Eventually, it's free.

PK8

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Okay, laugh if you will, but I'm debating on wanting to "go commercial" however I haven't completely made up my mind yet (edit: I most likely won't). The inspiration for the thread came from me watching a documentary about a YouTube personality which used to have a price tag but eventually became free to view. Also, I have no experience in this sort of thing so correct me if I'm wrong on anything.

I suck at starting threads but I have a few questions in mind about this topic which you may/may not answer. Some are probably pretty stupid but I'm curious nonetheless. Here goes:

  • From a developer's perspective, when would it be considered a smart move to lower down the price of a game, if at all?
  • From a consumer's perspective, how would you feel about a game (you probably bought) being lowered down/free?
  • ...What about the game being free?
  • When would it be appropriate to completely ditch the price tag of a game, if at all?
 
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Helladen

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I don't think it is wise to ditch a price tag unless no one bought it at all, because that can really upset people.

If you provide a warning of a price being lowered for a month that should prevent people from complaining about it. I see it all the time on Blizzard's sites.

If you think the game offers something you can go commercial, but otherwise go free if you're still new at making games.
 

Ronove

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If you think the game offers something you can go commercial
What does that even mean? Every game offers something. It doesn't matter if it fits your criteria of "something" but all games do.

@Punk: I wouldn't make a game that was previously like five dollars and make it suddenly free. If I bought a game (RM game or no) and it's suddenly available for free months later, I'd feel a bit annoyed and would probably not buy from that person again.

What you could do is like have the first month, the game is 15% off. And then after that first month, it's normal priced. And you can even do months of giving a percentage off just to drum up interest. But if your game is five dollars, you don't really need to do that. I can see that working really well for games over $15.

The only time it would be appropriate (in my opinion, I've actually never seen any games do this) to ditch the price at all is if NO ONE bought it. If just a handful of people bought it, and you make the game free, you should probably refund their money. It wouldn't be fair to those people otherwise I think.
 
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EZaxess

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1. Whenever you feel like boosting your sales for whatever reason (doesn't always work but certainly helps).

2. When I buy the game, I make an investment and I have no regrets. Discounts happen all the time, I can't count how many times I bought something and it was discounted a few weeks later (sometimes a few days later). It's how it goes, life- money- and whatnot, slightly annoying but that's about it, if it genuinely hurts your feelings just hold your breath until you see the product discounted (if ever) then make your purchase. As off the game going free, well I just assume it didn't work out after all and I'm glad I helped the dev getting some groceries and good for anyone downloading and enjoying it.

3. ^

4. Ditching the price tag for no reason is a waste, ditching it because you want people going for your product when it stopped selling is certainly acceptable.
 

Indinera

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  • From a developer's perspective, when would it be considered a smart move to lower down the price of a game, if at all?

Never, unless the game doesn't sell.

  • From a consumer's perspective, how would you feel about a game (you probably bought) being lowered down/free?

It's not a fantastic feeling to purchase just before the game's price is lowered lol but it's the same for everything, not just games.

  • ...What about the game being free?

Hmmm unless it's YEARS after the release, it kinda sucks.

  • When would it be appropriate to completely ditch the price tag of a game, if at all?

I'm not sure, I guess never lol
 
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Nemoide

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It really depends on the circumstances, I think it's fine for a game to be made free, but it's wise to wait a while so you don't alienate your players and reduce your potential sales for future games. Furthermore, as a commercial developer, I'm not sure there's an incentive to releasing your works for free unless it's something early and comparatively primitive (eg 3D Realms, the company that made Duke Nukem, released some text adventures as freeware back in the late 90s to basically serve as a historical artifacts).

Dropping the price is more acceptable. You have an old game that people aren't buying anymore? You might want to slash the price to boost incentive. Is your game really old and doesn't stand up to your more recent works? In that instance, making it freeware is fine IMO. But if you don't have other games for sale, your game has only been available for a short while (less than five years, to pick something randomly), or your sales are still strong, I think making it free could do more harm than good.

I do think you should plan/announce price drops in advance, or test the water with a "special seasonal sale" or something. Nobody wants to buy a game and then suddenly find out that it's available for a lot less. For free games, maybe discontinue sales and make it unavailable for at least six months before releasing the freeware edition.

I'm going to be curious to see what happens when/if Enterbrain adds Xbox Live Indie Game support to RPG Maker. XBLIG generally sell for only $1 but PC developers can't sell for that little due to the conditions of e-commerce sites.
 
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Shaz

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From a developer's perspective, when would it be considered a smart move to lower down the price of a game, if at all?

I wouldn't advise it. Remember a few years ago when all the portals suddenly dropped their game prices by 50%? In theory, that was meant to boost sales - they figured so many more people would buy games at the lower price that it would more than make up for the loss of profit on individual sales. It didn't. Lots of developers lost money.

Some people have offered the same game at different prices through different outlets, to see what the differences are. Some leave it at one price for a while, then change it later to see the difference. Results always vary, and are inconclusive. Different outlets have different audiences, different prices at two points in time can't really be compared because of the time difference. Best option is to compare your game to others similar, find out how those games sold at their set prices, and fix yours accordingly.

When you're selling games, you have a "long tail" - you'll get a glut of sales initially that will peter out after a few months, then they'll come in dribs and drabs. But these dribs and drabs could continue for years. It all adds up. A lower price isn't a guarantee of more sales (or enough of an increase in sales to make up for the price change), so why risk it if people are still buying at the current price?

Portals sometimes lower prices of games temporarily - BFG is good at that - they're always having specials. That will give you a boost in sales for that short period. But it's good because it IS only for a short period. Then they can do it again 6 months later and get another little boost.

From a consumer's perspective, how would you feel about a game (you probably bought) being lowered down/free?

I don't have an issue with this at all. If I buy a game at a certain price, it's because I believe it will be worth that price to me. If I see it elsewhere later for a lower price, I'm fine with that.

As a developer, if you sell via a portal (let's use BFG), you are not allowed to sell elsewhere at a lower price. But you CAN sell elsewhere at a higher price. BFG charges around $7.00 for our games (game club, but EVERYBODY uses game club, even if they just sign up, buy the game, then cancel membership) but we charge around $10 for the more recent ones. We still have people who are happy to pay the higher price even though they know it's CURRENTLY available elsewhere for less. Why? Because they're buying from the developer, they know ALL proceeds of the sale go to the developer, and they know they'll have instant access to any updates, whereas portals can choose not to make an update available to its customers.

...What about the game being free?

Free games are good to build traffic initially, but once you're established, offering free games is a conflict of interest - you want people to buy your games, but if you give them free alternatives, you're setting yourself up for lower sales.

You could offer free games on special occasions, but make them limited in number and duration, and make it do something for you in the process. Got a new game on the way? Hold a contest on your forum (once you have one) and offer your last game for free to the winner(s). Or offer the NEW game for free to the winner(s). You're giving a couple away, but you're also generating a lot more interest in your upcoming game, which should increase your initial sales.

When would it be appropriate to completely ditch the price tag of a game, if at all?

I don't know if I could answer that. I don't have experience to say so, but I wouldn't do it at all. If people KNOW at some point you're going to be giving it away, there are some who just will not buy, waiting for that to happen.

Okay, laugh if you will, but I'm debating on wanting to "go commercial" however I haven't completely made up my mind yet (edit: I most likely won't).

My purpose here is to change your mind ;)
 
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Indinera

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Results always vary, and are inconclusive.
I tried A LOT of different prices (although never tried the "cheap" possibilities). I think people buy a game that they like first and foremost and the price doesn't make THAT much of a difference. From my experience, a ridiculously low price will get you a bit more players, though (because it's "safer" for them), but... it's best to price according to what the others in the same market do and the actual content of the game (it is also more honest). See how the other games look like, weight their overall length/content, and try to come up with your own price.
 
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Lord Valdyr

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Honestly if I purchase your game for $5 and I love it and the next day it's free then oh well it was just $5 and I'm happy I was able to help an indie developer out. I feel like people are too harsh with there dollars. I wouldn't be annoyed or feel cheated because I got what I paid for regardless of what happens after that. Think of it like those indie bundles people buy and set their own price. Some people choose to pay a penny some people choose to pay $10 or more. Those people who choose to pay more are showing their appreciation for something they enjoy. I would be willing to pay a few bucks if it helps a developer I like stay in business and continue providing content I enjoy.
 
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amerk

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You might not feel annoyed or cheated, but a lot of people might. And even if they thought, "Whatever, no big deal" there's a chance that the next time the developer comes out with a game, the customer is going to sit around and wait instead of purchasing, because they want to see if the developer will lower his price.

Personally, it's a big gamble.

Rather than lower the cost, you might consider other incentives. Buy my game right now and I'll throw in the strategy guide for free. Or, if you've done a few games, especially if the game is in the form of a trilogy, you might consider a bundle pack that allows new customers to buy the whole set for a discount.
 

Mouser

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If you're still developing new games, you can put the old one in as part of a 'bundle' with the new one.

Effectively you're making the old game "free" (not legally), but not pissing old customers off in the process. You may also get new customers to try that old game when they buy the new one, or maybe they'll buy the new game because they're getting a second game with it at no extra charge.

If NO ONE bought your game, then there's probably no point to making it free anyway, because it means your game is one nobody wants to play.
 

Jomarcenter

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Well my plan to selling my product by always announce it in a random website when one of my product (if any) became free on a certain date. possible it will boost sales.

because it like a "easter egg hunt" people go to different website just to get updates with me and see if something will go free on a particular date.

it a win-win situation.

Because people tend to do more research on updates on the game and particular content before buying (like people try the trial version)

so i let then research on free game updates.

and if you make your game free and also the game contain Paid DLC (Downloadable content)

people will tend to buy DLC just to make their game they got for free more enjoyable and more sales will earn.

and here my tip.

if your a new in game making/development Make your first game free and your second or third game paid.
 
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Helladen

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If NO ONE bought your game, then there's probably no point to making it free anyway, because it means your game is one nobody wants to play.
I don't agree with that statement whatsoever. Sometimes people make great games, but they are terrible at marketing it, and actually making people think it is worth buying.
 
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