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Post by Eorl @ 04:47pm 16/01/14 | 8 Comments
Independent developer Jason Rohrer has revealed that his upcoming game Castle Doctrine will be getting more expensive as time goes by rather than the typical cheaper trend, due in part by the damage he believes is caused by sales and discounts like Steam’s.

Taking to a new blog post, Rohrer argues that the recent trend of deep discounts through digital distribution doesn't make as much sense compared to your typical retail bargain bin, arguing that that they don't actually do much good for both fans or developers.

"But I suspect that something different is happening. Something that is arguably bad for players, and possibly bad for developers as well. To put it bluntly: sales screw your fans," Rohrer states.

One of the main arguments that Rohrer falls on is that a sale is always around the corner, and that this mindset of waiting until the sale can cause damage not just to your brand, but also to the developer. Rohrer admits that fans will want to buy up your game as soon as its available, but the mentality that a sale is just around the corner pushes them to simply wait, because it would be foolish to buy a game before its on sale.

Of course it isn't just the developers that Rohrer believes are hurt in this new sales trend, stating that hardcore fans get a "kick in the teeth" when a game goes on sale, having bought it earlier at a higher price rather than waiting.
“A culture of rampant sales is a culture of waiting. ‘I’ll buy it later, during a sale.’ Launch weeks become weak, and developers grow to depend on sales for financial survival,” he said.

“This waiting game is likely decimating your player base and critical mass at launch by spreading new players out over time. And your fans, who are silly enough to buy the game at launch and waste money, get to participate in a weaker, smaller player community.”
There is also the theory that sales culture may reduce developer revenue in the long-term, with the need for more people who will "uy random games just because they are on sale – games that they had no intention of buying otherwise."
"Maybe there are enough of these people, and I’ve certainly met some of them: people who have a backlog of 50 unplayed games in their Steam library,” Rohrer acknowledged.

“But even if there are enough people doing this, it’s not a good thing. It’s just people being tricked into wasting money on stuff they don’t want or need. Better that they spent that money on one full-price game that they really want rather than four 75%-off impulse buys to add to their backlog.”
Whether you agree or disagree on this premise, Rohrer believes that there is no escaping this culture now, and does admit that Valve never forces developers into the sales frenzy - although points out that the more who join, the harder it is to resist those bursts of income.

To help buck against the trend, Rohrer has adopted the Minecraft model for his title, The Castle Doctrine. An alpha version is currently available at $8, a 50% discount on its final price. During the launch week the game will then be available at $12, then move to $16 forever more.

You can read the full blog discussion on the official website, which is highly encouraged to get a better grip on where developers are right now with the sales mindset.












Latest Comments
ara
Posted 05:12pm 16/1/14
Maybe if games weren't over priced and so buggy at launch, more people would be looking to buy them then. instead of waiting till they become stable and cheaper.

cheaper and stable vs expensive and buggy.
Nerf Stormborn
Posted 03:13am 17/1/14
I've thought about this. From what I've observed, people still buy new releases out of an apparent desire to have the new shiny thing as soon as possible, and sales are generally for games which people didn't really know if they wanted in the first place, and often end up going unplayed. From what I've sold, an initial buzz period while it's "new" seems to be an enormously important time, it seems to be when people want and enjoy something the most.

Sales numbers reported so far seem to indicate that it does a huge amount of good for developers, and often helps in jump-starting PR for their game. (I suspect that Skyrim has probably benefited from that, in that there's been a constant onslaught of social media discussion about it for something like 2 years now).

Additionally, I suspect that full price sales can be considered as nearly always doable with a certain class of people who have more money than they need, whereas discounted sales are going to be the only way that a lot of consumers ever buy the product, and people selling things may need to consider this more and more if the wealth divide continues to grow, whether to target a small class that can afford enormous prices no problem, or whether to target a large class who can only infrequently afford lower prices. It seems best to use the second to generate buzz to convince the first to buy, e.g. torrented media by broke people being good for generating buzz to convince wealthy (kids?) with financial freedom to buy at much higher prices than the majority could ever afford. /speculation
Mantorok
Posted 06:22pm 16/1/14
Reminds me of another good read, "The Demo is Dead": Part 1 Part 2
Whoop
Posted 06:38pm 16/1/14
Maybe if games weren't over priced and so buggy at launch, more people would be looking to buy them then. instead of waiting till they become stable and cheaper.

cheaper and stable vs expensive and buggy.

Most people seem to be willing to give EA $150 for buggy, broken, and s***** games. Must be doing something right.
carson
Posted 07:07pm 16/1/14
I don't mind buying games at launch if I know they'll be awesome (Diablo 3 is the only game I truely regret getting at launch, but it's hype and previous iterations made expectations high) if the price isn't super price gouged. I got Skyrim and Arkham City for the US price and I don't regret it at all.
Deano
Posted 03:10am 17/1/14
There has been a massive shift in the mindset of gamers and the developers need to to suck it up and deal with it. Gamers are more savvy and generally smarter with the way they spend their hard earned cash.

Digital titles have a shelf-life and gamers take advantage of that. Serious fans will jump in pretty early after checking their trusted reviews online, they have been burned too many times by s***** companies that release simply broken games, games that don't get any patches or patches that get released that break balance. So they are not happy paying retail. Retail, honestly is for suckers.

Gamers are willing to reward developers that go the extra mile and actually give a s***e. Even during Steam sales and the like some games are 3 TIMES more expensive for Australians than Americans. Simply unacceptable.

They are far more willing to play free-to-play and demo games with no strings attached and strong communities. Gamers have limited time to play games and it is now a saturated market, get over it developers!

To think "How dare my potential customers shop around and be patient" is simply the wrong approach. Sure feel free to reward early adopters of your games but not everyone can simply not think about price when buying games.
dazzalus
Posted 11:05am 17/1/14
"It’s just people being tricked into wasting money on stuff they don’t want or need"

LOL Welcome to real life.
parabol
Posted 11:28am 17/1/14
An alpha version is currently available at $8, a 50% discount on its final price. During the launch week the game will then be available at $12, then move to $16 forever more.

Yep, good luck with that.
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