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RPGWatch Forums » Games » General Non-RPG » Discussion: Are games getting too cheap?

Default Discussion: Are games getting too cheap?

August 26th, 2013, 16:56
Yesterday I bought Total War:Medieval 2 for €3.49. Not that I have time to play it, but I loved the first one, and it cost less than a magazine at the Kiosk. The Witcher 2 is currently available for €4.99. If it weren't for Kickstarter, I think the only games I would have bought at full price in the last 3 years would have been the Witcher 2 and Skyrim.
I am really starting to wonder if the constant sales aren't beginnning to devalue games and ultimately leading to a downward spiral that will hurt game development.

I used to buy few games, but if I did, it was because I really wanted them. Now, within just a few years I have a amassed a huge collection on Steam and GOG, and have maybe played a quarter of them for any length of time. That means: if there were no new games anymore from now on, never, I would probably still be good until my retirement. And it seems the sales are coming thicker and faster all the time. Our own Pricewatch thread used to be a really useful thing announcing the occasional sale - now it's a constant stream of sale news. You all know the drill - There is Steams Midweek madness, and when that ends the weekend deal, and of course the summer sale and the christmas sale, GOG has weekly and seasonal sales as well of course, and so do all the other distributors I'm sure, not to be outdone. And then we have the humble and other bundles that throw a whole heap of games out for a pittance.
I don't know, it's nice for my wallet and my inner collector, but I see what the $1 mentally does to the iOS appstore and the qualtiy of the games there, and I really start to be afraid that people become so used to these sale prices that fewer and fewer will buy games at full price. And that at the sales they buy more indiscriminately, randomly, not really supporting the best, but whatever is so cheap and shiny enough that it triggers your buying impules (I know I am guilty of that).
And if that happens what can developers do but turn to F2P schemes, ads and other horrors?

Thoughts?
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August 26th, 2013, 17:18
Sales happen too often for your taste? I say we need even more of them!

Look, I'd pay a full price for some games even today. For some games I regret every cent I gave. Sales in my case do soften this "problem" as sometimes I decide to buy a very good game I wouldn't buy at all if it wasn't on sale.

As for phonegames and their cheapness, yes it's a blow to PC and console market. But when it comes to phonegames I've bought just a few - among billions of titles on phones I need a flashlight to find something that (could be) good.
I'll post later in "just finished" thread about one phonegame that is cheap, fun, RPGish in a way and most important it's not a fraud. But it's one rare game, perhaps there are more, but honestly 99% games on phone are either so crap that noone would install them or have an ingame story that wants to milk you. In the end a cheap/free phonegame can cost you more than a PC/console title.

f2p has to be renamed, redefined, branched into two or declare as illegal advertising. Most f2p games are what we called back then - demos. To fully enjoy them, you must pay. Now this wouldn't be a problem is almost every single one of those are basically pay2win games. At a moment after you get hooked, to get any further, you have to open your wallet. There are positive examples however where you can fuly enjoy the game, with cash you can buy additional stuff irrelevant for your performance, in other words you can't buy "a victory" with cash. So it f2p will stay instead of calling something a demo, then every f2p game should declare if you can win only by paying with real cash.

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August 26th, 2013, 17:20
@GhanBuriGhan

Same here - I buy more games than I can play.

There are so many sales & deals that I unintentionally bought some games more than once.

Question: Get the publishers and devs more money with these sales (not per game -> the total sum), because they are selling many more units?

Jeff Vogel says he's getting more money nowadays with a lower price policy and distributing via Steam.

I really hope that buying things most cheaply doesn't lead to cheap, poor and trashy low-end games.

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August 26th, 2013, 17:29
Well budget for AAA titles is increasing every year so they are doing pretty well with current prices.
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August 26th, 2013, 17:30
The thing here is "Physical Sale" : money - distribution cost - publisher cost - staff cost - loss because of returns - manufacturing costs = Not much left.

"Virtual Sale" : money - Steam Cost = More left.

Usually the people who buy games at sales are people who'd not have bought this game at all otherwise, or maybe they'd buy a physical copy at a discounted price.

So most of the money earned on these sales are pure extra money developers would not get otherwise. On top of that more people might buy the next game or the previous game in the series if they liked what they bought.

As long as the launch prices does not get reduced too quickly and too much after launch, this must only be something positive.
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August 26th, 2013, 17:43
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
The thing here is "Physical Sale" : money - distribution cost - publisher cost - staff cost - loss because of returns - manufacturing costs = Not much left.

"Virtual Sale" : money - Steam Cost = More left.

Usually the people who buy games at sales are people who'd not have bought this game at all otherwise, or maybe they'd buy a physical copy at a discounted price.

So most of the money earned on these sales are pure extra money developers would not get otherwise. On top of that more people might buy the next game or the previous game in the series if they liked what they bought.

As long as the launch prices does not get reduced too quickly and too much after launch, this must only be something positive.
In the past and in the short term I am sure that is correct, I fully agree that it has meant more sales to many devs, including deserving small timers like Vogel. But I still worry about the long term dervelopment. I notice that my thinking about game purchases has changed over the last year or so. Because I now KNOW that every game will be at least on a 50% sale within a year, and -75% within two or three, so why should I buy them at the release price? FO:NV, Dishonored, Skyrim addons, and many others - I am biding my time until the inevitable platin release gets on a 75%deal. Especially when I already own so many unplayed games. I can't be the only one?
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August 26th, 2013, 17:47
Too many games and less time to play => huge backlog is a problem of the somewhat … ahem … older generation.

As a student I had no backlog and played every interesting game at release date.

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August 26th, 2013, 18:20
Originally Posted by Nameless one View Post
Well budget for AAA titles is increasing every year so they are doing pretty well with current prices.
Pretty much.

As long as the development budgets show no signs of dropping and the industry as a whole is growing (even if slower than F2P and console gaming) I take the growing number of sales/bundles etc as a sign of health and a case of simply alternating sources of revenue.

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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August 26th, 2013, 18:41
I need only games worth playing. I play fewer games and even fewer major games nowadays. Like some other people here, it was outside restriction at the beginning but I began to notice really good games stand out even after years. In fact, you can have a good laugh at some reviews of over-advertised games at major websites. Normally, a few years wait is enough to reveal what they are. After the time, most of them cost a few to several bucks and you simply need to have a PC enough to play them-Quite cost/time efficient, I think.

Naturally, my money began to go to indie games including crowd-funding projects. So, if you think you have too much money, why not support your favorite devs/promising projects, either through Humble Bundle, crowd-funding or Early Access? In fact, the reason why I visit this site lies here. Consolization and mass-marketed big products almost made me run away from my gaming hobby but some resurrected/indie projects began to bring my attention back to it. There is a paradigm shift coming and we might be able to form it into the way we liking…if we keep our expectation reasonable.
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August 26th, 2013, 19:43
Yeah, with Steam sales and the like, I'm probably spending more on games per month, but I'm no longer a discerning customer (as it were), so I'm not sure I'm really supporting the games I most enjoy. 'Tis a worry, yes.
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August 26th, 2013, 19:51
My concern is that the margin is so much more with a pure digitial distribution, is that soon enough, there will be no physical sales. We are seeing that trend with the smaller releases already. AAA releases won't be far behind.

Deliver less for the same price = more profit…. :/
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August 26th, 2013, 20:16
No complaints here.
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August 27th, 2013, 05:01
I think I'm buying more games now. Back before Steam got big, there were games that would come out that I was somewhat interested in but not willing to risk $50 on. They would show up in the "bargain bins" sometimes but those were literally bins that you had to sift through to find the good games! Most of the time the games would just get a small price drop then vanish completely. Also, the time from about April to August was really terrible. There were MMOs to play eventually but that was pretty much it for the summer.

Now I've got good game overload. I'm getting the games I like and I play them. The thing is, the games are actually coming out faster than I can get through them! It's getting to be pretty rare for me to get through my game backlog in time to get a new game before it goes on sale. For instance, I'm wouldn't mind paying full price for Dishonored right now. However, I want to get through Tomb Raider and finally finish X3:TC and get a little further in SotS2 and make a quick run through Mirror's Edge and….

Sometimes the hype will get to me and I'll buy a game near release (or even <gasp> pre-order) but it's getting rarer and rarer.

I'm definitely paying a lot less for my game fun per hour but I'm getting more hours in. Is the total more than what I was paying in the long ago times? I don't know… it's probably about the same.

P.S. I think the whole point of the Steam sales is viral marketing. I give you the game for a song so you get it and start playing it. Then your friends see that you're playing it and maybe two or three buy it as well for full price. Then some of their friends see it and soon the hit I took for giving the game to you is long gone.

Seeing pretty people playing your company's game and smiling a lot is all well and good but I think the marketing power of seeing one of your friends playing a game for a few days in a row is going to be a lot stronger!
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August 27th, 2013, 05:16
Sales are a great tool to boost sales after the game has been out for awhile. People who like TES are likely to buy a new one fairly soon after it comes out because they like the game. For someone who hasn't heard of/never tried the series, $60 can be a barrier to entry. Sales eliminates this issue and can bring more gamers into the fold willing to buy the next edition at full price. I've picked up all kinds of games on sales I would never try at full price. Some of them, like Don't Starve, landed the company a spot on my "buy at full price" list (Incognita).

Another reason we see sales so regularly is due to the amount of games around. PCs, unlike consoles, don't have the same issues with backwards compatibility. DOS games bought on GoG generally run perfectly fine, despite how dated the OS is. Far more games available on PC than any other system, by far.

Of course, there are some people who only buy stuff on sale, but I hardly think they're the majority. If they were, development budgets wouldn't be continually growing and the price points would be adjusted.
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August 27th, 2013, 05:20
I've read someone from Valve, maybe Gabe N, said that they didn't notice any difference in total money made by a game for sale or non-sale games. Non-sale games sell fewer units at a high price, sale games sell many at a low price, but they end up being fairly equal. So, I don't think the sales are something to be worried about right now. Publishers and devs are still making the same money.
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August 27th, 2013, 12:58
Hopefully this means that quality goes up when people concentrate on the best and ignore the rest.

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August 27th, 2013, 14:06
I fear that these sales are destroying any serious income for the developers - but since they already kind of "sold" their games to the publishers,
the publishers can do what they want with them.

I recently heard an radio report on the money earned by musicians through Spotify et. al. . The reporter said that for one glass of beer, a musician would have to have several thousand "clicks" (or what it was) through Spotify because they earn so little.

For the publishers, this is good, because the sheer mass gives them enough profits - of which the actual develoipers often get only a fraction. Music industry & game industry are now becoming more and more similar.

And, by the way, I don't see sales in retail. I just don't see it. Games hang on there for a very, very long time - at least in the shops I know - without being reduced much.

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August 27th, 2013, 23:37
Look at these graphs and tremble: http://hitboxteam.com/dustforce-sales-figures

Thing is, that most of the sales were normally happening at release. And after that it's pretty much dead. These sales draw a spotlight and bring additional money and might cause chain-reactions at friends seeing you play this game.
I think it's a win-win situation.
People who really are into a game and want to play it as soon as possible will pay more at release. Personally I am fine with doing so most of the time. Actually I am even paying more sometimes, e.g. in kickstarter projects to get additional goodies.
If the price is too high, I just put this game on my steam wishlist. But these are normally also games I am interested in but I am not really on fire for them.
As soon as a sale is happening I just check my wishlist and get some of these games.

Personally I am not a shooter guy for example. And shooters are extremely expensive at release most of the time. Now if a shooter sounds interesting I will just wait until it's on sale and buy it. Same goes for adventures. That way I bought Chains of Satinav, A new Beginning, Forgotten Tales 1&2, Blood Dragon and Dishonored. All not games I am really into and which I had to have at release. Without steam sales I would not have bought them. I mean, I don't check amazon prices regularily or so. That way the devs got additional money, and I got some cool and cheap games to play.
In addition cheap games should also reduce piracy. It lowers the hurdle to buy a game.
If you really wanted to play Distant Wolds from Matrix games for example but have a limited budget. How high is the chance that you buy the game for 70€ instead of pirating it? And how hight would this chance be if it just costed 25€?
And what if you knew that in 3 months there is a sale and there is a good chance that it will be reduced by 50%?

I actually even know a couple of people who pirated games at first because they didn't have the money and then bought the games afterwards when they were in a sale, just to actually own the game now and support the developers.
Something probably a lot of us did with the one or another game on gog.

That said, it's kinda fun to see console gamers suffer with their prices!
All hail to the glorious pc master race!
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August 28th, 2013, 00:17
Nice example. Interesting take away message is that about 2/3 of the revenue was received during sale promotions and associated price drops.
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August 28th, 2013, 13:54
I saw an "Dustforce Collector's Edition" only a few months ago at retail here. Never before.

“ 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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