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Old 01-29-2010, 11:50 AM   #1
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Default Price Structure Among Indies

Let's play pretend for a minute. Pretend you've just seen a teaser video for a new single player game being released via digital distribution on PS3, 360 and PC. The story looks decent and the graphics are next-gen. The game is considered AAA quality by conventional standards and has received a decent meta-critic rating.

Here's the difference:

The game is released in 5 separate episodes, each costing $15 and providing ~3 hours of quality gameplay. The episodes are released in a timely manner; about 1 month apart. Digital distribution is the only means of purchase.

How do you think this would affect the sales of said IP versus releasing a single, 15-hour game via digial distribution for $50?

I have more to say about it but I'll reserve my comments for later.
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Old 01-29-2010, 06:01 PM   #2
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Ok, couldn't help that one.

I have not seen any statistics on the number of sales recurring episodic games and I can hardly spell economics, much less understand it, so my answer is more SWAG than educated guess.

I haven't been much of a fan of the periodic releases to date. Although the initial episode or two may be really good, there are so many titles on the market that they are competing for my ephemeral ADHD-driven attention span that I'll probably have found something else to invest my time and effort in before episode 3 makes it on to the market. Unless the title is extremely gripping, I don't think I'd have the stamina to make it to the 5th episode.

I'm guessing the average gamer shares my goldfish-like attention span. This could lead to the bulk of your sales being for less than the entire 5 episode series. For argument's sake, let's say that on average, gamers make it to the second episode before losing interest, or that they are new to the series and hop on for episodes 4 and 5.

On average, you'd be pulling in 30$ for your overall efforts, as opposed to the 50$ of the single game version. With the episodic approach, you would need to attract a far wider audience just to ensure that you broke even with your potential revenue for the single episode model. Fostering a deep and devoted modding community would probably prove more beneficial to your title's lifespan and potential revenue than would be the periodic approach.

I believe that this is why there are only a limited number of episodic games out there that seem to have any life to them. Those that do exist are backed by a solid, kick @## title (i.e. Half Life 2) to ensure that players come back for more. Even in Half Life's case, the episodes aren't frequently released, either.
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