For whatever reason, some people falsely seem to think that part of what I argue is that no one should ever try charging money for digital goods. Nothing is further from the truth. I have said over and over and over again, the important thing is figuring out what it makes sense to charge for, and what it doesn't make sense to charge for. The problem we have is when people just assume that because they put a price on it, that's the right price. On top of that, those who charge without recognizing the potential pitfalls of charging for things in certain situations shouldn't complain when that effort fails. But if you do it right
, you can absolutely charge for certain digital things -- and, in fact, many of the examples we point to of success stories involve charging for digital things.
Aaron DeOliveira points us to another fascinating example, involving the free-to-play online video game, DarkOrbit. Within the game, there's a special item, known as the 10th drone -- or the Zeus Drone -- that is highly desirable. As you might imagine, to get the 10th drone, you first have to get all 9 previous drones... and some blueprints to make the 10th drone. Apparently, this is quite involved. BigPoint, the company behind DarkOrbit, also tried another tactic: the company has run an occasional promotion, where you can buy
the 10th drone for 1,000 euros (~$1,330). Here's the amazing part: apparently two thousand people paid
, bringing in about 2 million euros, or $2.7 million. For a single digital item. Update
: Or.... not quite. A clarification makes it clear that it did not bring in that much
. People did buy, but they had to buy with in-game currency. You can sometimes buy such currency... and sometimes it's discounted. If it wasn't discounted and you had none in the game... then the cost of the drone would have been 1000 euros. As that's not likely to be the case, while the game did still sell 2000 such drones, it was clearly for less money. However, it is still an example of where people can be willing to pay if done right... just not as amazing.
But the real key here is in what they did to make this possible. First, used "free" to get lots of people in the door, connect with them, and make them totally
bought into the game, such that they'd be willing to spend. Then, build up the overall "value" of such an item, and then offer it in a way that people really wanted to buy even at what many of us might consider to be an insane price. However, it's a perfect example of how if you really connect
with fans, and carefully figure out what it makes sense to charge for... you can do quite well.