"It's really easy to get into a really sociopathic mindset where you're trying to tune one number to maximise another number, and you lose sight of the fact that you're experimenting on actual human beings."
developer Michael Brough discusses mobile game prices.
Brough released 868-HACK for iOS a couple of weeks ago
, attaching a $5.99 price point to the game -- a price that is notably higher than your average premium $1-3 App Store game. [iTunes
Talking to Indie Statik, Brough said that
he has been experimenting with price points on the App Store, and that this higher price has proven very lucrative for him.
"There's definitely a vast ocean of games at $0-$2, and so going higher than that breaks with people’s expectations," he noted. "I'm not going to claim that this is the 'right' price by any means. Basically, I'm running a long on-going experiment to try to figure this out."
Brough's first iOS game Glitch Tank
was released for $1.99, and sold barely anything. "The response I got from some established developers was that it was silly of me to expect anything better at that price," he said. "App Store is for $1 or free."
On this advice, Brough sold his next game Zaga-33
at $1, and ended up selling a couple of thousand copies. However, after he spent a lot more time developing 868-HACK
, the dev decided that a higher price point was in order, hence the $5.99 price.
As it turns out, having some traction from your past iOS games can have a great effect on your follow-up games, regardless of price -- or so was the case for Brough. "It has worked very
well," he noted. "I am not shy about numbers; it has sold almost 3000 copies already, which, wow."
He admitted that it's difficult to know how much effect the price had on sales, but said that the higher price point is now allowing him to carry on making games. And he questioned whether the constant battle that other studios go through to balance price versus sales is a symptom of the games industry losing sight of the fact that "you’re experimenting on actual human beings."
"I'm not sure to what extent there are real ethical concerns here, but that mindset itself seems harmful to me," he added.
"I think the trends towards low prices (App Store, bundles, etc.) are pretty harmful. Short-term, it's been nice for customers to get things cheaply and nice for developers to cash in on quick sales, but long-term, it limits who gets to make games and what types of games get made. So many people have such backwards ideas about how selling things works, as I've seen in the responses to this price."