I recently read an interesting analysis of an indie developer having a look at his sales figures and how different parameters like pricing or media coverage affected the sales. If this would have been just some dev that has brought one little game to the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace, it might not be something worth mentioning. But in fact it was the developer of the two hit titles “JoyJoy” and “Crossfire”.
When i write “hit titles”, this feels weird … what makes a game a hit title? When it sells like hotcakes? Or when a game gets reviews telling you that it is quite exceptional and great? I tend to say the second, because those games do feel like hit titles to me. If you don´t know them, then have a look here and here,
I have read about Crossfire a lot, and something i have read sometimes was that it´s too expensive. I never paid much attention to those opinions, because i didn´t think that 240 points are expensive for a title that is very polished, offers fresh gameplay and is a great game on top. But when i read the analysis and the comments to it, it hit me that while in fact it is not expensive, it is perceived as too expensive.
Once you enter the XBLIG marketplace, you see a ton of games for just 80 points. And some of them offer an unbelievable treasure of content, polish and/or gameplay. Games likes Along Came A Spider, Breath of Death VII, Your Doodles Are Bugged! or Urban Space Squirrels come with a pricetag of 80 points. Suddenly a great game has to come at 80 points or it´s expensive. At the same time players buy arcade titles all the time that cost 10 to 15 times that much and it´s not very often that i hear them complain about prices.
The point perception shifts the moment a player changes to the indie marketplace – they are expecting them to be dirt cheap or expensive, there is no grey zone.
There is a need to make gamers aware that games with a pricetag of 80 points might produce an decent acceptable income IF they are hitsellers. And this happens very rarely. Gamers need to see, that while a game is priced at 240 or 400 points, the developers still usually make very little money of them. And that it´s a fair deal to pay less than 3$ for a game like Crossfire.
This is another problem – gamers start to think in points, instead of real money. Somehow 3$ sounds a lot less than 240 points. When “I MA3D A GAME W1TH ZOMBIES 1N IT” sang to me that “it costs less than a dollar” it had a different effect. Developers should start to announce the price in $ and € on the “buy my game” screen. It would shift players price perception back to triple-A titles that cost 60$, making the price look a lot cheaper.
There is a “Point Perception Problem” and if you are a gamer, then start to think in real money again.