2. Release Price
With BCR, the concept was to make the game something people who weren't familiar with the original game would want to buy on impulse. While I know the game could have been priced at $15 and still sold to the hardcore Bionic Commando fans, I'd like to emphasize that the original 1988 game was not successful, so we didn't think we could outright ignore consumers who hadn't played the original.
These are people who were used to paying $10 for a downloadable title and we were sure they would hold reservations about a $15 price tag.
After seeing the initial reaction of people to Braid's price, the $10 price seemed to be the right choice (although, as it turns out, Braid has sold well even at the $15 price point -- a lot of that has been due to the game's high quality and accolades that it continues to pull in).
As the game continued to improve in quality, several people, both internal and external, began to suggest that we charge $15 instead of $10. In my little experience as a producer who was constantly trying to bring people into our community site, I decided to open up the idea of pricing to the consumers.
Yes, I realize that people will generally choose the cheaper price. But if enough people had selected $15, that is what we would have gone with.
In the end I think the price, coupled with the high quality of the game, is what helped push the game into the top 10 XBLA titles and gained us not only some respect from the Bionic Commando fans but also created a lot of goodwill for the 3D Bionic Commando, also created by GRIN.
3. The Database
This, like the announcement trailer and release price, is also one of the points that I feel was both a major success and a major failure. The reason it was a success was that it provided a way for us to not only introduce some "story hooks" for the 3D game, but also to tie up all of the various story inconsistencies from the original game into one official cohesive storyline.
We all like a good action game, but adding a little motivation in the form of story never hurts. What made it even better (in my eyes) was that the database was never forced upon the player. If they didn't want to read it, they didn't have to. Of course, linking an achievement to it didn't hurt motivation...
4. Not Including Online Play
As frustrating as all the "no online play = no buy" comments were to read, in hindsight, this was the right choice. After seeing the large amount of headaches, additional production time, and cost that comes with adding online, I'm glad we made the choice not to include it.
Bugs in online play have created a great amount of frustration in other popular digital titles and even have plagued our own titles before. Yes, I understand that your average consumer wants everything they want and they want it for free. But, it's a huge balancing act and I'm convinced that the amount of additional sales would not have been equivalent to the additional pains.
To give GRIN credit, even though I initially put pressure on them to add in online co-op, they gave it to me straight. They knew that adding online would be a huge amount of risk, and as we got into the arduous submission phase, I realized how right they were.
As a producer, even if the company is an outside developer, you have to know when to listen. This is one time I'm glad I did.