RPG Maker Made Game Pricing...

CleanWater

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So, I have no clue on how to price my game.

I'm using RPG Maker 2003 and almost every RTP resource on it (with some edits), but the remake of my game is taking much more time than I thought it would take (specially the translation). I took already 4 months of work on the remake of the first part and I expect more 2 months of work on it and at least over 8 months of work in the second part of my game.

I believe that using an outdated editor with RTP resources undervalue my game, but I also need to consider my time work and my earnings for the next year and I already decided to "leak" Chapter 1 for free to help promote my game.

I often see RPG Maker games costing around $9,99 on Steam, but I also see a lot of RM games for $1 and $2 there. I didn't played most of them so I'm a bit out of idea if they really worth what they are asking for.

How much should I charge for a RPG Maker game? Anyone here have any suggestion? Is there any article around that talks about this?
 

Sharm

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I hate to say this, but the time, money and effort you put into your game don't have very much to do with how much to price your game for. Those are all things to consider when deciding if you can afford to invest those things in the first place. What matters when pricing your game is game length, originality (assets, story, gameplay features), and quality of the game your selling. Take your creator hat off, remove yourself from the creation, put your business hat on and look at this as objectively as possible. How much would you be willing to pay to play a game like yours? Would you even be interested if it didn't have new visuals, some sort of striking gameplay, ect? How much do you think someone who's only mildly interested in it would be willing to pay? What are your comparables? Looking up other RPG Maker games is a good start, but go ahead and look outside of the RM market. Try to find something with about the same features as your game that also has a fair amount of feedback. What do they offer that you don't? What do you offer that they don't? Do either of these things justify a price difference in either direction? Once you properly divorce yourself from your creation and let it stand on it's own you can pretty quickly see how much it should really be priced for. The hard part is to not let your creator side get involved in the business side of things, because your creators side will not be realistic about a good price point. When in doubt go a little high, you can always drop the price later. But don't go too high because most of your sales will be right at the beginning. If you lose those sales at the start they're lost forever and you won't be able to get that first release hype again.
 

Neo Soul Gamer

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@Sharm

Fantastic advice! Solid read.

@CleanWater

My experience may help you out. What I would do is first complete a Beta or a full demo for people to try. We have a lot of youtubers in the community that do Let's Play/First Impression videos. Ask one of them to do a video to help give your game some exposure. I'm currently making a game that I thought was totally basic and would be quickly forgotten shortly after the Beta was released. The initial plan was to sell it, but I had no intentions on selling it for more than $2. Turns out that would have been a mistake.

I was shocked to find out that people in the RM community really enjoyed it and wanted me to finish it. Not only was this a great source of motivation, it really helped put things into perspective when it comes to pricing my game. Why? Because now I know what people like about my game. I can take that information and use it to objectively compare my game to other games out there.

And it's all because I just had a few people try the game. I say make that your first step to pricing your game properly. :)
 

jkweath

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I don't really have a professional opinion to add like Sharm's, but that being said I would like to give my opinion as someone who regularly browses Steam games and has lots of RPGMaker-made games appear on his recommended list since purchasing MV.

OneShot, To The Moon and Lisa are RPGMaker games and all priced at $9.99. As a customer, I feel like that's a fair price for those games, especially since they use majority original assets (I honestly had no clue OneShot was a RPGMaker game until I looked it up!)

(though I will add out of these three games I only bought To The Moon on an 80% off sale, lol. But that's just because I knew the game's a few years old and it has 80% off sales regularly.)

That being said, I've also seen a bunch of "cheap" RPG maker games. A lot of them are priced at $0.99 and then put on sale, bringing that price down to $0.50 or even $0.33.

When I see games priced that low, I immediately think less of them. Like, "is this such a crappy game that the developer doesn't even think it's worth a dollar? Why are they even bothering to sell it?"

Maybe I'm wrong--maybe these guys make a killing from people who just want to add games to their Steam library. I doubt they're making much though, because most of them don't have achievements and have negative reviews.

I can't tell you what to price your game, but I will say this - as a customer, I feel like I'd be more likely to buy an RPGMaker game priced at $2.99 and marked down to $1.99 than if it were priced $0.99 and then marked down less than that. Even if you use default assets I'd still think more highly of it if it were priced at $1.99.

But like I said, take my opinion with a grain of salt.
 

CleanWater

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@jkweath actually everything you said makes much sense. A too low priced game really sounds as a cheap made in less than two weeks game that is not worth of buying.
 

onipunk

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To offer an alternative tack, if I ever go commercial, I'm not planning to release my games for anything for than £3 or £4. Probably even less than that. Simply because, for me, game development is a hobby and I don't consider myself a game developer. Making money off games isn't my primary intention when developing, and if I do release a game I'll price it low because I don't want to put people off buying it by asking for more than I feel it's worth. Of course I put a lot of time and effort into my games, but it's out of love for doing it, not to turn a profit, and it's possible these people are the same. I'm far more likely to throw a £2 game into my cart on Steam because it's the price of a few cans of Coke, it's really negligible in the grand scheme of things. Low prices don't turn me off games at all, it's an easier decision to buy a few 1-quid games than it is to buy a ten-dollar product. £1 is nothing - £10 is a few night's dinners for me.
 

BottleCapGames

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Well, I would probably sell my game in the $6.00 to $10.00 range if everything I'm doing works properly. However, I agree with @Sharm. If you let the creator side of you handle the business, you will be unrealistic. However, look at your game critically and you will find the best price point.
 

Kes

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There is also the aspect that people selling at really low prices because it's basically a hobby, make it extremely difficult for those who want to make a living from it to do so. They feed the expectation of many on Steam that games should be cheap, indeed nearly free. It contributes to the race to the bottom.
 

Sharm

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In my opinion underpricing is also allowing the price to be set by the creator side. From the standpoint of others who aren't hobbyists, we'd much rather you gave it away instead. If making money isn't one of your goals, why charge at all? If it is, why not ask a fair price for it?

A good example of why underpricing hurts everyone, even consumers, is the gaming market for cellphones. The hardware is there for some really amazing games but you mostly get shovelware and pay-to-win because that's the only way anyone makes enough money for gamedev to be worth it. Such a shame too, phones were all set to completely replace the handheld console market, but underpricing lead to the belief that no phone game should cost more than one USD. So games that were only worth one USD became the norm.
 

CleanWater

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Once you properly divorce yourself from your creation and let it stand on it's own you can pretty quickly see how much it should really be priced for.
Sharm, I understand your advice, but I disagree. A customer only knows the end result of the product, but not the hard work of the person/team behind that product. Both creator and business sides walks together. Only the creator knows how much time, effort, goods and many other things were expended in the production of the work, thus, the value they should charge to replenish their used goods and have some profit from it.

There is also the aspect that people selling at really low prices because it's basically a hobby, make it extremely difficult for those who want to make a living from it to do so
You have a excellent point here. I think that the "offer and demand" rule also applies here. (I don't know if that's the right name in English)
 

Sharm

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Consumer and seller are completely different though. I'm not saying that you should act like a consumer, I'm saying to act like a salesman/businessman. A good salesman knows their product inside and out, but they don't identify with that product too strongly to get the job done. The investment required does factor into the price, yes, but it is so much less important than the many other factors like demand, market saturation, novelty, competition pricing, and so on. This is why I was saying that the costs of making things should be considered before the time and money is spent, because the market for gaming is just so volatile that trying to price things based on what you put into it after you've finished is a perfect way burn all potential profits before you actually complete the game.

The phrase in English is "supply and demand" so it's very close. It is something that you should keep in mind when pricing. There isn't a high demand for RPG Maker games, and there's a fairly large supply of possible gaming options, so to make any money you've got to really stand out. Find a corner of the RPG market with more demand than the norm, perhaps, or outshine everyone by sheer quality and a catchy ad campaign.

Bottom line is, selling a game is a business, and you need to treat it like one from start to finish. Come at it with a hobbyist mentality and you'll make hobbyist returns, in other words, you'll lose money overall but it'll be an interesting ride!
 

metronome

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Depends.
I am living in a country where 2 USD (or less) could by you a complete meal with drink. So......if you are going to charge me 10$ for your game, you gonna need to make sure it worths 5 meals I am going to miss:D.
So, if you are making a game that would be appealing to people in my country, or if your game's market audience is people in my country, then charging more than 5 USD is a big no-no.
I know it sounds like a joke, but I think it's important to know which people of which country your target market will be. Some people from some countries view money differently than you and me......
Charging something cheap doesn't always mean you will get every market. Some will get irked when they see your price is so low, some will understand, some will still get angry and say your game is too expensive even if you have already charged it at 0.49 USD.....(well 0.49 USD could buy me large french fries, and I am not living in the poorest country in the world. So....)
 

Plueschkatze

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metronome has a good point.
It's ofter said you can get a XXhour game for the price of a coffee, but not everyone drinks starbucks coffee on a daily basis.

I often compare buying games with going out to see a movie or a theatre play or visiting the zoo or something like that. Something I don't do often and that's "luxus" to me.
The movie example: I could get entertained very well for 1,5-2h for like 10-12€.
Most of the time I invest that money in games instead of actually going for a movie.
BUT I'm a snob. I would not buy a "standard" rpgmaker game, sorry. There might be the best story ever, but.. it will never look like that, because the maker didn't care enough to put that extra effort into it to make it look and feel special. To make the graphics and gameplay support their unique story, to make every part of that game their own. It's not to hard. Small things can have a big effect.

I often wonder what people would consider worth an 1-2 hour game with unique graphics and crafted with love... I already can hear complains because it's only 1-2hours long. So most people would feel "betrayed" by paying like 5USD for that... (think of the comparison with the movie before... same entertainment time for two times the price, same goes for DVD und Blueray purchases... You pay like 10/20€ for a new dvd/blueray and get an movie with like 1,5-2h playtime! At least here in Germany.)
Any thoughts on that?
 

Indinera

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Actually on Steam once you've picked a base price (in general for the US market), a set of prices is automatically created to fit "whatever makes sense in each country" (and in the local currency), so unless you specifically choose to put something different, you're fine.
 

Parallax Panda

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"I believe that using an outdated editor with RTP resources undervalue my game"

I actually think that using RM2K3 with it's RTP will serve you MUCH better than using the RTP from VXace or MV. Simply because most RM games on steam and other platforms uses RTP from the later RM's (VX, VXace, MV) so those are the resources that usually will make people think "RPG MAKER GAME!" at first glance. So while not as good as custom resources I'd say it's at least as good as store bought assets in terms of uniqueness.

The outdated editor part could be a problem though. I've heard a friend complain over a RM2K3 game because the resolution option, even on max zoom, didn't fill his desktop screen very well. I had no problem playing the same game on my laptop (which have a much lower max resolution ofc), but it's something to think about.

Anyway, regarding the main question. I think a price tag between 1$ - 9.99$ is fine for an RM game. I bought AraFell at full price (about 9-10$) and I don't regret it - it was well worth it for me. I'd say the same for To the Moon but I actually bought that during a sale. Still, it's worth 10$ for the experience. That being said, "lesser" RM games are probably not worth a full 10$ to most people so try to be honest with yourself when evaluating your own game.

Personally I probably wouldn't go as low as 1$, unless I managed to make a "sell:able game" from start to finish within 1-2months (without buying any licenses/resources or paying anyone anything!). And that's not really realistic, now is it? Very improbable at the very least.
The reasoning behind this is partly that you want to have sales now and then, right? But that would make the price RIDICULOUSLY low. Don't forget that STEAM probably also wants about ~30% cut of your profit (not sure about the exact percent because of NDA's) and then you'll have to tax your income as well which vary depending on where you live. But the bottom line is that if you sell your game for 1$ you'll literally only make cents(!) on each copy... even less if you participate in STEAMS summer sale etc. To make "good" money on such a game you need many thousands, or rather tens of thousands of games sold.

When I finish my first commercial game (one of these days) I'm aiming for a price tag somewhere between 5-7$. To some that might seem a bit high for a RM game (I don't think so), but it makes it possible to have pretty generous sale drives - which I'd want to try.

I believe a higher price makes the consumer think more highly of your product to begin with. If that's the case then I believe your game would sell better if it was priced at 7$ but dropped to 3$ in a sale, compared to if the base price was 3$. This is just my own thoughts though. I'm no expert and I've yet to sell any game on STEAM myself.
 

jkweath

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A too low priced game really sounds as a cheap made in less than two weeks game that is not worth of buying.
I mean, don't get me wrong--those $0.50 cent games might be awesome--but there's something about a pricetag between free and $0.99 that irks me. $1.99 doesn't bother me, that just says it's probably a short game or perhaps one with a simple premise. $0.99 is okay if it's a sale price or if it's a mobile game.

But seeing a $0.99 game get marked down to $0.33 doesn't sit right with me--perhaps they make sales from people who happen to have a few cents in their Steam wallet, but are they really making any profit? They'd have to sell a dozen copies just to buy a Starbucks coffee!

There is also the aspect that people selling at really low prices because it's basically a hobby, make it extremely difficult for those who want to make a living from it to do so. They feed the expectation of many on Steam that games should be cheap, indeed nearly free. It contributes to the race to the bottom.
I honestly never thought of it that way. Do you feel like that RPGs priced cheaper by hobbyists make it harder for for RPGs priced higher by others to make sales? Or just that the general decreasing cost of games on Steam is making people expect games in general to cost less?

I often wonder what people would consider worth an 1-2 hour game with unique graphics and crafted with love... I already can hear complains because it's only 1-2hours long.
You just described To The Moon perfectly!
 

Kes

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@jkweath I'd say it was both, and that they feed each other.
 

bgillisp

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@jkweath : Both. And honestly most games now have to be priced at ridiculously low prices that I'm honestly shocked some devs make a profit at all. I'm honestly expecting a video game crash in the next 2 years or so myself, as this race to the bottom is unsubstanable long term for about any company, and the market seems to be kickstartered/indiego'd out.
 
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jkweath

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Such a shame too, phones were all set to completely replace the handheld console market, but underpricing lead to the belief that no phone game should cost more than one USD. So games that were only worth one USD became the norm.
Forgot to quote this earlier, but yep--all the research I've done has showed that, over time, people on mobile devices have become less likely to buy games priced at all, instead opting for the "freemium" games. Games priced higher than $1.99 are either AAA titles (the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest ports) or they just don't sell much, period.

I'm going to try to keep my mobile game priced at $1.99, but if I notice that the game just doesn't sell nearly as much compared to when I put it on sale for $0.99, I might have to price it down permanently. I really don't want to though, as then I'd just be contributing to the problem, not to mention I won't be making much.

@jkweath : Both. And honestly most games now have to be priced at ridiculously low prices that I'm honestly shocked some devs make a profit at all. I'm honestly expecting a video game crash in the next 2 years or so myself, as this race to the bottom is unsubstanable long term for about any company, and the market seems to be kickstartered/indiego'd out.
I hope not. That'd spell bad news for us!
 

Matseb2611

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I have doubts there'd be a video game crash nowadays. There will always be someone making games. What I do think could happen is the overall loss in quality. A lot of consumers are expecting maximum quality AND quantity for minimum price, and that just isn't realistic. They expect all the perks of a triple A game in a cheap indie game that only costs $5-10. Not going to happen. Neither hobbyists, nor serious devs will be able to pull that off. And quite frankly, even triple A games are getting flopped a lot lately and receive many scathing reviews because people's expectations were unrealistic to begin with.
 

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