How Much Do You Pay for Your Hobby?

This question popped up recently on the Everquest boards: How much have you spent over time on your MMO habits? As of this moment, the moment I am writing this, I don’t know the answer. But I’ll be getting there. Let’s find out first what qualifies as MMO related expenses. There is the purchasing price for games and expansions plus subscription fees as well as cash shop purchases. Further, we have the cost for gaming computer, perhaps adjusted for use outside of gaming. Add the cost for your internet connection, again modified for non-gaming use. Fan fair visits certainly count here as well, so do books, magazine and webpage subscriptions. Maybe I am even going to attempt to calculate how much power I’ve been using to play.

Let’s go through this list of games I posted a while ago. I come up with 16 games I paid for. Add 4 for things I bought and have deleted (DAOC comes to mind). Expansions I’ve bought to the best of my knowledge only for EQ (11), EQ2(6) and WOW(3). Makes for a  total of 40 units at $50 each or $2000.- over 12 years. I’ll make a well educated guess for subscription fees and call it 2 accounts for the entire time. That’s 12 years, 12 month, $12 per month (considering rebates and lower rates in the early years), times two or $3456.-

Hardware cost is difficult to compute, since I am computer literate and tend to replace and upgrade parts between rebuilds. But usually, a part I replaced the year before I completely replaced my computer usually ends up inside the new computer anyway. I recall 4 distinctive computer towers, one CRT and 3 flat screen monitors during that period. The towers cost me $1500, $1200, $1000 and $1000 each (=$4700). Monitors were $800, $400, $250 and $250 (= $1700). Add perhaps $1000 for replacement hardware and things like surge protectors, uninterruptible power supplies and routers. And then there are 12 years of internet connection at $40 per month. And if I am honest to myself, 75% of those cost are for gaming, the remaining 25% for other uses.

Fan faire visits almost don’t register, since I’ve been to only one as a paying visitor. And that one was within driving distance from my home. Call it $200.- total. Books (Prima Everquest Guide !) and other print items account for $100 max. And occasionally I’ve maintained subscriptions for ZAM, Magelo, Ventrilo servers, or Guildportal. I am estimating this to be around $400 for the whole period. And since I am usually subscribing to the games I play, I doubt that I have spent more than $200 in item shops.

My UPS software tells me the combo of monitor and computer doesn’t use more than 500 W, which translates to $.05 per hour or roughly $100 per year. If you are a perfectionist, you’ll also have to take air conditioning into consideration, especially if you live below the Mason-Dixon Line. I’d estimate that at twice the cost of electrical energy, but only during 5-6 month per year. Call it another $100 per year.

Games & Expansions $2000.-
Subscriptions $3500.-
Computer Tower (75%) $3525.-
Monitors (75%) $1275.-
Other Hardware (75%) $750.-
Internet Connection (75%) $4275.-
Power & A/C $2400.-
Other $900.-
Total $18625.-
Monthly / 144 $129.-

People usually mention that going to the movies or to bars or concerts is more expensive than playing MMO’s. However, if you have to take hardware cost and internet connection into consideration, the comparison isn’t that clear cut anymore. $129 per month translates to $30 per week, which gets you to the movies more than once and restaurants and concerts are in reach as well. Given, you could save some on computer hardware, that second subscription and by not jumping onto every new game that comes around. But then again, those are all choices we make and as long as it keeps us happy…


© Disclaimer: Everquest


  1. My answer is “not nearly enough!” If I consider my monthly expenses for taxes, apartment, insurances…the money that goes into personal leisure and enjoyment is a paltry sum. And already the fact that I don’t have/want/need a car, puts everyone around me who has one way up on expensive hobbies. Not to mention what goes into tech gadgets these days, the newest iPhone, biggest tv or best blueray player…
    We all use our excess money how we feel is best, but I really don’t consider MMOs an expense worth mentioning. And my PC is oooooold, too old!

  2. I started gaming during the late 90s. But being an impoverished high school student, who didn’t ask his parents for anything, I didn’t really own a lot of games. I didn’t buy games until they were jewel cased and found at Wal-Mart’s bargain bin. Then I’d play that game for months and months.I didn’t really started spending a lot until 2007, when I finished school and got a job. So, I’m gong to start my estimation from that time to now, which spans five years. Here’s my estimates:Games – $3000
    Subscription – $285
    Computer and Monitor – $1100
    Video Card – $150
    Internet – $2400
    Power – $500
    Total: $7435
    Monthly/60 – $124I bought 60 games in the last five years. The average costs of these games are probably $50. So, I spent $3000 from 2007 to now on games. But actual numbers could be lower than that. Some of those games were on sale, and some were cheap indies.Subscriptions, I only paid $285 in total. I never really stayed long in any game. 4 months in LOTRO. A month in Aion and WoW, and 9 months in WAR. For RIFT, I only paid $10/month for 6 months since I was a founder. Then I have lifetime sub on Champions Online.My computer is also 5 years old. It’s a Dell XPS that comes with 22′ Monitor. I got it for a little over than a $1,000. I only upgraded its video card, into a GTX 460 SE, which I bought for $150.For my internet connection. I also pay $40/month. But I didn’t have to pay for mine until 5 years ago, when I moved out. So, $2400 in the last 5 years. Then as a pretty rough estimate $500 for my power.So, yes my expenses are pretty close to yours as well.But, next to reading used books, gaming is still the cheapest and the most satisfying hobby though. Because, unlike going out and watching concerts, I don’t have to spend on gas.

    • Oh yes, I know the post graduation spending spree. The secret is to know when to stop 🙂 Also, I would expect that our expenses be in the same ballpark. Unless you have enough money to stay subscribed for 6 games at once or 4 box somewhere, the numbers are pretty similar.


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