The shareware model revisited.

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by zoombapup, Sep 22, 2007.

  1. soniCron

    Indie Author

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    The point, though, is not just to nurture value of the game to the player, but to nurture the value of the player to the aggregate.

    That is to say, get the player to buy not just good games, but bad games, too! (It sounds sinister, and it's rarely that black-and-white. More like: decent games vs. not-as-good games, but I use such contrasts to better illustrate my point.)

    Now, it is in the best interest of the portal and developer to make good games, because good games purchased == happy customers == loyalty == more money.

    The problem now is, however, that the players are only buying the absolute best games, and frequently not "really good" or "pretty good" games. (If they are buying any games at all, and not just artificially extending their trial by visiting multiple portals!)

    The approach is two-fold: 1) Get more people buying more games by tweaking hard-sell techniques on a per-game basis, and 2) Facilitate a more responsible product push through relevancy and customer satisfaction. (E.g. Support niche titles and players with a the long-tail.)

    The real bonus, though, is that it's healthier for the entire industry! It puts more money into the hands of more people, fosters innovation at every turn, and consequently expands the market to people who otherwise might not enter it! Everyone--from the players to the aggregates to the developers--benefits both in the short-term and in the long-term!

    And this would open up existing marketing/product channels to developers like Phil, who want to try a different business models and further stimulate innovation, either through success or error.

    How's this for a better analogy of why try-too-much-before-you-buy is bad: How many movies would you have paid for after you've seen it? Conversely, how many do you thoroughly regret paying for? It's likely that you'd have paid for few, but don't hate yourself for paying for so many. Get it?
     
  2. zoombapup

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    Hmmm, I can see this is an area of contention.

    I'm not saying that the shareware model will work for everything. But surely the value proposition that was so compelling before is still compelling today?

    I suppose what everyone is saying is that it locks you into a content production mentality. Which is probably quite true.

    My thinking, for what its worth, is that the product I have in mind is VERY far from the traditional casual game. So I'm just trying to think over the options without getting stuck into a mental picture of how to position it. I *know* shareware used to work, because I used to own a shop retailing it. The value proposition at the time was that basically, you got to keep playing the game you really liked. I suppose the forerunner of the episodic game in many ways.

    Of course the shareware guys made the right choices at the time, ignoring the traditional models and going with something that struck a chord with the buying public. Having a unique product, or just a well polished product, well that was a big part of it.

    Paul: interestingly, amazon are starting to do microtransactions with thier "flexible payments system", of course its US only (bugger). But I think one of the big players will step in and do so as we move towards a broadband based media world (its coming pretty quickly, I was speaking to a guy from microsoft about it on thursday).

    Anyway, I'm just trying to keep and open mind and think through why the different sales models work or not (for different types of products).

    Before I go into development, I'll definitely seek out some different opinions from people I trust.
     
  3. KG_Brad

    KG_Brad New Member

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    I think a lot of people associate the word "Shareware" with websites like Download.com and Brothersoft. Unfortunately for developers that like the word (myself included), software is always getting added to those sites. That makes it fairly hard to compete with other products. Another problem is that a lot of people think of spyware, adware, and viruses when they think of shareware.
     
  4. FlySim

    Indie Author

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    We use feature limiting to sell our fly fishing game - one river, one fish per run of the game. Decided against a time limit because it can be a complicated game for non fly fisherman or non gamers. We get a ~4% conversion rate but I think alot of that is the targeted audience. Several customers have had the demo for years before purchasing which could be a good or bad thing. On one hand, a time limited game would have been long forgotten. On the other, more aggressive up sell might helped convince more people to buy.
     
  5. Bad Sector

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    Before i released Nikwi as GPL, it used the shareware model (10 levels out of 30, check the shareware version). The sales were nonexistant, but i blame the game's hardness (everyone said it was very hard - although the shareware levels are somewhat easy) and the fact that as a game it was mediocre. For example, it had no music, lots of bugs, no visible long goal, etc.

    Currently i still believe that the shareware model works, given that the game can support it (as said, match-3 and discovery games probably can't) and with my next game i will still use it. However i will try to convince the gamers to buy the shareware too (like showing a nag screen with screenshots from the full version every two or three levels). I don't have enough evidence that the shareware model doesn't apply today. People may not share disks around anymore, but they do share links in forums and emails :). And i'm sure that they'll more likely share a link to a shareware version that offers a few levels for unlimited time than a link to a demo with one level or a time limit.
     
  6. KG_Brad

    KG_Brad New Member

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    You beat me to my other point!
     
  7. zoombapup

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    All of the apogee/id/epic games used to have upselling at the end of the game. Before you quit out it used to show you about 6-8 screenshots of what you were missing (timed of course).
     
  8. KG_Brad

    KG_Brad New Member

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    I think a lot of shareware games don't have anything more other than levels. The old id/Apogee games would have new enemies, weapons, pickups, etc. If they do have any sort of teaser at the end, it's usually just some text.
     
  9. GolfHacker

    GolfHacker Member

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    From the ASP website:
    By that definition, any kind of trial version of a game that users are allowed to redistribute qualifies as shareware - it doesn't matter if it is time-limited, feature-limited, or whatever.

    In that sense, shareware is still very much relevant. If you want to sell your indie game, you better provide some sort of trial version - users won't buy it if they can't first try it (since they can do that with just about every other game). And you might as well let them share the demo - they're going to do it anyway. However, the way in which you limit your trial version is something that may change over time, depending on market saturation and other conditions, as has already been discussed.

    In the case of Fashion Cents, the current version limits them to 10 free games and I provide free add-on packs for registered owners containing new game content to keep it fresh and interesting. Interestingly, it is the free add-ons that cause people to buy - the add-ons contain dresses, new kinds of accessories, and other fun clothes that aren't available in the trial version. So a content-based sales model absolutely does work for a casual game like this.

    For Fashion Cents Deluxe, I am sticking with this model, though I am considering changing the limit. I haven't decided whether to reduce the limit to 5 free games, or remove the limit altogether. The game tends to hook someone right away or not at all.
     
  10. Bad Sector

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    Nikwi had 4 more level themes, more monsters and small gameplay differences in the full version. At the end it had three screenshots from these and a small teaser text.

    What it didn't had (except music, scores and a bugfree experience :p), was a "buy now" button with a small (3-4 seconds) timer before you could exit, and that was bad. It had a buy nikwi shortcut though, but that was two clicks away and after exiting from the game, without the nice screenshots and the big "only $9.95" in the face, the player wasn't really motivated to click.
     
  11. Nikos Beck

    Nikos Beck New Member

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    It makes sense. There are episodic games on the market that are doing very well. "Sam and Max" are a good example. They only took four-to-six weeks to develop each episode. They had the entire series roughly planned beforehand. They met their a-game-every-two-months release schedule.

    If you plan to package an updated exe with each upgrade then you can add features to the core game rather than just selling new models and levels.
     
  12. zoombapup

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    Nice, thats good hard evidence there. I think you did a lot of things right in that case. Just needed a more visible "buy now" option to flesh out what would have been the "shareware" model of old.
     

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