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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessPricing tips?
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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2008, 01:17:35 PM »

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?

Nice idea. We've been thinking about something like that as well but discarded the idea because it felt like we would be asking people to pay for beta-testing. Then again, if they get the final game for free after having payed less for a beta, then perhaps it feels like they earned the full version by testing the game?
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« Reply #21 on: September 22, 2008, 09:27:37 PM »

One thing you could do -- I'm not sure about the structure of the game, but if I remember right you had five main "red riding hood" characters. Perhaps you could charge $5 for each one, for a total price of $25 if they want to play with every character (or give one away for free and charge for the other four, $5 each). This would create a low barrier for entry.
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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2008, 10:29:01 PM »

We have considered that as well. It would be really great if players could just purchase small chunks of the game and perhaps "collect them all". But we decided against this because we feel that, even though it's basically the same game that you play six times, it's important for the meaning of the game that the six sisters are together.
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« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2008, 03:40:13 AM »

Mount and Blade is actually an interesting example here as well -- they had a lower early adopter price ...

Nice idea. We've been thinking about something like that as well but discarded the idea because it felt like we would be asking people to pay for beta-testing. Then again, if they get the final game for free after having payed less for a beta, then perhaps it feels like they earned the full version by testing the game?

I like the way M&B and Cortex Command have done this. It doesn't feel as if I am paying for beta-testing. It's more like you're supporting development. You're basically investing into the game, rather than "earning" the lower price by beta testing. Plus it's not really beta-testing, when the game is far from being finished. What was important for me to preorder these games, was a demo/beta version. If that version is interesting enough to pay for, it can only get better, even if the developers do not implement all of their promises or even halt development alltogether.

Offering the game at an initially reduced price may be sensible for multiplayer games. It's hard to get enough players for indie multiplayer games. A multiplayer game without players won't attract more players. Chronic Logic did this with Zatikon recently. The first week you could buy it for half the price; probably to attract enough players to get more later on. Single player games don't need other players, so a lower initial price might actually hurt, since sales are highest at release. I cannot really think of a benefit of a lower initial price; if you have a large portfolio of similar games maybe, but otherwise I don't see what customers should get attracted to.

Another option is offering games at a reduced price via special events like Gamedujour's one-day deals. However most developers I've seen there, do this after the game has been around for a few weeks or months. It's always easier to lower the price than to raise it, I guess.

Games have to be priced according to their quality. If it's too high, people will not buy it or feel ripped off. If it's too low, it lowers the subjective feeling of quality. The Path looks very promising both in graphics and in theme, so I wouldn't go too low. There are a lot of games that look worse and that charge the usual 20$. Of course this depends on how good the gameplay and how long the game will be. "a short horror game" could be anything from 5 Minutes to several hours. If it's long and fun enough, even 30$ might be reasonable. Games priced higher than 30$ have to compete with mainstream games as far as quality of assets is concerned. Of course this is just my own personal opinion Wink
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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #24 on: September 24, 2008, 05:28:31 AM »

The Path will be several hours long. But it will not offer much traditional gameplay. We're expecting extremely low review scores (if only because the usual categories for scoring games don't apply to The Path). One of the reasons for contemplating a low (initial) price is to reduce the risk for curious customers. Buying Bioshock or even Braid is more or less risk-free because you know what to expect. Price is fairly irrelevant then: people who want it will buy it. But if they don't know what to expect, it may be difficult for people to pay a high price just to satisfy their curiosity.

In any case, in an ideal world, I think games should be as cheap as movies. But it may be unwise for Tale of Tales to participate in that revolution at this point.

By the way, does anyone have any idea about the sales of Aquaria?
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« Reply #25 on: September 24, 2008, 07:38:49 AM »

The Path will be several hours long. But it will not offer much traditional gameplay. We're expecting extremely low review scores (if only because the usual categories for scoring games don't apply to The Path). One of the reasons for contemplating a low (initial) price is to reduce the risk for curious customers. Buying Bioshock or even Braid is more or less risk-free because you know what to expect. Price is fairly irrelevant then: people who want it will buy it. But if they don't know what to expect, it may be difficult for people to pay a high price just to satisfy their curiosity.

You may have to find a marketing strategy that supports this different kind of gameplay. If it's an artsy, horror, gothic game, go to these kind of non-gaming sites (literature, music, life-style, etc.) and ask/convince them to do a review. They might be more receptive to the game than the "It's a platformer/shmup! 10/10 points!" gaming sites.

With "normal" mainstream games you cannot expect what you will get, either. Call me paranoid but experience teaches that too many mainstream gaming sites and magazines report what publishers want to read. At best it's still only some individual's opinion. As a customer, I prefer a demo to reduce my risk over a low price. Unfortunately many mainstream publishers rely on nice reviews and no longer offer demos.

The way you phrase it, it sounds like it's going to be some cheap, artsy, non-fun game, that nobody will get. Why should I even buy it at a low price if it is no fun? I'm not asking as an insult but rather as constructive criticism. I don't think one should underestimate the suggestive power of a low price (depending on how low you plan to go) and statements like these.

In any case, in an ideal world, I think games should be as cheap as movies.

Why? A movie is only about 90 minutes. Even cheap games offer longer gameplay. Plus DVDs cost around 10-20€ (15-30 US$) around here anyway (more if you want HD). Games are something you can actively enjoy, movies are mere background noise.
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« Reply #26 on: September 24, 2008, 01:57:17 PM »

Movies also vary in price -- seeing them once is relatively cheap, but owning them costs as much as a game.

Also, The Graveyard was "artsy, non-fun game, that nobody will get" but had a lot of sites reviewing it, so I don't think there's no market for this type of game -- and even if there isn't, sometimes you just have to create a market. There was no market for computers when they were first being invented, either.

Although it is true that games which are too artistic tend to do more poorly. Ico, Planescape: Torment, Psychonauts, and so on all had very good reviews and are remembered as excellent games aesthetically, but all are also known for having sold very poorly.
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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #27 on: September 24, 2008, 03:21:54 PM »

I'd settle for the "poor" sales of any of those any day.  :D
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« Reply #28 on: September 29, 2008, 09:24:04 AM »

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?

Oh man, yes, "fancy food" is normally prepared MUCH better than something you get from Fridays or something. It's prepared by a trained chef as opposed to a cook that cooks by a preordained franchise recipe as well. And, of course, you're paying for high class service and ambiance.

As for the topic, I was hoping it would get into actual pricing discussion here.

edit; Blah, only half of the first page loaded when I opened this thread and I missed a lot of discussion.
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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #29 on: September 29, 2008, 09:32:53 AM »

As for the topic, I was hoping it would get into actual pricing discussion here.

edit; Blah, only half of the first page loaded when I opened this thread and I missed a lot of discussion.

Pleas contribute your thoughts!

Should an indie game be priced high because we're only going to sell a small amount of copies? Or low in the hopes of seducing curious customers?
We need to take into account what channels the game is distributed through: whether you're only selling to the few thousand people who visit your website or to the millions with a Steam, XBox Live, PSN or WiiWare account. In the case of the latter you can afford a lower price point. Half of your income goes to the platform holder for sure, but half of a million is still much more than a few thousand...
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« Reply #30 on: September 29, 2008, 06:50:46 PM »

As for the topic, I was hoping it would get into actual pricing discussion here.

edit; Blah, only half of the first page loaded when I opened this thread and I missed a lot of discussion.

Pleas contribute your thoughts!

Should an indie game be priced high because we're only going to sell a small amount of copies? Or low in the hopes of seducing curious customers?
We need to take into account what channels the game is distributed through: whether you're only selling to the few thousand people who visit your website or to the millions with a Steam, XBox Live, PSN or WiiWare account. In the case of the latter you can afford a lower price point. Half of your income goes to the platform holder for sure, but half of a million is still much more than a few thousand...

You have to calculate the highest point in which you can maximise your profit.

I would say this depends entirely on your exposure. If you were to get a lot of press, for instance, you would charge differently if your game relied entirely on word of mouth. So it depends a lot on your entire marketing plan, including how you get the game out there. Too many factors to just make a blanket statement there. 
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« Reply #31 on: September 29, 2008, 08:53:43 PM »

I don't think games like Aquaria are going to help you pick a price point. When I consider buying something I compare its price to similar goods, which is why I'd recommend the following:

* Figure out who your target market is, if you haven't done so already
* Find a couple of people in that market, show them your promotional materials
* Ask what games (if any) it reminds them of

This should tell you both what they expect of the game, and how much they expect to pay for it (since they'll expect to pay the same for yours as they did for the others). From there you can either use this baseline price, or change the price to modify the player's expectations.

Or not. I only make freeware games, so I'm not speaking from experience.
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« Reply #32 on: September 29, 2008, 09:53:54 PM »

Another approach to pricing is just be experimental.

Start high, at 30$ or so.

Go lower every month by $1.

When you start to lose, when the value of "number of sales divided by number of downloads, times the price" stops going up, stop.
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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #33 on: September 29, 2008, 10:40:28 PM »

* Figure out who your target market is, if you haven't done so already
* Find a couple of people in that market, show them your promotional materials
* Ask what games (if any) it reminds them of

That's a good tip. I never know myself what our games are similar too. Possibly because I'm too familiar with them and can only consider them to be completely unique. But in the eyes of the audience, that may be different (I remember Sven Vincke called "8" a "Myst clone"  Roll Eyes ). Especially when they haven't played the game yet and need to learn everything from the promotional materials. Even if the game is totally unlike any other, the promotional materials will probably still remind people of other games. And it's probably wise to choose a price relevant to this impression.
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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #34 on: September 29, 2008, 10:44:53 PM »

Another approach to pricing is just be experimental.

Start high, at 30$ or so.

Go lower every month by $1.

When you start to lose, when the value of "number of sales divided by number of downloads, times the price" stops going up, stop.

That's amusing. But you can only really do that when you sell through your own website exclusively. And I don't think that's an option if you need to sell, say, more than 10,000 copies (at a conversion rate of 1%, you need a million downloads for each 10,000 sales...).
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Craig Stern
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« Reply #35 on: October 04, 2008, 06:20:40 PM »

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.

Totally true. Just look at Laxius Force.
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« Reply #36 on: October 06, 2008, 10:26:32 PM »

I haven't tried Laxius Force, but from what I hear it's a RPGMaker game? I have tried Aveyond however, which is also a commercial RPGMaker game, and it at least has higher production values than the average freeware RPGMaker game, by far.
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« Reply #37 on: October 10, 2008, 10:52:58 AM »

I haven't tried Laxius Force, but from what I hear it's a RPGMaker game? I have tried Aveyond however, which is also a commercial RPGMaker game, and it at least has higher production values than the average freeware RPGMaker game, by far.

Sorry--I was being snotty. Tongue
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« Reply #38 on: October 10, 2008, 10:55:22 AM »

That game doesn't look too bad from the screenshots, I think the only reason it's getting a negative response is because it's someone's first post. If it were a forum regular it'd probably be a much more positive response. It looks way above average for an RPGMaker game, anyway.
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« Reply #39 on: October 10, 2008, 10:57:06 AM »

Actually even Guert complained about the responses there -- that's not really a great example, I think those people were just looking for a game to bash. When you expect not to like a game, and don't mind being rude to someone, you probably will think less of it than otherwise.
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