A Very Expensive Free Game of Pac Man
Yesterday (and today), Google marked the 30th anniversary of Pac Man by placing the game on its homepage. A version of Pac Man can be played through the letters of “GOOGLE” by using the arrow keys. This resulted in glee at my company. The development room may as well have been an arcade for about 5 minutes. In the grand scheme of things, not a big deal for my company. It got me wondering though, how many people paused their day to play a little Pac Man? How much productive time was lost? Engage me in a little bit of (very) rough math:
- It is estimated that Google serves “several hundred million queries” per day on their website. Let’s pick the number 400 million for the sake of argument. Though the Pac Man game remains up today (Saturday), we’ll focus on yesterday (Friday) since it was a work day.
- Of these 400 million queries, let’s say that 65% of them are performed on the home page. We’re now to 260 million queries.
- Of those 260 million queries, let’s assume that 50% were done during productive time; while at work or school as opposed to during free time. Now we’re at 130 million queries.
- Since not everyone’s familiar with Pac Man and there weren’t any instructions, the only people likely to be distracted were ones that knew how to play the game. Perhaps 50% of the people using Google are aware of the basic premise of Pac Man, we’re now at 65 million queries.
- Of that user base, we’ll assume the average person goes to Google’s site 3 times a day. That’s got us to 22 milion queries that could have been disrupted by the Pac Man game.
- Let’s say that of that base, 20% took an average of 2 minutes to mess around with the game. Many people probably just moved the character a couple times and went on, others probably played for an hour or two. That’s 293,333 hours or more then 36,666 working days or 167 working years (at 220 working days per year) of productive time lost.
- According to figures from this article the average upper middle per capita income of the world is $9,900. This of course is a very conservative number to leverage, because only people in the wealthiest countries are likely to have computers at work to be distracted on, but we’ll use the number anyway.
The net effect? $1.7M was wasted by Google putting Pac Man on their primary landing page.