Pfftt.. this is just a temporary phenomenon.
I give it 2 years before games will overshoot 100 usd per title.
HyperInflation anyone ?
Not a joke. If you've been following financial news, most likely the FED is going to print their way out of debt.
That is a very likely scenario because no one can keep lending USA the money when they themselves are in trouble with the economy.
Nobody wants to keep financing American debt to expand their military empire.
Even the Japanese are tired of the looting by American financial institutions.
The Fed is going to print more money and the Chinese and Japanese would have to dump some dollars/treasuries to lighten the burden the global financial crisis that is affecting their economy.
The chances of 100 usd CASUAL games are pretty real.
Those portals are just killing themselves by setting prices at this level now.
Wait and see how it all goes.
Inevitable? Mere falling into line with other forms of entertainment? Perhaps. But while it's still possible to attract a niche following of loyal fans and do well simply by selling them the kind of games they like - and heck, this is the internet, it's made of niches - I for one will be continuing to steer clear of the commodity games industry.
(As for whether this new price point will shower millions of dollars of cash onto casual devs or doom them to eternal oblivion working in coal mines or something... without hard data I don't dare to form a solid opinion. I do note that my direct sales quantity did not budge an inch when I quietly put the price down from $19.99 USD to $9.99 USD for a week or so. Of course, my pricing experiment may have absolutely no relevance to Reflexive, and presumably they've done their maths.)
Maybe not, China (the big global player) has just signaled her willingness to "cooperate" with the global community to ensure financial stability. 20 millions people has lost their jobs in China since the beginning of credit crunch and that's size of our national population. Have you ever wondered why China has not let Yuan hyper-appreciated against the dollars and other currencies? That's because such an act would instantly kill the highly interconnected global economy (Ie : US buys cheap goods from China - China buys resources from Australia and so forth). Haha..... .. At the end of the day, It's all about getting people employed. No job = Riot = revolution = civil war = nation collapses. 1.3 billion (+another 1 billion in India ) population can safely absorb trillion of inflationary easy dollars created for "quite a number of years" (Gulping) . A high end innovation (Ie : Quality Casual games at 6.99 ???? ) the size of internet revolution can also help reversing the trade imbalance that USA has with others and ease the dollar pressure.I give it 2 years before games will overshoot 100 usd per title.
HyperInflation anyone ?
That's just my personal opinion.
Well just a thought but if the distributors are insistent on selling games at a low $10 price point, then perhaps in the future we need to be making games for that price point.
Just to clarify that, if you've made a game with $20 worth of content in, then in the future commodotize your games, i.e. make games with only half the content, possibly even episodic.
Previously it's been a worry that by selling games at $10 you'd lose out to richer $20 games, now everyone is on the same level.
I think part of the problem is that games are often compared to films especially be game devs, so that's crept into the general (non-game playing) public imagination who then compare the cost of films to the cost of a game and decide games are overpriced. Hence that's what their market-research found.
Plus, of course, Amazon is using the age old tactic of going in low to break into an existing market, so it's not entirely unexpected.
I'm am quite hopefully that Amazon coming into the market will bring a lot more customers our way, and I hope that soon enough we'll see the equivalent of hard and paperback books where the "paperback" games are the $10 content games and the hardback are the $20 ones.
Commoditization of games has been on the cards for a long time, especially once the mass-market aimed casual games started to become popular. It was only a matter of time I think.
Plus of course, you don't have to sell through the portals.
Time will tell what happens next,
I have no agenda other than to be successful and see other indies be successful. I'm about to release my casual game Dragon Hatchery that I've worked on for the last year and have spent thousands of my own dollars on. Whether the game makes it or not will vastly determine my future as I have no other game in development at the moment and need it to be successful to continue developing further games.
So I am hugely invested in indie casual game development and its future -- this is not an idle hobby or "beer money" for me (though nothing wrong with either). As someone invested, I see no reason to believe my game will be any more or less successful than if it was released a month ago at $20.
I see this price reduction as nothing but opportunity. Opportunity for new customers, broader reach, greater acceptance... heck, if casual game budgets have been spiraling out of control (following a parallel path to their AAA big budget counterparts, now up to $60 a game retail), maybe this will put a check on that, reducing budgets, which put indies more in the game and more competitive with the big studios. That's a small speculative point about all this, but it's a possibility nonetheless.
Invested in the success of the industry, yes. Hidden agenda, no. Must be the magic pixies then. Or my 5 years experience developing, funding, and publishing games for the download market.
One last point, this one regarding global markets. The US is not the only country buying and playing games -- ok, it's one of the biggest markets, but there's still a whole huge world of people out there, and casual games more than most are "games for everyone."
Consider that here in South Africa, the largest bill is 200 Rand, or $20.
To put that into context, we were previously selling casual games at such a high price that you have to use the biggest bank note in South Africa to buy one.
That's expensive. Maybe not to a US audience, but certainly to a South African audience, and to a global audience whose pockets are not as rich as American ones.
Consider yet another side effect of the price drop is an increase in the adoption of the market to worldwide markets.
200 Rand can buy a lot of food here. It should be able to buy more than one downloaded Diner Dash.
Who knows, if everyone drops to $9.99 it could all just work out, with more sales for everyone.
In the short term though I'm left with a difficult decision. I woke up this morning and my games are now $6.99 on 100's of game sites. So I have two options, I can reduce my own pricing to $6.99 or I can remove the games from the catalogue. The thing is, if I reduce my pricing then I can hardly ask other portals/sites to keep the games at $19.99 : (
Can anyone spot a 3rd option?
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - casual customers want something DIFFERENT. That's what many of my Fashion Cents customers tell me when they write to me praising me for the game. For something new, original, and fun, they'll pay more than the $10 price point because there is value in it. And of course, niche markets won't be affected by this price point change at all.
Am I the only one that thinks in dollars / hour of entertainment terms?
For example, a 2 hour movie that costs me around $10 is $5 per hour whereas a short casual game that sells for $20 and I play for around 4 hours is also $5 per hour. So in this case, I feel that both experiences are worth about the same thing.
However, when you are talking about a game with more depth that gamers play, for example, for 20 hours and still only costs $20, you are now talking about $1 per hour. This already seems really cheap for the customer (at least compared to movies).
You don't actually have to have the lowest price for a game on your website. Some customers will hunt for the best bargains. Not all will. Sales for a game continue to happen even if the same game is being given away free somewhere else. Before automatically adjusting your prices, hang on and see if your sales drop because of the price change elsewhere, or if the people visiting YOUR site have any idea that it's cheaper somewhere else or not.Can anyone spot a 3rd option?
Basically, you either buy into the portal model, or you dont. Its become harder to have both, which is bloody fine by me.
Now the smart money is on working harder to find your audience rather than letting someone else find it and charge you for it OR buy into the mass market and hope to get a "hit" that will make the development worthwhile.
Sorry to reply to myself, but I just thought of something. Maybe we need to figure out a way to have "lite" versions of the games we make. So more like the "paperback" version being cheaper than the hardback.
So you create a "lite" portal version, which is almost like an upsell. Then you sell the "deluxe" version yourself from your own site.
Essentially, selling across two different markets by creating two different products from the same effort. Using the higher traffic lower revenue product to upsell the higher revenue low traffic version.
Bah, like I care.
because you have 5 years experience, you have all your eggs in one basket and are dependent on one title to make or break it, and you're supporting the lower price point praying that it's going to maybe increase units by what ? 5 times for it to be worth while ?
Then again, I don't know what successful is for you, it could be just selling 10 units for all I know.
so, essentially you ground for being pro is what could be rather than what is ? which is fair enough, though you'd probably be better playing stocks
.... having actually *had* a non-portal Deluxe version available from my own site, no portal ever yelled at me for it. The portal copies didn't link back to my site, but sufficiently interested customers found it anyway. Especially if your game is one likely to generate a set of fans discussing strategies and otherwise talking about the game enough for someone to notice the other version and mention it.
Well whoever came up with the idea, it sounds like a good one.
Not really, it's possible to do both ... it's all about small income streams and the occasional licensing deal coming together to make a living. My plan is to alternate between casual & indie games as I enjoy both. The question is, what am I going to do about all my unexpected $6.99 games!? : )So the question becomes, do you feel that you are more likely to end up being an "independant" player with your own customers, or a "portal" player with the hope that the portals will achieve a greater reach at the new lower price point.
Off topic, Zoombapup ... it's that kittens game I told you about coming out next ... I don't think you're going to like it ; )
Bit off-topic, but check out this thread from year 2005:
Well, there you go. Happy now?I rather like the $9.95 price point. I'd rather sell a ton of copies than a lot less. Not only do you gain more customers to mail... you also get a more consistent, steady income from it.
(looks like it took 4 years to get in this point... )At the same time it seems too many portals are willing to go the opposite direction with games selling <10$ for things like gamepass and gameblast. I think the portals may be selling themselves short with these low cost volume strategies.
Even higher than 24.99, Jack Norton sells Magic Stones for 29.99 and I understand that it is a big hit.
Bigfish Game Studios sell Majhong Towers Eternity for 29.99 as well and it is also their biggest internally produced hit to date.
Both of these games offer significantly longer play time than the average 19.99 title though (deeper gameplay for Magic Stones, community features / tileset building / level building etc for MTE).
It's not like people are deciding between buying EITHER a digital casual game download OR or Wii ware game. And they are not deciding between EITHER a casual game OR a digital album download. They don't directly compete in that way. But it is all about how much people are used to paying for a small piece of entertaining media whether its an album, movie, book or game casual game.
The paranoia I was referring to had NOTHING to do with the price drop. It was two unrated rumors or fears that were totally unfounded and not backup up by any facts. Those unfounded rumors about royalty rates is what I was referring to as "just paranoia".
I do not believe that peoples concerns about the pricing change are "just paranoia". Those are vary valid concerns about real facts.
The trouble is, you don't double sales, it's some smaller fraction like 50% more sales. And the worst bit is, the extra sales are to tightwads. You won't subsequently be able to write a game that took twice as long to make and sell it to the buggers for $19.95. One thing I've discovered is that people who really want your game will pretty much pay anything reasonable for it where reasonable is any number between $0 and $30. Each game has its own sweet spot.
Bunging them all in at $9.95 is a) missing the sweet spot for most of the games b) making less money and c) making it harder to make better (or even more) titles