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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessPricing tips?
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frosty
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« Reply #80 on: January 03, 2009, 07:32:05 PM »

Here's an excellent article on software pricing:
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/CamelsandRubberDuckies.html

Quote
One of the biggest questions you're going to be asking now is, "How much should I charge for my software?" When you ask the experts they don't seem to know. Pricing is a deep, dark mystery, they tell you. The biggest mistake software companies make is charging too little, so they don't get enough income, and they have to go out of business. An even bigger mistake, yes, even bigger than the biggest mistake, is charging too much, so they don't get enough customers, and they have to go out of business. Going out of business is not good because everybody loses their job, and you have to go work at Wal*Mart as a greeter, earning minimum wage and being forced to wear a polyester uniform all day long.

My take on pricing in games is that a lot of it is about positioning. In the world of business software it's common to hear of people raising prices and actually selling *more* units as a result.  So depending on the product, price is a signal of quality. 

That's why I thought Aquaria was priced pefectly at $30.  That game oozes with quality and the "hand-crafted" feel that makes it worth far more than the standard $20 price point. 

I also thought releasing Everyday Shooter at $10 was a mistake.  That was the game that seemed to define Indie in the mainstream press -- if a typical gamer wanted "indie cred", that was the game to buy.  And since there's nothing else really like it, they could've charged at least double.  Giving it a budget price can only add to the perception that indie games in general are not worth the "risk" of paying full price.  I don't think Indie movies or music operate this way, so why would indie developers sell themselves short?  The fact that we see our games as much more than just a commodity makes them worth more, not less. 

Lowering the price after the fact can sometimes work, though.  For one, it's another excuse to get some press, which is always hard to come by.  In my own case, I dropped Joystick Johnny from $19.95 to $12.99, partly because my positioning is about quick, cheesy games.  I wish I had enough volume to give an accurate percentage of the conversion rate, but unfortunately I don't.  It just felt right to me for what the game is. 

Or if you don't want to lower the price, you can just keep adding more updates.  I know that the creator of Pretty Good Solitaire has done well by continually adding games to it.  Joel Spolsky, for his bug-tracking software, has said that the one thing that always results in more sales is releasing a new version. 

In my own case, I recently added the ability to share a full version of the game with up to 3 friends, because part of the value is competing on old-school high score tables.  Though if I had more time, I would probably be adding more and more minigames, since it's pretty scalable that way.  With enough minigames, I would consider raising it back up to $19.

For most indie developers, I would say: Don't sell yourself short out of some misplaced guilt or the idea that a lower price will magically lead to a feeling of goodwill from the players.  I think most games, even a lot of mainstream games, are priced too low considering the huge investment that goes into them, and the value that players get in return.  Try to compete on innovation, imagination, and spirit, not price.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2009, 07:39:49 PM by frosty » Logged

Bod
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« Reply #81 on: January 08, 2009, 12:52:14 PM »

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.

I think it's actually dependant on the restaurant. Working in lower-quality restaurants, you learn a lot about the kind of food they actually serve.

Perhaps it would be better to drop the price after a while, seems to be what games tend to do. I'm sure this has been stated before... Shrug
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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #82 on: January 08, 2009, 02:22:24 PM »

Here's an excellent article on software pricing:
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/CamelsandRubberDuckies.html

Very interesting article. Thanks.
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« Reply #83 on: January 08, 2009, 03:02:53 PM »

On "gauging the worth of a game", I'd like to put forward my own system:

The best way to gauge a game's worth is by comparing it against another form of entertainment with a more well-established price point.  The best example I've found is film.

Let's use "Titanic" as our benchmark, as the public clearly felt was worth the ticket price (based upon anecdotal evidence that many people thought it was so worth the price that they viewed it several times).

Titanic delivered 194 minutes of diversion for a ticket price of about $10 (of course, this varied greatly from locale to locale and ticket prices have risen since Titanic was released;  please feel free to substitute numbers more appropriate to your current time period and location).  Using my numbers, that comes to a total cost of about 19.4 minutes per dollar, or about $3 per hour.

So ask yourself this:  For what duration of time will someone be as entertained by your game as they were by Titanic?  Feel free to pro-rate hours;  so if your game is only half as entertaining as Titanic, then divide your game's duration by two.  Take that final number of hours, multiply by 3, and that's your objectively fair "Titanic Value" price.


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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #84 on: January 08, 2009, 03:42:36 PM »

That only takes the entertainment value into account. There's many other values involved as well. Some are a lot harder to quantify.
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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #85 on: January 08, 2009, 03:44:41 PM »

And then there's of course the differences between people. Some people may find Titanic a very boring film.
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« Reply #86 on: January 08, 2009, 06:30:10 PM »

That only takes the entertainment value into account. There's many other values involved as well. Some are a lot harder to quantify.

And only a specific way of measuring entertainment value (time entertained). There are other aspects to entertainment than time, such as memorability, effect on mood, and so on. If we only used time entertained as a value, then 900-page paperback novels should cost a fortune instead of a few bucks.
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mewse
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« Reply #87 on: January 08, 2009, 07:50:04 PM »

Some people may find Titanic a very boring film.

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Zaphos
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« Reply #88 on: January 08, 2009, 08:22:01 PM »

I liked the joel on software article -- good exploration of the underlying issues Smiley

Science is easy, when you know the secret!
Science may be easy, but that was not science!  WTF

edit: To be clear, the issues with that approach are: that's not how things are priced, it doesn't correlate to how things are priced, it doesn't even make sense for most games because they're not fixed-length experiences, it suggests a wide range of possible prices depending on which barely-related media you choose to crimp pricing data from, it's not considering any of the relevant issues in pricing (does it maximize profits for the developer, exposure of the game, etc) so there's no clear criteria under which it could be considered 'best', the whole idea of determining if your game is 'half as enjoyable' as the Titanic is ill-defined and weird, etc.

edit edit: sorry, this post has a kind of aggro tone for no reason?  Droop
« Last Edit: January 08, 2009, 08:56:56 PM by Zaphos » Logged
mewse
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« Reply #89 on: January 08, 2009, 09:50:34 PM »

My brilliant Titanic-relative system appears to be causing some consternation.

Perhaps I should have used the cost of New Kids On the Block concert tickets as my basic unit of measurement.   Well, hello there!
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ladeda
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« Reply #90 on: January 27, 2009, 03:23:27 AM »

Supposing that I actually want to keep the developer of the game alive, well-fed, and happy, then I'd pay for a game. So if I didn't buy any of your games, it's because I want you guys to strave and die. Evil

I'd only say that it's a good idea to price a game if you've spent >1.2 years working on it and it is the best thing that you've done with a game that you could possibly do. I bought Soldat and Noitu Love for these reasons.
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« Reply #91 on: January 29, 2009, 08:44:07 AM »

Quote from: JohnyZuper
So that works. I'm curious:
What service(s) did you use? Were you happy with it? How much did it cost? Do they cover non-games press as well?
Yeah, it works like a charm. At least it worked for me so far. I was actually surprized that the outcome was as good as people on indiegamer.com say it is Wink.

Also, I handle press releases at my job and used most of the more popular services. Here's some info on them:

http://www.gamespress.com/ - a free PR distribution service. It's free to submit news, so there's no reason to not use it everytime you release something. The effects aren't as good as when using a paid service, but still some outlets will pick up your game.

http://www.softpressrelease.com - the most expensive and theoretically the best PR service. In practice, the difference between this and cheaper services is not that big (though, it's still there). We used it for the bigger news on our casual games. The effect was slightly better than when using other websites, but I'm not convinced it was worth it - sending a game-related PR is $140, so a bit pricey. Still, I only sent news on casual games through them, it might be just that their contacts are more hardcore/general gaming oriented.
Their system is also not very convinient as releases aren't handled automatically - sometime you have to wait for their employee to contact you and so on.

http://www.gamerelease.net/ - GameProducer.net PR distribution service. It has one huge advantage - you pay around $100 and can use the service as many times as you want for one year. If you plan to make many releases to build up hype or expect many updates, they are a very good choice. They always get you further than a free service and $100 is not that much for unlimited amount of releases. Their system is also very convinient and fully automatic.

http://www.mitorahgames.com/Submit-Game-Press-Release.html - Mitorah games is a small indie company offering to send PRs through their contact list. I send the news on the MAGI update through them and the results were great. I had almost no traffic and two days after the release I've got a concerned letter from my webhost that I suddenly started using too much bandwidth (20GB per day in demo downloads).
However, it might be just that their contacts were perfectly suited for my needs - MAGI is a strategy/rpg and these guys specialize in this kind of games. Still, I recommend them. Even if just to support fellow indies trying to make some buck by offering the efforts of their hard work.
The price is very competitive at $60-$85, though there's no automated system there - you have to get in contact with Tero and exchange few emails.

http://prmac.com/ - if you plan to release for Mac, I totally recommend these guys. Their system is very convinient and handy, the release costs only around $15 and your news are always picked very fast by all the major Mac outlets. They also have excellent customer support and really try to make sure you are satisfied.

Quote from: JohnyZuper
That's interesting. So perhaps one could sell the game for 1 USD in the first week and add a Dollar to the price every week. 
That could be too much Wink. The price change was justified by the fact that the new version had some major revisions, some new content (that costed me some money) and the dollar started to get really low on value.

Hope I helped a bit Wink.
Just posting to say you should put this info into it's own thread, and thanks!
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