Thursday 24 May 2012


So here's a thing:

When I first heard of this it seemed pretty irrelevant to me. Control of prices isn't something I've personally had a problem with, and it's certainly not the direst problem in the world. Seemed a bit of a silly thing to make a fuss about.
But thinking about it some more, maybe I am indirectly affected. I'm affected by expectations of what the costs of games should be, for what a game of a particular cost should look like. I'm not entirely free to set prices how I like, if I need anyone to buy them.

One review of Vertex Dispenser said "this would be a great game at $7, but at $10 I can't recommend it to anyone".
Oh yes.
Couple of days ago a customer review of Zaga-33 said it wasn't at all worth the price (along with being very bad, a scam with fake reviews, etc.).
It cost a dollar.

So how much should a game cost? I don't have a clue; for mine I've been picking numbers fairly arbitrarily and probably getting it wrong. It's tricky because the value you're trying to maximise (or at least to get high enough to cover living costs) is Price*Sales, but you can't know the number of sales in advance and it's going to depend somewhat on the price. If you're selling hundreds of thousands of copies (as some are) then this will come out high enough no matter what, but when sales are low the other factor is important. Apparently my games are "niche" (i.e. most people don't like them) which means I should be charging more per unit than someone with a bigger audience does.
So while I kind of get the point of this sale, I feel like it's going about things backwards.  Dropping prices - well hey, they might be too low already, the thing to celebrate is being able to set them higher. Get out of this race to the bottom.

So I've signed up for the sale. And it amuses me to set the sale prices higher than the originals. Make of this what you will.

Vertex Dispenser is on a "50% on sale" for $15.01, antidiscounted from $9.99.  (If prices ending in .99 make you a bit more likely to buy something, maybe the .01 will slightly deter you.)
Glitch Tank and Zaga-33 are both at $6.99, antidiscounted from $1.99 and $0.99 respectively. The apple store doesn't allow prices that don't end in 99 - a mark against them.

Gotta mention Sophie Houlden's price-swinging sale somewhere here because she did something similar and it's a great story: link.


  1. I totally agree with this. If only more developers did this maybe we could fix the app store. I'm sick of finding games that really look enjoyable, only to find out that they're free. Free shouldn't be an indicator that your game is going to suck, but unfortunately it's become synonymous with feature-gimped gameplay you have to pay for. I'd rather pay 6.99 for a game with all it's features enabled from the get go.
    Maybe you should release a version of your game with only one power-up and the ability to only move up and right. You could have the play pay to enable the option to move down and left and a dollar (excuse me, 99 cents) for each power-up.

  2. I applaud your decision, even if it means that your game suffers as a result of it. You absolutely should be able to price your game however you like, and let market forces decide for you if it is worth the RRP or not.

  3. Hello,

    I just wanted to say that I bought your game with Indie Royale and I have played it till the end (episodes 1, 2, colour, plus some challenges). Total: 12 hours.

    I knew the game before Indie Royale, thanks to the demo. But I did not want to pay the full-price as I was not sure I would like it for more than the demo. For some people, like me, we don't feel the risk to pay full-price, and sometimes, we are wrong.

    1. Yeah, I'd be a hypocrite to say we shouldn't drop prices at all! That's not what I want to say here, it can definitely be really good for both developers and players - the Indie Royale bundle was great for me, and I'm really glad you got something out of it too.