment when compared to other forms of entertainment?

  • Is this on topic? Meta question
    – Alex B
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 17:38
  • 2
    @Alex, I don't think so. To me, this falls into the category of questions where every answer is equally valid, and seems to lead to a discussion rather than a clear solution. Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 14:24
  • Interesting question; it should be added that the measure will be for americans and in dollars. In other places the prices are for the exact exchange rate + some profit; even if the per capita income is much lower (it's much more expensive, simply put)
    – quinestor
    Commented Dec 17, 2012 at 15:59
  • I’m not sure if it’s on topic; but it’s definitely not opinion based.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 16:11
  • 1
    To those Voting to re-open this question, I would recommend going to the meta question first. If you think the question should be open you should vote/post an answer saying why first.
    – Malco
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 19:17

6 Answers 6


I'm an aging grog... For me, I judge a game based upon player-hours of play. At about $1 per player-hour. Same rate I've used since the late 80's...

And at that rate, the $30 supplement I just got for TTR/TTRE has some way to go. 1st two plays were 4p @ 2.5h and 3p @ 3h - so far, $19 of the $30. One more large play should do it.

Dominion and Intrigue got enough time to "pay off"... and did so rapidly, even tho most were 2p games.

The $50 Cargo Noir is close. At 1.5 to 2h per play, and 3-4p per play, I've gotten 7 plays out of it since mid Dec.

Now, I will say, I never adjusted for inflation, and find most movies on DVD today not worth the $1/person/hour, so that metric still works for me.

You might, however, consider a more movie based metric. A movie is $5 at matinee, per person, and typically 1.5 to 2 hours. If we add the anticipation and post-movie discussions, we can justify calling them 3 hours. That calls for $2 per person-hour.

I'll note also that I'm 56 hours in on a $50 videogame (Skyward Sword) and 30 in on another (Ocarina of Time 3D), so that $1-$2 per player-hour is quite well holding. Mario-Cart, at that rate, paid off in the first week: 10 hours, 3 players, two days; $20 paid for the disk.

Update for Dec 9 2012: The latest supplement I got for TTR paid off with another $12 of play.

Update for July 2013: All the mentioned games have since paid off. And the Wii has paid off.

  • The money/time calculation is my usual measuring stick for amusements too.
    – Argyle
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 19:37
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    It would be appropriate to add Music and Video on Demand. For music, If I have a collection of about 100 albums at a cost of about $15/album, which I listen to about an hour a day over ten years (random rotation), I'm paying $1500 to enjoy 3650 hours of music or about $0.41/hr. For Netflix, I watch about 50 hours per month for a cost of $10/mo. So that's $0.20/hr. Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 2:10
  • @NealTibrewala, I second the motion. The more common forms of entertainment the better. So far my favorite answer. $/player hour seems like a good objective measurement (even though fun is rather subjective). $1 per hour seems like a good threshold. DVD rentals are pretty cheap under total persons enjoying the movie (1.25/2+ people).
    – user1873
    Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 3:19
  • I don't rent movies, and I don't often buy music other than for work.
    – aramis
    Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 19:57

For me personally, dollar per hour calculations aren't useful. I usually peg costs to something else. Recently, I've been using Chipotle burritos. When I look at a $50 game, I determine whether I would rather have that, or 7 burritos over time.

As far as being an expensive hobby, I'll quote someone from BoardGameGeek, on the MSRP of Antiquity being $125: "I would pay $125 for two sheets of plain white paper if they consistently provided the kind of enjoyment I get from Antiquity." Value is relative. It's certainly cheaper than skiing (for instance) and the right game should be playable dozens, if not hundreds, of times, which most single player video games and movies can't boast for most people.

It is an expensive hobby if you need to have new games all the time, but most people don't do that.


My copies of Splotter's Indonesia and Duck Dealer have long since paid for themselves, and paid for my copies of Roads & Boats and Antiquity (which haven't yet, but I anticipate they shall eventually). My general rule of thumb is that a game needs three to five fun plays in it before I really feel like it's been worth the money, even with the cheaper end of things.

It's not just a matter of hours of play, it's also important to factor in that the time I spent playing game X, I did not get to spend playing game Y. The few hours I spent playing Shadows Over Camelot I will never get back at any price.

  • You never get hours back on any play... time is a one way road.
    – aramis
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 7:56

Seeing how most Video Games start at $60 for standard versions it puts it on par with the price of a designer board game. Same would be true for 2 people to go to the movies with popcorn+soda mixed in. DVDs are probably the only case where the cost to entry is lower than a board game.

I tend to calculate the cost of a game vs the number of times I am likely to play it. Settlers in all it's variants, Ticket to Ride, and even Mah Jong for me have paid for themselves many times over. Dominion I have played only a couple of times but feel I got value out of it. Revolution was hot enough for the number of plays I had to make it seem like a worth wile purchase even tho I haven't played it for like 8 months now.

I think a key factor you have to work into the price in the intangible entertainment value. When you sit around a board talking with your friends there is more social interaction than in most movies, DVDs, or video games unless they are specifically party games. It's hard to put a price tag on good conversation, jokes, and potential stories you will tell for years about what happened while playing a game versus going to a movie.


If you are measuring dollars per player-hour, board games are an excellent value--provided you find a game that your group actually will play time and again. For example, my group has played my copy of Chaos in the Old World probably 50 times. At $40, and each of those games being a 4-player 90-minute game, that works out to $0.13 per player-hour. That's better than anything I can think of except for exercising outside or a library card. The expense of driving too meet at game nights certainly eclipses the cost of this game. (Traditional card games are probably the very best bet; you can get hundreds of player-hours of Bridge, Poker, Spades, Hearts, etc. out of a $2 deck of cards.)

On the other hand, a game you don't enjoy and never play again is much worse, quite possibly $10 per player-hour. (And you're not even enjoying that!) So if you're buying games without having played them before, you'll have to accept more risk with the purchase. Reading reviews or being prepared to sell/trade the game can mitigate this risk.


What all these $/hour calculations fail to include is the cost of playing. Depending on your setting, you could include driving costs, room hire, expensive beer prices, etc. when comparing to a video game or a dvd at home. I'm not saying that makes it an expensive hobby, but when you compare it to old PC games on gog.com, for example, it comes out quite dear.

  • 1
    I'm not your downvote, but this isn't much of an answer. As-is, seems like a comment. Commented Jun 26, 2013 at 1:00

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