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Opinion: Console Downloadable Games? Too Cheap

In this editorial, Gamasutra publisher Simon Carless makes the argument that the original downloadable console games for Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network are priced too inexpensively for creators to be completely viable as a continuing business model.

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perseus3368d ago

I will not pay $20 for a game that I can play for free in flash. I might pay $10, but only if it's much better than the flash game. I would pay $5, unless I could play it in my console's browser.

If you're talking about huge games, sure, but if you're talking about games like Everyday Shooter, Worms, and Pixeljunk Monsters, no. $5, max.

Brixxer6003368d ago

That's the big problem for them, it probably is too cheap for it to be viable for devs but if it's dearer,people won't buy them.

wageslave3368d ago

The price of an Xbox Original has been set relative to the price of the used game.

What is the value of the used game? Goto a Gamespot and try and buy a copy of Psychonauts for instance. It will probably be $15-20.

Try and *sell* your copy... somewhere between the two (hopefully closer to the latter) is where the price should (will) be.

PSN and Xbox LIVE have to compete with the used game market.

fjtorres3368d ago (Edited 3368d ago )

Some console downloadables are way overpriced at $5 and some would be way under-priced at $20.

That is why XBLA has universal downloadable demo versions and why most everybody has auto-download set on XBLA, no? It is up to the demo to *sell* the game. If the demo doesn't do a good job of hooking the would-be buyer no amount of pricing gamesmanship is going to make much of a positive difference on sales volume. If anything, it might drive the fence-sitters away.

Some of the better original games I've bought from XBLA (Catan, Carcassonne, etc) has ended up costing $20 or more after the add-ons, so its not like the $10 rule is hardwired into the system.

Three things come to mind:

1- smaller indie developers (Minter being a prime example) may not be in the best position to judge the likely acceptance of the labor-of-love game and would be inclined to overestimate the value of the game, resulting in lower-than-expected sales.

2- One of the intended uses for downloadable games is for episodic/modular games, with extra-cost add-ons. Soltrio Solitaire on 360 is a good example. Base game? Dirt cheap. Extra solitaire modes? Individually cheap. But if you get the full set you end up paying $30 or so for the whole kit-n-kaboodle which, btw, is what a retail version would likely price out at.

3- In a market of over 100 games for users to sample and buy higher-priced games would be at a disadvantage, no? Less of an impulse-buy effect. Plenty of games look cool, play well for a while, but eventually you just forget about them. A $5-10 game need only deliver 2-4 hours of gameplay to be worth the cost. At $20 it better be a couple weeks worth of gaming. For most folks, its not a linear progression; a $10 game gets judged against a night at the movies. A $20-30 game gets judged against a DVD-based retail game.

I'm thinking that the real answer to the "low price" downloadable game "problem" is simply to properly the customer base. In a growing gaming catalog, each new game will invariably get a smaller share of the market than early release, but in a market of 20-30 million buyers there should be room for plenty of decent-or-better games to sell 200K or higher(1%). That *should* result in a net of well over a million for the developer and a decent profit of some kind in there, somewhere. And at a quarter of that, there should be a breakeven point, no? A game that can't capture even a quarter of a percent of the target audience is probably simply not a good game...

So, no, I don't think the baseline price is too low.

I think the onus is on developers to understand this new market and adjust to the idea that the demo is their calling card.

PSWe603368d ago

Depends on the game.
WarHawk went for like $40 on the PSN, which I think is a fair price.
But games like Stardust HD or FLOW were priced like $10 because they're relatively short simple games, again a price point I found to be fair.

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