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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessPricing tips?
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Michaël Samyn
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« on: September 21, 2008, 01:38:31 pm »

In general I agree with the argument that the price of games tends too be too high. That games should be priced on par with movies and books. But for indie games, perhaps this is a problematic stance, considering the low numbers of sales we can generate with limited publicity, etc.

How does one decide on which price to charge?

And what do you think of launching a game at an introductory low price first and raising the price later? Just to stimulate impulse buying and reduce the risk for the customer when buying something they may not be familiar with. This strategy works quite well on me with books and music in our local media store. Has this been done with games before?
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Tale of Tales now creating Sunset
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2008, 02:10:23 pm »

I think it varies by the audience. If your audience is mostly teenagers who can't afford many games, a lower price will probably work better, if the games are strategy games intended for older audiences, higher prices are more common.

This is similar to many other products: fancy restaurants don't actually have better food than low-class restaurants, they just have a richer audience for that food.
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deadeye
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2008, 03:36:30 pm »

And what do you think of launching a game at an introductory low price first and raising the price later?

I think that would

a) Piss some people off and
b) Scare away late adopters

Game companies make quite a bit of money after they drop their prices because of the "huh, I never did try this game might as well get it now that it's only $10" crowd.  The furthest I'd go for something like that would be pre-orders for a discount price.

fancy restaurants don't actually have better food than low-class restaurants, they just have a richer audience for that food.

Uh, you don't eat out much, do you :D
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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2008, 03:45:20 pm »

It shouldn't matter much if indie games get fewer sales at a lower price than PHOTOREALISTIC MURDER SIMULATOR 2008 because they're generally made by a much smaller team on a much lower budget, so you need to sell less to make a good profit.  Also, I don't think anyone could reasonably ask someone to pay a hundred dollars* for an independent game - even though they often have better gameplay, and even some originality, they don't have the same level of STUFF THAT COSTS MONEY TO MAKE.  I wouldn't buy an indie game for that much.  (Come to think of it, I wouldn't buy any game for that much.. which I guess is why I only seem to buy indie games these days.)


* I say a hundred because New Zealand has an even-better-beaches-than-Australia tax on games.  Seriously.
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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2008, 06:47:55 pm »

re deadeye: I think fancy restaurants create the *perception* of better food, but it's not actually all that better objectively. It's no healthier for you, it doesn't usually taste much better, etc., it's all psychological. It's the same thing with fashion: are designer clothes really any better than the stuff you buy at Sears, or are they just more expensive?
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Powergloved Andy
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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2008, 08:32:49 pm »

I don't think I'd ever charge for an indie creation. Donations, sure. But a flat fee, no way. If you wanna make money in the gaming industry, go get a job at a gaming company and be miserable like the rest of us. THAT'S MY MOTTO :D

There are very few indie games that are worthy of paying money for. And even then it shouldn't be higher than 20 bucks, in my opinion.  Gentleman
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« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2008, 08:35:58 pm »

I think you underestimate the potential for misery (if by that you mean tedious, hard work with long hours full of things that you don't want to do) involved in being a shareware game developer. Creating certain parts of games, polishing them, fixing bugs, marketing them, dealing with customer service, etc., is at times just as hard and tedious as operating a cash register or whatever you consider "real" jobs to consist of.
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Farmergnome
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« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2008, 09:23:20 pm »

id pay 10-20 for a good indie game for sure.

I don't think I'd ever charge for an indie creation. Donations, sure. But a flat fee, no way. If you wanna make money in the gaming industry, go get a job at a gaming company and be miserable like the rest of us. THAT'S MY MOTTO :D


Whats wrong with earning money making games?
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Powergloved Andy
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« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2008, 09:59:38 pm »

id pay 10-20 for a good indie game for sure.

I don't think I'd ever charge for an indie creation. Donations, sure. But a flat fee, no way. If you wanna make money in the gaming industry, go get a job at a gaming company and be miserable like the rest of us. THAT'S MY MOTTO :D


Whats wrong with earning money making games?

Nothing, I was making a joke, jesus christ.  Lips Sealed Well about the gaming industry being miserable.

And my reasoning for not charging for indie gaming is partly because it's fun for everybody to be able to play and another part is because most indie games are sub-par.  WTF
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« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2008, 10:05:40 pm »

I think part of the reason they're often sub-par is because they are free, though. If you have to work on them in your spare time due to having a day job, they're going to be sub-par, but if you can devote all day to creating them, they'll be better.

That and having a monetary incentive makes some people work harder to improve their game than they otherwise would, because they know that it has to be the absolute best they are capable of if they hope to have it sell well. For instance, I don't think Aquaria would be as good as it is if Derek and Alec had intended it to be free.
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Powergloved Andy
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« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2008, 10:18:28 pm »

I think part of the reason they're often sub-par is because they are free, though. If you have to work on them in your spare time due to having a day job, they're going to be sub-par, but if you can devote all day to creating them, they'll be better.

That and having a monetary incentive makes some people work harder to improve their game than they otherwise would, because they know that it has to be the absolute best they are capable of if they hope to have it sell well. For instance, I don't think Aquaria would be as good as it is if Derek and Alec had intended it to be free.

That has nothing to do with it. Most games are sub-par because they copy existing commercial or indie games. Also, the developers not having the resources to make anything really great. I'm not saying that sub-par games are bad, I just wouldn't make anybody pay for them.

I think Aquaria is a good example of a game that you should pay for. But, that doesn't mean it wouldn't have been great nonetheless. Noitu Love 2 is an indie game I paid for too. They are creative, look great, and most importantly fun. That's why I wanted to pay for them. Not many indie games go into that sort of development and presentation.

I'm not saying your points are invalid. I'm just saying it's fun to share with the community and why pay for the 20th Cave Story knockoff that comes out, or RPG-maker game that has bad writing and art and make no use of custom scripts.

That's my personal opinion that I wouldn't charge anybody for a game unless it was highly polished. There is nothing wrong with making some cool sweet $$$ =)
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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2008, 10:23:24 pm »

Not selling your game is not an option if you took out a loan for being able to produce the game. The game needs to at least make that money back. This is not about selling a few hundred copies to friends. This is about selling several thousand copies to people you will never meet.

I think the question boils down to whether we can sell a lot of games at a low price point or not so many at a higher price point. On top of that there's the question of how much of the proceeds you get to keep. Then the question is complicated by whether you sell a small amount of copies through your own website and keep all the proceeds or whether you use a distributor or publisher who leaves you with anywhere between 70% and 10% from the proceeds.
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Tale of Tales now creating Sunset
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« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2008, 10:26:26 pm »

I agree that people shouldn't charge for games that aren't that much better than what can be found for free, but I don't think it's often that someone just greedily decides "oh, why not charge for my game?" when it would otherwise have been freeware. People don't decide to go shareware lightly, there aren't that many sub-par indie games being sold, usually the commercial indie games are much more polished than the free ones.

JohnyZuper (who started the thread) is a good example here -- his game took hundreds of thousands of dollars to make, it's not just some throw-away freeware game. Here's a video of the game he's probably talking about pricing:

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Powergloved Andy
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« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2008, 10:32:16 pm »

I agree that people shouldn't charge for games that aren't that much better than what can be found for free, but I don't think it's often that someone just greedily decides "oh, why not charge for my game?" when it would otherwise have been freeware. People don't decide to go shareware lightly, there aren't that many sub-par indie games being sold, usually the commercial indie games are much more polished than the free ones.

With that statement, I agree

Good show, old man!  Gentleman
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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2008, 11:31:45 pm »

Yep. This is for The Path. There's a slightly more recent video

.

The Path will be our first "real" commercial game. We charged for The Graveyard, but that was more as part of the artistic concept. It was never the intention to make our production budget back (which came from arts funding that does not require return on investment in terms of finances).

Our other game, The Endless Forest, has been free since its launch, years ago.

The Path will "only" have taken a few "hundreds of thousands of Dollars" to make. Wink
It is by no means a big budget project.
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Tale of Tales now creating Sunset
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« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2008, 11:43:34 pm »

Yep. This is for The Path. There's a slightly more recent video

.

It looks great, I can't wait to play.
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Hajo
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« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2008, 12:40:08 am »

Lately there was a study done about placebos in medicine. In this case all test taker got placebos, but were told differently about the price of the fake medication. Actually the group that was told the highest price reported the best improvements in their health.

There seems to be a psychological aspect that links expected quality with the price, and it still makes people think the quality is better if the price is higher, even if the quality is exactly the same as for a cheaper product.

So pricing might be even harder than it seems. If you make it cheap, it might be recognized worse than it actually is. If you make it expensive, people might not be able to buy it at all, or even worse, notice a mishaps between expected and delivered quality and then talk bad about it.

How does one decide on which price to charge?

I'd look what comparable products cost, and then try to place mine somewhere in the range, where it seems to fit best. Personally I'd aim a bit on the cheaper end.
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« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2008, 12:36:43 pm »

I would agree about pricing close to similar games, although I think there isn't much similar work out there.  Perhaps Mount&Blade is a decent point of reference, at $30 and now $40?

I don't think The Path has a mass market appeal to it, but I would expect it to have a relatively strong niche appeal -- the people who want it really do want it.  In other words, they're interested because they do recognize that there's something special about The Path that they cannot get from other games, so competitive pricing is less important.  So, I think pricing toward the higher end of the spectrum makes sense.  It's also safer because hey, you can always lower prices.

As far starting at a lower price and raising it -- people don't do this in games much, so I have no idea how people would react.  There's an online music store (can't remember the name) which charges for songs based on how much they've been purchased, so the first adopters get the music for ~free and then as it gets popular it goes to 99 cents, so that's promising but the psychology there is different because people "know" the song is worth 99 cents (in so much as this is the semi-ubiquitous iTunes standard) but they don't know how much your game is worth.  If you can communicate to them that the price is constantly increasing, it might have a nice 'buy now!' pressure to it, but it also might just leave them confused and annoyed.

Mount and Blade is actually an interesting example here as well -- they had a lower early adopter price ($30 I think) but this was for an unfinished version of the game -- so they could get financial support from dedicated fans during development, and involve them a bit in the process.  So perhaps you could try something similar to that?
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policedanceclub
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« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2008, 12:52:27 pm »

($30 I think)


Actually you could get it for $5 at the very beginning.
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undertech
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« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2008, 12:56:30 pm »

Cortex Command is also doing the early-adopters special pricing - with the option to pay "full price" for the well-heeled supporters  Gentleman
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