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Would this be a good idea? (Episodic release)


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#1 noatom   Members   -  Reputation: 785

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 10:50 AM

I plan to work on a series of episodes. Each episode is split into 2 parts, each part is only 1 hour long.

 

I'm just wondering if there's gonna be a problem with me releasing 1 hour long content for about $7.



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#2 Koobazaur   Members   -  Reputation: 691

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 12:35 PM

If the content is worth it, you will encounter little problems.

 

If the content is not worth it, you will encounter many problems.

 

Also not getting into legal/licensing/pr/marketing/etc. side of things here. 


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#3 noatom   Members   -  Reputation: 785

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 01:38 PM

I don't see what legal/licensing/pr/marketing/ problems could appear...the content is created by artists just for the game,sound the same.I plan to release just on steam...maybe later on xbox & windows phone



#4 Norman Barrows   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2308

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 01:47 PM


I'm just wondering if there's gonna be a problem with me releasing 1 hour long content for about $7.

 

not much of a value for one's entertainment dollar.

 

two hours of video is only $5 in the bargain bin at walmart.

 

a decent PC game like total war, civ, simcity, the sims, etc can provide literally months or years of gameplay for $30-$60 dollars.

 

as a general rule of thumb, i place a maximum of $1 per hour on a game. IE if it costs more than $1 per hour of gameplay you get out of it, its not a good value. if i plunk down $60 for skyrim or the latest black ops title, i darn well better get 60 hours of gameplay or i'll feel cheated.


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#5 noatom   Members   -  Reputation: 785

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 02:06 PM


a decent PC game like total war, civ, simcity, the sims, etc can provide literally months or years of gameplay for $30-$60 dollars.

 

that decent pc game has hundreds of devs and thousands of dollars of budget.I'm the only programmer with little to no budget....maybe i'll use the first game as a crowdfunding...buy one hour at 7$,the next part will be longer at the same price...



#6 Krohm   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3249

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 01:10 AM

This is going to sound harsh.

 

I'd say it's too expensive. Take a look at Desura, Humble Bundle or Indie Royale, a lot of games are shipping below 5USD and I got my games for 1-2 USD, including 5 episodes of a Sam and Max franchise.


that decent pc game has hundreds of devs and thousands of dollars of budget.I'm the only programmer with little to no budget
Irrelevant by consumer point of view.


buy one hour at 7$,the next part will be longer at the same price
Nonsense.

#7 noatom   Members   -  Reputation: 785

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 09:22 AM

So,I should spend hours working on something to sell it for 1$? That way I'm gonna get more by selling lemonade in the strret than this.

 

I'm gonna release it at 7$,if someone buys it fine,if no one does,fine again.



#8 ShadowFlar3   Members   -  Reputation: 1258

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 10:55 AM

So,I should spend hours working on something to sell it for 1$? That way I'm gonna get more by selling lemonade in the strret than this.

 

I'm gonna release it at 7$,if someone buys it fine,if no one does,fine again.

 

You realize the lower the price the greater chance it will sell and you will get any compensation? And that you can sell it multiple times? And that 50 * 1 > 0 * 7?



#9 ActiveUnique   Members   -  Reputation: 853

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 12:15 PM

I read this topic title, and it asks meif this is a good idea. I read the topic thus far, and I have to respond no, the customer is always right.

 

To put it in perspective. Which looks better? You may even do the math if you feel logical.

 

a. 50 customers buying a $7 game over 20 years, or 50 customers buying a $1 game now?

b. 120 million customers buying 1/80 of your games each release, or 5000 customers buying every game every release?

c. 30 people knowing you exist today and hating your game they bought, or 200 million people receiving your game free of charge and 2 of them loving you for it no matter how bad it is.


I've read about the idea guy. It's a serious misnomer. You really want to avoid the lazy team.


#10 KnolanCross   Members   -  Reputation: 1361

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 12:41 PM

So,I should spend hours working on something to sell it for 1$? That way I'm gonna get more by selling lemonade in the strret than this.

 

I'm gonna release it at 7$,if someone buys it fine,if no one does,fine again.

 

Good luck selling a million lemodades with a single lemon. You need to realize that once your work is done, the number of copies you can do is infinite.

 

Also, people won't care about your situation or fair price when they are buying your game, they won't risk much money on a complete unknown release, it may not be fair, but that is how things work. I wouldn't pay 7$ for a 1 hour content unless it was something I wanted to play really badly (such as a chrono trigger direct sequel).


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#11 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 21008

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 12:42 PM

Yes, $7 is overpriced for 1-hour.

 

I'd price each half-episode at $2.75, price the complete episode at $5, and have additional sources of revenue aside from the up-front cost.

$7 at face value per half-episode will drive away consumers. So be clever instead.

 

Examples:

 - I'd see if I can get sponsorship deals netting me an additional $0.35 - $0.75 per sale per half-episode. $2.50 becomes $3.00

 - Maybe some kind of merchandise tie-in where people can buy t-shirts and additional content.

 - Use the ending of one episode to promote the next episode ("Next time, on ThisEpisodicGame!"), increasing the chance of a user continuing to buy the next game.

 

Sell "season passes" to the complete series, pricing it at $30. "$30!?", you might say, "X episodes * 2 parts per episode * $2.50 == > $70!". Yes, but the vast majority of your consumers are going to buy one or two episodes, not the entire series. If you offer them a bundle-deal of the entire series, then they might actually pay for it and might actually enjoy it, even if in your mind you are 'taking a loss', really you're making more money than you would've otherwise.

Toss in some other (digital) incentive. Like a special gold necklace around the neck of one of your characters.

 

Don't overprice it, or your consumers won't purchase it.

Don't rip off the consumers by tricking them to pay for more than they want to.

Instead, figure out ways that work in your and the consumers' interests, by pricing it decently but still making up the money in other ways. Sponsorships can subsidize the cost for the consumer, while still letting you charge "full price".

 

What makes more money? A $3.00 game, or a $2.00 game with a $1.00 sponsorship?

 

$3.00 - 30% App store fee = $2.1

$2.00 - 30% App store fee = $1.40 + $1.00 sponsorship = $2.40

 

Does Apple take a cut of your sponsorship fees? I'm guessing 'no', but you ought to look into it.

Does Apple take a cut of normal advertisements from ad networks, heck yes they do. So cut a deal directly with a company.

 

You come asking if it'll be a problem, meaning you already thought it would be but don't want to believe it or aren't fully sure. Everyone tells you yes it will be a problem, you deny it and say you're going to do it anyway. Why'd you ask if you didn't want to hear the truth that you already knew?


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#12 wintertime   Members   -  Reputation: 1877

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 05:07 PM

I doubt a race to the bottom of $1 will make him survive. One can never know beforehand how the price elasticity curve would turn out as was assumed up there, but multiplying two medium sized numbers gives more likely a higher result, than a low number multiplied by a high number.

Though people feel better when they can try something first to avoid the buy cat inside bag feel. The 1st episode could maybe made free and for all others after that they would pay.



#13 Norman Barrows   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2308

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 07:56 AM


a decent PC game like total war, civ, simcity, the sims, etc can provide literally months or years of gameplay for $30-$60 dollars.


that decent pc game has hundreds of devs and thousands of dollars of budget.I'm the only programmer with little to no budget....maybe i'll use the first game as a crowdfunding...buy one hour at 7$,the next part will be longer at the same price...



unfortunately, your inability to compete is no excuse. the end users don't care . all that matters is how much entertainment bang for the buck you deliver vs the competition.

the trick is to not compete directly with the big boys for the user's dollars.

this is done by targeting markets they don't target.

in their quest to build shareholder value and maximize profits, they are forced to concentrate on the biggest markets (such as AAA shooters for consoles), leaving many dollars on the table in other markets (such as tower defense for the iphone) for other developers to pick up.



So,I should spend hours working on something to sell it for 1$?


I'll typically spend about 5000 man-hours on a big game and sell it for between $20 and $35 dollars.


here's what you need to do:

1. what kind of game is it?
2. who are my competitors?
3. how much do they cost?
4. what's my quality level compared to their's?
5. ok, so i should charge: <some amount>

that's how you price a game.

how long it took is irrelevant.

how much it cost to make is irrelevant.

those are not market factors. game price is largely a function of market factors alone.

that's why you must evaluate a game's sales potential BEFORE you make it - if its to be for profit.

another little hint:

"unbundling" was once thought to be a good way to sell software. turned out to not really work so well. the recent trend in "pay as you go" and "additional content for additional $" is similar to unbundling. you'll probably find a "one low price gets you everything" strategy will help build a long term loyal customer base who can't wait for the new version (which of course they get at 50% off as a registered user).

a famous marketing quote:
"the easiest sale to make is selling to someone you've sold to before."

if you want to get really good at this stuff, check out "software success". its a marketing newsletter for software company CEO's. very expensive, but better than a Harvard MBA.



One can never know beforehand how the price elasticity curve would turn out as was assumed up there, but multiplying two medium sized numbers gives more likely a higher result, than a low number multiplied by a high number.
Though people feel better when they can try something first to avoid the buy cat inside bag feel. The 1st episode could maybe made free and for all others after that they would pay.




definitely start high (but reasonable) on the price then go down. you can always lower the price, raising it is much harder.

one hour of free play as a demo should be de-regeur. that way the only customers you have are happy customers who know what they're getting into. not one's who think you ripped them off.

Norm Barrows

Rockland Software Productions

"Building PC games since 1989"

rocklandsoftware.net

 

PLAY CAVEMAN NOW!

http://rocklandsoftware.net/beta.php

 

 


#14 Norman Barrows   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2308

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 09:08 AM


Each episode is split into 2 parts, each part is only 1 hour long.
 
I'm just wondering if there's gonna be a problem with me releasing 1 hour long content for about $7.

 

id software pretty much set the standard with castle wolf-3d.  one hour of free game play in the demo.   20 hours of gameplay (including the 1 hour demo level) for $20 in the full game.

 

this defined two standards: 

 

1. one hour of free gameplay as the typical size of a game demo

 

2. a price point of approximately $1 per hour of gameplay in the full game.

 

as commercial games got bigger, demos hit 1/2 gig in download size, and were replaced with YouTube videos of gameplay as a means of marketing the game.

 

even today, a maximum of $1 to $3 per hour of gameplay is still pretty much the standard.

 

what you want to do is create 20 hours of content, and give away the first hour, and charge $20 for all of it. then get busy on the next version, which you will also sell for $20, or $15 or $10 to registered users of the previous version.

 

or make 11 hours of content, give away one and charge $10 for the rest.

 

the full version must be at least 95% new content above and beyond the demo. 100% is preferable. 

 

shooters originally had 20 levels, one of which was free, for $20. so they really only had 19 hours of new content for $20. ~$1.05 per hour of gameplay.

 

as you say you're not EA, so your quality and title's popularity can't command the $3 per hour pricetag they get for a black ops type title ($60 for 20 hours of game play).

 

i'd say that as a veteran indie gamedev I could probably do a game that could command $2 per hour at most. but usually i design my games for maximum replayability - with little or no hard coded content. which in and of itself is a major selling point, and allows me to charge more for the game, as its a better value due to the large number of  hours of game play included.


Norm Barrows

Rockland Software Productions

"Building PC games since 1989"

rocklandsoftware.net

 

PLAY CAVEMAN NOW!

http://rocklandsoftware.net/beta.php

 

 


#15 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 10630

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 11:50 AM

 


I'm just wondering if there's gonna be a problem with me releasing 1 hour long content for about $7.

 

not much of a value for one's entertainment dollar.

 

two hours of video is only $5 in the bargain bin at walmart.

 

a decent PC game like total war, civ, simcity, the sims, etc can provide literally months or years of gameplay for $30-$60 dollars.

 

as a general rule of thumb, i place a maximum of $1 per hour on a game. IE if it costs more than $1 per hour of gameplay you get out of it, its not a good value. if i plunk down $60 for skyrim or the latest black ops title, i darn well better get 60 hours of gameplay or i'll feel cheated.

 

 

how much does it cost (hourly) to go at the movies?

As you can see, its all relative to the experience you're delivering.

You wouldn't get legal problems per se, but you might not get sales, or you might get unhappy customers.

If there's a big disclaimer that lets them know each episode is 7$ and 2*1h of gameplay, then you're allright. Worst that can happen is having fewer sales.



#16 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 19366

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 11:22 PM

Unfortunately for you as a developer, the overwhelming majority of players don't care how much time and effort you put into creating the game, only about the experience they get out of it for the money they spend.  You need to convince players that they will be getting an experience that is worth at least the asking price of your game, or preferably an experience that is worth more than the asking price.

 

 

For $7 I can hire 7 weekly movies from my local video store.  Assuming I only watch each movie once and using a very conservative estimate of one hour running-time per movie that's 7 times the entertainment value of your proposed pricing, and does match (or very likely exceed) the $1 per hour value suggested by other users above.

 

Braid costs $10, and according to Steam I played for ~14 hours.  Again, that's actually better value than $1 per hour.

 

 

Like it or not -- and even though you don't want to compete with large teams and other forms of media -- those are the sorts of comparisons potential customers will make when deciding whether or not your game is worth purchasing.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't price your game so that you can hopefully make some money if it's popular though, it just means you need to be a bit more clever about it by reducing your development time and costs or by offering the customer better value for their money.

 

 

Is each hour of gameplay replayable, or is it really only enjoyable once?

 

A racing game might provide several races on different tracks which take the average player one hour to complete, but most players are likely to complete each race several times (thereby experiencing several hours of fun) in order to improve their time and/or finish with a better (ideally first) place.  In contrast, an adventure game might provide a storyline and several puzzles which take the average player one of to complete, but is repetitive (boring) and overly easy to replay once you have solved the puzzles once.

 

If you are offering a shorter experience, you may be able to increase the value for customers by ensuring it is fun to replay, by recognising and rewarding better performance, offering achievements for different play styles, or offering character selections that provide the players with varying abilities.

 

 

Can you reuse content you have already created to provide additional value for the customer while only having to expend a smaller amount of effort?  In a racing game you might have several different race modes so that each track can be played more than once.  In a platformer game you might provide a second unlockable character with a ninja-rope that the main character doesn't have, providing an all-new way to navigate and complete the existing levels.  Perhaps by tweaking and re-colouring the graphics for an enemy and then giving it slightly different behavior you can provide an additional challenge.  Think about ways you can re-use additional content to provide additional value to players without having to spend hours creating brand new content.

 

Perhaps you can procedurally generate levels?  You would need to spend some more time up-front creating and testing this system, but the result is an absolutely huge amount of content for your users.

 

 

 

What sort of game are you actually making?  There are probably ways you can reduce your own development time/cost and/or provide better value to players so that your desired $7 price-tag (or perhaps some middle-ground price of $5?) seems reasonable to a larger number of people.

 

Hope that helps! smile.png



#17 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 21008

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 12:00 AM

For $7 I can hire 7 weekly movies from my local video store.  Assuming I only watch each movie once and using a very conservative estimate of one hour running-time per movie that's 7 times the entertainment value of your proposed pricing, and does match (or very likely exceed) the $1 per hour value suggested by other users above.

 

Braid costs $10, and according to Steam I played for ~14 hours.  Again, that's actually better value than $1 per hour.

 

Just to add in some additional numbers:

In my area to rent Iron Man 3 on DVD it costs $3. The same DVD to watch digitally costs $5 on YouTube, and isn't yet on Netflix or Amazon or iTunes (unless you want to buy it for $10).

 

So 1.5 hours / $3-5 = $2 to $3.30 for a very recent well-known movie that got good reviews and had a huge marketing budget.

 

Portal 2 has 20 hours of gameplay and cost $50 at release. That's $2.5 per hour, and people complained that it was too short for the full price.

I waited until it dropped to $15 before buying it, so for me it was worth $0.75 an hour. If I was forced to, because the price never dropped, I would've paid as high as $25 for it ($1.25), but no higher.

 

But it's not a one-to-one comparison either. Chrono Cross took me ~40 hours or so to beat. Because I don't know what it's worth to me until I play it, I wouldn't have risked $50 on it. I would risk $5 on a long-shot, risk $10 on something I want, risk $15 on something I really want, and risk $20 or $25 on something I absolutely am frantic about, which is why I typically buy used games or wait for them to go on sale.

 

Note: I'm less cheap when it comes to buying things for other people - I just bought $150 worth of games for my sister three weeks ago; I can rationalize higher prices when they are gifts for other people, but for myself I can't rationalize those prices. Or rather, when buying gifts for others I feel free to set rationality and frugality aside. For myself, I do calculate the value of what it's worth to me ("hmm, this'll distract me from my programming, I might not like the game, and even if I do, I probably won't play it to the end... It could probably hold my attention for 15 hours max. They're asking $30 for it... Do I want to spend $30 AND spend 15 hours of my life? Naw, I'll pass.").

 

This is why DLC can occasionally be a good thing. I bought Dungeon Defenders for I think $15. I played it for over 100 hours (according to Steam), cooperatively with my sister (so we each got 100 hours worth of enjoyment out of it). Now *that's* a good deal. If I knew how much fun I'd get out of it beforehand, I would've actually paid $30 for it. But hey, after beating the game, and then re-beating it on hard, and then playing the challenges, then we actually bought some DLC to get additional maps. That DLC wasn't cheap either - I think we spent $20 on DLC, which is very very highly unusual for me - As a rule, I don't normally buy DLC or pay for microtransactions.

 

DLC, if it's actually worth buying, can provide a way for consumers to choose willingly to give you more money, because your game is so great that they just can't get enough of it.


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#18 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 19366

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 06:37 PM


maybe i'll use the first game as a crowdfunding...buy one hour at 7$,the next part will be longer at the same price...

I meant to comment on this earlier but forgot to do so.

 

That's an interesting idea, but it's probably something that runs counter to a typical potential player's expectation.  For years now the majority of games from both the industry and independent developers have had a standard where you get you first taste of game-play cheaper (in the now uncommon case of commercially distributed shareware) or more commonly for free (i.e. a demo).  That doesn't necessarily mean it won't work, but it means you'll need to work much harder to excite your potential customers about the game; they don't know whether or not they like your game yet, and you're asking for a larger payment up-front on the basis that they'll get future instalments cheaper -- obviously a risky investment for them!

 

 

As a possible alternative you could consider releasing the first hour as a free demo and pursuing more traditional crowd-funding to raise the money to release the entire project in a non-episodic package.



#19 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 8159

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 07:55 PM

Ultimately, what you want to do from a business standpoint is maximize revenue. Revenue is numbers sold multiplied by whatever profit you take per copy sold. Market principles are such that the number of sales made are inversely proportional to the price of the good or service you offer -- there are various details regarding minimum pricing to consider -- but in general the principle holds. Ergo, give it away for free and the number of copies 'sold' is literally the number of people who are interested, price it too high and no one buys it at all. In either extreme, your revenue is zero -- the only place to make money is in the middle.

 

Its the market that determines where in the middle you will make the most revenue -- not your desire to sell at 5, 10, or 20 dollars; Your job as an industrious marketeer is to consider relevant factors and determine where your market is centered, then to set your prices there. Factors to consider would include the typical going-price for similar goods or services, the value proposition of competing goods and services, and whether or not there's a dearth or glut of competition.

 

If you look around the landscape, AAA games have economies of scale that allow them to sell massive amounts of content that's taken hundreds, if not thousands of man-years to produce, for the Crazy-Eddie bargain price of just $59.99. You may not think of AAA games as your competition, buy you're are, in fact, competing for the same valuable entertainment dollars and entertainment hours as everyone else. Heck, for the same $7 you propose, I can go see half of a blockbuster film (or the whole thing, during a matinee), I can buy 1/8th of a new AAA game (or about 1/3rd of an AAA game that came out three months ago), I can buy a paperback book, buy 4-10 songs from iTunes, I can buy 7 whole games from the app store, I can keep my spotify or netflix subscription running for another month, I can put two gallons of gas in my car and spend the weekend someplace nice, or I can go the the bar and buy a pretty girl a drink.

 

Like it or not, competition for people's entertainment dollars has never been so fierce. They have limited money and time to spend, and other people are literally giving away content just for the chance to convert some of their clients into cash-cows (the so-called freemium business model). You can call it a race to the bottom if you like, but that doesn't change what the market is, and it couldn't care less whether you think you need to charge $7 to keep your lights on.

 

If you can't make the living you want in the way you want, throwing in the towel and making a living elsewise is a sound business decision. But marketing decisions can't be driven by the results you want to achieve, they need to be driven by maximizing the opportunity that is there.



#20 JohnnyCode   Members   -  Reputation: 293

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 02:44 PM

In case of "no action" title, but very difficultly designed adventure stuff, one hour is more expensive than 1dolar. I would say 2.50 dolars. Couldn't you add up some action that would delay the player consuming the hardly designed stuff? I remember I have finished Siberia 2 in 5 days, playing it 2 hours a day max. I didn't totaly finish it becouse the final puzzle was tooooo "prolonged", and I seeked HowTo. I would pay for Siberia 2 40 dolars gladly, since it was great experience to play, though short.






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