Google's Pac-Man craze cost businesses 4.8 million hours of lost work

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man, last Friday, Google changed their homepage logo to emulate the classic arcade game. However, unlike logos of the past, Google made this one a little extra special--it was playable. As Neowin reported last Friday, the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button had changed to say "Insert Coin" and people around the world played Pac-Man Google-style, marvelling at its brilliance. While people around the world enjoyed the fruits of Google's tribute to what is arguably the greatest game of all time, businesses were, unfortunately, feeling the back end of the paddle.

As pointed out by, RescueTime, a company whose business is to help companies understand how they spend their time, has attempted to figure out just how much time employees wasted playing Google's online version of Pac-Man. Using a large (11,000), but random subset of its users, RescueTime determined that last Friday, the average user spent 36 seconds more on Google than normal. Assuming that 75% of the people who saw the Pac-Man logo didn't realize it was playable, combined with Wolfram Alpha's data, which shows that Google had 504,703,000 unique visitors that day, here's what was inferred (below is a direct quote from RescueTime):

  • Google Pac-Man consumed 4,819,352 hours of time (beyond the 33.6m daily man hours of attention that Google Search gets in a given day)
  • $120,483,800 is the dollar tally, If the average Google user has a COST of $25/hr (note that cost is 1.3 – 2.0 X pay rate).
  • For that same cost, you could hire all 19,835 google employees, from Larry and Sergey down to their janitors, and get 6 weeks of their time. Imagine what you could build with that army of man power.
  • $298,803,988 is the dollar tally if all of the Pac-Man players had an approximate cost of the average Google employee.

Thinking about how large of an impact Google can have on the world by doing something so small can really change your perspective of how influential the search giant has become. With a hidden game posted on their homepage, Google was able to cause over 4.8 million hours of lost work, resulting in approximately $120 million of wasted pay. It's pretty mind-blowing if you think about it.

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