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Default Gamasutra - Steam sales: How deep discounts really affect your games

July 25th, 2012, 17:46
While not directly RPG-related, the impact of Steam sales has been widely discussed of late. Runic's CEO Max Schaefer tells Gamasutra how successful these sales have been for Torchlight:
Runic Games CEO Max Schaefer, for instance, tells us that while it's been almost three years since his studio launched Torchlight, Valve's Steam promotions have helped the game maintain healthy sales to this very day.

"We find that we get several thousand percent increases in units and revenue on the days of the Steam sales, and unit sales are usually about double the normal for a few weeks after the sales are over," he says.

This year's Summer Sale (which ended July 22) was particularly noteworthy for Runic, as it helped Torchlight hit its second biggest day ever in terms of overall unit sales — not bad for a game that came out in October 2009.
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July 25th, 2012, 17:47
the popularity of abandonware and emulators in the mid 90's convinced a number of companies that there was still something to be had for old IP IMO - note the revival of the Might and Magic franchise which is credited with starting the CRPG revival.

Additionally, I believe it was one of the heads of Troika that pointed out that RPG's have long term sales that other games just don't get, so it should be no surprise that some of these games still sell. PS:T and Fallout are great examples of games that were said to have bombed but became quite profitable thanks to word of mouth - this according to a Bioware developer.

Unfortunately, we are tied to the SWOT method of marketing so its all about the "opening weekend" where all of your sales have to come out of the starting gate. Slow up front sales could get your title labelled a "dog" and entail the consequences such as no patching cash from the publisher and, worse, you're kicked the curb as a developer.

The beauty of old games and digital distribution is pure profit - there are virtually no costs involved.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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July 25th, 2012, 20:43
I am surprised Microsoft has never jumped on the huge sale idea with their XBox Live. They typically offer discounts on a few items each week at an average of 25% off original sale price. Sometimes just silly stuff too, map packs and costumes. They have just recently started selling games at half off. But these are 3-5 games a week and there is never a bonanza like a summer or Christmas sale like Steam. I don't understand why they don't do it, people buy games during these sales they may play for 5 minutes or not at all. They buy more games than they could ever play. It seems to work for both sides, consumers splurge but they always have something to play. I now play games almost exclusively on my pc because of these sales, even though my couch is much more comfortable.
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July 25th, 2012, 22:50
and lot of people buy stuff and never play it!
its just the feel "to have them ready to play"

i dont like bioware games
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July 25th, 2012, 23:36
It seems there are few different groups of potential consumers of any game. Of course, there are super fans of a particular franchise or developer who have been following a particular game and either pre-ordered or bought soon after launch.

Then there are others interested in the game who may be inclined to pay the full MSRP, but didn't buy at launch because they didn't have enough to spend on it at the time, or perhaps they were busy with other activities or other games. The Steam sales deals with a limited window in which to purchase such a game at 50% or 75% off provide a very sharp call to action for this type of consumer.

Then there are those of us who perhaps never intended to buy and never had a great deal of interest in the game, or even perhaps already own a copy of the console version, etc., but when the price point drops in a time sensitive flash sales deal down to $5-10, or even lower than $5, not only does it seem like a high value proposition, but the urgency of the offer creates a situation where our natural aversion to loss kicks in. We currently have the opportunity to buy the game at $2.49, but if we wait until tomorrow, we lose the value of that opportunity.
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July 26th, 2012, 00:06
Originally Posted by turian View Post
and lot of people buy stuff and never play it!
its just the feel "to have them ready to play"
…but what a feeling it is!
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July 26th, 2012, 00:31
Interesting article!

Key quotes:

"Rather than looking at it as a 'lost sale' when people wait for these Steam discounts, I think it needs to be viewed as reaching out to a new customer that never would have purchased your game otherwise."

Valve's Holtman says he's never noticed any negative consequences from these promotions. Instead, most games still see positive trends in their sales numbers well after the discounts are over. At the very worst, a game's sales will just revert back to what they were before the promotion began.
That should disabuse anyone of EAs bullshit stance.
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July 26th, 2012, 06:36
As CountChocula points out, Steam is a near perfect application of price discrimination. They successfully get as much as possible out of nearly every customer possible. Kickstarter is interesting because its capable of getting some early adopters to pay substantially more than retail to get the premium product which is better than collectors edition or something similar.

They have the DRM aspect to prevent customers from competing by becoming resellers. This is the best and worst of the free market I think.
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July 26th, 2012, 11:02
Originally Posted by figment View Post
As CountChocula points out, Steam is a near perfect application of price discrimination. They successfully get as much as possible out of nearly every customer possible.
This suddenly reminds me of Aldi. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldi

Aldi is infamous for selling food (and non-food to a small degree) at lowest-cost prices (that's why according to the cliché usually the lower social classes shop there, but in fact members of *all* social classes shop there, because the marketing image just says : Aldi = cheap), meanwhile their founders became the richest men in Germany.

At one point I began to wonder : They sell food at the lowest possible price - an still they became the richest men in Germany ?


Is Steam trying to become a form of Aldi, too ?

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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July 26th, 2012, 11:44
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Is Steam trying to become a form of Aldi, too ?
The models are very different. Steam is actually relying on prices being high most of the time, in order for high cut (60+%) sales to grab the consumer. Aldi keeps prices low across the board in general so the consumer feels they will get good value whenever they visit (and they have some smart thinking as well - most supermarkets in the UK pay almost nothing to the till attendants, Aldi, on the other hand, look for more highly skilled/experienced attendants and pay them better, but employ fewer of them and use them more efficiently).
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July 26th, 2012, 11:50
Aldi, on the other hand, look for more highly skilled/experienced attendants and pay them better, but employ fewer of them and use them more efficiently
Interestingly, Aldi has been blasted here in Denmark for doing the opposite. Of hiring the least skilled/experienced workers and paying them almost nothing, and treating them like shit.
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July 26th, 2012, 14:05
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
The models are very different. Steam is actually relying on prices being high most of the time, in order for high cut (60+%) sales to grab the consumer. Aldi keeps prices low across the board in general so the consumer feels they will get good value whenever they visit (and they have some smart thinking as well - most supermarkets in the UK pay almost nothing to the till attendants, Aldi, on the other hand, look for more highly skilled/experienced attendants and pay them better, but employ fewer of them and use them more efficiently).
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Interestingly, Aldi has been blasted here in Denmark for doing the opposite. Of hiring the least skilled/experienced workers and paying them almost nothing, and treating them like shit.
UK is Aldi Süd and Denmark is Aldi Nord. Basically two different companies who work together on some fronts.

There might be a difference in how they pay/treat employees. But that might also be a difference per country since those often get their own leadership and policies.

Here in the Netherlands we have Aldi Nord's and even though I can't judge the quality or payment of the employees, efficienty is clearly a part of their philosofy; they don't bother to stack products they just open the boxes and put them into the racks; At the till there is very little space so as a customer you have to work quickly to put everything into the cart or you get a dirty look from the attendant.

Why am I talking about Aldi?!?

Actually, my PC's brand is often dubbed the Aldi brand since they also sell them to bring a small semblence of on-topic conversation.

Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
This suddenly reminds me of Aldi. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldi


At one point I began to wonder : They sell food at the lowest possible price - an still they became the richest men in Germany ?


Is Steam trying to become a form of Aldi, too ?
As for low food prices, they get rich because farmers get nothing (basically true for any supermarket). It might seem cheap but what they ask for food is still a multitude of what the farmer gets and as a result that multitude is the profit they get to keep.

I hope the devs are not turning into farmers. Judging by the comments in the article it seems devs still get a fair share and actually profit from the sale so things are still good.
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July 26th, 2012, 14:39
Can I buy "steamed" products at Aldi?

'nut
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July 26th, 2012, 17:31
Originally Posted by crpgnut View Post
Can I buy "steamed" products at Aldi?
Now valve just have to get into the food distribution market
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July 26th, 2012, 17:32
No. But don't get Steamed over it.

so sorry…
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July 26th, 2012, 19:22
They speak a lot on the behalf of consumers.

"[When people] have the opportunity pick up a copy for next to nothing, this only grows the fan base around the game, so when we release new content or future games, we have a large community already there to market to."
Imo, a fan has to play a game a bit to be called a fan.

I doubt that players play all the games they bought on flash sales. And therefore interested in following a game (DLC etc) they never play.

Or not. Maybe, players buy DLCs for games they have never played, and sometimes wont play.
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July 26th, 2012, 22:45
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
…but what a feeling it is!
gotta admit in love with that feeling with about 100+ unplayed games on my steam account
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