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Refusing to Lower the Price of The Swindle: An Analysis

Jan 112016


I don’t have a massive burning conviction about game prices particularly; we all love a bargain. I’ll pay full price for something I know I’ll love, but it’s nice to try other stuff when it’s on sale. That’s fine, that’s human nature. It’d be hypocritical to denounce sales while yumming up some new experiences myself.

But this ‘race to the bottom’ pricing concerns me. I haven’t helped – Time Gentlemen, Please! launched at £2.99 and has been in numerous bundles and in sales at up to 91% off. As an indie developer, it’s always good to try things, see what works. Bring in new fans, more money. Some stuff works, some doesn’t. It’s all just part of the rich tapestry of life, and pretending these decisions are based on METRICS and DATA rather than just guesswork would be disingenuous.

I do worry about the industry, though, and I worry about my job in the future if games cost pennies, so when I launched The Swindle I promised myself no sales until Christmas (it’d be silly to miss the biggest sale of the year, 6 months after launch), and no bundles in at least the 1st year (this is PC-only, by the way; Curve are in charge of Console versions and we’ve worked together on my desire to keep the game full price for 6 months as best we can).

Anyway: The Steam Winter Sale was the first time it was discounted, and it received a generous discount of 50%.

Has it sold less copies for not frequently having a ‘10% off’ banner throughout the Autumn? Probably, I guess? Has it sold less copies for not being in the Thanksgiving Sale, or endless Bundles? I expect so.

But data? Strong, hard, reliable data? No idea. It did well, it sold lots of new copies and brought in more money for the company to make more games with, so that’s good. But I’ve got nothing really to compare it against, so no insightful conclusions to draw.

I’ll say this, though, so here’s your INSIGHTFUL ANALYSIS: I feel better in myself for not devaluing my work. I feel happy that I haven’t devalued other peoples’ work by encouraging race-to-the-bottom pricing. And I feel better for my customers who bought the game full price at launch that they didn’t find the game discounted after a month.

So, worth doing, I think.

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