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Why developers drop the price of their games

10-25-2010, 04:59 PM
#1
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 13
Why developers drop the price of their games

I see a lot of users get upset (to the point of boycotting a developer) because they drop the price of a game. Well, I want to let you in on a little insight on why developers drop their prices.

I agree, I would be upset if a game dropped it's price before I bought it. But as a developer, if a game isn't performing the way we think it should (sales wise), we have to find a way to get more sales. It's no big secret that games in the top of the charts get more visibility, which leads to more sales. Are we being greedy by doing this? No. We're a business. We need to recoup our investment. And if we don't, then we can't keep making quality games.

Other times we may have just been wrong on our initial price point. Our latest game, we thought $6.99 was a fair price. It has much more gameplay (features and time length) than other games up there that sell for $4.99. Additionally, our latest game we put up is a complete 100% full featured port of the PC/Mac version, which sells for $20.00. On top of that, we're planning to add Game Center integration as well. We thought the price was good considering all the features included in the game. However, it became apparent after the first couple days that users didn't agree, or just flat out didn't know about the features and length of gameplay. Thus, the price was dropped to get us better exposure.

In the end, I'm sorry if some users end up paying a buck or two more for a game before the price drops. But, certain situations require certain actions. I'm sure every developer will agree with me on this. Now to just get the consumers to understand that we aren't out to steal their money and hose them over...
10-25-2010, 07:11 PM
#2
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
That the entire economy of the AppStore is a big CF is not news.. more telling is that it's a sign for down the road (the further general devaluation of things). At this point I've long since realized that you can try to reason with your audience, potential or otherwise, until you are blue in the face - but most of the time it is not worth the effort. You can not battle against what a general public perception is, and as most of your competitors are slipping and sliding over one another to keep perpetuating the elements we can't stand ("racing to the bottom, etc") then it becomes harder still to make a stand based on principle, especially when one wants to succeed in the business.

Thus we as sellers must "play by the rules," as arbitrary and ridiculous as they seem to be sometimes, and just give the customer what he wants. There's limits to this of course (I find myself getting raked over the coals these days for such complaints as "it doesn't have Game Center, it doesn't have Retina Display, there's no steady stream of free updates, who cares then?") This is the mentality that has been perpetuated and it's not going to go away anytime soon.

I think what most of us can hope to do, is try and establish a known brand, and a loyal customer base with that (no small feat) - and then you won't have people so quick to jump on you for slashing a buck off of prices.

As an asides, jumping around between 0.99-1.99-2.99 doesn't seem to get people too steamed (or vocal), but going higher than that appears to be a threshold for the vengeful.
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Last edited by headcaseGames; 10-25-2010 at 07:20 PM.

10-25-2010, 07:28 PM
#3
The face of gaming is changing extremely quickly. People don't buy those expensive games anymore, and in fact there is so much more money in the freemium game model that all indications are pointing to the fact that we're going to very quickly start to see even more major games released completely for free.

In the Asian markets free to play games are grossing far more in a single month than most other games are making in a year. (which is why ngmoco sold for so much money)

However, that's not what this post is about is it... haha...

Dropping the price of your game pops you up on all sorts of lists and trackers which can draw a large crowd of peeps your way. Normal games go on sale at the store, and newer games are always more expensive than older ones, and nobody really complains about that, so it's the same idea with the app store.
10-25-2010, 07:48 PM
#4
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
Quote:
Originally Posted by BravadoWaffle View Post
The face of gaming is changing extremely quickly. People don't buy those expensive games anymore, and in fact there is so much more money in the freemium game model that all indications are pointing to the fact that we're going to very quickly start to see even more major games released completely for free.
On the contrary - it's just considered a different type of market. Mobile games (and download-only games in general) seem to be a fracture of the market, and should not be lumped in with traditional retail games. People will still happily pay full price for boxed copies of game, in consideration that they are getting a "fully, professionally-produced product" that has been hyped, marketed and sold to them by the traditional means that they've been used to for decades. People will even rationalize spending good money on products they have low expectations for, "@ $10 (or even $20) for a game they don't really want" simply because that is the world they are accustomed to.

This is all due for a huge change, that market cannot continue on in the same fashion (especially in light of what is happening in the download world now). Boxed copies of games won't become obsolete anytime soon, but already you hear a lot of people saying "I will NEVER pay $60 for a game that is download-only"
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10-25-2010, 08:18 PM
#5
Joined: Jul 2010
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 756
What game is this?

-Alex
10-25-2010, 10:13 PM
#6
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Posts: 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by headcaseGames View Post
most of your competitors are slipping and sliding over one another to keep perpetuating the elements we can't stand ("racing to the bottom, etc") then it becomes harder still to make a stand based on principle, especially when one wants to succeed in the business.
Yeah, this is a disturbing trend, however, I believe people will pay more for quality apps/games I think as long as there isn't anything like it.

People don't like to get ripped off so if you price something that the general public would consider a "fair" deal, you will keep them happy.

As an indie dev, any money I can make on top of my salary is a treat, but I am curious as to how the smaller companies with employees deal with the pricing? I can't imagine the smaller companies being able to stay in business for long when they have little choice but to price at 99 cents.
10-26-2010, 12:22 AM
#7
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
Quote:
Originally Posted by robotmechanic View Post
Yeah, this is a disturbing trend, however, I believe people will pay more for quality apps/games I think as long as there isn't anything like it.
Look at Gameloft, look at Sega, Namco, Taito, EA, etc. These big names are competing in the same arena. They will price their apps a little bit higher (still under 10 bucks) but now and again they'll do some crazy sale slash across many of their properties, 1.99 or even .99 in many cases for recent games, all with considerably high production values. Why do they do that? To chart, to promote other new apps/events, to promote themselves. Even some of the companies more traditionally "stubborn" about such things (Hudson) will slip into .99 cent territory occasionally.

People don't wanna buy this stuff if it is gonna cost more than a few bucks. They know they don't HAVE to. Just wait a little while and everything comes down. There's too much competition.


Quote:
Originally Posted by robotmechanic View Post
As an indie dev, any money I can make on top of my salary is a treat, but I am curious as to how the smaller companies with employees deal with the pricing? I can't imagine the smaller companies being able to stay in business for long when they have little choice but to price at 99 cents.
The install base of the iPhone is HUGE, and if you are one of the lucky few to crack the charts, then it all pays off. Look at Halfbrick with Fruit Ninja (.99). They were this no-name DS/PSP/who cares developer, not an interesting thing to think of them, maybe @30-odd employees. Fruit Ninja launched and made it to top 10 in like 2 weeks, and it's been sitting there snugly since May or June. Now whatever else Halfbrick puts out gets shot right through that pipeline, they get immediate connection to their audience, the press hangs on their every word, etc.

And of course they're raking in.. what?? Hundreds of thousands of dollars a week, being in the top ten? I don't even know..

Now imagine you are a company about half as talented as Halfbrick but twice as prolific. Poop out app after app, maybe none of them chart that high but they do well enough and they upsell to one another nicely. This is a (much more) realistic recipe for success, at least in the short term. If you are a studio like that with an eye for the future, maybe you spend a little time/energy/cash and upping the quality of your semi-crappy apps, suddenly it becomes easier to sell and get some notice.

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10-26-2010, 01:28 AM
#8
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Posts: 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by headcaseGames View Post
People don't wanna buy this stuff if it is gonna cost more than a few bucks. They know they don't HAVE to. Just wait a little while and everything comes down. There's too much competition.
Yeah, true. There are already a lot of quality apps at 99 cents so I can definitely see why consumers wouldn't want to pay more than the established "norm."

Quote:
Originally Posted by headcaseGames View Post
If you are a studio like that with an eye for the future, maybe you spend a little time/energy/cash and upping the quality of your semi-crappy apps, suddenly it becomes easier to sell and get some notice.
I definitely agree that spending the time/money to polish an app is the way to go. At one point, I felt like I had to hurry to make it in time for the "gold rush" but I realize now that this platform isn't going anywhere and theres always game dev on other platforms. Even if it isn't financially rewarding, just getting a respectable game released can open up new doors (employment opportunities, connections, etc. ), right?
10-26-2010, 02:42 AM
#9
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
Quote:
Originally Posted by robotmechanic View Post
I definitely agree that spending the time/money to polish an app is the way to go. At one point, I felt like I had to hurry to make it in time for the "gold rush" but I realize now that this platform isn't going anywhere and theres always game dev on other platforms. Even if it isn't financially rewarding, just getting a respectable game released can open up new doors (employment opportunities, connections, etc. ), right?
mark my words -

if one can afford it, right now is the perfect time to get rolling and try to make a splash. Put out a steady flow of software. Make sure it is reasonable quality, even if it is somewhat derivative it only needs to cater to the trends popular on the app store (canabalt game, bejeweled game, fruit ninja game, flight control game, doodle jump game, etc). It just needs to look at least as good as the other "decent stuff" (seriously, like nice SNES quality or decent PS1). Not even that hot, but in that neighborhood.

(shake it up and try to make something a little novel, with production quality, and suddenly your cachet goes up a bit!)

Put out a few titles, price it all cheap as hell, use the different apps to promote each other, and (so important) court the community, have a presence. Have a guy whose whole job is talking to sites and spending time on forums all day, or at least half the time. Do this for the long haul, and you will get something good out of it. Maybe no money this year, maybe not too much next year, but stick with it and payday will come.

But the big sticking point - don't glaze it over - you got to be able to afford to do this and not rely on it supporting you too much (or, at all) in the interim. That's too high a price to pay for most folks, for obvious reasons.

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10-29-2010, 05:34 PM
#10
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: The Hague, The Netherlands
Posts: 68
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What about reversing the trend? So start off with a cheap or even free game, and make it more expensive as time goes by, extra content is added and it gains in popularity?

To me that would make a lot of sense. The core idea would be that early adopters (fans) would get a lot of appreciation for their initial trust and continuing loyalty.

As for the freemium model, based on Facebook successes I used to believe that was a great way to market and sell your games. However, generally speaking it seems that iPhone / iPod Touch players are much more traditional and stick to the 'buy once, get everything' mentality. More specifically, virtual items such as weapons and outfits seem a big no-no. Extra levels or chapters however appear to be perfectly reasonable to most.

So especially for games published in episodes, freemium / DLC seem appropriate. Effectively, it raises the price of the whole package one step at a time.