Google Pac-Man Game Gobbles Up 4.8M Hours, $120 Million

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-05-26

Users spent more than 4.8 million hours of time playing Google's free Pac-Man game Friday, a time suck that could have cost companies nearly $120.5 million, according to time management tool RescueTime.

Google last Friday released its Pac-Man game as a playable doodle logo, allowing users to click the insert coin button and begin gobbling ghosts with the hungry, yellow dot.

Google pledged to leave up the doodle only through the weekend, but the Atari and arcade favorite proved so popular that the search engine agreed to offer it forever at its own Web page here.

RescueTime crunched some numbers and found that the average Google users spent 36 seconds more on, which is where the original Pac-Man game was hosted.

For the baseline, the company said the average Google user spends only 4 and a half active minutes on Google search per day, conducting 22 page views. This is equal to roughly 11 seconds of attention invested in each Google page view.

Looking at a random subset of its users, or 11,000 people spending 3 million seconds on Friday, the average user spent 36 seconds more on Friday. RescueTime concluded Pac-Man is the reason for the gross time bump.

"Thankfully, Google tossed out the logo with pretty low 'perceived affordance'-they put an 'insert coin' button next to the search button, but I imagine most users missed that," RescueTime founder Tony Wright said May 24.

"In fact, I'd wager that 75% of the people who saw the logo had no idea that you could actually play it. Which the world should be thankful for."

Taking Wolfram Alpha's tally that Google had some 504,703,000 unique visitors on Sunday, May 23, RescueTime said Pac-Man ate up 4,819,352 hours of time beyond the 33.6 million daily manhours of attention that Google Search gets in a given day.

Pac-Man consumed $120,483,800 in costs for the lost work time, where the average Google user is paid $25 per hour. If the Pac-Man players had an approximate cost of the average Google employee, the tally goes to $298,803,988.

The numbers should give some employers pause to wonder what their worker bees are doing in the hive.

By the same token, these stats might push Google to offer more classic Atari games on its Website. Our vote for the next game goes to Centipede.


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