Size Five Games



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The Cost of Infinite Monkeys

May 162013

It’s time to start thinking about how much to charge for Gun Monkeys.

I’ve always said I think I underpriced Time Gentlemen, Please! when I put it at £3 ($5). At the time, it seemed like a fair price for a non-talkie game in a dying/ dead genre. I quickly learned two things: a nicely-budgeted game comes across well in reviews (almost every review of TGP said it was a complete steal). The other thing is: you can always lower a price, you can’t put it up. So TGP has been £3 for the last 4 years, it can’t really go down from there.

I’ve got no interest in duping overcharging anyone, but money to help speed upThe Swindle’s development would be handy. So here’s some honest FACTS about the game:

- Gun Monkeys isn’t a huge game, but it’s infinite due to random generation, and you’ll get dozens upon dozens of hours of entertainment out of it honing your skills. Think QUAKE III or Team Fortress 2, it’s essentially replayable forever.

- There’s one game mode; the gameplay is 1-on-1 ‘Gibbage‘ deathmatch, where you need to top up your Power Core by harvesting Power Cubes. These cubes are in short supply, so you fight over them against someone else, online (local games are also supported). I’m not really interested in diluting that core experience with half-baked Capture the Flag variants just for the sake of padding it out. This is what the game is.

- Although the level structure itself is widely-randomised and infinite, there’s only so many planets, colours, times of day and weather patterns it’s ever going to be able to generate before arenas start to feel a bit ‘same-y’, even though that’s a HUGE number of ‘themes’. That’s something I’ll keep working on right up to release (and possibly beyond).

- All that said: I’m keen to get across the game is fucking good fun. I’m massively addicted to it. It’s a fraught, tense, sweaty affair that frequently has me screaming obscenities at the other player. It’s genuinely brilliant. It doesn’t need loads or fluff and filler to pad it out, it’s a honed, crafted, fat-trimmed game that supplies short, sharp jabs of frantic multiplayer mayhem.

I’ve got a price in mind. I’d be really interested in hearing what other people think. Do please comment below, or @ me on Twitter, or feel free to email me if your response is very long. Would love to hear your thoughts.

I know, this is arguably an impossible question until you’ve played it. Sorry. Here’s the trailer, to give you some idea:

(the trailer really really works best at 1080 resolution and fullscreen. please do, if you can)

21 Comments

  1. May 162013
    Cheeseness,

    It’s so awfully hard to make a suggestion (let alone a determination) on these things.

    That digital software has negligible per-unit cost (after initial development) makes it even trickier.

    I’d suggest picking highest figure you feel comfortable with that represents the amount of work you’ve put into the title (adjusted for your best guess of initial sales so that you can break even close to launch), and then allow a pay-what-you-want thingy on top of that, combining the best of both BTDT and TGP’s monetisation methodologies, whilst making the game accessible to those who don’t want to pay more and giving those of us who want the opportunity to support you to be extravagant.

    I’m always told I undervalue my work, so take my advice with a grain of salt ^_^

    I don’t see mention of whether there’ll be score tracking, leaderboards, matchmaking or so forth (which would increase accessibility of recommendation, etc.) nor whether or not it’s likely to have a DRM free release. I imagine that talking about both of those aspects might help people suggest a possible price.

  2. May 162013
    Paul,

    I’ve been helping test the alpha/beta and I’d pay whatever the equivalent price point of €8 is(£6?). I definitely have a lot of fun playing, it’s something I want to always have installed to put on a few games. Under €10 looks like pocket change still, when I get into double digits it’s when I stop and think “Will I really play this that much?”. Also €8 gives you lots of wiggle room for sales(25%, 50% & 75% are all great points that are viable) and a potential price drop at some point.

  3. May 162013
    dan,

    I’m still looking into leaderboards and matchmaking, but hopefully they’ll be in there. Score tracking is in.

  4. May 162013
    Marykate Clark,

    I’d price it closer to Fez/Splosion Man($10).
    When you say “not huge” I’m not sure quite how that works out.

    Is it pretty straight forward or is it full of unlockables and secrets?

    (Maybe go as high as Super Meat Boy/Castle Crashers ($15) if it’s got so many themes/infinite variety and/or possible add-ons later?)

    Somewhere around $10, I’d say (w/o having played it). I’d happily pay $10 for it now.

  5. May 162013
    dan,

    Because of the nature of the game (arena-based combat) it doesn’t really suit ‘secrets’. The last thing you need when you’re after a proper fun little fight is the other person off jumping into walls looking for trinkets.

    Perks unlock as you get better and earn more money, so you can improve your monkeys’ abilities.

  6. May 162013
    Marykate Clark,

    Okay, so there are unlockable perks.

    Out of curiosity, are there unlockable monkeys?

  7. May 162013
    dan,

    Not at the moment. If it’s something people desperately want, the code’s there to add it in (relatively) easily. You can pick your monkey’s colours and perks, so there’s some customisation.

  8. May 162013
    Marykate Clark,

    Awesome. =-D

  9. May 162013
    Andrei Nadin,

    I reckon $7-8 sounds reasonable. Can’t wait to play it and the even more so heist. Really want to play that.

  10. May 162013
    lozdev,

    £5 seems right to me…
    …and it’s 1% of a ‘MONKEY’! (cockney(?) slang for £500 for those who don’t care)

  11. May 162013
    Steven Vass,

    If it’s $10 on Steam, I’ll buy it when it goes on sale. It looks like a fun game to play with friends, sitting on the sofa, passing controllers around. In all honesty this kind of game personally gives me about 10 hours of gameplay, spread over a month or two. I wouldn’t spend anything more than $10, and even then I’ll probably wait for a sale.

  12. May 172013
    r avalos,

    How much value does 1 player add to the multiplayer experience? Maybe 10 for single purchase and 7 if a group if 10 bands together to buy at the same time (the 10 vote on a name and if all purchase have that team name tied to them?). It would take more time and effort to complete such a transaction dissuading those who would be willing to purchase at full price from going down to the lower price point. Okay, maybe not the best idea. Price discrimination isn’t easy

  13. May 172013
    SapientWolf,

    I think $10 would be a competitive price point. That said, if it doesn’t have bots or an active online community the value proposition will change. Online focused indie games are really hit or miss these days.

    It’s important to have an active community at launch so I would start hyping up the beta (once the date is decided on) and offering discounted pre-orders.

  14. May 172013
    Alex Tkachuk,

    Anything from 7,5 to 9 USD. I think even 10 is good, but I saw when two-digits prices became a real barrier for some people (also, some clever scientists think so too). I would go like this: 8 to 9 at start –> drop to 7,5 after 2 or 3 months (whenever the buying curve goes down significantly) –> occasionally drop a couple more bucks on sales.
    But I really have zero experience with “making prices” stuff, so I might just wrote some not interesting bananas.

  15. May 172013
    Tim,

    I would probably pay €5,- for it. But I’m an ass and only buy games on sale, so I guess 10 would be very reasonable.

  16. May 172013
    Coren,

    I know it probably hardly seems fair considering all the effort developers put into making them, but there are just so many small, fun/interesting-looking indie games that I just have to think thrice before pulling the trigger, even if the asking price is basically pocket change.

    My Steam list is overflowing with games I bought because they looked nifty and weren’t too expensive, but I’ve come to realize I just don’t have the time to play them all. So I’ve stopped buying them. Occasionally, when I hear one is particularly awesome, I’ll pick it up, but to be fair, if the price isn’t well below 5€, odds are I’ll decide to wait for a sale anyway (there’s always a sale!).

    So, um, I’m a cheap bastard, yeah?
    Actually, there *is* still a way to get money from me. If a dev I care about tries to raise funds in a way that makes me feel involved, I’m liable to spend unreasonable amounts of money. Think Kickstarter (support the dev AND get cool stuff!?), bundles with neat bonuses (think the latest Double Fine bundle), alpha-funding with an interesting behind-the-scenes look…
    I guess Double Fine are my prime example here. I spent $100 on a game I’m not sure will be good, but I already feel it was totally worth it, because they’ve given me a rare chance to feel involved and an interesting look into a world I’ll probably never be part of.

    (But when I think of all the tiny, fun games I could have bought with all that money!)

  17. May 172013
    Jake,

    People will pay $10 if they tell you they will pay $7-8, and $10 gives you some markdown space for Steam sales and stuff. That seems like a decent place to land.

    (There are maybe upsides to the appearance of a single digit number – maybe it looks more like something you can just snatch up – but maybe you WANT this to feel like an investment? It’s not a game that you’re supposed to pick up, be fascinated by for a second and then chuck in the trash, if its like Q3 or TF it’s supposed to be a game you pour hours into to become great, to derive thrill from your abilities and understanding improving over time. In that regard I don’t know that you want to price it like something that’s totally disposable.)

  18. May 172013
    Nick Nadboralski,

    Pricing is always tricky, but, the best price for software is simply what makes it worth your time as a developer.

    I don’t know your total sales numbers, but assume some number of your previous sales are fans and they’ll likely check out your game regardless of what you price it. So, let’s just go with nice round numbers since I have no clue about your metrics. Assume 1,000 people buy your game, at 4.99 that’s 4990$. If you wanted to look at that in terms of salary and you felt your time was worth 30$ an hour, that’s 166 hours of pay, or 1 month. Did you spend more then that amount of time? Do you feel you’re worth more per hour?

    Pricing a game is more to do with what you want to get out of it than what you think your customer base will respond with. The truth of the matter is that there are *so* many people in the world that the few that won’t buy your game because you price it at 14.99 are small in the grand scheme of things because for every 1 that says no to 14.99, every sale makes up for 3 of those people that said no.

    If you’ve worked a full year on it, you should probably adjust your numbers to what would generate a respectable years salary for yourself. The difficult part with all of this is not being too greedy, but, it’s a personal number and you price it however you can live with it.

  19. May 182013
    Matt,

    You could also offer a two-pack for a few bucks less.
    Dont Starve did similar while in Beta (actually they gave you two copies for the normal price but still).
    You could charge like 8-10 per copy and 12-15 for a two-pack.

    At least i am much more interested to buy a mp game together with one or more friends, than to buy a single copy and hope that others do the same.

  20. May 182013
    Evgeny,

    “The other thing is: you can always lower a price, you can’t put it up.”

    Why not? The new trend on Steam is that many games are available for preorder at a discount. And discounts are quite significant for some indie games. And if we’re talking about a multiplayer community, what you really need is to build a sizeable community – and a lower price would help. Two-pack discounts serve the same purpose. So you can start low (e.g. $5), and then increase the price if the game gets popular (e.g. $8). This way people won’t have an incentive to hold off the purchase until the inevitable sale.

  21. May 192013
    NuxlyStardust,

    TG;P deserved more than $5 indeed. ¨For TG;P and BT;DT together I’d have given between $15 and $20 if I had the money.
    And when I do have the money to buy indie games, I don’t care if they’re just a little bit overpriced because aside from buying the game I know developers need support.

    I haven’t played GUN_MONKEYS but from what I’ve seen so far, I’d suggest $5 if it’s only deathmatch, or more if you plan to add more games mode that involve more strategy, as part of future updates for example.
    When I say $5 I’m talking about the minimum price of course, a pay-what-you-want scheme would make everyone happy :)

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