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Letting Customers Decide Pricing On Game DLC

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the a-map-and-a-hat-are-not-worth-ten-bucks dept.

The Almighty Buck 156

An anonymous reader writes "How much should game developers be charging for DLC? It seems that one indie dev has decided to carry out a unique experiment. The latest expansion pack for Gratuitous Space Battles is priced at $5.99 — or is it? It turns out there is both a standard ($5.99) version and a discount version ($2.99). And the difference between them is... nothing. The buyers have been left to make their own decisions on whether or not they should pay full price, and send more money to the developer, or treat themselves to a deserved discount. The buy page even lists comparisons of national incomes, average salaries and even the price of sausages to help buyers make up their minds. Will this catch on? Will Microsoft start asking us whether or not we should get a discount and trust us to answer honestly?"

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Customers are assholes (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33571382)

If it's possible, they'll ask YOU for the $5.99 and get your game with it.

Re:Customers are assholes (1)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572534)

I for one would like to see a "pay what you feel is fair" for shipping to Canada from

$15 shipping for a t-shirt? Talk about assholes lol

Re:Customers are assholes (2, Insightful)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 4 years ago | (#33575744)

You realize they charge you what they get charged by USPS/DHL/UPS/whoever, plus a little for packaging etc., right?

If they let people choose "pay what you feel is fair" for shipping, especially international shipping, 99% of customers would choose "free", and they'd have to compensate by raising product prices. I don't think that's the outcome you desire.

(I am of course not talking about the jerks on eBay or Amazon who sell things for dirt cheap and then charge absurd amounts for shipping, I'm talking specifically about companies like Thinkgeek.)

Umm... (2, Insightful)

neonmonk (467567) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571388)

It'll catch on just as much as Radiohead's experiment caught on.

Re:Umm... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571812)

Only because most of the DLC has been worthless. Mass Effect II, ALL of the DLC has been 100% useless and or worthless. What would I pay for it? 0.00 and if I had prior knowlege not even waste the time downloading it.

Re:Umm... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33571932)

Thats because most DLC is stuff they didn't include in the original game because of laziness, time or greed.

Re:Umm... (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572304)

It's getting really worrying watching the slow extension of DLC and how it is protected.

I don't buy DLC. This is because I dislike the hassle, I want to encourage a competitive games market (which DLC isn't) and I don't want to buy something I can arbitrarily lose access to. The idea of paying to extend games is not, however, something I have a problem with.

I own Fallout 3, and the Fallout 3(goty?) edition with all expansions. I waited until prices dropped before buying both new. It was cheaper to wait and buy the physical copy with add-ons than buy the DLC on the xbox. Again, cost wasn't the issue. As long as I have a working Xbox and that disc I know I can play the thing I have bought, that simply isn't the case with DLC.

Mass effect 2 comes with some token DLC (including a character) as a download. The downloads free if you have the activation code in the box. Given that I paid £10 to get the game, it would cost me more to buy the game second hand and pay for the equivalent DLC. From what I have seen so far I could live without the DLC. However, I don't think it will be long until more integral content is restricted in this way.

Why is all this happening? Because publishers want to get paid. The public (including me) doesn't want to pay more for the game up front, getting the extra cash for DLC is less problematic. The second hand game market arguably lowers spending on new games (I myself spend less on new because I buy about 1/3rd of my games 2nd hand). Piracy is easy (I still, shamefully, haven't paid for a copy of Plants vs Zombies even though it's cheap and great!). Given all this it's hardly surprising that they are doing what they are doing.

What I wish someone would do, and would happily pay for, is make a subscription based system for console games. I'd happily pay say £10pm if I could download and play games on my xbox. It may seem odd given my preference for owning DLC, but it's simply a matter of expectation. I will pay to rent things if they are priced accordingly.

Re:Umm... (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572598)

So like Gamefly [] , but digital download version?

Theoretically, it makes sense but without that disc and the lovely anti-copy measures they put in it would mean that any download service would have to have a peerless copy protection... and we know that doesn't happen or last long.

Re:Umm... (1)

IshmaelDS (981095) | more than 4 years ago | (#33574910)

Or OnLive. It's in the states only right now but that is exactly what I'm looking forward to coming to Canada. I'm on board with renting games, (depending on some factors like cost). []

Re:Umm... (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572626)

Exactly, the thing with DLC is that it comes in so small packages that it is practically impossible for it to do anything meaningful. I don't care if it costs $3, $5 or $10, give me back the old $30 add-ons that actually felt like proper extension of the game and where long enough to actually do something. Most DLC just feels like an additional level, instead of an additional small story arc.

Mass Effect 2 DLC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33574210)

BioWare recently released a worthwile DLC (Lair of the Shadow Broker) that isn't just a stupid side quest or useless item. It's continues the story so it's more like the expansion packs of yesteryear (before consolefolk invented a stupid new acronym). Plus you get to bang Liara again.

Re:Umm... (2, Insightful)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572402)

You do realise that Radiohead's experiment granted them more income than if they had released through a RIAA inspired distributor? Even if the bulk of people pay nothing, the average income per copy sold is still higher.

Re:Umm... (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#33574126)

You do realize that all you've done is try to deflect the point, right? How many other bands followed what Radiohead did? Are they more than you can count on one hand?

How is this unique? (4, Informative)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571392)

There have been multiple cases of "pay what you want" in the last year alone.
Hell, even Slashdot ran an article about this back in march: []
They concluded that after removing those that paid less than five cents, the average price was around $9.20 [] . Hell, they even break it down by OS for you.

Re:How is this unique? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33571454)

The one you linked to was a charity event. People are likely to pay more because of that.

Even if not unique, it is definitely an interesting experiment, especially since we can see the results live (down the bottom of the page).

I wish the guy well, the game seems like a decent way to kill a bit of time.

Re:How is this unique? (2, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571574)

It's not unique, you see the people behind these types of schemes aren't doing it with the goal of groundbreaking news stories, they're doing it because generating a news story on sites like Slashdot, no matter how dull or inane simply by changing ever so slightly the method of selling means that they have increased their potential customer base by several orders of magnitude.

Indies aren't trying to do something groundbreaking here, they're cashing in on the fact that editors are sites like Slashdot are stupid enough to repeat the same tired old story and produce fuck loads of page hits and potential sales for them. The genius isn't the pricing mechanism itself, it's the pricing mechanism as an advert on the front page of some of the largest relevant news sites on the internet.

There are other similar tactics- write a blog post about how your game made x amount of sales because you ported to and gave away a free picture of a lolcat with it or whatever inane blog post indies are thinking up nowadays to get on the front page of sites like Slashdot. Realise that these people don't give a fuck about how interesting their blog post actually is, or how clever their pricing scheme is, they only need it to be just relevant enough for sites like Slashdot to post it and link to their site giving them massive amounts of traffic and sales as a result.

Re:How is this unique? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33572008)

I think your cynicism is unwarranted. Maybe the majority of these pay-variation trials are being done to garner free advertising, but to say all of them are is absurd. Business tactics constantly adjust and run experiments. Before this was free-with-advertising, before that was optional DLC, before that was timecards, and so on.... It's a measurement of effectiveness, it is competition, and yes sometimes it is to make headlines. Mostly it is none of them, or more precisely, mostly the objective is all three.

Re:How is this unique? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#33575580)

Well, thanks for saving me the time of posting that.

Further, GSB isn't even a particularly interesting "News For Nerds" project: it's not open source, it's not even cross platform, it's just written by a guy who likes to blog about the process, and who is (demonstrably) good at grabbing free publicity for his commercial games.

Given the many (many) free and open source space combat games out there that Slashdot readers might be interested in reading about and playing, it's pretty sad and pathetic that the 'editors' never, ever get off their lazy backsides and go out and do, you know... journalism. Actually find stories. They just eat whatever you shovel at them, and some of the final results splatter out the other end.

Frankly, I only come here for the trolling. If I want actual news for nerds, I'll get it from Twitter, or Google. Slashdot has already been replaced by very small shell scripts.

You have to pay something (4, Interesting)

Mazca (1851182) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571426)

This experiment has been done before in some form, but it generally gives an option of paying nothing, and that's invariably the most popular option. I suspect this may give more interesting results - the main reason I'd often choose to pay nothing when given the option is because I can't be bothered to find my credit card for a tiny purchase. In this particular situation, users are forced to actually figure out a payment method, then make an objective decision about how much to pay. For a small indie developer with a loyal fanbase, I can see a fair proportion choosing the higher figure.

Re:You have to pay something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33571554)

can't be bothered to find my credit card for a tiny purchase

Just as well. It's not worth accepting tiny amounts for the merchant with all the fees.

Expansion packs I'll pay for (2, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571436)

Horse armor, or a quest that's obviously supposed to be in the game because you run into someone trying to give it to you, I will not.

If I then have to pirate the whole game just to get around the DLC DRM, I will.

Re:Expansion packs I'll pay for (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572312)

Horse armor (which didn't have an actual effect) is the kind of "I won't be buying it, but lol if you want to..." DLC and doesn't bother me at all. Regarding your other point, I'm guessing you played Dragon Age? What bothered me there was not that they had side-arcs for sale - there was quite many side quests to do anyway, I finished it at lvl 20 without getting any DLC - but that the damn salesmen were covert. Wasn't enough to piss me off into pirating it and still bought Awakening and will buy DA2, but seriously... that is plain rotten.

Re:Expansion packs I'll pay for (2, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572412)

If I then have to pirate the whole game just to get around the DLC DRM, I will.

Because the developers owe you entertainment?

Shooting yourself in the foot (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572516)

If I then have to pirate the whole game just to get around the DLC DRM, I will.

Then all the essential components of your next game will become accessible only when you are on-line and only when your account is marked "paid in full."

The moment the indie producer hears the word piracy is the moment he begins looking for a more secure platform - first on the console and then - maybe - on the Mac or Windows PC.


Re:Expansion packs I'll pay for (3, Informative)

Rayonic (462789) | more than 4 years ago | (#33574052)

My personal pet peeve is games with a dozen little pieces of DLC, which get released but never get reduced in price (aside from the odd sale once in a blue moon.) My personal policy has been to wait for the "ultimate" or "game of the year" edition which has all the DLC bundled in. Because unless I'm playing with other people, there's no pressure on me to play a game right away. It's not like there's a shortage of games to play in the meantime.

As for specific types of DLC, I'll give my takes on them:

  1. Expansion Pack - Great! A full-length or half-length expansion of the regular game is usually welcome.
  2. Mini Expansion - Good! The ones that act as an extension of the main game are better than the ones that are like side quests.
  3. Micro Expansion - Bad. By "micro", I mean a single extra quest or average dungeon, tacked on somewhere in the game world.
  4. Song Tracks - Fair game, as long as the original Guitar Hero/Rock Band game came with a good song selection.
  5. Extra Cars - Also fair, as long as they're not unbalanced in online play.
  6. Map Packs - Lame. Plus it divides the community between the people who bought it and those who haven't.
  7. Extra Items - Usually lame. Like a special weapon or armor that you're given early in the game. Often unbalanced.
  8. Cheats/Unlocks - Terrible. Paying for stuff that really should be free. Like paying to unlock all the fighting game's characters.
  9. Cosmetic Enhancements - Mixed bag. Harmless or cool in multiplayer games, pointless in single player games.
  10. New character - Wildly mixed. Maybe it means you can play through the game again in a whole new way. Or maybe he/she makes little difference. Or maybe they suck, like a really cheap or bad character in an online game.

No (2, Interesting)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571444)

Will Microsoft start asking us whether or not we should get a discount and trust us to answer honestly?"

Um... no. Not as long they control the distribution platform (i.e. Xbox Live). Also, they've already shown that they believe in the guilty until proven innocent by using product activation features in Windows.

Re:No (2, Funny)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571606)

There's a way of proving you're innocent?

Re:No (5, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572090)

Yes, run Linux.

(Please don't mod me funny. I'm serious - I've seen lots of people pirating Windows and Windows apps, I've seen lots of people running Linux for all sorts of reasons but I have never yet seen anyone run Linux because they can't pirate software. Because they don't want to pirate software (and perhaps can't afford to purchase legitimately), sure.)

Dishonest? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571494)

Will Microsoft start asking us whether or not we should get a discount and trust us to answer honestly?

It's definitely not say that we shouldn't be paying 1/30th the price of a game just to get a new character skin. Maps packs.. well after being brought up downloading 3rd party maps for free for Quake, Counter-Strike etc, it's pretty grating to have to pay for extra maps on a console. These days consoles are perfectly capable of downloading and storing extra maps, mods etc. Thankfully some games such as LittleBigPlanet and ModNation Racers are starting to let you do this, but I wish it would catch on with console FPSes.

Re:Dishonest? (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 4 years ago | (#33575122)

Is there an actual way to actually save maps in LBP, or can you only play them online? I've never seen the option, but then again it took four of us about 10 minutes to find where they'd decided to put my "favorites" planet in that so-bad-it-should-have-won-anti-awards interface of theirs, so...

I'm worried that when they pull the servers the game will lose the huge value added by the community. The base game's pretty good, but the quirky community maps are why it still comes out sometimes when people are over.

Unique in its stupidity (2, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571514)

It's not a $3 discount on the cheaper one, it's 100% profit on the more expensive.

Preempting the altruistic "I'm funding future development" crowd with "I have bills to pay. I know he does to. Obviously $2.99 covers the cost, so his bills are paid. That $3 goes towards paying mine." More power to you if you have disposable income, you can spend it on his 100% markup if you choose, but you're a mug if you do.

Re:Unique in its stupidity (1)

ctid (449118) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571536)

Have you read what he wrote on the page? On what basis do you conclude that he is not being honest?

Re:Unique in its stupidity (1)

schn (1795404) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571556)

It all becomes clear with the motive "to make a buck".

Re:Unique in its stupidity (5, Insightful)

WhitetailKitten (866108) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571704)

Well, he's basically tesseracting the gap in time between when the DLC is released and the point where it goes on sale on Steam for half price (which is where it sells the most, according to him) by offering the DLC at the sale price, while also offering people who are willing to pay full price the option of paying what he feels his work on the content is actually worth.

The fact that he expects to make money on his work should be no surprise. He's experimenting with different ways of doing it instead of trying the tried-and-tested-to-be-shit method of throwing your loyal paying fans under the DRM bus.

Re:Unique in its stupidity (2, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572422)

the steam bit is unsurprising I buy random stuff on steam when it goes on the 75% off, and stuff I'm pretty sure I'll like when it is on 50% off.

That and the twice a year new game at full price covers my gaming completely - given how little time I have for gaming these days.

In fact I get more enjoyment from the random steam stuff since there's no regret when I only play the game for a few hours and then give up on it when it only cost $7.50. Whereas to this day I still manage to buy the occasional complete piece of crap full price new game (ufc 2010 - I'm looking at you...)

Re:Unique in its stupidity (2, Insightful)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571946)

I'm not sure if you meant it as a joke or not, but there is a trend going on that if someone is doing something to "make a buck" then he is evil (use spooky voice for last word). Hey, I am now at work and here to "make a buck", does that make me evil? Companies exist to make a buck, that's their purpose. Making a buck, in and of itself, is not evil. It is only bad when the things you do in order to make a buck are bad. To paraphrase: "Evil is as evil does". /rant

Re:Unique in its stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33572122)

Yes, these people do see it as evil, if and only when it is not advantageous to themselves. In their dream society, no one works, and everything is shared. I read books for that dream.

Re:Unique in its stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33572270)

Yes, these people do see it as evil, if and only when it is not advantageous to themselves. In their dream society, no one works, and everything is shared. I read books for that dream.

Freetards can't afford books you insensitive clod!

Re:Unique in its stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33572566)

No worries, we can always pirate eBooks on the author's behalf.

Re:Unique in its stupidity (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572792)

Which is fine because... wait for it... wait for it... "Information wants to be free!!!"
I love catchphrases. All of the world's complexities condensed into a few well versed words.

Re:Unique in its stupidity (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33572776)

You do realise that good and evil are just human interpretations of events, from the speaker's point of view? And if you choose to view anything as either good or evil you are allowing yourself to polarise your thoughts, meaning you will inevitably come to a conclusion that is inaccurate.

You have to also bear in mind that your job is who you are, so to just dismiss it as how you just make a buck is short sighted, and enables corporations to do fucking awful things for cheap. Are the mercenaries who work for private security contractors in the middle east just making a buck, or are they also killers?

When you allow your thoughts to be polarised you are much easier to control by those who seek to control others. This is why the powerful so frequently present false dichotomies ("You're either with us, or against us", "we're so much cheaper than the competition", etc. - phrases like these sew the "one thing, or another" thought into people's heads).

Is this kind of thing done on purpose? Without a doubt in some circles, but more often than not it is probably just a result of ineptitude. I'm sure we've all had a manager who was out of their depth. Ever notice how they make decisions? They tend to try to boil decisions down to 2 things by simplifying anything they can, then pick the obvious choice. Are the likes of Bush malicious, or just stupid? Well, Bush was stupid and his regime (who wrote his speeches) were malicious, but together their techniques kept that group in full power for 8 years.

Before someone goes off on a right-wing rant, just because of the subjects and examples I have used in this post doesn't mean I am simply an anti-war Obama fan. To come to that conclusion would be using the very thought process I have bitched about - one thing, or the other. I know I know fuck all abut the world, but I do know that some people are authoritarians who will force you and I how to live if you let them. I tend to default to supporting the little guy, the outsiders, the 3rd party. And I try to always re-assess who I am supporting, because as soon as a group looks like it will get some power, the greedy will seek to hijack that group for their own ends. The fabled Slashdot group-think seems to see this only happening in governments, but it happens in all human groups, eg corporations, religions. I think we see governments singled out because a government of the people is the only thing that can stand between the people and the power excesses of other human groups. The rhetoric from non-government powerful groups will hence inevitably align to advocate removing power from the government, and hence from the people.

Re:Unique in its stupidity (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572982)

OK, you took what I said to someplace else. I was talking about the general idea of "he who tries to make a buck is evil", you took me to a whole different place.
I am a physician. I love my job. I am not here just to "make a buck". Actually, in my country, if I wanted to make a buck, I would have chosen a different job (IT?), because the doctor's pay is humiliating compared to the years of education and the responsibility involved. I used the example in my original post to make a point.
And of course, evil and good are subjective terms. I just used the adjectives used by my GP.

You are correct that many people tern issues into a A-vs.-B conflict, because it's easier. If you personally always do reassess the situation to find out what is really the best option (for you), then praise you. One word of caution: Just because someone is the underdog, outsider, little guy, doesn't mean he is automatically correct. Although much can be said against corporations and governments, sometimes they are right and the little guy is in the wrong.

Re:Unique in its stupidity (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572330)

What other motivation is there to sell something, especially something digital (so copies can be made for free)?

And why do you imply that that's a bad motivation?

Re:Unique in its stupidity (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572594)

It all becomes clear with the motive "to make a buck".

Should I assume you make your home in a Benedictine monastery?

Re:Unique in its stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33571764)

"Obviously $2.99 covers the costs" -- obviously you have no way of knowing that, and if you had spent five seconds thinking about the economics at play here, you'd have realized that overall costs have no direct relation to the price point selection.

This is just a form of price discrimination -- although a weird form. When you do price discrimination, the lowest price point does not have to cover it's share of the costs (except the ones directly attributable to the sale, and those are very low here).

Re:Unique in its stupidity (2, Insightful)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571798)

When I buy something I don't care if what I pay is enough to cover the costs of the developer/supplier/maker/etc. I buy something because I think the price is fair compared to what I get in return. Maybe 3$ is enough for the developer to pay the rent, maybe 5$ or maybe 0.10$. I don't know, but OTOH, I don't care! If I want to buy this expansion pack, the question, for me, is "Is this pack worth 6$ or 3$, considering where I come from and what I earn?". Maybe for a middle-class guy from the US the answer will be 6$, while someone from India will go for 3$ (Yes, I know, if the guy from India has a computer and can spend money on computer games, he is not so poor. You get my point).

Re:Unique in its stupidity (1)

gregrah (1605707) | more than 4 years ago | (#33575566)

Standard convention is to place the dollar sign before the number.

Micro Econ 101 Fail (4, Insightful)

Derkec (463377) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571824)

Oh come on. No shit $2.99 covers the cost. It's digital. The incremental cost to the developer to ship another unit for a piece of software is tiny, tiny, tiny. Most of the $2.99 goes to profit, R&D and fixed costs.

Now, he still needs to pay those developers who made the software, buy computers, rent office space, etc. I'm sure he's done the math and knows he can achieve that by selling X at $6 or 2X at $3. Of course, he could go open source, set the price at 0 and make it up on volume [/stupid slashdot joke]. In Econ 101 he would have read about the price curve that suggests that fewer people will buy at $6 but maybe not so much fewer that it isn't the better price for his business. For a businessman, the ideal scenerio is to charge everyone the most their willing to pay - price stratification. This is why you have coupons at the grocery store. People with little money and lots of time can clip coupons and pay less. People who have more money will not and will pay a higher price.

The play here is not that he's trying to sell the 2X number with some paying $3 and some paying $6. He wants to first make sure he is able to break even by selling something like .5 X @ $6 and X @ $3. The $6 price helps him break even the same way the $3 price does. Plus, after Econ 101, you learn the price curve is somewhat BS in the first place. Part of what he's doing is stating "We think the product is worth $6, but are offering a 50% discount to poor people and assholes (distinct groups)." Now, regardless of why I look at the $3 price, I am much less likely to think, "Is $3 too much for this expansion?" because it's already a half off discount and be more likely to purchase. He may actually sell more units at $3 than he would have without the $6 option.

These guys are just remarkably (for better or worse) upfront about the price stratification. He's also a freak'n brilliant marketer. Free publicity on Slashdot is a win.

All software pricing is arbitrary. Always. It's up to a vendor to ask for what they think the product is worth, offer discounts / sales / etc to those who think it's worth less, and for the consumer to either purchase or not. The vendor needs to deliver a product that delivers a fair enough value that consumers will purchase their products again / not leave angry messages on forums or app stores.

Re:Micro Econ 101 Fail (0, Offtopic)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572076)

That's a real long post just to say "Stack em hi, sell em cheap + Slashvertisment = Profit!"

Re:Micro Econ 101 Fail (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572092)

s/em hi/'em high/


Re:Micro Econ 101 Fail (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572712)

In Econ 101 he would have read about the price curve that suggests that fewer people will buy at $6 but maybe not so much fewer that it isn't the better price for his business.

But he's beaten your Spaniard, so he must have studied and in studying he would have learned that man is mortal, so you can clearly not choose the cup in front of him.

Re:Unique in its stupidity (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572130)

I have bills to pay. I know he does to. Obviously $2.99 covers the cost, so his bills are paid.

It seems you make the assumption that just because I'm selling it, I'm making money on it. That's quite naive, obviously I'm looking to make money overall but any particular sale might not be and even if I do make a margin on all sales the lower margin may not be enough to cover my fixed costs. I'll ignore the actual losses like loss leaders, promotional offers, clearance sales and so on since they're not very relevant to software, as the marginal cost is so low.

But to return to games, just because all games end up in the bargain bin does not mean they could have broken even on bargain bin margins alone. They've simply exhausted the market at full retail price and is scraping the bottom of the barrel. A book might need both hardcover and pocket book sales to break even. A movie might need box office sales and DVD sales and TV sales and merchandise and so on to break even. There's of course smashing hits and total flops that'd earn/lose money regardless, but they're the exception on the rule.

Obviously $3 covers the cost of the copy. But if you only looked at that cost, a pirated one at $0 also didn't cost him anything but it hardly pays his bills. Does $3 pay his bills? Well obviously that depends on what his sales figures and what his bills are, maybe it does but also maybe it doesn't. Maybe he needs $6 sales too to have an acceptable pay. Of course it's highly unlikely your $3 makes a difference, but a thousand people thinking like that will.

Re:Unique in its stupidity (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572244)

Bargain bin doesn't apply to digital software distribution. There is no stock to clear. There may well be promotions which reduce the cost, but the actual price of software sold through digital distribution is storage of one copy + bandwidth. So, when L4D went on sale at an 80% price reduction, it sold 1600% more than at the higher price. More profit from the lower price, if you can believe that.

You've already stated, as others have, that the per unit cost is negligible as it is a digital reproduction of the original. So the costs recuperated are going to differ at any price point. My point is that while some people may choose to pay the $6 price, it's obvious that the $3 price will result in the higher volume. It will more than likely be well over double the volume of $6 sales (Look at how many downloaded Radiohead's Rainbows for 1c compared to any other price point).

If he covers all of his outgoings for hosting and distributing the DLC at $3 per unit (note this is only distribution) then the rest is profit for him. That profit may well go into covering his rent, food, electricity bills, whatever. I don't think, however, that this is his only source of income, thereby making the couple of hundred cents per sale extra beer money for him. And by God, I'd prefer it to be my beer money.

Re:Unique in its stupidity (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572710)

If I played this game, liked it, and thought the DLC added anything of value, I'd happily pay $6. I like to support people who do stuff that I like. Besides, I clearly fall into the category that can afford $6, and I waste more than that on the silliest trivialities.

Re:Unique in its stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33573194)

The idea of percent profit means very little when the big investment is development time, not manufacturing and distribution costs.

Re:Unique in its stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33573314)

It's not a $3 discount on the cheaper one, it's 100% profit on the more expensive. Preempting the altruistic "I'm funding future development" crowd with "I have bills to pay. I know he does to. Obviously $2.99 covers the cost, so his bills are paid. That $3 goes towards paying mine." More power to you if you have disposable income, you can spend it on his 100% markup if you choose, but you're a mug if you do.

Fuck off you dumb communist. Some of us like being nice and donating extra for people who do good work. I paid for Natural Selection Collector, and I really didn't care about the armor and the alpha. NS1 was a great game, and the NS2 team deserved my contribution.

Start by not calling it DLC (4, Insightful)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571618)

At least for me "DLC" reads as "Stuff we took out from the main release or would give out in a free update but now sell as extra to squeeze more money out of the customers", 'cause that's exactly what has been done by most publishers.

Call it "expansion pack" or "small expansion pack".

Next give some sort of no-monetary-value reward for people who pay the larger amount. Maybe easier access to the developer and the ability to suggest improvements for the next version.

That said, is the "expansion pack" even worth the small amount? For all we know the two amounts listed are "more money than it's worth" and "way much more money than it's worth" and this is all a poor-man's advertising gimmick. Certainly getting the game to Slashdot will bring more sales.
(Disclaimer: I have no idea if it's so or not. Maybe the use of the word "DLC" has put me in a overly-negative mind-set with regards to this and even the large amount is great value. Take my opinion with a pinch of salt).

Re:Start by not calling it DLC (2, Informative)

WhitetailKitten (866108) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571822)

It's a content pack with a new race and 10 new ships for that new race, and the ships apparently have a different loadout configuration compared to the existing ships. Whether this is worth paying anything for is subjective. However, consider: This is an indie developer, not a major game studio with a multi-million-dollar budget. He doesn't just have a vault of cash sitting around to lay on after he's done tweaking the textures and packing them up for a free release.

I think the idea of giving the choice of paying normal price or on-sale price allows him to collect right away instead of getting the (potentially minimal) normal-price sales now and then getting a bigger volume of sales five or six months down the road when it goes on sale on Steam.

Disclosure: I'm buying the full $5.99 because I like this game and want to support the dev. I also didn't even know that the new content was released before this story was posted, so... it sure might be a slashvertisement, but it's at least for what I would consider one of the "good guys" (no, not you, Ubisoft).

Re:Start by not calling it DLC (3, Informative)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571974)

"Positech Games is an indie video game developer from the UK. Owned by ex-Lionhead Studios programmer Cliff Harris, the company was formed in 1997..."

This is not a "guy in the backroom" kind of indie. This is a "breakaway from the large publisher's" indie. This guy used to work on The Sims and things like that. There is, incidentally, no such thing as a one-man company in the UK (as it claims on the website). You must, by law, have at least a Company Secretary as well - and they can't be the same person. It's probably his wife or something but still, it's misleading to claim a "one-man company", especially when he's hired people to do all sorts of work on those games.

"Cliffski, of Positech Games, made $189,423 in 2008 from direct sales."

That means he is way within the professional games league, and way within the scope of hiring, say, accountants, artists, programmers, and anything else, even if they don't work for his "company" (which is actually just a liability-sink for anything he does wrong).

"As with many indie video game projects, development cost was a significant issue. After an initial experiment spending several hundred dollars to purchase stock spaceship models, Harris eventually solicited quotes from 3 different artists and selected the most expensive one. The user interface was constructed by Chris Hildenbrand, a UI expert, leaving Harris to do his own special effect and user module graphics."

Thus, it's still not a one-man operation and actually he *did* hire texture artists to do all these things way before he even made a penny on it. So I'd personally expect a DLC to be a bit more than a couple of textures and some datafiles.

I played GSB. It was a little bit like Critical Mass ( - another indie developer) but with fancy graphics that killed my laptop, and a very boring, very un-interactive, main game. I'm not sure the DLC would be worth anything at all, considering the game barely qualified its purchase price for me.

This is really just a PR stunt - I noticed Steam deals on the same things only the other day. This is just a way to get free publicity and, to be honest, this guy can afford to buy his own. I don't begrudge him a successful game, or a wage from paying customers, but to claim it's a one-man operation is a BIG stretch of the definition and there are thousands of others like him out there that don't need free advertising posing as a "unique event" that's happened many times in the past, especially for a very, very basic DLC add-on that could probably be knocked up in a matter of hours.

As a former subscriber who has disabled adverts on this site, I'm more pissed off with Slashdot for posting this "event" than I am the developer trying to get some free press for his game, even if I don't like his game.

Re:Start by not calling it DLC (1)

WhitetailKitten (866108) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572120)

As a former subscriber who has disabled adverts on this site, I'm more pissed off with Slashdot for posting this "event" than I am the developer trying to get some free press for his game, even if I don't like his game.

And yet, here you are, spending your valuable time nitpicking and fact-checking every letter in my comment when the overall gist of what I was saying is that as a small company, he doesn't have the mountains of cash to just give away content for free in order to build community. I never stated he was a purely one-man shop, mainly because I didn't actually know for sure, but he's definitely not fucking Epic or Gearbox or any one of dozens of other studios under the wings of cornerstone game publishers.

I also specifically stated that it's an entirely subjective argument as to whether or not you consider the content patch to be worth charging for. You didn't like the game? Fine. Don't give him any more money. Let the invisible hand either pat him on the back or bitch-slap him until he can't see straight.

Re:Start by not calling it DLC (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572590)

$189,423 is enough to qualify as a professional programmer, but is still very much indie professional development. It is also hardly enough to be hiring more than one or two employees full time.

I will agree that if he is contracting out large portions of the work, like UI design and graphics, then the claim of a one-man company

Also a one man "company" is very possible even in the UK. They are known as sole proprietorship. I'm not sure about UK law, but perhaps sole proprietorship are full liability there. If so he likely does have PLC (or even a small corporation), which does require a secretary who must be distinct from a sole director.

Re:Start by not calling it DLC (2, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#33575454)

"Cliffski, of Positech Games, made $189,423 in 2008 from direct sales." That means he is way within the professional games league,

Pop quiz: how much did he make in 2006, 2007 and 2009?

Multi-year development cycles result in feast-and-famine: it's an endemic problem in the industry. You've looked at peak earnings and assumed it was an average. Tsk, tsk: -1, Uninsightful.

Re:Start by not calling it DLC (0, Troll)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33575716)

I don't really care. So long as he didn't just sit on his arse, that's a hell of a chunk of money to live off for a couple of years. And given that that's only *direct* sales, given that most of his games are on Steam, given that it's almost *all* profit etc. I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that he won't have been starving in 2009 or 2010 unless he's an idiot. 2006/7 might be a different story but then that's out of scope of this conversation.

Re:Start by not calling it DLC (1)

martyb (196687) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572040)

That said, is the "expansion pack" even worth the small amount? For all we know the two amounts listed are "more money than it's worth" and "way much more money than it's worth" and this is all a poor-man's advertising gimmick.

You raise an interesting point: how do I know, beforehand, what the DLC is worth TO ME? It's like buying the proverbial "pig in a poke". Caveat emptor and all that.

I'm not sure how to fix that, though. Nagware has been tried, to varying degrees of effectiveness. (If it were REALLY effective, it seems to me that it would have become the overriding norm and I've not seen that happen.)

Ask for full payment up front and then after a particularly interesting/rewarding point in the game, ask if they want a rebate, or let the full payment stand? I can see a nest of implementation issues with that one!

Offer tiered pricing up front (as in TFA), and if they opted for the lower price, put up a nag screen at the end asking if they enjoyed it and would like to pay up for the full price? Maybe give them access to some more features if they do (e.g. record their score on the "Hall of Fame.")

I see no easy, obvious answer. Hence we still see people playing around with different payment mechanisms.

The main thing that comes to my mind is to ask for payment at the "sweet spot". The question is what is the sweet spot? Beforehand, after a person has heard some buzz about the DLC and they really want it? At the culmination of a quest where the exhilaration of accomplishment is great? At game completion? Or, at a harrowing spot in some challenge with an offer for some kind of non-essential "extra" to help them through? (i.e. arcade video games have had this for a LONG time -- if your character died, you could put in more quarters to continue from the current point in the game.)

In short, I think the answer is "it depends." On one's disposable income and what amount is considered an acceptable impulse purchase, how much one thinks the DLC (will-be/is/was) worth it. In short what is the perceived value versus perceived cost and at what time does the player make that assessment? I don't think there is one, final, be-all end-all answer to the question. Different mechanisms each have their place depending on the content and the audience.

Re:Start by not calling it DLC (1)

WhitetailKitten (866108) | more than 4 years ago | (#33574554)

I'm not going to advocate this sort of action, but GSB is DRM-free. In addition to more nefarious purposes, certain websites hosting peer-based downloads enable you to take a try-before-you-buy approach should you be man enough to follow up and pay for the full product if you find you like it. THAT is how you find out if the pricing is worth it (also, if you already own GSB, you likely own the first three DLC packs before this one, and this is more of the same, basically).

BitTorrent, the lending library of the 21st century.

/* Seriously, don't pirate indie games. If you like them, support them. If you don't like them, then just move on with your life. */

Re:Start by not calling it DLC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33572732)

I remember paying for expansions for Doom, Quake, QuakeII, Half-Life, Rune, plenty of others, even really ancient games like Mercenary. I also remember not getting pissy about it as current gamers are want to do.

You talk about free downloads as if it were your right, but the reality is that levels cost a fair bit of money to make, more than they ever have in the past. Don't want to pay for the levels? Fine, don't buy them, but don't expect them for free, play your shitty community mods and maps. I can tell the difference, can you?

Re:Start by not calling it DLC (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#33573000)

I believe it is called an expansion pack, they just wanted to reduce the number of characters in the /. title I think.

And I believe this is the third expansion, so their is little chance that any of the stuff in it was going to be in the original game.

I wasn't going to buy this game... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33571644)

...but then I decided to buy the discount version, just to stick it to the developer.


Actually I disagree with his statement "Won't everyone just get the discount version? Possibly. I hope not. If they do, this experiment failed!" If the free publicity doubles the sales of the discount version, the experiment is a success.

Microsoft? Aren't they already doing that? (1)

garry_g (106621) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571648)

Well, maybe not in one country, but M$ prices do differ quite a bit between different countries ... not all of which can be explained by currency fluctuation or tax/customs on the products ...

DLC is tricky (3, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571710)

I'm all for DLC, don't get me wrong; I love the fact that new areas and items can be implemented after a game is released. I understand that releasing new content after a game's initial release isn't free; it costs developers and publishers money, but people really need to look at how much some DLC packs cost. That being said, sometimes publishers and/or developers do some really cool things. DLC that is available for free on launch day? Totally awesome...there was stuff that they really wanted to get into the game, and obviously ran out of time before the discs had to be pressed; I really appreciate it on the rare occasion when it occurs.

But what's with DLC you have to pay for being released not even a week or two after a game is released? Couldn't you have just delayed the freakin' game for two weeks if it was that awesome?!? Seriously, publishers...if there is an amazing dungeon or a few great items that just absolutely HAVE to be in a game, give the developers the extra couple of weeks to implement them into the release version. Don't make us pay extra money because the game had to be released NOW NOW NOW, and there isn't time to include things that you should. Can you imagine if you had to pay for DLC to get the Spear in Secret of Mana, or if you had to pay for DLC to unlock secret ingredients in Secret of Evermore?

Developers/publishers walk a fine line with DLC. [] They need to be careful.

Re:DLC is tricky (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571892)

"Couldn't you have just delayed the freakin' game for two weeks if it was that awesome?!?"

No. That would mean changing the dates they need the factories pressing the discs, and changing distribution dates... There's a ton of logistics that go into getting a product from Gold to Sold. Change it by 2 weeks and you incur a LOT of extra expenses.

And don't forget how rabid fans get when you tell them something is delayed at the last minute. Nothing could be so cool to be worth delaying for 2 weeks.

As for charging for DLC that was produced while the game was being produced... They figured out how much content to include and worked on that. Then they also paid some people to work on extra content and are charging extra for that. Just because it was made at the same time doesn't mean it was ever intended to be part of the same product.

Re:DLC is tricky (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571986)

No. That would mean changing the dates they need the factories pressing the discs, and changing distribution dates... There's a ton of logistics that go into getting a product from Gold to Sold. Change it by 2 weeks and you incur a LOT of extra expenses.

My point was meant to be theory rather than actuality, intended to focus on including features that you should have included from the beginning rather than released as paid DLC. If you can't include it in the disc because you ran out of time to include it in the original game, it should be released for free...which is something else I touched on in my post.

All that being said, I realize no one is going to delay a product by a couple of weeks for DLC-sized content. Again, it was used just to get a point across.

Just because it was made at the same time doesn't mean it was ever intended to be part of the same product.

That's the crux of the problem right there.

Re:DLC is tricky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33573856)

You're assuming the DLC only took an additional 2 weeks worth of work.

The reality is that the full game takes a month or two to pass certification, while DLC content tends to take far less. During cert the entire tree is frozen for both code and content and it's during this time that the DLC is being developed. Additionally, a good company will freeze code and content a month or two before cert, which allows even more time for DLC.

Re:DLC is tricky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33574750)

Developers don't need to walk a fine line with DLC.

Given an insanely popular game, people will pay through the nose for minor updates. Cod4 MW? $10 for what, 6 maps with 2-3 of them remakes? It's not really DLC, but people in free MMORPGs pay through the nose to get geared NOW NOW NOW (as you say).

Sure, you piss off some people, but the:
1) kids with parents credit card
2) people who won't miss $10
don't care, and I suspect they make up a good portion of the gaming community.

As for #1: I was in a game store once, and this kid was trying to sell his old 360 (completely functional) because the same 360 model was coming out with a gaming bundle, and the mom was completely okay with this. Think about that for a second. You're reselling a year old unit at 20% purchase price to buy a new unit bundled with a some games. Thank god the dude wasn't scrupulous, and even said (in subtler words) wtf is wrong with you? You could take this money and get a few games AND a PS3 -- and he didn't have any PS3's in stock)


How about gratuities? (1)

archer, the (887288) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571790)

Sell the game/DLC at the "pay the bills" price. Have a second payment option for "tips". If the customer likes the game/DLC, he/she can go back leave a tip later.

*Don't* expect 15% automatically.

Re:How about gratuities? (2, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571828)

There is nothing more likely to get me to argue about a bill than "A X% gratuity has been included in your total price". Has it really? Bloody cheek, what makes you think I was going to give you one in the first place and/or that it would ever be a particular price?

I call it rude. It's like the porters who cough politely and wait for their money. The most they will get will be a small lozenge and a recommendation to see their doctor about that cough. Don't say a thing, though, and just walk right out of the room after lugging all my stuff up five flights of stairs and you *will* get yourself a nice tip.

People: stop "tipping" others who do a shit job. You're just encouraging people to do a shit job because they still get paid for it. Instead, tip the ones who do a good job TWICE as much and don't pay the lazy, rude, idiots anything past your legal obligation.

And, yes, the whole "pay what you want" thing is really just a tip-based scenario, so it's hardly ground-breaking. More important would be the results of such an exercise AFTER you done all those sales. I'd be interested in learning just how much good work is appreciated voluntarily, having bought such things myself.

Re:How about gratuities? (1)

Logical Zebra (1423045) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572400)

I always look at poor service in a restaurant as saving me money--because I only leave a single dollar for the tip. (I leave a single dollar, because leaving no tip might make them think I simply forgot. No, I didn't forget; you simply suck at being a server.) OTOH, I have been known to leave 30% tips for absolutely stellar service.

Re:How about gratuities? (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572814)

The pre-included gratuity (in the US at least) is generally only found in places where employees depend on tips to have reasonable wages and specifically in cases where a tip is likely to be forgotten or to end up unusually small if not included in the bill.

For example, large groups at restaurants often fail to leave an appropriate tip, since either the person hit with the bill feels like they cannot afford to spend more, or the bill is being split by the group and some of the payers forget to include their portion of the tip.

In some other countries (Germany comes to mind), the standard is for a service charge line to be added to the bill, equivalent to the cultural tip level for standard service. It is standard practice to leave more in the case of exceptionally good service, but receiving more than an extra percent or two is uncommon, excepting by visitors from foreign countries who are unfamiliar with the system. In many such countries (but I'm not sure about specifics) it is legal to refuse to pay the service charge, or pay a reduced charge, but this is generally only done with exceptionally poor service.

Re:How about gratuities? (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33573392)

If the place I'm dining at employs people on the basis that they needs tips to reach reasonable wages, that's reason enough not to dine there. My tipping or not won't help them at all, they are working for an unreasonable employer (by definition). Chances are that in such places, tips are shared, or the restaurant takes X% of tips anyway.

My tip is not to fund your wages. It's a special, voluntary recognition of a job well done. Bleeding-heart stories might make me part with more but that's not for the person writing the receipt to decide. Either pay your staff properly, or allow customers to tip hassle-free if they WISH to and don't try to guilt me into providing a tip because I either have to create a fuss in your restaurant to have the tip removed, or I have to pretend that your employees are brainless slaves that must work there because it's the only place in the world that will offer them employment and every employer is similarly unreasonable.

It's as much the employers fault, in that case, as it is the employees. It takes *seconds* to adjust the bill so that all prices include a decent guaranteed wage for your employees, so that your employees *always* get a decent wage and still the outstanding employees will get more. Anything else is price-gouging to maximise profit at the expense of the quality of your employees.

A tip is an out-of-band recompense for doing something extraordinary. Put it on my bill without my express permission, and be prepared for a fuss.

Re:How about gratuities? (1)

whoop (194) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572960)

The trouble with this model is that the money is put up front. I'd pay X price up front for some added content to recognize the effort that went into it. Then, after playing, I'd be willing to pay a "tip" if that content made me say, "Wow, that was hella fun."

That would tell an indie developer more about what their player-base like/dislike.

Re:How about gratuities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33572262)

Ok... Let's say fixed costs for the game are $100000 and estimated costs per sale are $1. What is the "pay the bills" price of one copy?

Pretty hard to say, huh? This guesswork is the risk the entrepreneur takes and that's why he should try to make sure he gets a decent profit -- which is exactly what this guy is trying to do by getting a bit of extra publicity.

LOL (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571930)

lol, the buttons background, maggots for discount, tropical island for normal price.

Wonder if that made a difference on ratios of discounted/normal price clicks.

Re:LOL (1)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572050)

I came here to say this, but I think it's ramen noodles on the left, tropical island on the right. Definitely made me laugh.

can work (5, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#33571968)

I sell a bit of stuff online - skyboxes and tools for indie game developers. With one of my tools I made a similar "experiment". I offer the very same product at four different prices, from 10 to 50 bucks. I'm very upfront about it and basically say "you know what the time you save with these tools is worth to you, pay what you find fair".

Turns out that my most optimistic estimates were about spot on. About half of the buyers pick the lowest price, the rest pays more. And yes I've sold several for the highest price.

My lesson from that is that people will treat you fairly if you treat them fairly - be honest about what you offer, tell them up front what the deal is, give them your trust and let them do the right thing. You'll be surprised at how often they will.

Meanwhile, with computer games we're pretty much back where we were in the early 90s when we all traded floppy discs on the school yard and didn't think anything off it. Since you are continuously being treated like a criminal by the software companies, even if you are a perfectly honest customer, with all their limited activations, and DRM and invasive copy protection and key and so on, heck, if you treat me like a criminal anyways, give me one reason to not become one.

Re:can work (1)

Swarley (1795754) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572504)

Here's a good reason not to act like a criminal. Because it makes things worse for the next release. If everybody who complains about DRM simply refused to buy the game and (like we do with most everything else) didn't steal it on top of that, developers would get a much better picture of how to fix their industry. Right now games with or without DRM have pretty much the same piracy rates, the only thing that changes is the rate of people on forums claiming they did it because of the DRM. Publishers aren't so stupid. If stronger DRM actually led to MORE piracy, they would notice and identify the problem. However, more DRM doesn't lead to more piracy, just to more pirates being self-righteous about it. That's your problem right there. If people actually just didn't play games that they don't think are worth the money instead of stealing them, publishers might actually have some incentive to make the product better instead of making stronger DRM. The problem is the sense of entitlement amongst gamers. They are all entitled to play the game, and entitled to steal it if publishers don't do what THEY want. It's infantile and counter productive. If you don't like a publisher's game offering, for whatever reason, then don't play it! It's so easy that you already do it with most products you encounter.

Re:can work (1)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#33574848)

Here's a good reason not to act like a criminal. Because it makes things worse for the next release.

You construct a causation that does not exist. My acts, no matter what they are, can not possibly be the immediate cause for any change in the next release. There is still an important step inbetween that you omit - the conscious decision of the developer or distributor to make things worse. Nothing in my actions forces them to make that decision, no matter how I act. If they feel that this is the only possible reaction, that is a sign of their limited imagination, nothing more.

Or, in the much more terse words of psychotherapy: I am not responsible for their feelings.

If people actually just didn't play games that they don't think are worth the money instead of stealing them, publishers might actually have some incentive to make the product better instead of making stronger DRM.

You believe those people are informed, rational and impartial. I doubt all three of those assumptions. Don't forget that DRM is an industry all in itself, there are people out there working full-time just on convincing those developers that DRM is a necessity. Not because it is, but because the company they work for sells DRM products.

If you don't like a publisher's game offering, for whatever reason, then don't play it!

You oversimplify. In most cases, people do like the game offering. They dislike the additional baggage. Ok, most of them dislike the price tag, but we don't need to talk about those, you won't turn them into customers anyway, no matter what DRM or not you do, so for this discussion they're irrelevant.

Which is precisely why DRM is such a failure. You're trying to force people into buying something that most of them will never buy. If the industry were to find a perfect DRM system tomorrow, I predict they would be very unhappy by next week, when they realize that it doesn't help sales one bit. It reduces piracy rate, but the number of additional sales it generates is vanishingly small.

So, as a game producer, you have to get your priorities straight. Do you first and foremost want to make money, or make something people enjoy? In the first case, forget about DRM because it doesn't help you make money. In the second case, forget about DRM because it doesn'tmake anyone happy. One way or the other, the way to both profit and happiness is to make an offering people want. I don't see anyone on the customer side complaining that games don't have enough DRM.

Hate to bring up the "app" model (1)

Rennt (582550) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572030)

But at least in the Android Marketplace, this is common. Applications often come in a free (as in beer) version, and a "donate" version (as in, buy the developer a beer). Both versions are the same, only one you don't make a transaction. By all accounts it works rather well, but I have a feeling it is because users feel closer to developers then what is typical in more traditional distribution channels.

WTF is DLC? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33572084)

Editors: when a article gets promoted to the front page, please edit the article for a general audience. As editors, you're allowed. No, really.

Lower price, increase volume = more profit (1)

sirlark (1676276) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572094)

This is an age old economic concept, although very few businesses seem to believe in it these days. The thing is: it should make even more sense in the internet age where the costs of replicating units is negligible.

GSB == More of what I want to see (3, Interesting)

smallja (885350) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572134)

For those who don't know, it's a small game, well executed on a small budget. Thirty years ago, it is the kind of thing that made me want to enter the business of writing programs. Now most games (phone Apps aside) are multi-multi-million dollar productions, and just like Hollywood, once they start they can't seem to pull the plug once they realize they're off the mark, "I mean somebody will buy this steaming pile and pay top dollar, we're (fill in the blank studio)".

I have found their business model to be fair: free trials, previews at reduced price at late beta (like a week or two before shipping), all the kinds of things you'd want from a small developer trying to make it in a tough business environment against all odds at the same time treating the customer right; I don't resent them finding incremental revenue in an almost predictably fair way.

We all know it's about market segmentation: buy coffee at McD's, buy it at Starbucks, make it at home, run a sale, use a coupon. These guys are just pretty transparent about it.

The game even supports modding, so if you don't want to pay them ever again, you can go in and edit everything yourself.

People will pay whatever you want them to pay (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572258)

People will pay whatever you want them to pay if you prove that your product is worth it. Final Fantasy 14 costs $50 just for a copy with presumably 15-30 days of gameplay. Then an additional $13 per month and $1 per character. In a few months the cost will reduce to $0-$15 for the disc or download and $13 per month and $1 per character. What you do is you milk money from whoever is willing to pay it first and then lower your price when sales are low and claim it as a promotion. You see this on xbox live all the time and people who are eager will always pay more. IMO I think a good experiment would be to have a "stock market" type of DLC cost. The more popular the game is, the more expensive the DLC will cost. The less popular, the less it sells for but the moment people start buying it for cheap, then the value of it goes up again automatically. It pretty much self-balances itself in theory.

Works Out (1)

uncholowapo (1666661) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572316)

If the game is popular enough, like World of Goo, then the money will flow in either way. I don't think it depends on how much you sell it for. It depends on how big the fan base is already showing that the price is already right for the people who already bought it and have experienced that they got their money's worth. Now imagine if Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 1 & 2 had this kind of sale for all consoles? The now Defunct Infinity Ward would be uber-billionaires right now.

This sounds a little like comcast pricing many dif (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#33572818)

This sounds a little like comcast pricing many different prices for the same thing.

MS already does that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33572852)

"Will Microsoft start asking us whether or not we should get a discount"

Over all the MS bashing in the last years it was overlooked MS does that all the time. You can decide to pay for the full version or get a cheaper OEM version that's the same as the "real" one... just for a lower price.

Ok, it's not entirely voluntarily but it's the same model. Where's the /. news about that?

Clever bit of psychology (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#33573104)

This is appealing to the same mentality as a big sign saying "50% off" does. Because it's offered at $5.99, people believe that it's worth $5.99. The part of the brain making decisions sees this as a bargain. If it was just priced at $2.99 then people would make up their own mind about its actual value and be less inclined to pay even that. Of course it isn't worth $2.99, or $5.99. It's worth whatever each person is willing to pay for it. The really clever thing is that some people are actually going to feel a little guilty about getting it for the "discount" price and pay the extra.

DLC and Expansions SUCK (1)

sdnoob (917382) | more than 4 years ago | (#33573692)

They're creations of GREEDY game publishers, pure and simple, and I won't buy into either one. Unfortunately, enough people do, so more and more stuff is withheld from the game in favor of extra-cost expansions and DLC.

Sims 3 is banned here at home because of that, and EA's great success at getting kids to beg (read as: annoy) their parents until they give-in (if you have a pile of Sims boxes at home, I dare you to add up the release-day prices of all of them).

What is your point? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#33574432)

I dare you to add up the costs of your newspapers. Magazine subscription. Phone line.

And I just keep buy clothes after clothes and what have I got to show for it? Rags! Must have spend thousands on them over my life.

Stuff costs money.

How "complete" should a game be?

Is a car complete because I can buy add-ons for it? Is Ford to blame that I need to replace to mats after a couple of years? Why does the car not come with a lifetime supply of fuel?

A game has X amount of content. If more content is created and you get it for free, the costs for the develop goes up but the income remains the same. So companies should never expand a game.

The expansion pack and the DLC are compromise between the producer and the customer. We the customer get more of what we want but at a reduced price, the publisher doesn't have to spend the full development cost of a new game for another round of sales.

But the perfect balance isn't always found. Horse armour for instance. Other games have had great free updates... odd that the ones I remember all happened by companies that are now gone. Giving extra stuff for free, just doesn't pay the bills.

Only if you think content has no costs would your argument hold weight. Sadly content is often the most expensive part of a game.

Easy question (1)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#33574116)

Will Microsoft start asking us whether or not we should get a discount and trust us to answer honestly?


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I'm torn on DLC (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 4 years ago | (#33574478)

In my opinion, there's two types of DLC. DLC that should've been in the game to begin with but wasn't because they wanted to squeeze a few extra bucks out of the game. And then there's DLC developed a few months to a year after the game has been released. Obviously, I hate the idea of crippling games so I'm clearly not in favor of the first type of DLC. The second type seems great, but when I buy a game new and beat it, I'm rarely that into a game to go back and figure out exactly how to play it a year later. So in other words, DLC sucks.
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