This whole shift just means one thing: start thinking differently about how you do business.
The MCF franchise is owned by Big Fish Games, if a professional independent developer owned it they most certainly would not allow it to be discounted, especially given the development budgets. Same reasoning why some developers are curiously exempt from Reflexive's new pricing strategy.Top of the line titles like Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst
Also note that Gamepass is different from straight up discounts. The last I heard was that BigFish was paying the standard royalty on GamePass purchases. If that's changed...well, then it sucks even more for the developers.
* Also bear in mind when a portal brags about higher conversion rate it means they're popping the champagne corks because they finally hit 1%
This whole shift just means one thing: start thinking differently about how you do business.
I think most people don't bother to look around at a game's price on different sites. For instance, my game is 10$ on Reflexive and 15$ on my own site, and so far this month I've about three times as many sales on my own site as on Reflexive. So those hundreds of people who are removing their games from Reflexive over this might be overreacting. I think they should at least give it a chance (a month or two) and see how it works out for them before they panic.
I bet the contracts with Mumbo Jumbo, Popcap, Playfirst, etc. specified a minimum amount per game sold.Same reasoning why some developers are curiously exempt from Reflexive's new pricing strategy.
GamePass is Real. You mean the BFG Game Club. There's no way BFG is taking a loss on all their Game Club purchases by paying the developer 40% of $19.99 ($7.99) for a game that customers buy for $6.99. (I think that's what you were saying.) As far as I know, it has always been a percentage of the purchase price, whether that's $19.99 or $6.99.Also note that Gamepass is different from straight up discounts. The last I heard was that BigFish was paying the standard royalty on GamePass purchases. If that's changed...well, then it sucks even more for the developers.
Yes when any portal pays a % royalty it's always based on the selling price (minus costs like transaction fees and download fees etc).
This simply isn't true.* Also bear in mind when a portal brags about higher conversion rate it means they're popping the champagne corks because they finally hit 1%
Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the return of the gaming fish market.
Check out that monster. Only $6.94 per lb. Invite the neighbors over.
I have to say that's an interesting development. Sure, deluxe and gold versions are nothing new, but certain games could benefit from reduced (lite) or split versions (A and B).There has already been ideas flying around in this thread about submitting "lite/portal" versions of games for those who want to continue working with these portals.
I see this as something that is very possible. In those cases, I wouldn't see it as offering a disposable game.
That's why I decided to remove it. But for example, I would be fine to let portals carry a version with just 1 type of avatar, or some other major restrictions.
Devs simply accepting the price drop "as it is" are making an error, while those kind of lite version could be a good way for some portals to sell games at low price, and for devs also as a form of marketing (if the player looks in google and find out about the deluxe/real game could buy straight from dev site).
Gaming Guru Alex St. John on Amazon, Business Models, and the Future of Casual Games
I just read this outlining the good and the bad about Amazon flexing its muscles, with no mention of the bad that is being expressed as a concern by developers here.
Popcap are obviously after a better deal, one that doesn't undercut the other hundred and odd venues its wares are sold. I'd say their games are worth more to Amazon than Amazon is worth to Popcap.A quick glance at the games library reveals that no games from leading casual game provider PopCap are available. When asked about Amazon's leap into the casual game business, Garth Chouteau, spokesman for Seattle-based PopCap Games, told Ars Technica: "It makes sense for them to make game available to the millions of people who visit their site." He also added, "It seems quite likely that we will be able to count them as an online distribution partner, in the way we do a Yahoo games or a Real Arcade." Popular PopCap titles, including "Bejeweled" and "Zuma," may be available on Amazon in the future. Unfortunately they weren't included at launch.
I'm not surprised a few devs are pulling their content though, as announced in this thread. I wouldn't of been happy to wake up to the news your game is now half the price it was last night without being consulted about it in advance. Devs have possible deals and their very businesses riding on sales projections. If Virgin Megastore permanently dropped its price for all cd's, new & old, in half there would be a lot of music companies and artists pulling their wares too. They'd be insane not to.
If you manufacture a product YOU set the minimum retail price and the recommended retail price too. If you dont then you are letting someone else decide your companies fortunes.
However, this is because the publisher can set the rate to begin with, they sell X units at Y
price, and each stage adds their own bit on.
Which is totally inverse to what happens in online distribution in a roundabout way, etailer sells for X, they take their cut, and the rest goes to the distributor/publisher (usually the same entity).
I guess this is why most contracts don't really say "you will get x% of y for each sale" but rather "you will get %x of each sale".
Contracts are open to negotiation, or you can sell direct and do exactly as you wish.
EDIT: I may be wrong of course, but these are thing I've seen with my own eyes.
Why are prices of major-games, movies or music rising or at least staying stable? If cutting prices by 50% or more would increase profits, why is the development in industries that have a choice, going the opposite direction? In my opinion, it's not because the market expects or demands it, it is because there are associations that have enough power to have their way.
Small developers have no lobby and no leverage. Just like Aldi, Walmart, etc. are dictating prices to their suppliers (to undercut the competition), portals are telling developers at which price point to develop games.
A few games I considered buying have now become very cheap. Have I bought them? No, because at some point, money isn't the limiting factor, but time. Just my two cents ...
RRP or SRP for your product? Without a minimum allowed distribution price in your individual contract you could be earning 30% of a dollar sale in the coming years if the price war intensifies. Btw, I was comparing retail distribution of anything, not just games.
While sorting a deal with a digital distributer would you consider adding a condition that stated they can only sell your game X times, then have them order more digital entities to be sold to extend your distribution agreement?
You've hit the nail on the head here about a downside of digital distribution being that, unlike a fridge or a dvd or an orange or something else you buy and can feel with your hand, a digital product does not need to be reordered by the distributer when stocks run low. This difference alone takes the perception of control away from the manufacturer.
(All personal opinion of course)
There are a lot of inflation calculators on the web, but this one is as good or better as any, if you'd like to play around with the numbers yourself and see what that game that you bought in 1979 for your Atari 2600 would cost today. (Hint: it wouldn't be cheap!)
SRP/RRP's are fine, infact, none contractually, I guess $19.99 seemed to be an unofficial RRP as it were, or whatever you originally put a game on a portal for was, so taking $19.99 as the magic fake RRP, and $6.99 as the abolishing of RRP maybe we can relate to this article.
If not, it's a good read anyway
My point is, major/console-games are still in the same 40-60€ range as they were a decade ago; movies in the 15-25€ and audio CDs in the 12-18€ range. You cannot get a product from these categories for half that, if it's backed by a large lobby or company. For example, the recording industry is aggressively fighting to keep or raise prices for music. Even indie movies and music usually stay within these ranges.
Casual games (and maybe indie games too) on the other hand are dropping to 50% and less, on top of inflation.
It's a race to the bottom to see who can cut their profit margin the most!
Something about Alex St. John's interview doesn't add up...
So you sell 3 times the titles to earn less than you did selling one?the casual game business started with selling a game for $20. The average price has dropped to about $6 in the past five years, but the percentage of people who buy content has tripled
I'm just saying that the winners will be those who adapt. I don't have any BFG inside info, although I could probably find out, but then I wouldn't be able to post it anyway ;-)It sounds like you have accepted this exciting new pricing strategy as the industry standard. Is this a hint that BFG will be following Amazons lead soon?
Awesome, adaptation. So now I can expect everyone to start creating copies of all hit games 24/7 just like AAA titles do (unless of course everyone has cash to go around experimenting with new games that may or may not work at all).
I'm not saying adapt to the new price, I'm just saying adapt full stop/period. I.e. work out the most profitable model for you, instead of staying the same - try something new. For example, if you have games on the portals and the portals dropping their prices hits your bottom line, find some other non-portal way to make money, OR if you want to bring your direct sale prices in-line with the portals because you think that'll work for you then fine. I'm basically saying the businesses that succeed are dynamic. See what's going on and make a change if you need to (and monitor it), it's just common sense right?
From your example, devs can either leave portals for something else or stay on portals and change their direct sale price to match the new one. Sounds like common sense. But it does sound like you accept the new pricing as the standard across the board because one portal slashed its prices in half. I had been thinking the distribution space was larger than just one portal and a total newcomer (Amazon).
Amazon only just launched last week and declared the price for games on their service will be <$10. You can count the days on two hands. Are you really saying anyone already in the market Amazon have just shoehorned into should salute and say "Sir! Yes Sir!" after creating and moving the market for how many years? I say without indie games Amazon is nothing. You cant run a portal with reflexives in-house catalogue (no offense to reflexive, I like their games but there arent many of them) I agree with what someone else said about Reflexive/Amazon becoming a budget only portal.
Is there anybody here that will be supplying Reflexive with any of their currently in development titles for <$10? Not unless they were creating a budget game already I'd say. It's one thing to leave your already developed game on their roster to see how the new price works out but it's another to add something new to it. As James said himself:
From this I hear, "I cant be bothered polishing anymore, no more polished games, down with the Polish!" No more games that look like they are worth $20 means that game quality would drop. Games are going to start to look like they are worth $7 to $10 and the casual space will begin to look like a turd. In actuality, Popcap, BFG and others have shown that more polish is needed across the board.As a game designer and developer I have often been frustrated by the $20 price point. There have been several occasions when I had a core play mechanic that was really, really fun but not worth $20 to play. I always felt that part of my job as a game designer had become adding more and more stuff until the game was worth $20. And then most of them actually sold for $6.99 anyway but it still had to have this perception of being worth $20. Sure you could make a small game and charge less, but nobody would want to use their subscription credit to buy it. As long as most games sell for $6.99 anyway, I like the idea of being able to make a game that is worth $7 to $10 rather than stuffing it with content until it looks like it is worth $20.
The fact you have no idea of what to do with these games makes it sound like you didnt really think the new price through fully and underestimated the scale of the decision, or you're no longer captain of the ship. How will the 60 minute trial affect sales of games that have been cut in half for a sequel? Will there be any playtime left over to entice a purchase?I realize that the problem here is lumping everything into the same $7 to $10 price range. That might work great for lots of game but other bigger games are worth more. I aggree that this is a problem. But maybe breaking those bigger games up into add-ons or sequels could be the way to go.
So we've got Amazon and Reflexive selling at $6.99 to $9.99, BFG selling at $6.99 with Game Club, Real Arcade Game Pass $9.99 month (I thought it was less than this, it used to be), GameHouse Club at $5.99, Playfirst PlayPass at $9.99 ... you get the idea. So Amazon/Reflexive let you buy them cheap without joining a club but it's not much effort to join one (or more) of the other clubs and get cheap games. In fact I wonder how many customers are dual-members of say Real and BFG in order to get the exclusive games on both?But it does sound like you accept the new pricing as the standard across the board because one portal slashed its prices in half