First of all I wanted to inform you that I’m participating to the BecauseWeMay initiative. What is it? Quoting from the website:
We believe that developers should have the freedom to price their games how they like, without interference from the online stores that sell the games. Why? Because it allows us to promote our games more freely, as we are doing here! We rely on the ability to promote our games for our livelihood and control over pricing is an important tool for this purpose.
For the last week of May (May 24 through June 1) our games will be deeply discounted to celebrate online stores that give us control over pricing: The App Store, Google Play, Steam, Desura, IndieVania, and a few others.
About game pricing
Game pricing is more complex than what people imagine. I often got comments about how my game prices are too high, and I should price them $9.99, because that’s what an indie game should cost
You can talk about what indie is, what is really worth (3d cutscenes or GAMEPLAY?) and if my games sucks or not. But one thing you simply cannot argue are the statistics. Us developer aren’t setting the games prices randomly! At least, I don’t. If you’re an indie dev you should only listen to your statistics and not what people tell you. Doing occasional sales like this one is fine of course
Also, this is my personal experience. I am sure different game types have different audience and prices. I cannot imagine a tower defense or a platform game to cost more than $9.99 for example!
Now, let’s see some graphs just to explain better. Below is Spirited Heart Girl’s Love revenues graph from the launch day to the BecauseWeMay sale:
…not an impressive bump eh? The fact is that during the release day, all sales came from my own site only and a few affiliates. Instead I got lots of traffic from because we may initiative, but despite having many sales, the half-price really hurts revenues. Still, was a somewhat good result compared to the regular sales. Maybe I should lower game prices then? Let’s check Spirited Heart graph instead:
…for this one I didn’t even had to go back to the release day to find more profitable days. In two previous occasions, when I sent the newsletter to announce updates about Loren or promote some other game, I got more revenues than for the BecauseWeMay sale. And I got much more traffic from the becausewemay initiative than during those newsletters!
But what about portals ? Sadly as you know my experience is very limited, but luckily there are some very indie-friendly portals like Desura. I don’t have Spirited Heart there (couldn’t make it in time since uses DLC and I don’t know yet how to implement it) but I recently put Planet Stronghold, and many people complained about price. So, after a while I did a sale last weekend for $9.99 instead of $24.99, and I promoted it on twitter, and showed up on the “on sale” section of Desura (which I think is the most visited! lol). Result:
Yes, the day of the sale the revenue was slightly higher than release day, and in other two occasions. But what about in the long run ? I am not really sure, considering the increase was so small that could have just been a random thing! Also, I should compare prices without a promotion, because is normal to have higher exposure during a promotional sale…
I will continue to experiment with prices of course, but so far everything seems to confirm that lower prices = lower revenues. I’d be very happy if I could make same amount of money (or maybe more) and at same time make more customers happy, but so far it really doesn’t seem the case.