Monday, June 17, 2013

The Price of Entertainment

Pricing games…

I have no idea how much to sell a game for.  And this is fascinating to me.

On the Xbox Live Indie Games market, it’s pretty clear that that selling a game for more than 80MSP ($1) is suicide.  Even bumping it up to 240MSP ($3) will reduce your sales be MORE than three times.  I think this is pretty well documented by people who have changed the price of their game.

Now, I’ve ported Hidden in Plain Sight over to the Ouya, and I left the minimum price at a dollar.  That only seems fair, right?  Why should it cost more on one system than another?  It’s the same product, it should cost the same.

However, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the players themselves that this is too cheap, and they’d gladly pay more. 

What I ended up doing was adding the option to pay any number of choices: $1, $3, $5, $10, $15, or $50.  And this has worked out really well.  About 40% of the people spend $1, and 55% spend $3 or $5, and then there’s the occasional $10 and $15.  What this indicates to me is that I was really leaving money on the table before.

Another thing that is strange to consider is that most people wouldn’t hesitate to spend $10 to go out and see a movie.  In fact, four friends could easily drop $50 collectively for a two hour experience, if you included a drink and some candy or something.  So why is it so difficult to even consider spending $5 or $10 on something that (according to some people) offers more entertainment value?

I’m not casting aspersions… I have a hard time spending even a few dollars on a quality iPad app, so I’m guilty of the same thing.  It’s just weird.

Anyways, based on the feedback I’ve gotten, I’m going to add a “donation” product to the game.  I figure if people want to give me extra money, I should make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

And finally, I’d like to go on record again and say that I’m not doing this for the money.  It’s a nice side effect, but I’d much rather get a nice email or tweet from someone than a dollar.  In other words, the happy feeling I get from making a game that has brought some family and friends closer together is worth more to me than a dollar.


  1. Well, in accordance with your last paragraph, I want to give you a giant "Thank you! :D" for making Hidden in Plain Sight!

    I read about it a while ago, and just a week or so ago I finally bought it off XBLIG. My best friend, cousin, and girlfriend have all had a fantastic time playing it, and I wanna play it with more people too ;D (Sadly I only have two Xbox controllers at the moment; I'm sure we could have even more fun if I had four :P)

    Thanks for making this game! I wish the games I made were as fun xD

    1. Thanks! :)

      Multiple levels of strategy really unfold with 3 and 4 players... Hopefully you can borrow some Xbox controllers and give it a shot.

  2. As I think more about what you've said about XBLIG pricing, I wonder if people not willing to pay for more is because of the way MSP works. Often times, I'll already have at least 80 MSP in my account, so an 80 MSP game isn't a big deal at all. Whereas once you get to the higher prices, suddenly I have to pull my wallet out, and spend the time purchasing points, so I can purchase a new game. Now that I have to pull my wallet out, I'm thinking much more about the purchase, because the process is taking longer, which makes me less likely to buy. The same story applies if I _don't_ have at least 80 MSP in my account.

    Also, most XBLIG games are priced at 80 MSP, so the "I could get this, or I could get 3 other games" argument applies if you price your game higher.

    I dunno if I've said anything of much note, your post just got me thinking.

    1. This might interest you...

  3. I bought your game for three bucks on ouya. It's is so fun!!!! me and buddy couldn't get enough, one more, just one more. Now that i know its on the box you'll prob get another purchase. As for the price thing I think you may be able to pull off five, but prospectively three seems like a number people don't blink at.

    1. I think you're right. On the Ouya, it appears that most people are spending $3, even though $1 is an option.

      Glad you like the game! I love the addictive "just one more" quality that it has. :)

  4. Hey I posted this comment somewhere on one of your Youtube videos but I thought I'd just repost it here:

    I was hoping you'd port it to PC sometime!

    Have you considered asking Desura if you can set your game up there? Though not as big as Steam, it still has quite a following willing to try out cheap indie games! Also, Good Old Games (GOG) does the same too. It's a great way to get games out there!

  5. Paid 3 bucks on Ouya! My wife love love loves the game. Now I am investigating the developer!

    Planning to bring any other games to the Ouya?

    1. Since you're investigating me, you should know that I've made three games for the Xbox. Bad Golf, Battle for Venga Island, and HIPS.

      BFVI isn't really a candidate for porting to HIPS, as it was really dependant on the Xbox Live multiplayer structure. I don't think it would port over well.

      Bad Golf is a silly little game. I might try to port it over at some point.

      My friend made a game called Dark Delve for the Xbox, which I'm actively (when I have time) working to port over to Ouya. It's 99% working, and just needs to be tested and stuff.

      Any future work I do (if and when that happens), will almost certainly be for the Ouya.

      Glad you like the game! :)

  6. Just found out about this from Yogscast's recent video. A brilliant concept with an insanely low price tag. I was wondering if you ever considered a version for PC. I would have no issues with it still being local multiplayer with several gamepads.

    Again, great game. All the best for the future!


  7. I'd like to let you know that after all I bought this game for $3 on OUYA and was quite happy with the purchase!

    I've heard of Spy Party for a while, but have never played it. That game sold me on the concept, though, so I was open to HiPS when I heard of it. I kept hearing good things, and when I only needed to try your demo for a few minutes before I knew I wanted to pay you for it. :)

    I hope you make at least a couple hundred bucks for that OUYA port, it's a great game.

    If you ever get some money for dev work, I'd suggest either refreshing HiPS or making a sequel with stronger art. I believe it's really held back by the visuals. It looks like a game that was just thrown together with free art assets. It's not fair for people to judge the gameplay based on that, but they do!

    Anyway, good luck with everything!

  8. Another thing that is strange to consider is that most people wouldn’t hesitate to spend to go out and see a movie. In fact, four friends could easily drop collectively for a two hour experience,LOL Elo Boost
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  9. Here's what I've learned about pricing products.

    First and foremost, the price represents the value. What this means is that if the game gives the player a lot of value (in terms of fun, hours of play, content, etc) they will be willing to pay more.

    Second, a low price point can actually be a bad thing because some people see the game as cheap (and nasty). This is a perception thing but it can be a very real problem.

    Third, if you start with a low price point you have no room to move. On the other hand, if you start selling the game at $3 first off, you can always lower the price later. People see this as getting a discount and you'll actually sell more copies during a "sale" than you would if you simply sold it at a low price point to start with. Also a perception thing.

    Lastly, it's really great that you are not doing it for the money. When you are passionate about what you do and don't do it for the money it usually turns out better, and it just so happens that the money follows. However, keep in mind that having money can help you do what you love for longer and more often, e.g. at some point you could do it full time. That my friend, is a great thing.

    1. After I wrote this comment I was inspired to do a blog post about it. Sorry, no idea how to make this a link.