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April 13th, 2009, 23:23
I love this blog. I feel Jeff's in danger of becoming one of them controversial loudmouth types who have legitimate points but say them with too much derision, but this hasn't happened yet, and then again what do I care?

Certainly from the game designer's perspective and from ours, work-intensive niche games deserve pricing flexibility. Who's to say what a particular game is really "worth", but the fact remains that niche games have small audiences who compensate for their low numbers with a willingness to pay higher prices*. So by limiting niche games' prices, amazon and apple are penalizing niche devs without increasing their sales numbers. Boo!

On the other hand, from the online retailers' perspective, the price controls are important. Think about this: iTunes would not be as popular if bands (or music compnaies) had had any input into individual song prices**. Anyone who likes anything could come up with a reason those songs or that software should be worth more, and that means no one would want to be the song or game selling at the lowest or lower price points. Spiderweb games have a reputation for being extremely deep and LONG and good, so sure I'm won over by Jeff's contention that his games are worth more than the limits the retailers impose. But then "worth", to us here at the Watch, means something other than it means to people who make shiny pretty games that last 6 or 7 hours, and of course "worth" to us also differs from what "worth" means to the majority of game buyers. So if Spiderweb games should not be subjected to an arbitrary cap, then who is to say that ANY game should be subjected to one? It all depends on what you value more in your games, and NOT in how much the games cost to make.

But the online retailers know what they are doing, and they don't want all these games to have high prices. Since it's pretty subjective which games are "worth" more, they instead just put blanket caps and make no exceptions***. Again, they do this because the alternative is for not just a few games but MOST or ALL games to have prices that are above the point where the online retailer feels they need to be for the overall collection to work as a coherent store.

Anywho, what do I know? But I think there's reason to the online retailers' madness, although I certainly sorry that it works to the detriment of a shop like Spiderweb which I of course respect and which I hope keeps flourishing.

*Or really, lower prices than AAA titles, but higher than $5 or $10 a game. Although of course for some games we pay even higher prices than AAA titles. Dominions 3 is years old, but you still have to fork over $55 I think.

**Yeah, I know they've changed that somewhat now, but the change come AFTER the 1 billionth sale so I think the point stands.

***Note that I actually have no idea what I'm talking about, but this follows from what Jeff's writing.
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