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Indie RPG pricing

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Charles-cgr, Oct 18, 2012.

?

Indie "niche" RPGs should be priced

  1. High. There's little demand but the demand is motivated. >$20

    16.2%
  2. Above average. Don't be too elitist, you'll miss out on reasonably interested folks. $15-20

    41.5%
  3. Just below average. Compete with price, but not too hard. $10-15.

    40.8%
  4. Low. Indie RPGs aren't worth more than $10.

    8.5%
  5. Aggressive. Go for the impulse buy. People will buy anything for <$5.

    6.3%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. DwarvenFood Arcane Patron

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  2. TheNizzo Educated

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    Depends entirely on your intended audience. If you want $LOADSAMONAY$, lower price points have proven via digital distribution to result in higher profits. However, higher prices also result in greater valuation - the more a game costs an individual, the more likely they are to exaggerate its positive qualities as justification for the cost.

    With a lower price, you have a larger audience. With a higher price, you have a more devoted audience.

    This is what I've seen with a cursory glance at Vogel's fanbase over the years, anyway. Might not apply universally I guess.
     
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  3. Vulcris Novice

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    Charles-cgr

    You should maybe try to contact other developpers who have succedeed in staying in the business after releasing severals games in niches somehow similar to yours despite the fact that they're not on steam. Off the top of my head, I can think of Vic Davis from Cryptic Comet and Celso Riva from Winterwolves (he released Planet Stronghold and Loren the amazon princess and there is a thread on the codex about them). Celso Riva seems pretty open about his pricing policy and lives in europe to (here is a link from the comment section of Desura about Planet Stronghold : http://www.desura.com/games/planet-stronghold/page/3#comments). Those two, like Jeff Vogel before he entered steam, have chosen to keep their prices rather high and they still making games.

    Not counting those on steam, I wonder how many devellopers selling their games to a niche market at a low price were able to make a second game.

    As for your game, I'm more bothered by the 3.20€ of vat than i am by the 19.99$ price.
     
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  4. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    Those Winterwolves games are on Steam Greenlight, though. He wants to get on Steam.
     
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  5. Trash Pointing and laughing.

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    What shocks me here is that I've never heard about these Winterwolves games before. Blobbers, right?

    And pricing? Dunno. If the audience is niche they can get away with quite hefty ones as wargaming is testament to. Rpg fans however seem to have been replaced all over by graphic whore kids who demand the latest shaders for their $3.50. That is, if they buy them instead of loudly proclaiming to go for TPB edition with an added smug emote for emphasis.

    In short, you all suck.
     
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  6. 7hm Scholar

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    "25$ is something you charge when you dont't just want to make a living, you want to make a PROFIT"

    Fear for our youth.
     
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  7. 7hm Scholar

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    Wanting to be on steam and being on steam are very different things. Until you're on steam you shouldn't price for that market.
     
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  8. Daemongar Arcane Patron

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    I'm not an economist, but couldn't the guy selling this game approach this in quite a few ways:
    1. Factor how much it cost to produce the game, that is a fair estimate of time, resources, licensing, and outside support. ($25,000? $50,000?) If you don't know how much it cost to produce, than how do you quantify success in number of units sold? People are focused on maximizing # of sales, but not on breaking even.

    2. Construct a graph with price points in $5 increments on the Y axis, and unit sales on the X axis. Each price point would have to hit a unit sales point to recover his "costs." That is, if it cost $25000, he'd have to sell 2500 units at $10, 5000 units at $5, etc. A game like Grimore would have to recover the costs of 20 years of development, so that may skew the graph a smidge...

    3. Determine the optimal method to move the number of units required to recoup his expenses. This is the rub, but we can agree it will sell faster at a low cost and move more units. Determine the optimal level to recover his investment, then focus on that. Sales over and above equilibrium are great, but again I would focus on breaking even. If he wants to recover a years salary so he can do this full time, establish what that is. Then focus on hitting that # of sales.

    How do you determine # that should sell at each price point? I'm sure it could be done with public info on Steam based on sales of like games, but that's not exactly sales over time and I don't know much about his game (and I have to catch a flight.)
     
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  9. Trash Pointing and laughing.

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    Niche products only reach a niche audience. Unless they get on Steam their projected customer base is likely to be very small. Hence higher prices. Fini.
     
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  10. Charles-cgr OlderBytes Developer

    Charles-cgr
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    Daemongar The problem with such planning and projection is it is based on estimates that are in fact purely guesses. How many people will know of the game's existence? What percentage of these people would be interested? How many will be interested but not beyond $5, $10, $15...

    How many will know the game exists depends on game journalists for the most part. You can't really know in advance what their reactions will be.

    Too many unknowns to bother with graphs and the like that will likely end up being completely off the mark. Better to go with todo lists (emails to send, updates, customer support...).

    Vulcris Well, I've had such discussions with Jay Barnson. While I've stumbled on Winterwolves I haven't had the chance to chat with him. I wouldn't ask him the recipe for success straight off though. Wine and dine first :D
     
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  11. Daemongar Arcane Patron

    Daemongar
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    Charles, the only thing that is true is demand goes down as price goes up, with few exceptions. I have an honest question: why do you care if you sell 100 units at $25 or 500 units at $5?

    Too many unknowns... hmm, now I understand. You are simply reaching out to the folks who would most likely buy your game while doing some market research on pricing to boot.

    Pricing software isn't voodoo, there is a lot of work that goes into it and it follows a pretty straightforward methodical approach. If you don't want to do the heavy lifting, hire a firm to do it for you. If you don't do the work, you'll eventually regret it like all other programmers turned entrepreneurs (wish I had a link to that awesome JVC interview. Of course, if you could end up being JVC, I guess it's worth it.)
     
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  12. Charles-cgr OlderBytes Developer

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    It isn't typical software market research though. You can find hard data on modern games, project management software (...) but on indie RPGs, the like of which represent a couple dozen titles, such data if ever it could be compiled wouldn't be statistically viable. As for pricing going down leading to more sales, I agree but again, the indie RPG market is different. There are only a few thousand, perhaps a few tens of thousand people out there willing to play them, even if they were free. A game like Grimrock proved capable of appealing to a more mainstream audience but that is an exception. The way I see it dividing the price by 4 would not quadruple the sales. It might work for going from 100 to 400, but not from 1000 to 4000. And if there are only 500 $5 sales to be made the project is screwed from the get go since it cost $20 000 in art.

    And if I hire someone to work 3 months to confirm this there go another $10 000. Not going to.
     
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  13. Damned Registrations Prestigious Gentleman Furry Weeaboo Nazi Nihilist

    Damned Registrations
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    If you price a game cheap enough people will buy stuff they know they'll probably never play but may as well get just in case. I haven't touched half my steam library, or activated half the games I've gotten from various indie bundles. The people who sold these games still got my money though.

    Games are not like gasoline. People don't just buy and consume what they need. It's more like clothing- you buy whatever you like, and spend a given budget on whatever gives you the most value. People with tons of money to spend on this stuff will be willing to pay more, but there are way more people with small budgets you can tap into.
     
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  14. Davaris Australian Game Developers Developer

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    Good point. So you need to find out exactly how many players, are interested in playing your game and within that sub-group of players, what each sub-group is willing to pay.

    If you only offer a single price that is relatively high, you would certainly be missing out on a lot of income, from players that aren't willing to pay so much. Worse, you might be missing out on income from players, that are willing to pay more.

    Something you could try to maximize your income, is to follow the Kickstarter model and offer different tiers, with increased rewards for players, that are willing to pay more. As a bonus this might circumvent the time based discounting, that players have been trained to wait for.
     
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  15. Achilles Arcane

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    But Swords & Sorcery is not on Steam yet, so the comparison is not really apt. I get your point, that high-quality games are available at lower price points so most people will prefer those, but the devs price them so because they already have exposure to a massive audience (Steam) and enough money to 'afford' a lower price (Kickstarter for FTL, Torchlight 1 for Runic).
     
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  16. 20 Eyes Liturgist

    20 Eyes
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    But how many people care about the dev's financial state? I'd suspect they're largely the same potential customer minority that like the project so much they'd be willing to support it even if it was more expensive than your average indie game. Even if it's not on Steam, the quasi-interested people that hear about an indie RPG (not this one in particular, but in general) on a youtube LP or some forum or IndieDB or whatever are going think 'I can get Legend of Grimrock for 15 bucks, Torchlight 2 for 20, FLT for 10, Dredmore for 5... is this is a good purchase?"

    Obviously developers are free to price their games whatever they want, but I wouldn't even consider pricing an indie game over 20 bucks unless it has stellar graphics and presentation.
     
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  17. Awor Szurkrarz Arcane In My Safe Space

    Awor Szurkrarz
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    Wargames have higher prices because they are directed to old people who were buying tabletop boardgames and who live in countries where workers are privileged and can get a lot of stuff for their work.
    A lot of our cRPG fans are people who live in countries where workers are discriminated and who often started playing cRPGs by getting Fallout with a computer games magazine and to whom buying a game for a full price means spend ridiculous amounts of work.

    I advice you to check your privilege.
     
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  18. Davaris Australian Game Developers Developer

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    I don't know about war games, so I wonder if AAA companies have ever made war games and discounted them for peanuts later, like they do with computer RPGs. Was there ever a golden age of war games, with a large back catalog, like there is with RPGs?

    If not, this could also be why they are able to sell them for higher prices. Another thing, in my country, I see computer war games sold in niche hardcore board game stores and generally what they sell, are high priced items. So their customers have been trained to expect higher prices.
     
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  19. Awor Szurkrarz Arcane In My Safe Space

    Awor Szurkrarz
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    Well, CC5 was sold in Poland for 20 PLN at some point, CC4 was added to a gaming magazine. Which is how it gained popularity here. And there were always the bargain bins.

    Though, the main difference between wargames and cRPGs is that the wargame developers actually deliver higher quality stuff than they did in 90s (except for the Close Combat losers), while indie cRPGs are usually decline from the 80s and the end of the 90s.

    And guys that made stuff like WitE and BftB are basically like Black Isle and Origin, not like Jeff Vogel and the KotC guy. They are vets from the 80s.

    Another thing is that they have very low sales. The Panther guys told me that sales to be expected from wargame development are thousands of units, not tens of thousands. That's where their prices come from.

    Take into account that most of people on the Codex that are unhappy about the prices and the quality/graphics of the games are living in developing countries - south america, potatoland, etc.
    For example to me, buying KotC for 15GBP would costs me as much of work as buying a 75GBP game costs someone living in UK. It is obvious that our criteria of value of games will be different.
    When wargames reach prices of 60+$, there's usually a lot of complaining on the Matrix Games forums, so it's not exactly something unique for the Codex.

    The only wargame that I ever bought for a price higher than 30$ is BftB.
     
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  20. Johannes Arcane

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    That wargames can "get away with" really high pricing says nothing about if it's actually good for their profits.
     
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  21. Trash Pointing and laughing.

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    If you got a niche audience it means you got an inherently small customer base to sell your product to. Economy 101.

    80's.
     
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  22. 7hm Scholar

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    This right here is why I think indie RPGs like Underworld and KotC need to be priced in the 30-40$ range. The market is just too damn small. You can catch people who only want to pay 15$ a year after release on a sale, and most people who only pay 5$ are actually never going to play your game. They'll buy it and forget it. Not a horrible thing, because it's a sale that wouldn't have happened otherwise, but not exactly the type of sale to build around.

    You have to consider the target market. For a blobber I'm guessing the market is people who played that style of game back in the early 90's. Those people are now 30+ and well into their professional lives. Their disposable incomes are high. It does really bring home the point that the product needs to be sound though. Time is more of a premium for this market than money. The investment into sounds / graphics / interface needs to be there and the product has to look professional. KotC had it from the get-go. Grimrock had it (I've said I think they could have priced higher). Vogel's games had it back in the 2000s when nobody else had anything like it on the market.

    The target market isn't 17 year olds living in Potato country or in Brazil. If it were you'd be better off just not making games, because you'd be more likely to have your product pirated than purchased.[/quote]
     
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  23. almondblight Arcane

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    The graphics actually feel fine after you've been playing the game for more than five minutes. The problem is that they look really bad in the screenshots.

    Let's say someone is curious about KotC but doesn't know much about it. It has a very generic name. The company that makes it has a very generic game. Looking at the screenshots, it looks horrible. And it only has three classes. Most people won't ever get to the gameplay, because after looking into the game for 5 minutes they'll dismiss it as some simplistic game with poor production values. Hell, I skipped it over the first time I looked at it, and only came back to it after a lot of praise from the Codex.
     
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  24. Overboard Arcane

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    You keep beating that same old broken drum, but repeating yourself every second post does nothing but inflate the thread without contributing anything of value. This is commonly known as argumentum ad nauseum, or the fallacy of repetition.

    S&S is nothing like Apple, Blizzard, or wargames. There is plenty of competition for the game, Metro even mentioned it earlier in this thread yet you keep going on about how niche it is. It isn't so niche that you can charge what you want. Wargame makers have built up a following, which S&S cannot compete with yet. Also see the post by commie on why the wargamer market is different. Ignoring evidence contrary to your opinion is known as stacking the deck, by the way.

    Dropping buzzwords and repeating truisms (sounds, ui, graphics need to be good? Whodathunkit? Professional looking product? Well I never!) might make you look good to the uninformed, but a lack of knowledge and experience is clear when reading what you post, which is why most posters have stopped bothering to reply to you.

    There is a simple fact that completely disproves your opinion on indie rpgs pricing, and that is sales figures. Perhaps Sovereign should be priced at $40 so we can all observe how easy it is to dominate the market by pricing yourself at the very top of the top tier.
     
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  25. Deuce Traveler Prestigious Gentleman 2012 Newfag Patron

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    I voted for the $15-20 range for a new indie game, but I think the price should eventually drop to $10-$15 towards the end of a year depending on its production value. Remember, an Indie game is not only competing against big market games which cost $50-$60 but offer much greater production value. I can pay $25 for a Kickstarter game made by a team of professionals such as what Obsidian is doing with Project Eternity. Indies are also competing against abandonware games and cheap $3-$5 offers on old games such as what is found on GOG.com. There is no way I would pay $30-$40 for a game like Underworld or KoTC, when I could just replay Might and Magic 1 or 2 for free, the first six M&M games for a few dollars, or a downloadable Kickstarter game for $25.
     
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