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I'm currently developing a game in Unity3D and aim to release it by the end of the year. Before then, I wanted some publishing advice.

Straight up, my primary goal is exposure over money. I would rather a lot of people play my game rather than profit off of it. In fact, I'm almost out of funds and will be getting a "normal" job soon, so by the time the game releases, I will have no shortage of money. I really just want to get my name (and my game) "out there" and have as many people play it as possible. However, this isn't a post about marketing or PR; I specifically want to know about pricing.

In the past, I assumed that making my game free and putting it on Steam or itch.io would maximize the number of people playing it. However, after attending a few conferences and talking to some other devs, multiple people told me that would be a mistake. They claimed that if a game is free or "too cheap" most people will avoid it because they'd automatically assume that it's shitty in some way. Is this true? Obviously overpricing the game would drive off potential players but I find it surprising that the opposite would have the same effect.

Does anybody have advice about this? I'm not asking for an exact price for my game but rather if making the game free or really cheap is a mistake. I know that Hollow Knight is extremely successful despite being way under-priced, but perhaps that's the exception rather than the rule.

For context, my game is an "old-school" action game similar to Super Punch-Out!! Like old arcade games, a truly skilled player can beat it in a little over an hour, but new players will realistically take 6-8 hours to beat it on their first try. There are also RPG elements for completionist players to grind for, as well as multiple difficulty settings and playable characters, so ultimately dedicated players could probably get around 12 hours or so out of it.

Despite that, my game is low-tech and has a potentially unpopular and somewhat amateur art style, so I feel like a lot of players might be initially turned off, and the last thing I want is to give them an extra excuse not to play it by pricing it wrong. Please let me know any insights you might have about this as it'd really help me build a name for myself.

Lastly, here's a link to my site: http://www.dronami.com. The video and screens might make it seem like there isn't that much content but I'm intentionally omitting my best stuff because it's very spoiler-heavy.

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I've seen some things about pricing indie games and most of it says the effect of pricing too low or pricing to high is similar, when it comes to how many people will buy and play your game.

I'm not the most qualified to discuss this subject, but I'll pass on to you the videos I thought were very informative:

1. This guy discuss a lot of the common topics on publishing an indie game, as well as how to price your game: 

 

2. This guys shows a study of what games are selling more on steam. This is a good source of data for your analysis when pricing games:

 

3. These two discuss and references some material about indie games pricing themselves to low and what are it's consequences:

 

4. Even though you're not asking about marketing, this gem must be shared with indie developers:

 

I just didn't get why you are so focused on getting exposure, would you mind clarifying? I ask that because if you're trying to receive feedback, creating a community or trying to make a name on the industry so people start to expect more games from you, exposure is not necessarily what you should be looking for. Instead, it's better to Target a niche audience, making feedback more valuable and getting closer to a specific community. Focusing on a niche would probably be a decision that would make it easier to price the game, because you can make a general analysis on the games which have been sold recently.

 

Well, I hope it helps you! Good luck on developing your game :)

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Posted (edited)

Wow, these are excellent resources. Thanks!

I simply want my game to be played. I make plenty of money with my "normal" job so I don't care too much about maximizing profits. I'm mainly passionate about games as an artistic medium (but not in an "art house" way if you catch my drift) and want to contribute in a meaningful way. For me, my highest aspiration is evolving a genre with innovation. In the case of this game, there exist precious few games like Super Punch-Out!! so I'm creating one myself that moves that style of gameplay forwards with several novel gameplay gimmicks and mechanics.

Here's a good way to put it: I want to be like Locomalito. I'd like to make awesome games that people with my gaming tastes would enjoy above all else.

EDIT: Also, I'm not sure how to target this niche because I don't believe it exists. I don't think Super Punch-Out!! is a very popular game so I wouldn't even know where to start because I doubt there's anything resembling a community around it. I'll soon start contacting indie games websites but I don't think that's the kind of "niche" you're referring to.

Edited by DronamiGames

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