Maybe Super Cheap Video Games Are Helping, Not Destroying, The Video Game Industry

from the hello-price-elasticity dept

One of the early economics lessons you learn in any competent intro econ class is the concept of elasticity. The basic concept is how much does demand increase for a product if you lower the price. If a product is highly elastic, decreasing the price can often earn you more money. A simplified version of this: I have a widget that I want to sell for $100 dollars, but only one person is willing to pay that price. With that pricing, I'd make $100 (gross) on the widget. However, if I were to drop the price to $1, let's say 1,000 people are willing to buy at that price. Then, I'd make $1,000 (gross) on the widget. So, even though producers often fear lowering the price, if there's strong elasticity, lowering the price can often make you much more money (and, yes, the marginal cost matters here as well).

We've seen over and over again that video games appear to have very high price elasticity of demand. Two years ago, we wrote about some experiments by Valve, where it tried lowering prices of games by 10%, 25%, 50% and 75% -- and saw the increase in sales at a stupendous rate. While the 10% decrease only resulted in 35% higher gross revenue (already pretty good!), at a 75% discount, the gross revenue shot up by 1470%. Think about that, for a second. Basically, dropping the price by 75% increased revenue by almost a factor of 15. Not bad.

Last year, we saw a similar experiment that also had great results. An online video game store in Sweden tried dropping its prices by 75% and saw an increase in sales of 5500% (in unit sales). When looking at the gross revenue, it appears that it came out approximately to a similar 1300% increase.

And now we have some more examples. Capitalist Lion Tamer points us to an article that looks at some super popular iOS (iPhone/iPad) apps that drastically cut their price, but saw their gross revenue shoot way up because of it.
Street Fighter IV for iOS recently slashed its price by a breathtaking 90% overnight, from £5.99 to 59p. Within 48 hours its position in the overall Top-Grossing chart (that's the list of all apps, not just games) instantly rocketed from 116 to 2. Coincidence or magic? You decide. But that's not all.

And just to reiterate -- we're monitoring the Top-Grossing chart, ie the one measuring money made, NOT the ordinary numer-of-sales one, where SFIV currently sits comfortably on top of everything else. What that means is that the game's sales have increased by dramatically more than 1,000% (because it would have had to sell 10 times as many just to hold the No.116 position at the new price, never mind climb 114 places).
And yet, time and time again we hear how execs at big entertainment companies feel the need to keep raising prices. Hell, we just mentioned how Nintendo's President Reggie Fils-Aime was complaining that cheap games might kill the industry. Apparently, they don't teach basic economics to folks who become president of Nintendo.


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    fogbugzd (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 9:44am

    Coincidence or magic?

    >>Coincidence or magic?

    To the uninformed, basic economics in action can appear indistinguishable from magic.

     

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      Dan (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:55am

      Re: Coincidence or magic?

      Especially to those in the entertainment industry.

       

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      monkyyy, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 6:13pm

      Re: Coincidence or magic?

      i blame the people who said the economy can only grow(or this stock is going to 3x, or invest everything in one stock, or even better get an adjustable mortgage), before the crash
      maybe we will one day stop listening to ad`s and idiots who call themselves experts

       

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      jsf (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 7:43am

      Re: Coincidence or magic?

      Just goes to show how little various "business people" paid attention to the business classes they took in college. What's really funny in the case of Reggie Fils-Aime is according to Wikipedia he has a degree in Applied Economics.

       

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 9:47am

    I'd agree with that

    I'd be more likely to buy more games if they didn't cost $60 each. There are other factors (Like DRM), but I would have a much harder time stopping myself from buying games if they only cost $10.

     

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      cj7wilson (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:03am

      Re: I'd agree with that

      Honestly, I've never bought a $60 game, I just don't think they are worth that much to me. I feel stupid from a budget perspective, because I HAVE bought 3 or more games at once when they drop to $20 each... I spend just as much on games, I just feel I'm getting more value. And I've never once cared about how much it cost to make or even how expensive it "feels" when I play...

       

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        PaulT (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 7:17am

        Re: Re: I'd agree with that

        Yep, that's my position as well. I can't remember the last time I bought a game at full price, and I refuse to buy new games from physical retail stores because they're too damn expensive (usually £10-15 cheaper online). Unless it's a game I *really* want, I'll normally not buy new, preferring to buy 6 months - 1 year later when the game is normally 1/2 to 2/3 cheaper. I also buy a lot of second hand games (which the publisher naturally see nothing from), purely because they're more affordable.

        I also buy a lot of games as imports because they're so much cheaper than games here in Spain. The average new release in Spanish stores is around €70 ($95 US), not much cheaper on the few dedicated Spanish online stores and don't typically go down in price very quickly. A new game in the UK is around £50 ($80 US) and all but the most popular games will drop to around £20 ($30 US) within 6-12 months. Guess where I buy my games? Not Spain, that's for sure.

        Now, if the typical release price was around the £30 mark, I'd find myself making many more snap purchases. The price would likely not drop quite as quickly, as there's a much smaller gap between £30 and £20 as there is between £50 and £20, so people would be less incentivised to wait as I currently am. If the savings would actually make their way on to the online services as well (e.g. I can download Bioshock on XBox Live for £20, but it's £8 on online stores), then even more casual purchases would likely result.

        Price is one of the most important aspects for many people. I absolutely refuse to buy Sonic 4 because it's ridiculously priced, but I bought Dead Space on my iPhone on a complete whim because I saw it was reduced to £1.79 and I got both Phoenix Wright and Street Fighter 4 when the 59p sale came through. I doubt I'm have bothered buying any of those had they been their normal prices, and I'm now even less likely to buy Sonic because I have so many other games to play instead. But, had Sonic 4 been a reasonable price, i would have bought it on day 1...

         

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      Jay (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:04am

      Re: I'd agree with that

      Word of advice:
      Never get steam....
      Your wallet will hate you forever

       

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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 9:47am

    And with a marginal cost of zero...

    I'm sure we'll get comments on the millions of dollars it cost to make these games. While I won't dispute that many games do cost a lot to make, that doesn't matter in the slightest - that is a fixed cost. Marginal cost is zero with online distribution. Once the game is made, every additional sale is profit.

     

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      cj7wilson (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 9:56am

      Re: And with a marginal cost of zero...

      First post, not a shill or troll...

      I would say that from the company's perspective, it can't ignore the fixed cost of creating the game. If it costs millions of dollars, that's just that much off their bottom line.

      The solution, of course, is not to build a million dollar game, but a cheaper game that is actually good. Then sell it for a more nominal amount that causes as little pain as possible to consumers.

       

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        Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:02am

        Re: Re: And with a marginal cost of zero...

        Create a $4,000,000 game and sell 7,000,000 for $1 profit. (I think GTA IV did this the first day, just not with the $1 profit part)

         

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        fogbugzd (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:14am

        Re: Re: And with a marginal cost of zero...

        >>The solution, of course, is not to build a million dollar game, but a cheaper game that is actually good.

        The content industry has been slow to embrace that concept. We hear cries from the movie industry that new business models will make it impossible to produce $200 million movies. Lots of industry egos are based on the concept that you have not arrived in Hollywood until you have worked on a $200 million movie. They have all forgotten that the objective is to make good movies. Good movies and expensive movies are not necessarily the same thing. If a movie is good and develops a fan base there will be ways to monetize it.

        One problem for both games and movies is that when you are spending massive amounts of money, you can't take chances. Therefore we see a lot of sequels in both the game and movie industry. They simply can't afford to take changes because of the size of the investments. It is the small independent outfits that are doing the innovation.

        When a company has a massive fixed development cost and a near-zero marginal cost of production, it has a huge problem. Its operation is flying in the face of basic economics. The only way this type of business can exist for long is to rely on artificial monopolies, and the easiest way to accomplish artificial monopolies is with government support.

        Economics always wins in the end. Either the artificial monopolies go away or the system becomes totally dysfunctional. I think that rampant piracy is one of the symptoms of a legal system that is far out of whack.

         

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          Hephaestus (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:37am

          Re: Re: Re: And with a marginal cost of zero...

          "When a company has a massive fixed development cost and a near-zero marginal cost of production, it has a huge problem. Its operation is flying in the face of basic economics. The only way this type of business can exist for long is to rely on artificial monopolies, and the easiest way to accomplish artificial monopolies is with government support."

          You can no longer count on government support for content. Games, Music, e-book, movies, etc are all loosing their monopoly status. There is to much competition from to many sources.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 1:22pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: And with a marginal cost of zero...

            They never had a monopoly status. That is the purest of bullsh-t possible.

             

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        Michael, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:50am

        Re: Re: And with a marginal cost of zero...

        The fixed cost of making the game is irrelevant. The marginal costs of distribution are important in pricing, but since it is digital, the marginal costs are effectively zero + packaging. If it is a download, that is zero + zero.

        The fixed costs to create the game do not increase with the number of sales, so any increase in gross revenue works for it. If you were selling cars, you have to consider the manufacturing costs so the car cannot be sold for less than the cost to build it, but that is not a problem in digital sales so the smart thing to do is decrease the price until you maximize gross revenue.

         

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        TD, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 9:26pm

        Re: Re: And with a marginal cost of zero...

        The problem with this logic is that it doesn't work. You can't make games of a certain quality with an extremely low budget.

        To put it bluntly, the real reason all of this is dangerous is that the best games often cost a great deal to make. How much does it cost to make a game like Bastion? Not that much. But it still costs a significant amount. How much does it cost to make a game like Crysis 2? Even more.

        Whether Crysis 2 is better than Bastion is a complicated question, but the real problem is that you can't survive on games like Bastion alone.

        Now, it may or may not be true that dramatically lowering the price on your product may increase your gross, but the real problem is whether or not that is a stable situation - fundamentally, if every game is cheap ($20 or less), I'd be a lot more likely to try out new games. But I have only finite amounts of time; so, to put it simply, if the entire market did that, then they may very well lose sales from me overall as individuals who make the best games, because I would have bought their game anyway for $50-60 even though I'd only buy, say, a Bethesda quality game for $5.

        Worse, if I have more games than I have time for, I may well stop buying games altogether. And what happens then?

        I dunno if the current strategy is optimum, but it seems to me like having the price initially high, then price dropping over time likely squeezes out more money from consumers as every time you price drop you get a spike of interest.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 9:47am

    The real question would be total revenue over the life of the product, not the short term results of a "sale price".

    It is also important to consider that while revenue may go up, you have to compare it to the profit margin on the other side. Obviously, if companies were pricing their products with 500% profit margins, perhaps they are just priced over the market. Supply and demand, the very basics - price over that, and you may hurt demand.

    It isn't magic, but it is certainly easy to for educated MBAs to think they were the first to discover sale pricing.

     

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    Matthew (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 9:51am

    Madness!

    Next thing you'll try to tell me is that cheaper games get pirated less! Insanity!

     

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      Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 9:57am

      Re: Madness!

      I know its been done to death, but...

      Madness? This! is! ECON!

       

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      monkyyy, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 6:23pm

      Re: Madness!

      no the cheaper the game the more it gets pirated, after all look how much free games get pirated, and also ios games get it the worse, and how often does Photoshop get pirated by collage students, thats right NEVER

      pirates sicken me, THEY WOULD EVEN DOWNLOAD A PIZZA

       

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        Ed C., Feb 24th, 2011 @ 1:16am

        Re: Re: Madness!

        Photoshop NEVER gets pirated by collage students? Either you're being sarcastic or foolish...I'm not quite sure which.

         

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        MikeVx (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 7:39pm

        Pizza via IP?

        "The Unix to Unix Pizza Protocol (UUPP) had to be abandoned due to a design flaw. Some receiving clients would fall back to the Unix to Unix Cookie Protocol (UUCP), with the result that transmitted Pepperoni Pizzas would be received as Chocolate Chip Cookies."

        --Paraphrased from a 20+ year old newsgroup post that lurks in the dusty depths of my memory.

         

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    Philip (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:14am

    Long term?

    In the long term, Nintendo Pres may have a point, kinda.

    Right now, the reason why lowering the price works is people are expecting these games to be expensive. So, when the prices take a dramatic cut, they jump on it.

    I do agree there are a number of people that wouldn't even consider a game unless the price is below a certain point. There are even people that would get low price games for s&g's just to check them out. But what if every game was always this low?

    I'm not advocating high price games; as a gamer, I'd love to see cheaper games. But in hindsight, if games were always just $10, would we see the same revenue boosts? Maybe ... but I'm biased as a gamer; I'd have less trouble buying games at $10 (hell, I'd probably have hundreds if they were just $10). I guess that would answer my own question. lol

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:21am

      Re: Long term?

      Well, things would even out over time if everyone brought down their prices, but I think the overall market would expand: there are lots of people out there who still don't really play videogames, and drastically lowering the price barrier to entry would definitely attract a portion of them (maybe a big portion)

       

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      PRMan, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 11:18am

      Re: Long term?

      You were a supporter of the other side and then talked yourself out of it in under a minute.

      You're not an entertainment executive, are you?

       

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        Philip (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 11:40am

        Re: Re: Long term?

        Nah. I tend to flow thought all over the place. It doesn't mean my mind is made up. It just means that's a point where my thought process went to.

         

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    cjstg, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:19am

    not so sure

    the entire post was using gross revenue as the benchmark. now i am not in disagreement with the sentiment, there are lots of benefits to lowering prices. but there are a lot of other factors at work here. yes, it was mentioned near the beginning that margins are important, but then the rest of the post totally ignores margins and uses revenues. if the wigit in the first example costs $.90 to make and it sells for $1000 the net is $999.10 and at $1 the net is about $1000. you've still made a profit, but at a much higher level of effort. when you focus only on revenues you get the "we lose money on every deal, but we make it up in volume" effect so popular with furniture outlets.

    most of these companies know their cost structure (high up front costs, low distribution costs), they know their distribution window (usually measured in days for medium quality games), and they know their customer (fickle gamers). yes, they could sell more copies cheaper, but once the word gets out that the game is a dog (a possibility for any game) sales dry up almost immediately.

    from a consumer aspect i agree completely, from a business perspective the facts as presented don't quite work out.

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:24am

      Re: not so sure

      from a consumer aspect i agree completely, from a business perspective the facts as presented don't quite work out

      Ultimately, the consumer aspect is the business aspect. Especially today when consumers can easily get any game for free if they so choose. A company whose business model is to trick people into buying "dog" games by cramming them down their throats quickly at a high margin may be able to make money for awhile, but in the long term they are doomed.

       

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        cjstg, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:42am

        Re: Re: not so sure

        i agree until i realize that there are games that cost millions of dollars to make (not every game can be minecraft). sure, you can spend a couple of weeks working out of your home office building a really cool flash game and sell it for $5. but as it stands now, in order to create the blockbuster hits, you currently need to spend a lot of money on rendering engines, artists, game play specialists, programmers, marketing, etc. you cannot price you product below your costs. and the consumer has spoken by buying these blockbuster games at high prices.

        personally, i like the basic games like minecraft and creeper world, but i know people who like halo which cost millions of dollars to create. i really don't want my choices to be limited to cheap flash games.

        revenue > expenses = good (more games developed)
        revenue

         

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 11:13am

          Re: Re: Re: not so sure

          But if what you say is true, then videogame makers shouldn't worry at all about cheap games, because people will still buy their expensive ones. If, on the other hand, not enough people are willing to buy blockbuster games... well, then the market has spoken.

           

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          Killer_Tofu (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 12:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: not so sure

          there are games that cost millions of dollars to make (not every game can be minecraft)

          And then:

          in order to create the blockbuster hits, you currently need to spend a lot of money on rendering engines, artists, game play specialists, programmers, marketing, etc

          Those two points conflict very much so.
          Minecraft is for all intents and purposes a 'blockbuster' game. It has netted insane profits for the 'team' that developed it. It is just another example that you in fact do not need to spend millions to make something people will love. I do however think that to an extent, games that do cost a lot to make and are very polished will always have their place in the market.

           

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      Modplan (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:43am

      Re: not so sure

      I'm sorry, say that last part again?

      http://2dboy.com/2011/02/08/ipad-launch/

      The higher revenue at the lower price point brought about a realization about “price erosion”. The notion that “App Store price erosion is bad for developers” could be a backwards way of looking at things. What is generally referred to as price erosion occurs because developers are optimizing their revenue. If a game earns 50% more revenue at a lower price point, it’s a pure win situation as the developer makes more money AND more people get to enjoy the game. And if those two things are true, does it really matter what the sale price is? If we all charged double for our games we might all earn more money, but we could also end up earning less money because people would buy much fewer apps.

       

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      Jose_X, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 11:20am

      Re: not so sure

      >> if the wigit in the first example costs $.90 to make and it sells for $1000 the net is $999.10 and at $1 the net is about $1000. you've still made a profit, but at a much higher level of effort.

      OK, we are talking about selling information that is automated largely and with fixed overhead costs. Sure, there are support costs and what not that grow with each new sale, but we do have near fixed overhead.

      So to finish out your analysis:
      $10K gross by selling 1000 @ $100 will be the case to be compared. The cost per item here is not .9 but an even lower number when we amortize. In other words, the 90 cents you stated was the cost of 1 item is roughly the cost of all 1000 items as well (fixed overhead), leading to a new per item cost of .09 cents. We can skip the rest of the math details, because the bottom line is that revenue will largely equal profits in this case. And, generalizing, essentially profits will be directly proportional to revenues for any near fixed overhead situation.

      Now, there is another element not covered in the article that argues a bit for keeping prices high initially. The total profit over the life of the item might very well go down if we trade off for more profits today at greater volume/lower cost; however, any such analysis and conclusion for a particular product is not predictable. There are too many variables at play in any condition (eg, how will competition, average disposable income of customers, tastes, productivity increases, business model adjustments, etc, all play out over the next say 5 years). And we also can't forget that $1 today is worth more than $1 tomorrow because the dollar can be put to work.

       

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    Mike42 (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:24am

    Gross vs Net

    I think this article would be much more insightful if you included Gross vs Net profit. If, in your example, the widget in question cost 99.9 cents to make, you didn't gain anything by selling 1000 at $1 instead of 1 for $100. I think that's the problem: the CEO of Nintendo is still selling silicon chips in his head, with a high per-unit cost.

    Once you realize that with downloaded games, your only significant cost is game production (not per-unit production cost), price elasticity comes into it's own. You incur a small bandwith fee, which could be minimized by the proper application of bittorrent.

     

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      cj7wilson (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:37am

      Re: Gross vs Net

      I don't think that information (net profit, or cost of goods sold) is readily available from the company, at least on a game-by-game level.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 1:35pm

      Re: Gross vs Net

      Actually, the costs of producing a single chip are nowhere near as high as all that. Much of what you pay is the costs to develop it and put it into production.

      The costs of distributing a video game aren't the significant ends of the costs. If we only spoke of the marginal costs, you would be right. But when the fixed costs (development) are the big end of the project, you cannot just work on marginal costs alone.

      If it costs you $10,000 to develop something, and 1 cent to reproduce it, do you sell it for 2 cents and declare a profit? Nope. You are still $9999.99 in the hole. If the market is only for 10,000 units total, you have to sell it for $1.01 just to break even.

      You may have the proverbial "infinite distribution", but you don't have an "infinite marketplace". So within that marketplace, you have to recoup your up front costs, your fixed costs, your variable costs, and your marginal costs on each of the units you intend to sell. Oh yeah, you might want to actually make a profit.

      So if the game company has a staff of 100 people working on a project, and it takes two years to bring to market the completed mega-game, it should be understood that there is no viable business model that says they can sell it at 99 cents.

       

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    cj7wilson (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:26am

    not quite related, but is anyone else seeing a BSA banner ad at the top of the page?

    Someone isn't doing a good job targeting their audience appropriately... :)

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 11:24am

      Re:

      Banner ad? This site has ads?

      Guess Adblock continues to do its job then. And, you've re-assured me that there's no value in the ads shown here. Arguing that I should enable them is useless since I'd never click and generate revenue anyway...

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:29am

    If for a $10 price i can get innovative, interesting, captivating games that I can play for extended periods of time (and not get bored of in 2 days or less); and if my experience won't be clouded with banner ads and registration requests and social information gathering, then YES. $10 is great.

    That's not what happens though. The severe drop in price, while it has boosted "certain kinds" of games that normally wouldn't be as widely distributed as they, has also resulted in lower quality cheap games that bombard you with social networking addons and advertisements; and they usually have a very short play-time.

    The reason games sell for $1-$10 instead of $20-$50 is because they CAN'T sell for $20-$50. No one would buy them. For the more expensive games I buy, I tend to follow their development ahead of time, and check reviews before purchasing first. Sure it'd be nice if a new game cost half that amount because then I'd worry less about wasting my money on a 4/10 rated game rather than make sure it's a 8/10 game, but good games tend to have big budgets which need to be balanced with big pricetags, usually.

    Mobile platforms are for puzzles, repetitive settings, short and few levels, and generally shallow games. Certain games actually do take many years to produce, and their high price tag is usually worth it. Besides, after a month or two of release the price tends to drop by $10-20, and I don't mind paying 3 times more for a game when I tend to play that game 10 times longer than the latest appstore trendsetter.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 11:08am

      Re:

      You're confusing cheap value and cheap price a little. You're right, the market is awash with shovelware and the value of those games is usually apparent in their price (ironic that of all the people to speak out against cheap games it would be Nintendo's CEO). But I think that's just a symptom of those games being the bottom level, so others charge more because they can. If My Ponyz is selling for $19.99, would you price Mario Galaxy at the same price? Hell no!

      But that's missing the point here; any popular title is going to sell well because they have the marketing and industry coverage behind them. The real question is, could they charge less than the standard $60 at their release and make more money? I know I sure as hell won't spend $60, but once those titles come down to $20, I'm all over them. If they launched at $20 and were still making a profit at that price, their opening day sales would be like nothing we've ever seen before. They wouldn't be able to keep the title on the shelves.

      If you were following one of these 8/10 games through development and launch and it came out for $10, are you saying you wouldn't buy it? Because I'm quite confident that you still would. If the game was great, people would hear about it and the price would have no bearing on them purchasing it. This is why pre-orders are so rampant, price doesn't matter to rabid fans. It's the casual purchasers you need to sell to, and having a more reasonable price is a great way to get them to part with their money.

      Look at the Wii; 2+ years after launch it was still difficult to find. You could sit back and say Nintendo priced it too low because the demand was too high and so they missed out on a lot of profits. But did they? They had the #1 selling console by far and they still made money with each sale (unlike their competition). Having that kind of market penetration has its values, like brand recognition ensuring a lot of those customers also buy the next iteration and a huge paying customer base that they could leverage in to high licensing costs for releasing games for their system. If they were only looking at short-term dollars and sales, they'd have neither and their system may have been dead within a couple years of its release. Instead, it continued to out-sell all its competition for many years after launch.

       

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      Fickelbra (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 12:13pm

      Re:

      You've clearly never looked at things like the App Store, because while there are games that are crap no matter what price point, I can also list games that offer tons of value for their price point.

      Angry Birds - $1.00 (Played for countless hours)
      Zenonia 1 - $5.00 I believe? Played all the way through
      The Battle for Wesnoth - $1.00
      Zenonia 2 (See Zenonia 1)
      Final Fantasy Chaos Rings - $13.00 Tons of content.

      You can argue that oh these aren't your types of games, but quality content exists at a low price point, and ranges from "puzzles, repetitive settings, shallow games" to actual in-depth games.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:40am

    Why not just give everything away for free, that's techdirt's mantra. Of course techdirt doesn't make any games so they don't understand.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 11:01am

      Re:

      "Why not just give everything away for free.."

      Yes, why not?

      Example: Give the game client away for free. Allow single player and lan (or limited online play) for free. Charge money for playing on a massive server with millions of other players and extra content.

      That could work.

       

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        David Liu (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 12:08pm

        Re: Re:

        And not only could work in theory, but does work in practice for many many online MMOs.

         

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        SteelWolf (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 12:34pm

        Re: Re:

        I think there's room in the MMO space for a model like this. It's potentially a way to take on WoW while still charging a monthly fee - give the client away so everybody tries it, then charge to continue playing or for extra features.

        I guess some of the MMOs have switched to a model like this (LotRO, DnDO) and are doing pretty well.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 1:37pm

        Re: Re:

        Nope. Someone would come up with a hack to allow everyone to play for free. End of income stream.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 11:08am

      Re:

      See, it's people like you that make me miss Weird Harold and his ilk. At least they tried to argue something (though I'm not entirely sure what it was all the time).

      You just spout off stuff like "party line" and "cult", and attempt to repeat it enough times in desperation to get people to believe you.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:24pm

      Re:

      angry bird does this for the android platform...guess the developer must be going mad

       

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    maclizard (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:45am

    Dear Mike

    I've been a techdirt reader for years and I have never been disappointed in the quality of the content produced. The way that you explain economics and politics as well as other topics trumps that of any formal instructor I have ever been exposed to.

    The ironic thing is that very little of what I read here is news to me, however your method for delivering information is so effective that I retain it from techdirt far more often than the original source. This story is a prime example of a great educational resource and I will be archiving this article, as well as others, to teach my children when they enter public school in a couple years.

    Thank you for providing such valuable information.

    Reader for life,
    _Lucas Short_

     

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    Kurata, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:54am

    I buy used games for a reason : I don't think a game is worth 60 euros+.

    Back in the 90s, I remember buying a Nintendo 64 for around 1200 francs (about 230+ euros?), and games for like 300/200 francs (45~30 euros) and I did buy a lot of games.
    Nowaday, every games are like 60 euros, if not more.

    Then i discovered steam, with its massive discounts and I have more games on my steam list than I have on my consoles.

    On my wii, I have like 7 games, and they weren't worth 60 euros each. Lesson learned, on my xbox, I only buy USED games for 40~20 bucks instead of 60~50 bucks, and I do have a lot of xbox games now : 6.
    Amount of games I bought total : 13.
    On the N64 alone : 28.

    The reasons I don't buy games anymore? well, convenience of having to go to a store first, but also the price.

    Just to talk about cjstg's point of view, that's pretty much what has been explained with the elasticity : if the blockbuster works at such a high price, and they wont get more from selling for less, then why do it?
    consumers are happy with the high price, then they buy. if decreasing does attract more customers, it might not make up for the loss of a lower price.

    However, I don't think the rendering engines now a day cost that much, considering they use the same engines for multiple games, at most some licensing fees.

     

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    Designerfx (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 10:57am

    Nintendo has always been the worst

    Nintendo has been the biggest advocate of DRM, consoles and console lockin, and guess who's been #2? Hint: steam.

    Steam is still DRM, it's just a little more reasonable.

    Meanwhile, nintendo's been cruising on the "we're like apple and our customers are suckers" model for a long time and it's been quite well known, just like this comic: http://www.cad-comic.com/cad/20080721

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 11:17am

      Re: Nintendo has always been the worst

      Nintendo, like Apple, knows how to sell. Both of those companies make products that are enjoyable to use. They also make money from the products they sell, refusing to sell them at a loss like the other guys.

      The 360 and PS3 clearly aren't going after [the casual gaming] market, so why shouldn't Nintendo go mop up?

      And that's why they're shitting money out of every orifice.

       

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      David Liu (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 12:15pm

      Re: Nintendo has always been the worst

      The thing about the Steam DRM is that it's DRM done right.

      It's not something that really gets in your way, and if you put up with it, it provides added value through the fact that your games will always be there on any machine that has Steam. It's not "just a little more reasonable". It's something that the users feel that makes sense and like.

      DRM that treat users like criminals put gamers off. Steam doesn't give that feeling.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 12:57pm

      Re: Nintendo has always been the worst

      WHAT? you mean if you do DRM in such a way that the customer can use your product as they seem fit they don't care?

      SHOCKED i tell you SHOCKED.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 11:17am

    Again, just a reminder that Reggie Fils-Aime is the president of Nintendo of America; NoA is only a division of Nintendo's entire operations. Satoru Iwata is the gentleman in top command of Nintendo.

     

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    TheRemains (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 11:44am

    Time for some education

    Gabe Newell, president of Vavle and co-creator of Steam software claims lowering prices by 75% increased GROSS by 40x

    Believe it

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOMI0BxB0yA

     

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    Fickelbra (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 11:52am

    Plain and simple, if video games were priced fairly, sales would increase. Why do I know this? The fact that my digital collection I have stored on my Xbox and PS3 is a testement to the fact that at the end of the day, I can get the same amount of enjoyment from a 5 or 10 dollar XBLA game versus most Xbox 360 releases.

    Here is what I would like to see. We all remember when video games unanimously jumped from 50 to 60 dollars, claiming inflated development costs. Why do we as consumers never see this formula IN REVERSE. I'm really not an expert as this message may be evident of, but I do feel that a competitive pricing model for video games is ultimately what needs to happen. I'm a huge Street Fighter fan for example, but paying $60 dollars for a fighting game makes no sense fiscally for me anymore.

    Continue to overcharge and people will continue to make Gamestop profitable; by looking for used copies to save the bank versus funding the development of the game. Or piracy, but let's not start with that.

     

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    John, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 11:56am

    Buy From The Bargain Bin

    I refuse to buy any new game over $50.00. As a matter of fact I now buy one new game a year and only purchase from the bargain bin. You can reason economics all you want because that is exactly what I am doing. Lots of great deals if you have patience...but as we all know that is not how kids/adults are in todays world so you will always have gotta have it now people buying for top dollar and complaining about all the bugs in the crappy 60 dollar game they bought.

     

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      cj7wilson (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 12:23pm

      Re: Buy From The Bargain Bin

      I do that too. Or you could REALLY screw with them and buy the game used from GameStop. Then you're doing your part to encourage a healthy secondary market...

       

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    Overcast (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 12:39pm

    "Two years ago, we wrote about some experiments by Valve, where it tried lowering prices of games by 10%, 25%, 50% and 75% -- and saw the increase in sales at a stupendous rate."

    When i first ran into Steam, it was for Halflife 2. Expensive game on release.

    Game prices were about the same for them all on Steam - $29.99+ and actually most were $39.99+

    Didn't buy any... other than having HL2 physical media.

    Steam dropped a lot of games to $9.95 or less on some.

    Bought 6 of them. At $39.99 I would have bought none of them. Either way, it only cost Steam a bit of bandwidth.

     

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      The eejit (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 3:31pm

      Re:

      I originally saw ME2 on Steam for £29.99. I didn't buy it.

      Then, in the Steam Christmas sale, I saw ME2 Deluxe for £14.99. I bought it on recommendation. AS part of their SquEnix week, I bought Batman: Arkham Asylum for a measly £3.74 (down from £15).

      That's two purchases I wouldn't have made at the £29.99 price point, and in the current markets, cheaper is selling more simply because of the lower disposable incomes.

       

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    The Buzz Saw (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 1:26pm

    Classic

    It's funny how game developers cry out how the industry is dying, but a simple price reduction fixes everything. It's almost as if they're saying, "I only want to make a fortune. I will not settle for a modest income!"

     

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      hegemon13, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 6:30am

      Re: Classic

      It's not even that. That would actually be understandable, even if it's not admirable.

      It's like they're saying, "I only want to make a fortune by ripping people off. I REFUSE to make a bigger fortune by giving my customers value."

       

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    TomTom, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 5:43pm

    The secret

    As a poor college student my video games collection revolves around a Gamecube and Steam (+ Minecraft). When you realize that the internet (and Iphone) has free flash games that can often compare, and there are older games that are comparable to the current thing, there is no reason to pay $50, let alone $60, for a game. The only exception is online multiplayer, where the current game is where the opponents are, but I've found TF2 just fine for those needs.

    Note: I would pay $50 bucks for Portal 2. Valve is also my vote for benign dictator, while we're at it.

     

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    Chris in Utah (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 5:51am

    Free and working

    Love thy MMOs and the rtb is fandom.

    side thought: Riot games League of Legends comes to mind off hand

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2011 @ 7:12pm

    I have a lot of games here are some of them:

    Glest
    Foobillard
    FlightGear
    Globulation 2 (So cute)
    Maniadrive
    VDrift
    UFO: AI
    Ultimate Stunts (anybody remembers the 1990 game Stunts?)
    Drascula: The Vampire Strikes Back

    And so many others.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 6:16am

    Discounts aren't the same as permanent lower price

    When you lower the price by 75% people see it as a temporary opportunity to get the game for a much lower cost, which some of them don't want to miss.

    When your price starts at 75% less, there's no opportunity here.
    In addition it will most likely to lead people to think that the product is lower quality.
    And when it comes to video games, when a player want a game he'll buy it as long as he thinks the price is matching the value of the product.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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