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Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Jack Norton, May 14, 2009.
Yay, pricewars. This only hurts everyone.
Indies, go exclusive, and build up your own customer bases. Stop giving your games to portals. You may make more money in the short term allowing portals to distribute your games, but long term... this will all get really ugly.
Doesn't hurt me.
Ok, it doesn't hurt anyone that's not making casual games.
But it does hurt devs that are making casual games, it does hurt gamers as it's promoting devs to make games with lower production values and less content, and it's also hurting portals as they are biting the hands that are feeding them.
'And the beat goes on...' is the only thing that comes to mind right now
But wait, wasn't the bfg club priced at $6.99 for a while, or has the price dropped (in which case the above statement stands)
EDIT: Or was it 9.99 or something, I forget, they all kinda look the same sometimes
Well indeed doesn't seem like a big change. I mean, now the main difference is that you can't buy the game at $20 anymore. Only $6.99 joining the gameclub (from what I can understand). But probably most people were already buying at that price for sure.
So is $6.99 becoming the official price tag for casual games ?
What's the point of this?
It makes very little difference to BFG because the vast majority of sales were already at the $6.99 price point, afaik. They simply had a few more expensive options available for those who didn't want to be locked into a long membership or were too lazy to investigate the options.
THAT WAS A GOOD THING. Different price points are good! Requiring people to make some tradeoff for getting the lower price is good!
So what's the point of this? "Um, we just don't want anyone to choose to pay more for our games anymore." or "Um, we don't want people to buy multiple games from us anymore, we want to encourage them to buy just one cheap."
Another case of "Ooo, I have two feet, let's shoot one"?
Now the higher price points are no longer even an option, and the minimum is probably gone.
So, now the way it works is: for as long as a customer is a "club member" they will be charged $6.99 each month, and that credit will go onto their account. As a "club member" any additional game that they buy they will be able to do so for $6.99.
Devs are getting screwed by these shenanigans. Customers are getting trained to expect games at the lower price point. Even now we often get e-mails from customers saying that our games are more expensive than other sites, but they wanted our game anyway so they bought it at our full price and were very happy they did. Now would be a good time to not get into making casual games.
Quality, uniqueness and game length are good, legit reasons to keep a high price. They should always be advertised (or reminded) to potential customers.
Obviously, you must get something *different* at 20$ than you would get a 7$, otherwise customers have all the good reasons to look elsewhere.
Surely most of BFG's customers stay within the BFG universe for all their gaming needs? I can't see alot of BFG customers browsing other sites or googling anything else game related. So are these 6.99 customers going to find your 19.95 game anyway?
Don't know a percentage or any figure, but when I released my last games and did the PRs, I saw people talking in forums and wondering if they would be released on portals (mostly BFG indeed for the gamepass thing).
Just an example:
yes, it's unbeliveable but true: casual players know how to use google!!
I think depends on people's tastes. There are some games on BFG I might have bought myself too, but not the majority since I don't like HO games. So let's say I like Tower Defense, My Tribe and Aveyond 1-2, I could get the gamepass and buy all those games at $6.99 each instead of fullprice, but not for that I would stop looking elsewhere.
This is actually not hurting BF, they are just making an offer to make people buy more games. While normally a person would buy 4 games in 1 year from BF, the first option makes the person buy 12, without the possibility to cancel until the 12 purchases are made, so that means that BF gets 84$, while for 4 games BF would get only 40$, the double, not bad.
So the lowering in price is just a way into making the customer buy more games.
But it sure makes us exclusive indies be in a even harder position than before, people will think that games should be cheap, as others have said, but casual players don't go looking for games in google it seems, otherwise there would be millions of other casual game portals.
So what can de done besides offering different things that can't be found on portals?.
Well, what can we expect? One portal lowers prices. Then other does the same. Then other. Soon everybody is lowering prices.
Hehee, this comment made my day
Reading comprehension fail.
Their *old* scheme required you to buy more games in order to get the cheap price.
They are now revising that scheme, so that EVERY game costs the cheapest possible price, with no minimum to-buy, cancel any time. That's what we're complaining about. That's the point of the thread.
I believe they want to improve their market share.
I'm wondering how low it's going to go. You can already get lots of games totally free on iWin (with ads) and through GameHouse. It doesn't seem sustainable?
If you look at customer comments, many still want high production value games, but at the discount prices. Strictly speaking, only a few high production value titles come out a month, with a lot of fillers.
My guess is that the game-a-day thing will turn into game-a-week at this rate.
Meh, don't throw in the white flag just yet. As small developers, we cannot control the larger tide, but we can adapt faster than larger game companies.
So... maybe we should steer away from "we are doooomed! doooomed!" and focus on how we can take advantage of our new landscape.
My advice #1: 4-Hour SNACK GAMES!!!
My advice #2: Don't think of game portals as a "place where people buy games". Think of them as marketing consultants that you've hired to help you expose your game to millions of people who don't know you exist. Now, I've worked in a few corporations before I went indie, and I can tell you that it was common to put 50% of all company money into the marketing department. To hire an outside marketing agency would drive up this cost to around 75%. If you ignore your marketing, albeit a very expensive part of business, you'll probably not make as much money as you are capable of making.
I've been studying casual gamer purchasing behavior, and one thing is for certain: If a game is good, be it 10 hours or 2 hours, players will purchase it. Dream Chronicles series (one of my favorite game series), is an example of this.
I'm currently breaking up Aveyond 3 into smaller "snack" chapters and while this was a bit scary at first, there are several positive things that have come out of it:
1) Shorter development-to-market time (3 months vs 1 year). With a shorter development time, it's a lot easier not to become sick of what you are working on. Plus, you'll get much better beta feedback on smaller games.
2) If you have a game that tanks, you won't loose 12 months of pay, only 3 months of pay. You can get back into the "game" quickly before any lasting damage is done. (Yummy Drink Factory low sales for me)
3) The lower prices could drive more consumers to our games. I'm not putting all of my eggs in one basket, thus snack-sized games, but the lower prices could drive more non-purchasers to pay for games... especially people in countries with low-value currencies.
These are my thoughts. Personally, I choose to adapt and not only survive, but flourish. I hope you do too.
At prices this low, it isn't even worth the time to promote their games as an affiliate.
I am no business expert, but all this makes no sense to me. I don't in any way see how this is sustainable to the developer and ultimately to the portal. Now you have to sell 3 times as many games as you did before to make the same amount of money.
Here is Thelen's post in the forums:
Just to get it straight from Paul: here. [oops, DFG beat me to it. Jim, it's been years since most people paid $20 for games on BFG, and I personally know several affiliates whose well-paid full-time job is to be our affiliates, like this guy and that guy :]
I for one am all for this change and that's not corporate-talk. This isn't a reaction to or race with other sites; we offer a lot of exclusive content so how they price their games doesn't matter much to our audience. A lot of our customers were already getting their games at 6.99, which is our value price point since 2006 or so, so we're not lowering anything. The games are still a $20 value at retail. You can now unsubscribe and resubscribe at will but you still need to do so, and your benefits accrue while you're subscribed / reset when you don't. CRs on our site have exploded with the introduction of gameclub a few years ago, and BFG Studios are a developer like everyone else of you guys as well as a major contributor to the bottom line of the company, so like gameclub has done after it was introduced, we're doing this with the view of increasing revenues globally, including for Studios, while making it nicer to customers. I've been with BFG since 2006, and before that working with them since early 2005, so I've seen the company's revenue curve, the explosion in downloads and sales, and the evolution of the checks we cut for top tenner games.. There is no doubt that every move by Paul has resulted in moving both bfg and devs into the upper bracket every time.