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Default Dungeons of Dredmor - Pricing

June 10th, 2011, 17:18
For games that are 'classical', to use a polite term, you are severely limiting your customer base when you are pricing them near the same amounts as new AAA titles. If I go to GOG and have a choice to buy Arcanum (which I haven't played yet) for $9.99 or Avadon for $25, Arcanum is going to win every time. Even if I've played Arcanum, I'm going to question the value of paying 2.5x as much for a title that is even more out of date (speaking of everything outside of content of course).
This is flawed thinking as games are consumables. Once you've consumed all the games on GoG, replayed them until bored and realized they aren't being made by the mainstream anymore, you're left in a situation where supply is tiny and economic law kicks in to drive up price.

If the mainstream suddenly started kicking out old school RPGs all over the place, Vogel wouldn't be able to compete. As it is, he controls a good chunk of the supply of new games of that type of experience.

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June 10th, 2011, 17:37
On Steam, if you wait for it, you can buy AAA games for $5 to $10.

I bought Crysis for $7 and Civ 4 for $5 Splinter Cell for $5 etc.
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June 10th, 2011, 17:37
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
That's a good point Gorath. I certainly see no issue with a full price then price drop, but (excluding what Zborno posted), when you go to his site, his old games are almost as expensive as the new ones.
Yeah, it seems Jeff only read the first chapter in his price skimming manual.

Maybe his older games are still selling, re-fuled by continuous new releases? Or maybe he thinks his yearly sale and the few games available for cheap on DL providers are good enough to pull in a fair share of the interest budget gamers?
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June 10th, 2011, 17:43
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
A factor against a low price strategy in this case is probably also that you don't get many impulse buys, especially if you market your game yourself, via your own website. I do impulse buys on steam sales (which are heavily advertised in steam itself) and on the App-store, but that's it.
Agreed, which is why I question why his games aren't on something like GOG, which seems to have a very large user base of people that would be interested in his games. Even if he didn't want to put the newest ones on, so he could continue to charge the higher price, if he put the older ones on, he'd essentially be marketing his company to a big user base.

Originally Posted by Naked Ninja View Post
This is flawed thinking as games are consumables. Once you've consumed all the games on GoG, replayed them until bored and realized they aren't being made by the mainstream anymore, you're left in a situation where supply is tiny and economic law kicks in to drive up price.

If the mainstream suddenly started kicking out old school RPGs all over the place, Vogel wouldn't be able to compete. As it is, he controls a good chunk of the supply of new games of that type of experience.
You're assuming that people have played all those games, or even will, and thus will have no choice but to pay what he charges to get that experience, but that is in correct.

I'm in what is probably his target demographic. I like old games. I missed a lot of old games, so GOG really offers me a lot. There are probably more gamers like me out there than gamers who have exhausted the previously existing supply.

I'm not going to pay $25 for his oldest games (or $75 for the 3 game bundle packs or whatever). In this case, Vogel is competing with equivalent to better quality games selling at lower prices.

Put them up at $5.99 or even $9.99 and I'll likely grab them and check them out. If I like them, I'm far more likely to become one of his customers that will pay $25 for the new game when it hits. Right now though, he's set the barrier to entry higher than I'm willing to accept when I have other alternatives. I know he has demos (and I will likely install and play the Avadon one soon), but if I don't like the demo, well he gets nothing. If he sells me his old games cheap and I don't like them, I'm still not a continuing customer (most likely), but he's made some money off of me.

As it stand now, the likelihood of me ever buying all the Geneforge, Nethergate, and Avernum games is about zero. The total cost would be $200. Now say he sold the various bundles at $14.99 and Geneforge at $5.99 (typical prices on GOG), I'd be tempted. I'd at least buy one of them, so that's probably $15 he has from me. If I like it, I'm buying them all and now he's made $51 off me and I'm probably going to pony up the $25 for Avadon, so now he's got $76 from me.

My point is that while his dedicated fans are going to keep buying his games, it doesn't seem like he has been doing much (outside of the iPad port) to increase his user base.

Again, obviously if he's making enough to be happy, then more power to him. As a business person though, it makes me scratch my head. It reminds me of something my dad told me once: "What's the definition of a small business? One that didn't grow big."

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June 10th, 2011, 17:51
Just to sort of close my thoughts. I find the business side of the gaming industry fascinating (I used to cover gaming stocks in my asset management days). I'm not saying that Vogel is wrong necessarily, just that his approach goes against my experience. I'd love to see data that shows that Vogel's approach really does maximize revenue. It'd make an interesting case study. It obviously goes contrary to a lot of basic economic theory, but that's not unheard of in a niche environment.

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June 10th, 2011, 18:10
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
You're assuming that people have played all those games, or even will, and thus will have no choice but to pay what he charges to get that experience, but that is in correct.

I'm in what is probably his target demographic. I like old games. I missed a lot of old games, so GOG really offers me a lot. There are probably more gamers like me out there than gamers who have exhausted the previously existing supply.
All those games? GOG games or old games? Not all GOG games are close to what this man offers. Out of the GOG catalogue, I havent played only a few.

Out of GOG that come close to what this man offers, it seems quite possible that people who are fanatics of this niche gaming experience have played all the titles provided by GOG.

I am not a fanatic myself of that niche gaming experience, never looked for playing this kind of games exclusively and GOG would offer me very little if I grew fanatic of this kind of gaming.
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June 10th, 2011, 19:04
Originally Posted by Naked Ninja View Post
This is flawed thinking as games are consumables.
Yes, that's why companies treat games (and their players) like cash cows.

- first, the cheap-looking DVD cases
- next, PDF manuals
- next lack of depth, catering the "minstream masses"
- and besides of all this, the cost reduction whih leads to taking away *everything* that had made a game a special thing like "in ye olde days"

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June 10th, 2011, 19:45
I DO NOT want to get into quagmire that this topic usually degrades into, on many sites, but in any modern discussion on video game economics, we would be remiss to mention piracy. I have always held the belief that this issue is more nuanced than is often recognized. That aside, I believe that everyone can agree that there are three camps of gamers out there: those who will never pirate, those who will always pirate, and a large center mass of people, for whatever reason, "go both ways". One of those reasons could be price. (shrug) I can only speculate, but I suspect there would be marginally less pirating of a $5 game than if that same game were $25 (for many reasons).
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June 10th, 2011, 19:57
Yes, that's why companies treat games (and their players) like cash cows.
I think you misunderstood what I was saying. Books are consumables too. You never get to read them for the first time again. This is why no one ever goes 'well darn, I think I've got enough books now, I'll just keep re-reading the ones I've got forever'. If you're a reader, you're going to be constantly looking for new books to 'consume'.

In the market of consumable goods/experiences, whether books, food, movies or games, there is value in a new experience, a new thing to 'consume'. So GoG, as nice as it is, doesn't provide THAT high a level of competition to Vogel. Because Vogel actually continues producing new games, GoG just offers games we've all had a chance to play already. Once you've exhausted the back-catalog of games you missed the first time round, then what?

Sure, the mainstream might produce a few new games to go into the back catalog, but again, I'm playing them as they come out. The Witcher 2 eventually ending up on GoG doesn't help me, now does it? I might buy it if I lost the disks, but that isn't the same as a new game, even one with lower production values.

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June 10th, 2011, 20:01
Santos, various developers have reported that iPhone games sold at 99 cents have around about the same piracy rate as mainstream titles. Ie, in the upper 90s, percentage wise. Price seems to make little difference to overall piracy rate.

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June 10th, 2011, 20:25
Just a thought that there may be advantages to having more people play your game even if it doesn't make you more money in the short term. If you charge 5$ instead of 20$ and only 3 times as many people buy your game then you do lose money. But on the other hand your game now has a fan base that is 3 times as large as it would otherwise be, which may be very relevent in the future for a developer making their first title.

For some people it may be a point of pride to just have lots of people play their game too. Most people who develop roguelikes do so for free and measure their success just by how popular it becomes.

Regarding pricing, I will take a risk on games that I otherwise would never consider if they are cheap enough. But if there is a game that I know I want, then price is not so much of an issue.
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June 10th, 2011, 20:51
Originally Posted by Naked Ninja View Post
Santos, various developers have reported that iPhone games sold at 99 cents have around about the same piracy rate as mainstream titles. Ie, in the upper 90s, percentage wise. Price seems to make little difference to overall piracy rate.
Wow, that really surprises me, as I alone know three people who consistently use price as a justification (and actually do purchase the cheaper games). Than again, it may also be a AAA vs. indi thing. People do, after all, tend to feel better shoplifting from Walmart than they do the corner Mom and Pop store.
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June 10th, 2011, 21:07
Originally Posted by Naked Ninja View Post
Santos, various developers have reported that iPhone games sold at 99 cents have around about the same piracy rate as mainstream titles. Ie, in the upper 90s, percentage wise. Price seems to make little difference to overall piracy rate.
I'd really like to see how they come up with that number. The vast majority of iPhones are never jailbroken and don't you have to have a jailbroken iPhone to run anything pirated?

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June 10th, 2011, 21:11
Originally Posted by Santos View Post
Wow, that really surprises me, as I alone know three people who consistently use price as a justification (and actually do purchase the cheaper games). Than again, it may also be a AAA vs. indi thing. People do, after all, tend to feel better shoplifting from Walmart than they do the corner Mom and Pop store.
Well it's human nature for people to do what they want and then to find a way to justify it to themselves afterwards. If they can't use price as a justification then they will just come up with something else.
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June 10th, 2011, 22:13
There is certainly a correlation between higher sales a lower price. It's unlikely many pirates can be converted though, simply because you can't compete with "free".
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June 10th, 2011, 23:24
I'd really like to see how they come up with that number. The vast majority of iPhones are never jailbroken and don't you have to have a jailbroken iPhone to run anything pirated?
Google is your friend mate. Try "iphone piracy"

http://blog.costan.us/2009/04/iphone…-for-soft.html

http://ps3computing.blogspot.com/200…d-figures.html

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/featur…side_story.php

http://gizmodo.com/5477732/the-myth-…one-app-piracy

I like this phrase, as it illustrates a point about human nature :

Pirates also say that some people would not have afforded the application, but I claim that price is not an issue, given the cost of buying an iPhone and a data plan for it.
There is certainly a correlation between higher sales a lower price. It's unlikely many pirates can be converted though, simply because you can't compete with "free".
Indeed there is. It's just not a 1-1 or higher relation, from what most devs report.

http://nygamedev.blogspot.com/2010/0…-my-games.html

Thing is, if you're buying indie games you're probably buying online and have a broadband connection. I find it hard to believe that someone in those curcumstances would find a $5 game twice as much of an impulse buy than a $10 game. To me there is almost no difference there, I'm as likely to fork out for either. Only once it starts hitting $15 do I start thinking about it a little more closely.

Then again, the flood of shovelware 99 cent apps on app stores could be pushing expectations down. I may be an exception.

Than again, it may also be a AAA vs. indi thing. People do, after all, tend to feel better shoplifting from Walmart than they do the corner Mom and Pop store.
I don't think it has anything to do with that at all. I used to pirate games a lot, not because I couldn't take a part time job to afford my wants. But because I was lazy, went to LAN parties and simply took everything available. It was easy and beneficial for me.

And judging by the gamers email distribution list where I work (700+ people company), the motivations of most pirates remain that way into adulthood. They're all highly paid young professionals, everyone can afford games and custom gamer rigs they're always bragging about. Doesn't matter.

Uncapped ADSL was recently introduced in SA. People leaped aboard, of course. But then they started complaing that the ISP 'throttled' them in the middle of the month, it wasn't real uncapped.

Why were they throttled? They sat downloading at max capacity all day, every day. They showed their traffic graphs, bragging to others. I can't imagine consuming 300 gigs of media a month. But they were upset they were being choked off for abusing the spirit of the service.

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June 10th, 2011, 23:57
17 years Vogel has been around (founded 1994 IIRC). Not many AAA studios are still around and certainly not full-time indies. Doesn't prove his system is flawless but I see no evidence to prove non-casual games benefit from being given away.

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June 11th, 2011, 08:13
Originally Posted by Naked Ninja View Post

I don't think it has anything to do with that at all. I used to pirate games a lot, not because I couldn't take a part time job to afford my wants. But because I was lazy, went to LAN parties and simply took everything available. It was easy and beneficial for me.
It's like I always say, "That Gareth is a dirty, dirty pirate".

Piracy is not completely without risk, and, in some countries, getting riskier all the time. It's like anything else: lower the benefit (cost of game/software) and that risk becomes less and less appealing. True, we're not there yet, but I don't think it's outside the future realm of possibilities.
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June 11th, 2011, 13:19
Originally Posted by Naked Ninja View Post
In the market of consumable goods/experiences, whether books, food, movies or games, there is value in a new experience, a new thing to 'consume'.
Yes. And throwing away (or at least selling) the "older experince". This is exactly what I had meant to say :

Companies will only cater the newest experience. And that leads directly into the cash-cow syndrome.

The direct result is, imho, that everything becomes value-less after the "new experience has been consumed."

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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June 11th, 2011, 16:33
I really think we're talking at cross purposes here. What I've described is a phenomenon that occurs regardless of the quality of the packaging and extras that come with a game.

Could you explain what you mean by 'throwing away' the 'older experience' please? Do you mean putting more goodies in the box? That's not because entertainment goods are considered consumables, that's because big companies try to maximize their return on investment and one of the ways they will look at doing that is by reducing unnecessary costs. I miss the older way of doing things, but that is our fault as gamers, not theirs. When they cut out thick manuals, sales didn't drop.

You and I can be upset about it, but the majority of gamers sent a clear message that they didn't care enough for it to affect purchasing habits.

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Last edited by Naked Ninja; June 11th, 2011 at 16:44.
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