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Problem Machine
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« Reply #40 on: October 11, 2008, 01:02:03 PM »

Why not just sell it for what you think it's worth?
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« Reply #41 on: October 11, 2008, 01:16:06 PM »

Because opinions of "worth" vary from person to person and worth is an imaginary abstraction that not everyone believes in. Asking what a game is worth is like asking what a cup of water is worth; it depends on if you're thirsty or drowning. Anyone who thinks that this that or the other game is "worth" some amount of money and not "worth" some other amount of money, like when people complained about Braid's price, is just playing a game with imaginary concepts.

Of course it's not more objective just to try to guess at the price at which you will make the most sales*price and go with that, but at least that has the benefit of being theoretically solvable, even if it's not practically solvable because there's so many variables that differ from game to game.
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Problem Machine
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« Reply #42 on: October 11, 2008, 06:33:18 PM »

Well, wait, I can see how that would apply if I said to sell it for what OTHER people think it's worth. I think that if it were just me then I could decide what a game were worth to me. Of course it's not objective, it doesn't have to be. Just decide what it's worth. Surely you must have some idea.

All I'm saying is, all of this market comparison/sales maximization stuff seems like at the same time a shot in the dark and not really relevant unless you made the game expressly to make money. The price you set for a game is, to some extent, still part of the character of the game. So, I dunno, my inclination is just to say make the price whatever it feels like the price should be; but perhaps I'm just being glib because it's not me in the position. I just think sometimes people make decisions more complicated than they need to be.
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« Reply #43 on: October 11, 2008, 06:55:18 PM »

Well, what I mean is more like this: since I don't believe in inherent worth in the sense you are talking about, I can't just decide what my game is "worth" -- if you don't believe in the concept of worth, how can you decide on what something is worth? What if you don't have "feelings" about what things are "worth" at all?

Also, you seem to be saying that if you want to set a price to get the most money possible, that means you made your game just for money. That isn't necessarily true: one could want to choose a price which would return the most profit, but that doesn't mean the reason you made the game was for money.
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Craig Stern
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« Reply #44 on: October 11, 2008, 07:22:15 PM »

I feel like this is one of those questions that can only be answered by analyzing hard data. You're going to need to engage in a little trial and error, or get advice from others offering games in a similar genre who've already experimented with different price points.
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« Reply #45 on: October 16, 2008, 03:52:29 PM »

The "worth" of a game is relative also because you can make an infinite amount of copies of it. As a creative effort, to the developer, any game is worth much more than any price anyone would ever pay for it. But you're not parting with your game when you sell it, you're giving somebody a license to basically look at a copy of it.

As such, the "worth" of a game is the value of this experience, not the intrinsic value of the product. And this experience is highly subjective and most definitely in the domain of the consumer and not the creator. On top of that, this experience is shared/divided among all the people who play the game. Not a single one of them should pay what it is worth to them. But together they should pay what it is worth to you.

And I guess "what it is worth to you" equals your production budget. That's what you want for your game. So you have to divide that sum by the number of people you are going to sell to to get your price. The problem is of course that your don't know this number. And that this number, in turn, also seems to depend on the price (more people will buy a cheaper game).

In any case, the most practical advice in this thread is probably to just price the game on par with games that seem similar to the audience. Not cheaper, or it will appear "cheap". And not more expensive or it will appear "prohibitively expensive".

I still wonder how this appears to an audience that is not so familiar with games (which we also hope to attract). Do they care about the price? Do they find games expensive? (games are more expensive than movies, but much cheaper than most other commercial software)
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« Reply #46 on: October 16, 2008, 04:00:57 PM »

I think a lot of commercial software is around $20 as well -- it's only the more business-oriented or professional software packages that reach into the hundreds of dollars. I don't buy software too often, the last I remember buying is FRAPS (software to record footage from video games to help in making trailers and such) which costs $37. I've also purchased Noteworthy Composer, older versions of Paint Shop Pro, and other software in the under $50 range. The only high-priced software I've ever been tempted to buy is ZBrush.

I think the reason some software can get away with charging hundreds of dollars is that they are standards in a lot of professions. I doubt as many people would buy Photoshop for instance if it weren't the industry standard, since it's much more expensive than alternatives, for relatively little improvement over its competitors. Since games are a luxury of sorts, and not a requirement for one's job, I don't think people would pay hundreds of dollars for them. The most expensive game I've ever heard of was Phantasy Star IV for the Sega Genesis, which when it was released has a price tag of $100. Some MMORPGs are also very expensive: if you add up all the expansions and subscription fees, they easily reach in the $100+ range.
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« Reply #47 on: October 17, 2008, 12:07:08 AM »

i don't know, perhaps we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. Personally I find it hard to imagine someone who has played games making a game with an intent to sell it and not having an idea in mind for a price point from relatively early on based upon their experience as a consumer of games. I just think that going with that first instinct is better than trying to second guess yourself to maximize profit.

As an example, if you knew it would make you more money, would you include a copy of your game in every Happy Meal sold for 2 cents each? It would make you a buttload of money, sure, but it would cheapen your game. Maybe it would be worth it to you, maybe it wouldn't, but that's why I'm opposed to framing the question from the stance of what will make the most money. Perhaps I was a bit too glib earlier, but my point is that that ISN'T the only concern when pricing the game; the price also reflects the artistic integrity of the project. Money is power, and charging less will trivialize the impact of your message; the consequences of charging more are obvious. Again, I suspect that anyone who plays games will have some idea what a game they've made is worth in the greater scheme of things, just through experience. So just charge that.

Is this really such a naive and foolish idea?
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« Reply #48 on: October 17, 2008, 12:13:08 AM »

Would it be fair to say that you are suggesting to charge as a developer what you would pay as a consumer (for that particular game)?
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« Reply #49 on: October 17, 2008, 07:50:51 AM »

Is this really such a naive and foolish idea?

I wasn't saying it's naive and foolish. I'm just saying that some people don't believe in worth, others do. Some people have an idea of what their game should cost, others don't. Some people have a good feeling for what different things are "worth", others don't. It's just that simple, one isn't better than the other, one isn't naive or foolish, it's just the way it is.

As for the McDonald's 2 cents thing, 2 cents wouldn't even cover the cost of a CD it'd come on, so that's not really a good example. But if I could sell my game for 1$ to 1 million people, yes, I'd prefer that over selling it for $10 to 1000 people. I don't really think selling a game for a dollar "cheapens" it. Does giving a freeware game away for free cheapen it? If not, why would charging a dollar cheapen it?
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« Reply #50 on: October 17, 2008, 08:58:07 AM »

The actual worth of a game is probably better not expressed in money.
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« Reply #51 on: October 17, 2008, 09:01:17 AM »

The actual worth of a game is probably better not expressed in money.
The monetary worth is though!
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« Reply #52 on: October 17, 2008, 09:13:37 AM »

Yes, when I said some people don't have a good idea about what things are worth or don't believe in worth, I was referring to monetary worth. I think monetary worth is somewhat of a belief system, it's not something objective. So saying that we should just go with our instinctual feeling of what something should be priced at doesn't work if someone doesn't have that type of "pricing instinct".

There are also other problems with going by instincts, besides not having them. At the least, the price of a game should return a profit that would pay for the costs of developing the game, including the time of the developers. So just going by instinct isn't a good idea if you intend to pay for those things, because instincts can be wrong and choose a price that wouldn't pay for the costs of development, either by being too arrogantly high (like Sega's Phantasy Star 4's $100) or too low-self-esteem low (like Dave Gilbert's $5 for the Shivah). A price that's too high or too low can be a bad thing, and instincts alone might lead to a price that's too high or too low than is appropriate to pay for the game's costs of development.
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Problem Machine
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« Reply #53 on: October 17, 2008, 09:44:48 AM »

Quote
Would it be fair to say that you are suggesting to charge as a developer what you would pay as a consumer (for that particular game)?
Mostly, but there's also an element of expression here. Whatever price you set becomes part of the character of the game. So, the focus is not so much on setting a fair price, or one which will maximize profit, but on setting a price which will maximize the impact of the message of the game.
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Some people have a good feeling for what different things are "worth"
I don't understand how one can spend their life as a consumer of goods in a capitalist system and not have a feel for what things are worth (even if they're way off).
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2 cents wouldn't even cover the cost of a CD it'd come on, so that's not really a good example.
Okay I was kind of assuming that the way that would work is that they'd mass produce the media themselves and then just give you 2c for each game sold.

Anyway, what if someone offered you a flat sum of 10 million in order to mass produce your game, and when I say mass I mean MASS; disks crammed in mailboxes, used as coasters like AOL disks, integrated into halloween costumes. Maybe some people actually play the game out of curiosity, but it's mostly a joke. Sure, you might take the money. That IS a lot of money; but you'd take it for the money, not because you believe it's what's best for your game.
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« Reply #54 on: October 17, 2008, 01:20:24 PM »

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Some people have a good feeling for what different things are "worth"
I don't understand how one can spend their life as a consumer of goods in a capitalist system and not have a feel for what things are worth (even if they're way off).
I think with most people this 'feel' is purely based on the prices of similar items, and so it's not particularly meaningful.  Especially in media where it has often been set as "whatever was best for a few large corporations" -- songs are "worth a dollar" because of Apple, Microsoft gets to declare 'full' new xbox 360 games are worth $60, etc.

In general, your sense of prices (from your buying history) is just based on what maximized someone else's profit.

Also worth noting that in practice most entertainment goes through a wide range of prices, from the initial release price to the bargain bin price and ultimately to the public domain.

Quote
Would it be fair to say that you are suggesting to charge as a developer what you would pay as a consumer (for that particular game)?
Mostly, but there's also an element of expression here. Whatever price you set becomes part of the character of the game. So, the focus is not so much on setting a fair price, or one which will maximize profit, but on setting a price which will maximize the impact of the message of the game.
I think any analysis which includes the price of the game as part of its message would be so bogus.  It's not a part of the message.  It's a fluctuating thing determined by market pressures.

Anyway, what if someone offered you a flat sum of 10 million in order to mass produce your game, and when I say mass I mean MASS; disks crammed in mailboxes, used as coasters like AOL disks, integrated into halloween costumes. Maybe some people actually play the game out of curiosity, but it's mostly a joke. Sure, you might take the money. That IS a lot of money; but you'd take it for the money, not because you believe it's what's best for your game.
The problem there would be with the spammy distribution, not the price.
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Problem Machine
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« Reply #55 on: October 17, 2008, 01:49:22 PM »

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I think any analysis which includes the price of the game as part of its message would be so bogus.  It's not a part of the message.  It's a fluctuating thing determined by market pressures.
It's both, and like it or not it becomes part of the experience of the game, inevitably. The box of the game is part of the experience. The manual. The disk. Everything. That's just how things are.

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The problem there would be with the spammy distribution, not the price.
So, then you believe that people will feel the same way about a game if they buy it for 50 cents off of a rack as they will if they order it online for $15?
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« Reply #56 on: October 17, 2008, 02:08:17 PM »

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I think any analysis which includes the price of the game as part of its message would be so bogus.  It's not a part of the message.  It's a fluctuating thing determined by market pressures.
It's both, and like it or not it becomes part of the experience of the game, inevitably. The box of the game is part of the experience. The manual. The disk. Everything. That's just how things are.
It's a part of the buying experience, which is not really part of the game.  If you're going to include the price in your analysis you might as well include the condition of the store you bought it in, whether the clerk was a nice person, the weather that day ...

Quote
The problem there would be with the spammy distribution, not the price.
So, then you believe that people will feel the same way about a game if they buy it for 50 cents off of a rack as they will if they order it online for $15?
Sure, after they've played it.  The opinion in the store & during the purchasing decision will be affected, of course, but if they end up actually playing it then the assumptions made based on price should be replaced by the reality of what the game is.  Perhaps there still some minor subconscious effect due to the price, but it's no more significant nor part of the message of the game than any other external factor.

It's especially clear with books -- you can buy off bargain racks or in hardcover or in 1-dollar editions after it's public domain or etc, depending on the time you buy the book -- it's not a part of the book, it's just an arbitrary detail of the circumstances under which you bought it.  With games there is more price control, especially if you sell on a website, but I think the analysis remains the same.
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Problem Machine
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« Reply #57 on: October 17, 2008, 02:38:30 PM »

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It's a part of the buying experience, which is not really part of the game.
The difference is entirely artificial.
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If you're going to include the price in your analysis you might as well include the condition of the store you bought it in, whether the clerk was a nice person, the weather that day ...
Yes, those all affect the overall experience. However, the creator only has control over one of the, (well, maybe two).
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but it's no more significant nor part of the message of the game than any other external factor.
That's true, I will readily cede that it probably will not affect your opinion any more than being repeatedly kicked in the nuts by Mr T while playing.
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It's especially clear with books -- you can buy off bargain racks or in hardcover or in 1-dollar editions after it's public domain or etc
Yes, after it's public domain. That communicates that this is a really great book, a classic. Conversely, if a brand new book is getting sold for $1, you're going to wonder what's wrong with it.
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Zaphos
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« Reply #58 on: October 17, 2008, 02:50:17 PM »

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It's a part of the buying experience, which is not really part of the game.
The difference is entirely artificial.
I think that you're just silly about this.  Eh, whatever.
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Craig Stern
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« Reply #59 on: October 17, 2008, 07:50:07 PM »

Anyway, what if someone offered you a flat sum of 10 million in order to mass produce your game, and when I say mass I mean MASS; disks crammed in mailboxes, used as coasters like AOL disks, integrated into halloween costumes. Maybe some people actually play the game out of curiosity, but it's mostly a joke. Sure, you might take the money. That IS a lot of money; but you'd take it for the money, not because you believe it's what's best for your game.

Best for the game? It's not like a game is something with independent needs or desires. The only reason not to take a deal like this is because of the possible detriment to your future releases, and thus the viability of a career in game design. But really, if you had $10 million, you could easily distribute the money among CDs (the investment instrument, not the disc) and savings accounts and live comfortably off the interest for the rest of your life. You wouldn't need a career in anything after that: you'd be free to design games at your leisure for as long as you like without worrying about pricing or distribution. I'd take a deal like that in one second flat.

Anyway, this just underscores why pricing is important: it's there to get a return for the game designer, not as some abstract intellectual exercise in determining the objective worth of a game.
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