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Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Spiderweb's Vogel Discusses Underpricing Of Indie Games
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 5 comments

On his blog, The Bottom Feeder, Spiderweb Software's Jeff Vogel has chosen to tackle the topic of independent game pricing, suggesting that the current trend of declining prices is bad for developers and gamers. The first part of the discussion details his reasons for concern over price drops, identifying prices on portals such as Apple's iPhone App Store as key reasons why some developers feel compelled to lower prices.

The difference between an amateur and a professional is that the professional knows how much to charge for his or her work. When people argue about how much an Indie game should sell for, they tend to ignore several important factors that should go into the decision:
How Big is the Game? - Braid lasts about 6 hours, or about $2.50 an hour. A little on the pricey side, but the game gets away with it by being so fun. Our newest game, Geneforge 5: Overthrow, lasts about 30 hours, or less than a buck an hour (not counting considerable replay value). $28 seems very fair.
How Niche Is the Game? - Economics says that scarcer things should sell for more. A Bejeweled clone is common and thus should be cheap. Good single-player RPGs are scarce. They should sell for more.
How Much Do I Need To Earn To Live? - Suppose your game takes a year to write and thus, counting salaries, needs to earn about $100K to break even. If you sell it on iTunes for $.99, after Apple's cut, you need to sell around 130000 copies to break even. That is a LOT of copies. A spiffy and addictive puzzle game (which is harder to write than you think) might sell that many. A plot-heavy niche RPG? No.
When you price your game, you take the factors into account and you come up with a number. Then you try to sell the game. And if the number you need to charge is too high for what the portals will let you charge? You have a real problem. And, when good games get squeezed out of the market because of penny pinching, we all have a problem.

Indie developers are harmed by a blanket idea of what their games "should" cost. Everyone who allows this bargain basement attitude is part of the problem.
Read Vogel's full commentary at the link below.

The Bottom Feeder: Indie Games Should Cost More, Pt. 1
Spiderweb Software

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Archives  News  Spiderweb's Vogel Discusses Underpricing Of Indie Games