Rock Band Video Game Selling T-Shirts Of Fake Bands

from the lotttttts-of-t-shirts dept

When critics of our analysis of the economics of infinite and scarce goods want to mock our ideas or make fun of us, they often fall back on the false claim that the business model we advocate is "give away everything and make it up by selling t-shirts." Or, rather, if they're really in a mocking mood, they usually write "llllllloooooooooooooooooootttts of t-shirts." It's quite amusing, though, of course, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what we mean by scarce goods.

That said, t-shirts can make up one part of the scarce goods that someone sells, though, it will almost always be a small part of it. And, there's no reason to mock the contribution that selling t-shirts can make as part of a larger business model. Reader Aaron de Oliveira points us to the interesting news that the super popular video game Rock Band is now letting players who have uploaded their own fake rock band logo order t-shirts, keychains and other merchandise from their fake band. As de Oliveira correctly notes, not only does this make some money, but it also makes the gaming experience better, connects fans more closely to the game and their own fake rock band in the game:
The company realizes it's not in the music business or in the t-shirt business. Its business model is the custom experience and it uses music (fun & free or cheap) and t-shirts to improve that experience in such a way that people are willing to pay for it.
Bingo. So go buy llllllooooooooottts of t-shirts to make it work.

Filed Under: business models, economics, infinite goods, rock band, scarce goods, t-shirts, video games


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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 14 Oct 2008 @ 1:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Financial Crunch

    In a falling market, all models dependent on disposable income will falter. The question is not whether this model is immune to the financial crisis - it's not - but whether it's more resilient to that crisis than the usual "charge for the music" model.

    I'd say it is, because the music still acts as advertising and keeps the desire to buy other goods high for when the money is available. Unless this becomes another Great Depression (I don't believe it will), the disposable income will still be there for many people, they'll just be a bit more careful about where they spend it. A good night at a gig or a T-shirt might be more desirable than a CD. In the Rock Band case above, people won't be able to spend $200 on the game again but can afford $50 for T-shirts - relatively easy income for Harmonix with low risk (they don't need to keep unsellable stock as the T-shirts are printed on demand).

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