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What's in a Price?

Last post 2/5/2010 4:33 PM by myersracing. 42 replies.
  • 10/7/2008 9:13 AM

    What's in a Price?

    Something that's likely in the back of everyone's mind right now is "what price point should I choose for my game?" I figured since I'm currently thinking about it, and others likely are, we could have a little discussion about it.

    To start we know there are three price points: 200, 400, and 800 MS Points (equating to $2.50, $5.00, and $10.00 USD, respectively). We also know that if your compressed CCGAME package is over 50MB, you are not allowed to choose the 200 MS Point price.

    So with that in mind, what do we all think about pricing our games?

    I personally think pricing your game at 800 MS Points is a terrible move unless you have a really, really good game. In my mind, 800 points is an investment. I can pick up most XBLA games (which, remember, are professionally developed with a high level of polish and also have achievements and online leaderboards) at 800 points. So if I see a mediocre or even good (but not great) XBLCG game at 800 points, I doubt I'm going to be very inclined to pick it up. I'll try the demo, sure, but even then it'd have to be something amazing to justify the price.

    So for me that leaves two price points: 200 and 400 MS Points. On the one hand, 400 points isn't that bad. It's half the price of an XBLA game and still pretty good revenue for me. On the other hand, 200 points is basically spare change. You're far more likely to get impulse buys on a 200 point game. That said consumers may look at a game for 200 points and think "there must be something bad about this game that it's at the lowest possible price" and be a little turned off by that. To relate this to the iPhone games market, I've been reading some forum discussions on pricing there and most developers say the sweet spot for pricing is the $4.99-$7.99 price point. A few have said that games that sell for less sometimes will sell more, but they find that consumers are making assumptions about the games priced lower than that.

    So 200 points gives you a better chance at impulse buys at the risk of consumers getting an impression that your game is cheap whereas 400 points might not be quite as easy for some consumers to give up. The question then is can you sell 2x (or more) copies at 200 points than 400 points? Or do you really have that amazing game people will pay 800 points for (knowing they won't get online leaderboards or achievements)?

  • 10/7/2008 11:04 AM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?


    If I ever get my game up there, I'll be choosing a mid-range price point.

    Because my game is complete with a few modes and isn't composed of programmer art. People have told me they really like playing it when I gave them test builds, and even kept playing it long after they were done testing it. To the point where the '5 more minutes' syndrome kicks in, and they are the ones bringing it up in conversations, asking about more recent versions. So I know my game is fun and addictive already.

    Also, because I don't want to scare off sales.

    These are just example prices, but I think that 2 5.00 sales are better than 1 10.00 sale. Im sure the lower the price, the more people will be willing to buy. Addictive game + low price + 12 million potential customers = Winner.

    Not a get rich quick thing, but I'm sure you can assume a trickle of sales. Especially with that New Arrivals section.

    There's a Wii in the house, and I check the WiiShop new arrivals all the time. We've bought a few games from it too. The cheaper the game, the more likely the sales. There are a lot more cheap NES games on our virtual console than there are SNES games, and there are NONE of the more expensive games.

    Also, the more points your game costs, the more times you will come across the problem of someone not buying your game because they only have x points left, and they never get around to going out and buying more, or they just never get around to it otherwise.


  • 10/7/2008 12:20 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    Just to make things even more complicated, and the decision even harder, let me throw the following into the discussion:

    Even though the US market is surely the largest for XBLCG, a developer would be foolish to forget the other countries. There's money to make there too! :-) US-developers may not be aware of this, but of the possible customer regions at XBLCG launch, at least four countries have higher costs for MS points than in the US, those being the three Euro-zone countries and the UK (I don't know about Canada).

    So if you for example are undecided between either 200 or 400 MS Points, you should take into account that only in the US will those equate to $2.50 and $5.00.

    In the Euro-zone, there are different costs:

    200 Points = 2.40€ = ~$3.25
    400 Points = 4.80€ = ~$6.50

    and in the UK:

    200 Points = 1.70£ = ~$3.00
    400 Points = 3.40£ = ~$6.00

    So if you are already unsure if your game will attract enough buyers when priced at $5.00, then you should remember that it will be even more expensive for non-US gamers, costing $6.50 / $6.00 in the Euro-zone/UK... (Similarly with 800 Points of course, which equates to $10.00 in the US, but $13.00/$12.00 in the Euro-Zone/UK)

    Of course this is with today's exchange rate and the actual values change all the time, but with the current economy situation, it doesn't look as if the Dollar will be gaining soon... Details about different MS point prices: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Points

    Doc

  • 10/7/2008 12:30 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    Spyn Doctor:
    (I don't know about Canada).
    19.99 for 1400 points and 39.99 for 2800.

    So a lot of people will have to spend 20.00 to buy that 200 point game, either way. But on the bright side, they might spend the rest on other community games as well.

  • 10/7/2008 12:55 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    Daaark:
    Spyn Doctor:
    (I don't know about Canada).
    19.99 for 1400 points and 39.99 for 2800.

    So a lot of people will have to spend 20.00 to buy that 200 point game, either way. But on the bright side, they might spend the rest on other community games as well.

    Isn't that for prepaid cards only? I think if you buy online (with a credit card) the smallest batch you can buy is 400 MS Points (at whatever costs are applicable to your country). Or is this minimum batch size different between countries too?
    For the discussion here that would be irrelevant anyway: Whatever the minimum batch size for MS Points is in a given country, the players from that country are used to it already, i.e. they are used to the fact that they may have to buy a larger batch than is necessary for the immediate purchase, and then split those points over several purchases. So that factor is outside of your influence anyway when you try to decide on a price point for your game.

    Doc

  • 10/7/2008 1:35 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    I can't see pricing anything I put out at the 800 price point, unless it's something huge. I'm going to be trying to keep all my games at 50MB or below just to go with the 200 price point. Maybe when I've got a couple games out there already and can spend some time going a high-quality game I'll go with 800, but that's gonna be down the road a ways.
  • 10/7/2008 2:17 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    I'd been thinking on this too.

    Besides trying to adjust my price to what others are doing, I was trying to develop some kind of scale to determine (for only my own games) each game's pricing.

    As some of you have said and seem to imply, you're probably not shooting for a really large game at the beginning (and neither am I), yet, I would like room for this to happen later on. So I too feel that 800 should be reserved for all of these kind of games. So I've gone ahead and broke my game pricing down as such...

    200 pnts - Games that have only one main gameplay gimic (that should be fun and addictive by itself) - basically a "one trick pony". You'd find games like this on websites; "flash" like mini games. These would have score boards, but not any real "profile" use (or in otherwords, specific progression that would need to be tracked by saving to a profile).

     

    400 pnts - Games that are similar to 200 point games, but have more gameplay elements to it. More time and effort would also be put into making it more "polished". There would also be more of a use for Profiles, since in these games you would probably have the ability to "progress" through something (either stories, scenarios, or levels, for example), yet the method in which they're produced would be easily done (possibly generated by the program), and would not contain much custom work for each.

     

    800 pnts - Pretty much anything a step above a 400 point game would be priced this (until they add an even higher price point). You could think of maybe games found on a handheld system, as being the prime example. However, I'm sure I'll find at some point how large a game I should/could make before it becomes no longer viable. This is a long ways off, though - lol.

  • 10/13/2008 12:55 AM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    When thinking about the prices, I try to imagine how I would respond to the different prices. $10 feels like a lot to spend, and I probably wouldn't ever spend that much unless the game was phenomenal. If I see some cool little game that's only $2.50, I might consider it, as long as I haven't heard anything bad about it. If a friend bought it, and asked me to buy it as well so we could play online, I would likely buy it hands down, because $2.50 is no big deal. The same goes for $5 games, though I would look at a list of all the features before buying. From this, I decided that most of the games I make will be $5, because in all likelihood, I'm going to exceed the 150 MB limit. This would be my first complete game (unless you count pong, I don't), and I think it would be very arrogant of me to price it higher than $5.
  • 10/13/2008 1:05 AM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    Erglegrue:
    From this, I decided that most of the games I make will be $5, because in all likelihood, I'm going to exceed the 150 MB limit.
    I assume you mean the 50MB limit since you aren't allowed to go beyond the 150MB one. ;)
  • 10/13/2008 2:47 AM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    I'm going for the 200 point level with my first game or games, just to put my toe in the water. (I actually have a 2D game I'm playing with just for fun, in addition to the "real" 3D game that an artist designed and we submitted to DBP.)

    If it turns out I get positive response, and I spend more time on some follow-up game, then perhaps I'd put in enough content to worry about the 400 point level, but I can't see going to 800 unless I spend a lot of money up-front on content. And if I do that, chances are I wouldn't ever make it back in the first place... XBLCG will probably sell less than XBLA games, and XBLA games aren't super profitable, from what I can tell.

    And, no, I have no plans for actually quitting my day job (which is fun, challenging, and takes most of my time anyway). Someone who gave it a "real" go might make a different call.

  • 10/13/2008 7:53 AM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    Can the price be changed after the game is on the market? Lets say the sales are not good, so you lower the price... or if you are seling a lot, then put it higher...
  • 10/13/2008 8:01 AM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    I agree with your assessment. The overlap of 800 points with "real" games will make it hard to justify that price, while 200 points might lower the perceived value of your product.
  • 10/13/2008 1:55 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    Silvermax:
    Can the price be changed after the game is on the market? Lets say the sales are not good, so you lower the price... or if you are seling a lot, then put it higher...
    At Gamefest they mentioned they are interested in the idea of lowering the price but were very much against raising your games price. So it might be an option and it might not.
  • 10/13/2008 4:48 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?


    Harald Maassen:
    200 points might lower the perceived value

    I disagree with that. I think the user gets the value of the product from playig  the demo. If I play a demo and I like it, for me is even better that cost 200 p instead 400 p. In fact, I've been stoped from buying some xbla games becouse the price (for example Braid)

     

     

  • 10/13/2008 5:13 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    Silvermax:

    Harald Maassen:
    200 points might lower the perceived value

    I disagree with that. I think the user gets the value of the product from playig  the demo. If I play a demo and I like it, for me is even better that cost 200 p instead 400 p. In fact, I've been stoped from buying some xbla games becouse the price (for example Braid)

    But what about all the people to whom $5 isn't really that much more than $2.50? A lot of them are going to assume a game that is selling for a mere 200 points isn't as good as the 400 points. While they might buy it if they play the demo, what if this perceived lower quality has them decide to not play the demo at all?
  • 10/13/2008 5:28 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?


    Nick Gravelyn:
    what if this perceived lower quality has them decide to not play the demo at all?

     i see, becouse when the CG is open... there is going to be hundreds of games...so, yes, maybe people doenst invest the time in download and try every game...

    Anyway , i think in my case i will go for 200... or 400.... i have no idea... This decision is harder than it looks

     

    by the way... do we know about how many games will be there (more or less)?

     

     

  • 10/13/2008 5:44 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    Silvermax:

    by the way... do we know about how many games will be there (more or less)?

    There won't be any until people submit them and they're approved.

  • 10/13/2008 5:59 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    Every marketing study towards independent game development shows that pricing lower than a certain level gets you less profits than pricing higher due to a consumer's perceived value. Community Games is a brand new aspect of this, but if you use other portals as a predictor - the 200-400 price point games could possibly be seen as bad since most of the smaller/less polished titles will probably be priced around there, whereas the 800 pointish games will be seen as those that would be on the level of XBLA titles. So, you could easily price yourself out by going too low.

    The first group of launch titles will be what sets the perceived value, really. I'm trying to finish an entirely different game for launch and it will probably be something I priced at 400 points or so, as it's a lot smaller in scope than AAG; more of the single screen shooter type.


  • 10/13/2008 6:32 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    My emphasis added:
    arrogancy:
    Community Games is a brand new aspect of this, but if you use other portals as a predictor - the 200-400 price point games could possibly be seen as bad since most of the smaller/less polished titles will probably be priced around there, whereas the 800 pointish games will be seen as those that would be on the level of XBLA titles.
    That is both a pro and a con. On the one hand, people will gladly try those demos assuming (hoping?) they are of XBLA quality. The downside is when they realize they do not get the XBLA benefits: achievements, online leaderboards, etc. I'm sure some game at some point will do moderatly well at the 800 point price, but I wonder if they would do better at a lower price point. Then again, perhaps the gamers will appreciate what the game has rather than what it doesn't have. Lots of PC games that are relatively simple sell at $10 and do so rather well. That said, PC games aren't in a direct comparison to XBLA games. It's a tug of war of logic in my mind.

    I'll probably stick with the 400 point price for Bloc and use 200 for some of the smaller games I am thinking up. My next big game will probably still be 400 points unless the market has shown it doesn't mind paying 800 points for XBLCG titles. Hopefully the market is willing to pay at that point, but until it's proven I remain skeptical that you can compete against XBLA titles at their price point.
  • 10/13/2008 7:06 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    Time progressive pricing would be nice.  Start out your game at a decent price and then lower it 4 months later after demand goes down.

    One thing to note, you would have to sell twice as many 5 dollar games compared to 10 dollar games to get the exact same revenue.  A $7.50 price point would have been nice.

  • 10/13/2008 7:09 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    I have seen some impressive games in the beta, several of which could fetch a full 800.  But being an experimental mechnics junkie (read "mad scientist"), I can't justify dropping an untested, risky concept on the masses at anything other than 200.  It's a risk to the consumer and it's a risk to my experiment.  It's a wild, new frontier idea, so anything that gets in the way of an impulse buy is detrimental to me financially, and the consumer will miss out on the idea.  It heavily relies on word-of-mouth selling and Metcalfe-ish play design.

    I might build a sequel version with advanced features culled from feedback... if the initial idea bears fruit, but that will require a lot more work.  That might justify a higher price.  Of course, by then, I would hope to have a loyal, addicted fanbase who will not only buy the new version, but go completely apostolic all over the internet with stories of their exploits in my game.

    However, I can't forsee 800 points.  The game just won't be polished the same way more professional games would.  My game isn't meant to hang with the XBLA'ers.

  • 10/13/2008 7:20 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?


    Nick Gravelyn:
    . The downside is when they realize they do not get the XBLA benefits: achievements, online leaderboards, etc.

     

    That's something I had to really get through my head, too. I don't care much about achievements, gamerscore, etc. (unless I'm in the top 10 on a game worldwide), but so many gamers do that not having them really is a gigantic deal to a heck of a lot of people. The market is really an almost unknown one at this point; should be really interesting to see what happens. Hopefully I can make the launch window (with something else) to be at the forefront of it - I love new territory. 
  • 10/13/2008 7:36 PM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    Yeah, pricing at 800 points will be hard because consumers may see it as a game without achievements, etc...so why should I pay the same price.  Picking a price point is almost as hard as making the game.
  • 10/14/2008 1:55 AM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    Nick Gravelyn:
    Erglegrue:
    From this, I decided that most of the games I make will be $5, because in all likelihood, I'm going to exceed the 150 MB limit.
    I assume you mean the 50MB limit since you aren't allowed to go beyond the 150MB one. ;)
    Yep. I'm making a game with a lot of 2D art, so the 50 MB constraint on $2.50 games won't work for me. Sorry about that :P
  • 10/14/2008 4:14 AM In reply to

    Re: What's in a Price?

    2D art can compress really, really well if you use a custom compressor. If it's vector art, you can save it as vector art and rasterize to a texture. If it's photographic art, you can compress similar to JPEG 2000. You will, however, have to do some heavy lifting yourself on the code size to make that work out.
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