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Pay What You Want Model

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[Note: this is related to PC games, so I wouldn't thing ads to be something to add here]

Hello all,

I've been reading a bit about the pay what you want model and how viable it is. According to one detailed account (1), it doesn't seem to actually increase profit, although some points could be improved (2). Different than physical products, digitally distributed games under the pay what you want model show a disproportionate amount of people paying $0 (upwards of 95% of non-paying for games vs. about 25% in more traditional physical products).Also, game consumers have a very strong reference frame for pricing points, which seems to further work against this model (3). On the other hand, tweaking the model a bit seems to help. Interestingly, charity helps (4). Perhaps, so does having easy payment methods and some added value (sound track and such).

In any case, it seems to be a viable strategy to reach consumers (5), but not sustainable in the long run (6).

 

So, my questions in relation to this are:

1) Do any of you have/have had experience trying to market/sell your game with this strategy?

2) Would you add a minimum value or maybe this would just defeat the purpose of the pay what you want?

3) How would you convince people to spend more?

 

 

 

 

 

If anybody is interested in reading further:

(1) http://joostdevblog.blogspot.be/2011/10/proun-is-big-success-pay-what-you-want.html

(2) https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111003/15253616190/lessons-learned-pay-what-you-want.shtml

(3) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0148296312002524

(4) http://science.sciencemag.org/content/329/5989/325

(5) https://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/abs/10.1287/mnsc.2014.1946

(6) http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-33609867

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Hi,

I don't have any experience in this, but:

I think a minimum amount would defeat the point of the practice. I think people would assume that this is an amount that you are happy to accept (when really you're hoping for more) and pay that amount. However, in comparison to how many people  would otherwise pay nothing, I don't know. I feel that a minimum price would turn out to be the de facto price.

I think the best way to get someone to contribute to a product without any real need, is the promise of support, or further products in the future. If a product is 'pay what you want', it has a tendency to make people wonder what benefit paying is actually going to give them. It's usually intended by the developer/provider that the benefit of payment is future products, but I don't think this is always particularly clear when these things are marketed.

Just some thoughts.

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4 minutes ago, SomeoneRichards said:

I think the best way to get someone to contribute to a product without any real need, is the promise of support, or further products in the future

There is a fair amount of people who actually feel like they should pay for receiving something. In the end, it sounds to me that pay what you want is more a marketing strategy than anything else. 

Of course, in the end, if I set the price of a game, I wouldn't include only the costs to produce it, but also to produce the next one. I suppose that is why more and more it seems that a price tag along the lines of $20 seems to make more business sense. In this sense, the question would be: how to convince more people to hover around this sweet spot? (if you look at Joost's results, you'll see that the amount sold for $20 to $29.99 was not by far leading in sales, but is still relevant in revenue)

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13 minutes ago, Thiago Monteiro said:

Of course, in the end, if I set the price of a game, I wouldn't include only the costs to produce it, but also to produce the next one.

Of course you would. You know that and I know that. The point is that your audience may not. In fact, your audience might have firmly decided that you won't.

The key to getting someone to pay more than they normally would is to provide some additional value. With computer games, it seems longevity (through support and additional material) is the best form of added value. This is why people pay for early access games - products that they know are incomplete in their present state; because they are getting more later on.

So I was saying to make sure that you provide it... I'm saying to make sure that your buyers are aware of it.

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What is interesting about that blog post, is that there are clearly identifiable prices that people had a tendency to aim for, and that these are easily identifiable as common price ranges for certain types of product. IE, you can think of common product size and quality expectations for those specific price points. £29.99 seems about standard for a complete PC game, £19.99 for a smaller game or significant expansion, £14.99 for a budget game, etc. It tells you how people thought this game was placed before purchasing it, and I'm sure this is something you do yourself when asked to price up a game - compare it to the market standards, apply a risk factor, etc.

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3 hours ago, SomeoneRichards said:

I don't know. I feel that a minimum price would turn out to be the de facto price.

The funny thing is that as much as players like to believe they would support games they like; they don't.

what-happens-at-winrars-company-when-someone-actually-pay-for-winrar.jpg

This is a old meme but it proved a very interesting point. Most people who used WinRar kept using it as a free trail, even after it kept telling them to buy it. WinRar is worth it's price but people chose to keep using for free even if it meant braking the agreement.

Even people who do have concerns with breaking the agreement will instead use 7-zip or other free zip software than pay for WinRar.

 

In short, it is human nature that if we can get what we want for free, we will take it for free. Many players who see the "Pay What You Want" model just thinks "Hey! A free game!".

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1 minute ago, Scouting Ninja said:

The funny thing is that as much as players like to believe they would support games they like; they don't.

what-happens-at-winrars-company-when-someone-actually-pay-for-winrar.jpg

This is a old meme but it proved a very interesting point. Most people who used WinRar kept using it as a free trail, even after it kept telling them to buy it. WinRar is worth it's price but people chose to keep using for free even if it meant braking the agreement.

Even people who do have concerns with breaking the agreement will instead use 7-zip or other free zip software than pay for WinRar.

 

In short, it is human nature that if we can get what we want for free, we will take it for free. Many players who see the "Pay What You Want" model just thinks "Hey! A free game!".

Exactly... (Some, maybe most) people only pay when they think they're getting something extra if they do so. Having a developer stay around to support or expand the product is something worth paying extra for. I'm saying make sure people understand the connection between paying for the game, getting better/more games.

 

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1) Do any of you have/have had experience trying to market/sell your game with this strategy?

Not games, but music. I sell albums and EPs on Bandcamp. My old EPs have a 'pay what you want' option.

 

2) Would you add a minimum value or maybe this would just defeat the purpose of the pay what you want?

Yes, I would add a minimum price to anything that I didn't want to give away. "Pay what you want" is basically "almost everyone pays nothing", which is why this model died a very quick death in the music world after Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails tried it and got disappointing results.

 

3) How would you convince people to spend more?

I wouldn't - I simply wouldn't choose this model for anything serious. I think it's based on the discredited idea that most people want to pay but value the product at a lower level, whereas what we tend to see is that most people - including some who would have happily paid full price if necessary - will gladly pay nothing if that option is available.

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14 minutes ago, SomeoneRichards said:

I'm saying make sure people understand the connection between paying for the game, getting better/more games.

That is a good point, but how?

How to you make it clear to the player that supporting your game results in better content. Most players would think of there other games and about what "support" they got from buying it and will realize that "support" isn't worth that much.

Steam almost killed piracy in multiplayer games like Counter Strike Global Offensive, because it provides a much better multiplayer experience, people feel that is worth buying.

 

The players reaction and inconsistency between what they say and do, is what formed the modern game market. Where micro transactions that where designed as a alternate Pay What You Want model, now is a Pay To Win model.

Because players don't want to pay for the game, but will pay for an edge over the competition.

Edited by Scouting Ninja

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Lot's of good points here, thank you all for your answers.

 

I think it's worth adding that, besides the support part of paying more money and gaining an edge over the competition, collectibles seem to be another driving force towards higher expenditure. Or at least that is what the number of special editions lead me to believe.

4 hours ago, SomeoneRichards said:

What is interesting about that blog post, is that there are clearly identifiable prices that people had a tendency to aim for, and that these are easily identifiable as common price ranges for certain types of product. IE, you can think of common product size and quality expectations for those specific price points. £29.99 seems about standard for a complete PC game, £19.99 for a smaller game or significant expansion, £14.99 for a budget game, etc. It tells you how people thought this game was placed before purchasing it, and I'm sure this is something you do yourself when asked to price up a game - compare it to the market standards, apply a risk factor, etc.

In an ideal world, you'd get a good chunk of people to buy in the price range you consider the game worth, and all the rest (non payers, or very low payers) as marketing expense to bring more attention to the game. The problem seems to be how cause the maximum amount of people to actually put up the cash. While there are moderate successful cases, it does seems that is very risky and only perhaps worth if one cannot otherwise draw attention to the game .

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