Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Article on pricing

This article on bit-tech is by me:

Feel free to retweet or otherwise promote it:D

My point, which is pretty much glossed over in most discussions about DLC, is that variety is good, and the free market will decide. Some DLC is overpriced, some is underpriced. Some price experiments for games are mental, some are a complete giveaway (like Portal for free). Eventually, the free market gives us the right answer.

As an example, I think that $25 for a single horse mount in WoW is flipping MENTAL, when I worry about charging $6 for an extra GSB race. But… the free market has proven me wrong, people bought it in droves. Who am I to criticise either people who think a mount is worth $25, or Blizzard for setting a price that maximises their revenue?

I’m, just a bit sick of kids describing game develoeprs as nazis for not releasing everything they make for free, and thus venting :D

7 thoughts on Article on pricing

  1. Dude, you work hard to make what we’ve enjoyed… if we want to enjoy it, as much as we have, in as short a time as we have, we’ll be willing to pay for it.

    The world seems to mis-represent many facets. Often we pay extra, not for quality or quantity, but for time.
    If they want to play your game for free in a few years, I’m sure there will be a rip off by then that somebody will have made over a few years of painstaking labor. Otherwise, if they want to play it now, they’ll pay.

    It’s the same as modifications, you can charge for your own, home built Expansions (which are really just mods), whereas labors of love are released for free on even your own forums with your blessings.
    It’s not that those are better (I’ve yet to try a better one)… it’s that they’re free. But we get one completed Mod for ever 1 – 2 expansions that’s worthwhile.

    I’ll gladly pay for Expansions, like new races, if I don’t have to wait for somebody to get off work and feel like they should work on their mod.

  2. I like the comment that answers “how much should DLC cost” with “how long is a piece of string”.

    I thought that $25 for a mount was excessive, but then I stepped back and thought about how much money the hard core WoW player has spent: $20 for the base game and $30 for an expansions. $13 a month (in 6 month increments) for $156 a year. Most of the people I know who play are about 3 years in, so that is $468 in subscription fees and $50 for the CDs.

    $508 would not be an unreasonable estimate of “sunk cost” for these players. $25 is literally not a big deal if this is the level of commitment you have to a game.

    I personally enjoy Dungeons and Dragons Online. I’m $150 into a “free” game, through the various account options, modules packs and such. Hmmm, sounds an awful lot like a year’s subscription to me (though on the upside, the content is unlocked for any characters you make, so you don’t have to *re*purchase anything… I am figuring about $50 a year after the first year for additional content as it is released). Cheaper, but not *that* much cheaper than WoW if you get into it heavily.

    Turbine (the owners of DDO) claim that adding the “free” model along side the subscription model turned an also ran into a thoroughbred.

    Free market indeed.

  3. I think the pricing for indie games are more than fair. Useally you pay around 15€ for the basic game. And you get incrediably games like Braid, World of Goo, Osmos, Dyson and Frozen Synapse.
    Not only that you get a new kind of game experience you also know you can play this game in ten years, because there are no DRM and no Server you depend on. And most of the games are ported to Macs and Linux :). So this is just great.

    If there are any DLC for a game, I am of full age, so I can decide by my own if I need it or not. I really see it like Cliff, with DLC a developer has the chance to build in what costumer want.

  4. I think the optimal pricing should be a smaller upfront package, with beefier supplements coming at about 75% of the original title’s price. I think Blizzard has the right idea with Starcraft II, making each faction a complete standalone title. See also Dawn of War, where the last two supplements nearly doubled the number of factions available. Which I suppose is really the same as episodic content, but with strategy games, that term doesn’t necessarily apply.

  5. Except most DLC is absolute garbage and extortion, you never mentioned the fact that DLC is de-facto MONOPOLY, i.e. if there is going to be a market for DLC this means all games need to be treated as markets and and their tools and modability by other businesses and professionals opened up.

    I doubt most game developers or publishers _Want_ that kind of competition though.

    And I do believe game developers are pretty nasty mofo’s in this day and age, the old timers like myself who remembered when developers weren’t such money grubbing douchebags gouging you for everything and released free tools and allowed you to backup and modify your game, and even released the source!

    Not all devleopers are douchebags but too many of them are and most DLC sucks, the real issue is that content production costs for graphics/assets are too high for too little entertainment value.

    Back when graphics were simpler you could do a lot more content for a lot less money, gamers are getting less content for more money and that is a bad thing. The graphical “quality” of the content is not where the fun of content comes from it is _the design_ and additions of WELL IMPLEMENTED assets as well as post launch support like patches, bug and balance fixes that make a game better.

    Many PC developers moved to console land not because PC gamers were stiffing them but because they could not longer support their development costs on the size of the PC gaming market alone.

    Development costs for high priced graphical assets needs to drop by orders of magnitude, hopefully procedurally generated content will evolve to the point to drive down game costs a lot in the future so gamers can get back to the golden age of getting MORE value for same amount of money or less.

    Right now we’re experiencing “Asset production cost” bloat that needs to be solved.

  6. Economically, Downloadable Content is a type of
    “Price Discrimination”

    The basic idea is to skim the maximum amount of revenue, given
    that customers have different tastes and budgets and loyalties.

    If there where just one “setup” of a game, the publisher simply looses money.

    So basically, when a customer is just a casual player or has
    limited budget. He will purchase just the basic version of the game.

    The more a player is interested into the game, and wants to
    experience additional content, the more he is willing to pay.
    (Or has a budget, where a full-feature version is not seen as

    This can be done by offering either:

    -a “collectors” edition, with additional playable content, books, videos or fan stuff
    -an Addon (standard practise)
    -a game-bundle (such as the Orange Box of Valve)
    -or the “new” way of DLC

    Its all valid in my opinion.

    Especially with DLC offering a methos for the player to cusomize
    his gameenvironment according to his wn tastes.
    (such as items / themes)


    In classic economy you can see price-discrimination
    for example:

    -Business/Firstcalls Flight tickets
    -Employee discounts
    -discounts for elderly and children
    -Opera seats in different price categories
    -Original or Generica of Medicine

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