The ”pay what you want” strategy

Discussion in 'Commercial Games Discussion' started by Parallax Panda, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. Meike

    Meike ||Telling Stories Through Games|| Veteran

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    I just released my game in Feb and don't have much of my own platform, so I can't accurately say if free vs pay what you want is any different. I know with my own opinion is that I see the two as basically the same thing. Of course a dev would appreciate a few bucks thrown at them and I see nothing wrong for asking for a few bucks for a free game or resource.

    From what I do get tho, I don't think it affects the downloads much. Surprisingly most my downloads come straight from itch a lot of times, and maybe links from twitter and other sources.

    Pay what you want definitely isn't something to live off of, and you'll probably know the people who do pay.

    I have a patreon as well, but I've only had it a few months, and I did just release an asset pack 'free for patrons' no one took the bait yet but it's not even been a week.

    If you want to make money off your game, don't have it free/pay-what-you-want. Simple as that. You'll probably get less downloads, but you'll get money when you do get downloads. (I've yet to release a paid game)
     
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  2. VisitorsFromDreams

    VisitorsFromDreams Veteran Veteran

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    Yeah my games use entirely original assets, with most RPGM games looking pretty much exactly the same I think its important to look as different as possible in order to stand out, though with my background in animation id be using original assets anyway, its more fun that way. Thank you for the kind words. :)
     
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  3. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    I don't think the Link to Donate strategy works well - I've donated through this once, but it was only after I thought about it five different times (because it felt like I was going out of my way for no reason) and decided that, yes, I got so much enjoyment out of this game that I would feel bad not donating to it. I'm a pretty generous person, and I tend to give equal to or more than the suggested donation for places and products in general (including Humble Bundles) - so I really think it's a matter of framing (and timing), and that's why I believe Pay What You Want is far more effective than Donation Link.

    I have no idea how well it stands up against a simple "one price" retail model.
     
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  4. Parallax Panda

    Parallax Panda Got into VxAce ~2014 and never stopped... Veteran

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    @Wavelength
    I think the previous argument was that people don't want to pay for a product they don't know. But I'd agree that counting on people going back afterwards is even more unlikely. People are lazy after all. And how many want to pay for something after they've already used it? Not many probably.

    But it might have to do with your fan base as well. Not exactly game related but I remember reading a web-comic back in the days. It was founded through a simple pay pal link and every month the author got hundreds of dollars in donations from fans, and he didn't even beg for it, he just had the link there on the website.
    It's different, sure. But the point is that if you have a passionate fan base then I guess you can succeed in all kinds of donation models. If not, then you probably won't get much or anything unless you put a hard price on it. Apparently @VisitorsFromDreams is doing okay on itch.io with "pay-what-you-want" while others don't get a single cent.

    Maybe there isn't a better way (except a hard price), but one would have to try and see what works for oneself? (such a generic conclusion! :kaoswt2: )
     
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  5. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    I'd be inclined to think this is because the audience was going back to the website (which has the donation link there) dozens or hundreds of times per year. If you have dozens or hundreds of chances to consider donating, and you really like what you're getting, it's likely that at some point you will donate. The online game Board Game Online also uses a similar strategy, as do many podcasts.

    Contrast that to a standalone Windows game where nearly every user will visit the website once to download the game, and never again.

    I certainly don't have the data or experience to say that you're wrong, but this is how I'd personally make sense of what I see.
     
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  6. mathmaster74

    mathmaster74 just...John Veteran

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    @Parallax Panda You're not kidding about what people don't want to pay for. I have more wishlists for my Steam game than purchases. :rolleyes: You're right. Not many would get something for free then go back and pay. Even if someone is the sort who would, they may not give it the afterthought or may forget to go back if it gets put off for a while.

    @Wavelength I'd be inclined to think you're right. It's a numbers game. Also..."like what you're getting" is key. These people are probably not donating for your game if they're donating only after repeatedly coming back for other content that is a draw...they're paying you for your work on the other content. You could just as easily not have a game and simply do the other thing that draws donations if you can make that model work.

    @Wavelength Yep. See my note to Parallax above about Steam wishlists. They came, they saw, they "liked", they didn't "subscribe", they left. Hopefully some will return and commit before they just "clean house", but as the seller, you can't rely on "hopefully".
     
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  7. Tome571

    Tome571 Veteran Veteran

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    I think it depends on what you care about and where you are in the lifecycle of your game.

    1. Do you care about getting more players and establishing yourself as a brand that puts out good work **MORE** than you care about making money?
    2. Have you dumped a lot of money into the product and are looking to re-coop your expenses to move on to another game?
    3. Is the game a 100% finished product, or will you be supporting it later (should be paid for more time spent on balancing/fixes).
    4. Do you already have a large enough user base that you would get many donations/supporters (you may have already developed other games and given them away, making the players feel like they *should* support you for the last game, etc.)
    Personally, I think people should be paid for their time, even if its a low cost, so I disagree with a "Pay what you want" model. Price it or don't, I'd say.
     
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  8. VisitorsFromDreams

    VisitorsFromDreams Veteran Veteran

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    While I do think people should be paid for their time, I believe that it should only be for situatios like a job or commission. If you "choose" to make a game in your free time, or to draw, paint,make a film, thats a decision of how to spend your free time that you have made and I dont think you are entitled to anything for making that choice. If people are generous enough to reward you for that time spent thats awesome, but nobody owes you anything.

    In terms of a games value... or anythings value really, something is only worth what people are willing to pay for it.
     
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  9. Parallax Panda

    Parallax Panda Got into VxAce ~2014 and never stopped... Veteran

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    @VisitorsFromDreams
    Well, no one is entiteled to anything really. you get what you deserve (and what you deserve is what you can get). If you think you deserve more, demand more. This goes for everything in life really and I don’t see any reason to draw a line between ”Jobs & commisions” and personal projects.

    And there is a silver linning to your last statement which people usually forget. It’s not ”Things are only worth what people are willing to pay for it”, since the value is subjective to each and everyone. We can talk about the market value though and in that case the price is a compromise between what people are willing to pay and what people are willing to sell for. The consumer can’t dictate the price on their own, if so everything would be free.

    I do believe that in this day and age it’s important for people to understand that undervaluing media or art will not be good for anyone. Nothing of quality can be free and you’re going to pay, one way or another, for effort and time put in by others. If not with money than with something else... and you might not even notice what that is. That’s the kind of market ”gimmie-more-free-free” attitudes creates, unfortunally.

    Hmm... I probably got a little off-topic here.:kaoswt2:

    [EDIT; I guess I add this follow up question to make this post more on-topic. If one were to not put a hard price on their game for whatever reason, maybe they want it to be available to everyone for example, but they still want to make some profit.

    What could they do to improve their chances with the above monetization models?]
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
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  10. atoms

    atoms Veteran Veteran

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    To be honest, my first thoughts with no experience are, if I give the game away for free, most people won't donate for it.

    Now if there is a message saying "If you enjoyed this game, please donate" or something, I think that can truly increase your sells, but I still wouldn't expect to make much from that strategy.

    If your a very popular person on some website with many subscribers or something like this, again you probably would make more out of it then just being on itcho, without any fan bases of any kind, (using as an example!), but I'd be amazed, (from my understanding), if you make more money with this strategy, then setting a price tag.

    I think where this does work, it would be a not make money from, but nice to get a bit of money from friends, type of thing.

    I know I don't have any experience, but I think this is one of the things where you can guess the outcome without the experience, although, I may be wrong to suggest this.
     
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  11. Prescott

    Prescott argggghhh Veteran

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    What I'm doing for my game is releasing it on itch.io (among other places) for free, and also releasing a Steam edition that will give access to those who paid for it to the uncompressed soundtrack, raw versions of the paintings in the game instead of the 720p versions (5k resolution), and content updates (more quests to be added later). The free version will be the complete game but not have these extras and it will lovingly have the suffix "Free Edition."

    I've spent a lot of money working on this game, and a large amount of time. I had to make the decision of whether I wanted more people to play it or if I wanted to try to make my money back. I really want people to see my game so that is why I'm going with the way that I did.
     
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  12. Parallax Panda

    Parallax Panda Got into VxAce ~2014 and never stopped... Veteran

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    @Prescott
    I guess having a free version and a premium version can work. But for people (who know about the free version) to pay you'd probably need to add quite a lot extra stuff - to the point where it would be like paying for a decent DLC pack. And in that case you can't really say that the free version is "the full game" anymore. Or I guess you can but... well, it's a matter of perspective I guess.

    If I were to do that I'd add stuff like:

    - 5 extra floors to a 15-20 floor dungeon crawler in the premium version
    - A new playable class/character with their own skills, equipment and maybe side quests.
    - A new game+ feature which actually changed stuff in the story, intruducing a new character or two and re-imagining the dungeon designs.
    - post game content in form of a series of challenging quests or a really tough dungeon.

    The above are all just examples, I'd not do all of them but pick maybe one or two, or something similar. That way the premium version would BE a premium version.

    I'm not convinced that very many gamers are willing to pay extra for a soundtrack.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
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  13. Prescott

    Prescott argggghhh Veteran

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    The soundtrack and the images are more as a little extra you get, not really included in the price of the game itself. I know I'm very likely not going to make my money back, and that's alright with me, the people who want to support the game can support it if they like it or want some extra stuff to do. My main priority is getting the game out there and getting any money is just a nice side effect. I've just put way too much time into this to risk people not playing it because they need to pay for it. I am not losing too much either, because due to the way I've commissioned my art it is pretty modular and can be used in other projects in the future if I want to use it (in fact I've already used some of it in another game).

    I'm actually going to be working on a bunch of extra side quests and add them as they are finished. There will also definitely be a challenge tower area.

    I've considered adding a new character as well, as there is one from a different region that could have some pretty cool effects on gameplay.

    New Game+ is going to be something that is included in the base game. Post game content isn't really a possibility due to the way the game ends.
     
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