I think $9.95 could eventually become a pretty common price point for casual games, and I think Cas is wise in choosing it. There are just too many games on the market, and more are coming every day. Going to Amazon, I can pick from a great number of multi-million-dollar-budget PS2, PC, Xbox, etc, games for $19.99 or much less. Even the complete boxed set of Sam & Max is only $17.99 right now. Should a basic match-3 or other casual type downloadable sell for more? I think, unless the production values are out of this world, that those days are passing fairly quickly.
So, it's kind of obvious why sales of pretty much all games (except the new mega-blockbusters) are falling right now. There's just too many entertainment choices out there, (iTunes will be distributing movies soon on their theatrical release dates), and not enough time or money to buy them all. But when prices fall to $9.95 or less, it's much easier to get the credit card out. Of course, the game still has to be great. But with all the entertainment choices people have today, not to mention all the free stuff one can play on the Internet, it's getting harder and harder to justify the higher $19.95 "standard." And I think potential customers, if they haven't already realized that, are going to start doing so fairly soon.
Well as I said I'm down at US$7.95 but at least my online partner pays out at 75/25 split in the developers favour on PC so I still make UK£2.99'ish per copy which is a lot more than you make on PC budget retail - given UK£2.99 is budget RRP pretty much anyway.
I was amazed at how much game you can get on XBox/PS3 Store online for next to nothing these days not to mention AAA titles for next to sod all on Amazon etc. now.
The market is not shifting moreover it has shifted!, hence why ad-wrap has also become an newer option alongside the paid downloads for me.
Getting harder by the year that's for sure now everything is digital 'want/have it now' pretty much.
Last edited by Adrian Cummings; 05-06-2008 at 05:56 AM.
But yeah, I know what you mean. It's just that there's too many entertainment choices out there. It would be nice if the standard casual game price could be $49.99. But successfully selling a typical casual game at that price is about as likely as everyone being civil and polite in threads on religion. (Or politics, or on whether badminton is more fun than croquet.....)
So as I alluded to above, it all comes down to how many people you can get to download your game. Get 1 download a day and you might get 1 sale every 3 months. But get 5,000 downloads a day, and you could potentially get those 30 (or more) sales. See how easy it is to make minimum wage?
There is no quick fix answer that is the answer - I've tried them all now and all you have is 'hope' really, hopefully a decent enough game, some good distribution and a bit of luck of course like the rest of us.
My content as a total is getting around 40,000 downloads a month but that is 'adwrapped' across the board and if I had a $ for each download I would'nt be posting on here would I, instead that equates to approx 'not a lot!' in adwrap revenue monthly as a total which is better than a few paid sales here and there alone which I also get now and then from those 40K downloads. That is at least superb distribution on par with some of the big titles even if I don't turnover the profit they do.
Ad-Wrap is not the answer no, but it is a supplemental income stream alongside everything else that pays - I for one am pleased to have it but perhaps some of it could be better that's all.
Not an easy life this.
Last edited by Adrian Cummings; 05-06-2008 at 11:07 PM.
re: improvements. Glad about 1 thanks. 8 and 9 should be p*ss easy to do and would benefit future games. Of course save all the other stuff for Droid Assault 2! :-) (possibly except for no.2 which would be nice in this game). Naturally I realised that you'd never put all this stuff in this game which is "done" but I can't resist offering new ideas for possible improvements. No doubt you had a massive list anyway but just had to get it out the door. We've all been there!
OT, but since some of you spoke about that... I don't think $9.95 will become common price, expecially with the crap usd value right now.
There is lot of choices on the market, and that's true, but from my point of view the hardest thing is to get A SALE. Then for the user paying $10 or $20 doesn't matter much as long as he wants the game.
If you think about it yourself, how many movie/cd/games you bought because "well was cheap" even if you actually didn't like it so much? What I mean here is that the really hard thing is to convince the person to go through the payment process, not to spend 5-10$ less...
Low price can be good to increase the user base. In my experience lowering prices never lead to more sales though, instead increasing game value worked extremely well. I don't make casual game but I think this could apply to casual games too.
Still OT, yeah that is definitely a factor. When a thing reaches a certain low price I simply don't care because the time consuming thing is buying it and entering my credit card details then registering the game properly (AND adding it to my company accounts as "research"). So it's definitely worth making sure that people will buy the game because the product is simply worth the extra money.
However, there's a whole load of evidence to show increased sales at a lower price too as some people in just this thread have attested too (and as the entire BFG Game Club seems to prove). The question is are the sales over double when you half the price? Otherwise it's clearly not worth it.
My own experience with Droid Assault was that I played the demo twice (or maybe it was three times) and it timed out in the boss fight and I wanted to see more and at $9.95 I thought "why not?" because it was good fun. However, if it was $19.95 I may not have done it. BUT if the demo went beyond the first boss and timed out around level 15, I almost certainly would have paid $19.95 because I'd have seen more of the higher up droids and weapons and become more addicted (Basically I changed my opinion of the game as a quick little blast to a well balanced thoughtful game with lots of hidden depth/tactics).
So I'm saying that personally I think the demo ends too soon. I appreciate it's a tricky thing to work out as currently it's at 1/5th of the way into the game (in terms of levels) but actually the later levels contain lots more playability (and replayability) in terms of time plus more depth which is basically worth more money to me. That's my $0.02 anyway.
Quote: Jack Nortons last post:
Well that pricing argument is as old as the game industry itself and just isn't true anymore from my angle anyway when applied to all types and grades of games.
A good new title might be worth say $19.95 for a few months maybe longer, but over time the software's value will decrease like everything else as better products replace it (and piracy).
We have a credit crunch here in the UK at the moment and most savvy people are not going to pay $19.95 for an indie game anyway - hey they may not even spend $9.95 but there is more chance they 'possibly' will perhaps now.
Then there is mostfun.com (you can get alot of games on there for nothing!) you can't really top that sorry - ok it needs to take off a bit more I agree but you can't top $0 for a product - some of them are/were previous big sellers also.
Sorry but I just don't share the $19.95/99 everything mentality anymore - it's dead or dying unless you are a big portal perhaps and not just selling direct to the consumer.
None of what I've said above applies to affiliation of big portal products, rather just selling your own content direct and yes I know there are few on here that do make larger revenue at the higher price end but seriously doubt they are the 'majority' amongst us.
Last edited by Adrian Cummings; 05-06-2008 at 08:02 AM.
I think one problem now though is that the average Internet user is used to getting a lot of things for free. (Flash games, freeware, etc...) So you better have something incredibly great or unique if you want to put a price tag on it. We're just going through an odd time right now, and I believe things may turn around in the future. After all, television went through the same things, with free network stations subsidized by advertising. And yet, there are still a lot of people willing to pay for premium products, like HBO, Showtime, etc.
I think the trick is not giving up. Of course, that's easier to say than to do. Sometimes, it might be wise to stop if things aren't working out, and there's no shame in that. Trying to do something difficult is more than the majority of people on this planet do.
One thing about not giving up... it may lead to other things one might not expect. So while Cas, or Adrian, or whoever else who may not be having the success they hope for at the moment, the work they are doing now could lead to better unexpected things that they would otherwise not have ever see.
As Adrian said, "Not an easy life this." Any artist or creative person knows exactly the same thing. Most movies lose money, and it's the 10% (if that) of the successful ones that keeps the studios alive.
Anyway, like I said, good points. As I told a friend of mine who owns a completely different business, sometimes we get what we "think" we deserve. So the answer, perhaps, is to think we deserve a great deal. After all, creating games is not easy work.
The most important thing though is that we're doing something we enjoy. Something that we feel we were meant to do. Of course, we have to make a living too. But not giving in to the "easy" path and becoming a banker or real estate agent, (although there's nothing wrong with those choices), says a lot about someone.
Van Gogh died thinking he was a failure. And yet, look at what people think of his work now. Success can't only be measured in dolllars. But in just trying.
Last edited by dma; 05-06-2008 at 08:10 AM.
Regrettably this could be true because the target market is a small bunch of retro gamers and maybe hardcore gamers who have to choose between your game and a mainstream console/PC shooter and a pirate game (and beer). So only the very best games are going to succeed in that demographic - and then what is their maximum potential anyway? But building up a loyal client list like you are doing (and Cliffski) is one step to maximising that demographic. Another factor is how quickly you can bang out quality games of course, the quicker the better (it terms of man hours worked), but that is not easy at all (I know this).but then that's probably because of the kinds of games I write
Anyway if you want to work on a more mainstream "casual" game and want some input from a local (I live in Dorset remember) then let me know!
Surely selling games now is harder than 5-6 years ago, but what I meant is that the real challenge is increasing the quality/value of the games, rather than reducing the price.
Everyone is able to reduce prices, but few are able to really impress customers.
Then in caspian's special case, I really think his userbase is too small, or maybe now concentrated mostly on the consoles market.
I am willing to bet that your games would do very well on XBOX , Wii, etc... problem is getting there
I agree with this:
and this:Everyone is able to reduce prices, but few are able to really impress customers.
The question is how to get there cost effectively. I admit that I'm secretly interested in developing for XBLA because I *am* in Cas's target market (but at the moment diversifying would be foolish), and I'd be making games like his for PC if I could see a way to make it viable - but I can't, so I changed to a different type of game (which incidentally I have great fun developing anyway).I am willing to bet that your games would do very well on XBOX , Wii, etc... problem is getting there
So Cas, I've guess you've got several options available 1) stick with what you are doing well at the moment and keep working on marketing + increasing userbase etc 2) seriously look into XBLA before it becomes flooded (is it already?) 3) change to a more casual type of game and get on some portals - I'm pretty sure your skills and your artist's skills could make a unique feeling casual game. 4) change revenue model to some kind of ad-driven thing or micro transactions (all that stuff makes me go yuk for some reason) 5) get another job ;-) but who'd want to do that? I'll be watching with interest (like I have since first seeing Titan attacks), good luck!
P.S. Sorry we've gone off topic but it's been interesting and hopefully useful for you.
How about getting on Steam?
How about iPhone? (no middle men just Apple!) sdk is free, signup £59... I just did myself!
Java is coming too (possibly) but you have OpenGL now on it which is cool enough for most game dev needs.
If you have a Mac (intel) your already half way there as the SDK (version 5 is out today!) comes with iPhone emulator of course.
Just an idea, as thats where I'm 'looking' now away from the WiiWare and XBoxLive SDK setup cost wheezes *even then if they signed you up anyway* which they prolly would'nt (no offence intended) on the later.
Last edited by Adrian Cummings; 05-07-2008 at 12:44 AM.
Casual games - as it just so happens that's exactly what I've just started writing. It will, of course, be perfect And with any luck ready in half the time of our other titles on account of just how little content actually needs to go into casual games.
Steam - I keep trying but get no replies.
iPhone - too many technical hurdles I suspect. I'm sticking to my guns and writing for the desktop.
I assume you are joking, but if not, be careful because these days a casual game needs a ton of content to make it.just how little content actually needs to go into casual games
Hmmm I'm not so sure... 'casual games' are just games after all and that's what we all produce here and all games now have to have a certian amount of 'everything' in them before people buy them.
Casual is just a label for games that people play now an then on a casual basis and probably suitable for many age groups and both sexes perhaps... yes well that same 'label' could be applied to just about any game nowadays.
I like Battlefield2 on the Xbox360 for my sins and I play that on a casual basis now and then, it suits both sexes in truth, and has a quite wide age range but it's not classed as casual even tho it is to me at least.
Casual LOL is just another name for Game - games are games and good ones all take time to write and make money out of
I think portals invented the word for themselves in truth.
Some so called casual PC games go on for hours per play, so how is that casual then?
The problem here being perhaps Casual does not always equate to simple gameplay anymore given some casual games are quite complex to get the hang of.
A true casual game would be a mobile game I guess i.e. you play for minutes at a time and it's easy to get the hang of with 1 or 2 buttons.
Last edited by Adrian Cummings; 05-07-2008 at 03:04 AM.
Well they certainly didn't used to have much content, it was just a simple game mechanic with some nice graphics. But now you've got Story, map, Meta game(s), trophies, shops, powerups, mini-games, avatars, different game modes, tons of visual polish etc. If a game doesn't have those and is an oldstyle casual game with just a front screen and a game screen (like Bejwelled) it'll stand out a mile as not having enough content. People expect a LOT for their $6.95 these days imho ;-)None of the ones I've played seem to have all that much... especially the really successful ones.
Well give it a go as you say then, I'm on your side at the end of the day but I do agree the content bar on casual or any game is higher now than it was before if you want to start charging $19.95 or higher anyway or get on portals and bigger publishers.
My last 'casual' title Dweebs 3 (on PC) was a bit of a 'casual' flop all round it seems even tho it was quite good and 1 & 2 did very well before it, but I'm not bitter as not everything a dev puts out can expect to sell in decent numbers I guess.
In my case it was partly to do with games title saturation anyway on PC over 8 years.
Good luck anyway ok.
Yes, but they only sell at that price to Brits. See several very long angry rants on my part when I've tried to buy casual games and found places cheerfully overcharging me because of where I live, leaving me forced to buy from portals.Oh, and I noticed that Popcap still sell Bejeweled 2 for £14.95 - that's nearly $30!!
I personally believe that people do expect a lot these days in most cases, but sure some games buck the trend. Bejewelled 2 is just an old game that is still selling. What about the content in say Build-a-lot 2 or Dream Chronicles 2, or Cradle of Persia, or even Fairway Solitaire? Of course I still wish you the best of luck, but I don't want you to delude yourself about how much content (and how long) a good casual game takes these days...Do they really though?
In the early to mid-90s, you probably would have had a great deal more success. I have customers from back then that I know by name, basically because they are still repeat customers... 16 years later. Pretty amazing, actually. There was a different audience then, and there wasn't all the free stuff you find now on the web. Many people probably don't even consider buying games at all anymore, (except for perhaps the "latest greatest" next-gen console game), since they can go to any number of free Flash game sites or choose from a healthy number of free MMORPGs like Maple Story to play.
This is a tough business, and the only way to have a chance of succeeding is to keep at it. But like any creative endeavor, even "keeping at it" can't guarantee success. Just think of all the authors, cartoonists, indie film makers, artists, garage bands, actors, photographers, etc, who keep trying but may never make it. They might have exceptional talent, but the odds are stacked against them, given the huge amount of competition each field has.
So, encouraging stuff, huh. The best thing to do is diversify, and don't rely on any one source for your income. That way, if game sales are slow, at least you can bring in money from one (or more) other sources.
Anyway, good luck to you on your new (and upcoming casual) games!
Today it's a battle of advertising more than ever. Alot of good games don't sell because no one knows about them.
Cas, I'm not an expert in the indiegame business,but IMHO in the game creation department you're doing fine. Your games are great, perfectly serving their niche, and the rate of new releases is good (and I think you should maybe make a bit of market research and investigate about game sales on portal before experimenting with casual games, especially when today's succesful portal casual games incorporate as much content as AAA games from 10 years ago and other simpler titles have a reputation of having low sales).
I think maybe now what you should do is try to devellop your "shop front", ie create a recognizable brand and capitalize on it, try to attract new customers, expand your site to have an audience that will come not only to check if you have released a game (maybe include social activities), increase your catalogue with similar develloper titles,etc...
It's difficult to tell you exactly what to do, you have to take initiatives here.
Maybe this is standard business stuff and you could find ideas in business books.