Indie Game Pass

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Rainer Deyke, Mar 27, 2006.

  1. Rainer Deyke

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    I think the greatest single service that RealArcade provides to its customers is the game pass. Maybe its true that if a person is willing to pay $10 for a game, he is also willing to pay $20 for a game. However, people still like to feel that they are getting a good deal. I know that I am personally tempted by the RealArcade game pass. Even though I can't find a single game that I like through RealArcade. (There are a couple of games on RealArcade that I like, but I found out about them through this forum, not through RealArcade.) Even though I refuse to install RealArcade on my computer. Even though I don't want to financially support RealArcade and I do want to finanicially support the actual developers.

    The other side of this is, of course, that buying a game pass implies a certain level of commitment. If I get a free game per month, I'm going to spend some time looking at game demos. Even if I can't find a game that I would be willing to buy at its full price, I'll probably find something that's worth the $8 monthly fee to me - and if I find more that one game I really like, I may end up getting one for "free" and buying the other.

    To keep this in perspective: Right now I buy approximately one game for $20 per year. If I was to buy RealArcade game pass, I would spend at least $96 on games per year - almost five times as much. And the main reason I don't buy a RealArcade game pass is because I don't like RealArcade.

    I know that the indie portal idea comes up again and again in this forum. Even though the discussion has for far just been talk, I figure it's only a matter of time until somebody does create a new game portal, "indie" or not. I think that a game pass system could be one of the keys to the success of this hypothetical indie portal. (The other key, being, of course, good access to games that fall outside of the mainstream casual genre.) (And, no, I am not planning on setting up such a portal at this time. I just want to discuss the idea.) Any comments?
     
  2. Pyabo

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    Hey, I really like this idea. This could actually be implemented without a full fledged portal. The Indie Game Pass would allow you to pick up for "free" (the $10/mo fee actually) any game from any participating indie developer. Seems like a good opportunity for cross-promotion.

    Even if you can't find a game you actually want every month, the GamePass is great for "market research." Download best sellers and take them apart... well, analyze them I mean. Hunstville will be available soon... it's probably worth your time to check out a game that sold 50,000 copies in three months.

    Also, I thought it was mentioned on these forums before, that even when a game is purchased through the GamePass, the developer proceeds match what they would normally get for a full price sale? I don't recall for sure.
     
  3. Hiro_Antagonist

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    Why all the hate of RealArcade? If nothing else, it should be a good free/easy source of demos...

    -Hiro_Antagonist
     
  4. Rainer Deyke

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    Hiro_Antagonist: I don't really hate RealArcade. However:
    • I don't like having to go through their interface just to get to the game demo.
    • Only a tiny percentage of RealArcade games are interesting to me, and they are nearly impossible to find in their current interface.
    • When I buy an indie game, I want as much of my money as possible to go directly to the developer.

    Pyabo: Yes, this would not require a full portal. However, it would require:
    • A lot of participating developers. There need to be at least 12 interesting games per year.
    • A central server that keeps track of who owns a game pass and which games they chose.
    • A way of finding all of these games - either a directory or a lot of crosslinks between developer websites.
    From there it's just a small step to put all of these games on the same website and call it a portal.
     
  5. joe

    joe
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    sorry, for beeing offtopic, but from which place do you have these amazing numbers?
     
  6. Chris Evans

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  7. Rainer Deyke

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    Actually, now that I think about it, it might be a good idea to separate the sales from the central database. How does the following system sound?
    • There is a central server which sells indie game passes to customers and which keeps a central database of games which are part of the indie game pass system.
    • Anybody can add their own games to the database.
    • Anybody can sell any games in the database through the indie game pass system. Selling games involves having the customer enter their game pass id on the seller's website. The seller then passes the information on to the server, which checks if the indie game pass id is valid and still has a free game credit for the month. If the customer doesn't have an indie game pass, they are directed to the central server where they can buy one.
    • The maintainer of the central server is responsible for sending out payments. 60% goes to the developer of the game. 30% goes to the owner of the website which sold the game. 10% is kept for maintainance costs.

    In other words, the indie game pass system takes more or less the same role as Plimus and BMT do now. Developers can sell games through the indie game pass system to their existing customers from their own website. Anybody can set up their own portal/affiliate site using the indie game pass system. The one thing this system would need to succeed is widespread support from developers and widespreading affiliating and interlinking between developers. The indie game pass system is only attractive to customers when the customers feel that they can find at least one game per month that they want to buy.

    Setting up a system like that would be less work than setting up a portal, which makes it kind of attractive to me. However, the person who sets this up should really have their own merchant account to eliminate yet another middle man from taking another share of the profits.
     
  8. soniCron

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    And they'd have to deal with all of the accounting, which would be a full-time job in itself...
     
  9. Rainer Deyke

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    If this gets popular enough that the accounting becomes a fulltime job, then it will hopefully also get profitable enough that the person who owns the server can hire a fulltime accountant. If not, then the percentages will have to be adjusted. However, companies like Plimus are (presumably) profitable right now at 10%, and setting up an indie game pass server wouldn't be that much additional work on top of what they already do.
     
  10. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Unlike the indie gamer portal idea that someone reintroduces every month.. this is actually doable. It can be self initiated by someone and almost entirely automated as well. It's a pretty good idea.

    I think you'd need 2 things to make it work

    - Someone profiting from it and running it as a business. I believe in the idea of a small amount going towards the program etc.. so someone is taking it seriously and really working to making it succeed. IMHO Community based projects are likely to fail in most cases.

    - Someone credible backing it so it takes traction. It's hard for something to take off if the person starting it has no credibility in the industry. People won't rush to join for fear that it'll be done poorly or just abandoned, in part due to lack of interest from other devs for the same reason.
     
  11. Pyabo

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    Whaaaa? The owner of the website *IS* the developer. The 10% for the GamePass manager seems reasonable though.

    I'm picturing this as a payment option on order screens... Not sure what you're picturing here. The GamePass web site itself would more or less be a repository of links to developers's sites. Of course, some developers don't have their own sites... Hmmmmm.

    I think it would need a better name than "GamePass" though, or we might be hearing from Real. Suggestions? And what price range would be reasonable? Shoot for $10/mo? Or go low to compete with Real at $5/mo?

    How many developers here would actually be interested in partaking in such a program?
     
  12. Pyabo

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    Another source of income for the GamePass manager would be pass fees that aren't actually used. I for one only use my Real pass about 50% of the time. :p
     
  13. Pyabo

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    OK, I see what you're getting at now... and I disagree with this... don't think it should be done this way. How is this different from open affiliate systems already in place?
     
  14. Rainer Deyke

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    The difference is that it is tied to the game pass. I think this makes a lot of sense. If you're trying sell individual games from your website, it makes sense to restrict your website to your own games for which you will collect 100% of the profit. If you're trying to sell this game pass thing, you'll need to show your customer that there are a lot of game pass games available. The way to do this that is most convenient for the customer is to sell a lot of affiliate games from your site. In other words, it makes a lot of sense to combine this game pass idea with an affiliate system. I am picturing lots of little mini-portals focused on specific gaming niches.

    However, the specifics are all up for negotiation. Maybe affiliates should get a smaller percentage. Maybe affiliates need to get explicit permission from the developer before they can start selling a game.
     
  15. soniCron

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    I'm not saying it wouldn't be profitable, I'm saying unless you've found someone to take on the task of running this thing, all talk is moot. This is a full-time job in itself, so until someone steps up to take on the responsibilty, it's not even possible to begin the site.

    Would it be possible to leverage a payment processor's existing infrastructure to facilitate our needs? Make a recurrant billing "product" with a list of the IndiePass members to be payed in royalty is a good start. Then use inter-site communications to keep everyone on the same page. But this brings up another question: Do the developers split the money evenly, or do they only get it if their game is purchased? If so, how does this benefit the developer, since we're all free to run our own discounts? And then I wouldn't want just anyone joining the network, if I'm sharing my profits. So who decides? Is it democratic? If so, I have my doubts about a pure democracy. And thus, I'd suggest the site should have an elected panel of developers who decide what's in the best interest for the network, etc...

    All these other things need to be nailed down before anything of substance can begin. Anyone think of anything else?
     
  16. MrPhil

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    Simplify things: The central database holds all the information a website would need to sell a game including the game's links to all the affiliate systems: Plimus, RegNow, etc. Then the individual website can decide how to handle everything.

    This adds value to the developers because they can reach more people without giving a cut to portals and an easy way to manage the game’s info.

    It adds value to the affiliates because they can setup an interface between the database and their websites that make it easy to add new titles and target particular game types for their audience. Plus it is easier and faster to find games because you don't have all that non-game software to wade through.

    Eventually down the road when things get cooking you can add more services and evolve into a full service commerce provider.
     
  17. Grey Alien

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    this idea rocks. I'd drop my Real GamePass and get one of these instead so the developers have more money in their pockets.

    Now who's gonna do it. If done right it could be massive, hmm tempting.
     
  18. Pyabo

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    OK, that seems to make exactly TWO establish developers interested in the idea. What's the tipping point before it actually becomes feasible? We'd have to have a critical mass of developers on board before it becomes attractive to consumers.

    I'd certainly like to hear from Cliffski, Cas, Raptisoft, Mike B., Gabriel, Andy, and others, even if it's to say "no."

    I did some digging around for domain names yesterday. Came up with a couple that I like. More on this later.
     
  19. Andy

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    Well.

    Just have to say something in addition to reading.

    I was proposing such idea to some fellows from here by year or so ago. Have even couch GamerID.com domain for it in that time - but left it later.
    The system could be even simpler really. You start to build it too complicated again.

    Now back to basics: Would we keep it under our control we could easily develop and deliver it to all of you in short two months or so.
    So only the question left if another ( really well established ) developers would step into the system under our personal control. :)

    The problem is obvious - I wouldn't mind to step into collaboration with great guys like Svero, Mike, Neil and good amount of another - you know them. I know the level of quality of their games - I know how they worried about it - I can trust them. But guys! I can't promote shitty games from our website. And we all know for sure this GamePass would mean additional promotion in-between us. So this is the point where I need to know for sure where and how such system would go - who would take part, how well would it be controlled and so on.
    Check our website - we got no "links" section at all. That's how the decision to step into such system would be difficult for us.

    REM: Finances. Well. This all is discussable of course. But I'd start from pretty solid $100 (if not $500) entry fee from any developer who would like to enter the system. Don't have money, don't have good enough games to sell in the system, don't believe to return such money from the system with your games - don't enter. Seriously. Not to say that we badly need that money - would be great help for advertising though - but mostly just to filter off all that idiots around. That's it. See? Everybody knows how harsh I'm so... ;)

    Hope this helps somehow, :)
     
  20. Rainer Deyke

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    I don't think it really matters how many shitty games take part in this program. You don't have to sell them. You don't have to link to them. Your customers never have to find out about them.
     

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