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Pricing games is hard!

by Byron AtkinsonJones on 07/31/17 10:27:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Making games is easy. Pretty much anybody can do it these days given the wealth of tools now available to us. All it requires is a good idea, the resources to do and it a good measure of dogged determination to complete it. At the end, you’re left with your prize which you are ready to unleash onto the world that’s been desperately waiting for it – at least you hope they have been. It suddenly dawns on you that in order for your game to sell it has to have the right price, but what is the right price?

I’m releasing my latest game Promethium on August the 18th on Steam http://store.steampowered.com/app/624680/Promethium/ and I have to admit up until now I’ve been putting off coming up with the price point for the game. However, I can’t delay any further, the decision has to be made.

I have no idea how to judge how much a game should be. Should you judge it by the number of hours a game can be played? Should it be based on the number of levels? The graphical quality? The genre? Games that are like it on Steam?

The answer may be yes to all of those or none of them, I’m not an expert on this subject so looked to get advice from others. The first step was to run a twitter poll. I know, probably not the best approach but it opens up the dialogue to more people. The first question was should the price be $1.99, $2.99, $3.99 or $4.99? The results were interesting:

Even more surprising was the response from people on twitter, the first from the very experienced producer Des Gayle:

Or from fellow game developer Gary Lloyd:

Alex Rose, the developer of Super Rude Bear Resurrection had an interesting take, I’m not sure I fully agree with it but it’s certainly something to consider:

Alex has a point; your starting price should take into account what the discount is going to be during a sale. Philip Bak, the developer of Bezier had this to say about it:

Andrew Braybrook, the designer and developer of Uridium, my all-time favorite game and inspiration for Promethium had an interesting point about undervaluing games:

I took on the advice and re-ran the poll (not quite complete at point of taking this image):

The sweet spot in both the polls seems to be the $4.99 range. Of course, this is just twitter and while I respect the views of people who took part the proof of all this will ultimately be whatever price I choose and the reaction to it on Steam – assuming I can get eyes on my game in the first place, which is infinitely harder than picking the price.

So, what to do? Should I go with the limited public opinion on the twitter poll and set the price to $4.99 or listen to my peers who I respect greatly and set the price to $9.99? I have to be honest, my gut tells me that neither of those two options is right for Promethium.

As a finaly thought from twitter, Philip had an interesting point to make, and it's one for further discussion down the line:

Are the current game prices our fault, market driven or the fault of the current sale culture that Steam promotes? Better minds than mine will hopefully have the answer to that one.

I don’t have any illusions that Promethium is a massive blockbuster AAA game, it’s a game made by one person over six months. While I value the game, it will have a different value to others browsing it on Steam, they won’t have the same emotional attachment to it as I do. Their attachment will be to the amount of money they have and how much they are willing to spend on a game, and if indeed this is a game they think they will like. The ultimate decision to buy the game won’t just be down to the price, it will be the name, the banner image, the screenshots, the trailer, the features and of course the Steam page text.

I still don’t have a clue.

Pricing games is hard!


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