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Ronnie

The Markets of Video Game Pricing - Day 1 full retail, or wait for a drop?

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I've already said that games releasing with bugs is a big problem in the industry, but it's a separate issue.Who determines "quality" and therefore what the RRP of a game should be? That's a ridiculously unfeasible way of determining retail price. 

The people determine it, and the people spoke. People did not rush out to buy Days Gone at 60 quid, and instead waited for discounts. Meanwhile Witcher 3 sold 4 million copies at full price in the first 2 weeks. This shows a lot of people will pay full price, but only if they think it's worth it.

 

Honestly though, we can't seriously expect all games to hold their £60/70 price tag throughout the generation like Nintendo do. It's not viable - and that's not all down to people unreasonably 'expecting' discounts. It's reasonable to expect a discount over time like you would renting a film. Not everyone has the funds to shell out £70 every time either, so price reductions mean that everyone can game.

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9 minutes ago, Sheikah said:

The people determine it, and the people spoke. People did not rush out to buy Days Gone at 60 quid, and instead waited for discounts. Meanwhile Witcher 3 sold 4 million copies at full price in the first 2 weeks. This shows a lot of people will pay full price, but only if they think it's worth it.

If only every AAA game could be of the quality and hype of Witcher 3, but sadly that isn't how it works.

The entire point is that people have been trained to expect discounts because that's how the industry has been for a long while. Rare exceptions exist, eg: two of the most critically acclaimed games of last gen, Witcher 3 and RDR2, but they're outliers and shouldn't be considered the standard, that's just not feasible. 

I rarely buy non-Nintendo AAA games at release any more because history has told me to wait for discounts. It's why I waited for Immortals to be half price a month or two later. I'm not the only one. It's also why I rarely buy indies on Switch anymore, because I've been trained to wait until they find their way to Game Pass.

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, Ronnie said:
If only every AAA game could be of the quality and hype of Witcher 3, but sadly that isn't how it works.
The entire point is that people have been trained to expect discounts because that's how the industry has been for a long while. Rare exceptions exist, eg: two of the most critically acclaimed games of last gen, Witcher 3 and RDR2, but they're outliers and shouldn't be considered the standard, that's just not feasible. 
I rarely buy non-Nintendo AAA games at release any more because history has told me to wait for discounts. It's why I waited for Immortals to be half price a month or two later. I'm not the only one. It's also why I rarely buy indies on Switch anymore, because I've been trained to wait until they find their way to Game Pass.

So you think if all games never budged from £70 launch price that is the solution?

Should this be applied to films too, always around £15 to buy, years after release, with the price contantly adjusted for inflation?

People and the industry aren't the problem here, and it's Nintendo who are the outliers. Media in general depreciates in value over time, not because content owners fucked up their pricing and taught people to expect discounts. Keeping a price at £70 for the whole generation when nobody is buying it anymore is just cutting off your nose to spite your face.

I'm sure publishers have the data about when most copies get sold - my understanding is that a lot of copies usually get sold at launch, but for many games there can often be a drop off until you see a discount. That probably explains why some games get discounted fairly quickly (i.e. in under 6 months).

Edited by Sheikah

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, Sheikah said:

So you think if all games never budged from £70 launch price that is the solution?

I don't know what the solution is, I'm merely debating how the state the industry has gotten itself to this point. It's obviously far too late to now make it so that games hold their value, if it was going to happen it should have done 2 or 3 gens back. 

My point is simple, people have been trained to wait for bargain basement prices. It's a shame for devs and publishers, but that's the state we're in. The devaluing of the industry is something I'm somewhat glad Nintendo have played no part in, even if it hits my bank balance more, because ultimately the majority of the games I buy are worth the £40-60 I'm asked to shell out for them.

Media may depreciate over time, but not to the point where a game is half the price 2 months later like Immortals Fenyx Rising as one of many examples. A quality game is a quality game regardless of if it's played in Nov 2020 or Jan 2021.

Edited by Ronnie

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3 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

I don't know what the solution is, I'm merely debating how the state the industry has gotten itself to this point. It's obviously far too late to now make it so that games hold their value, if it was going to happen it should have done 2 or 3 gens back. 

You're assuming this is even a problem. For all we know the price reductions mean they make more money overall by selling more copies than if they held the price at £60 throughout the generation.

3 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

My point is simple, people have been trained to wait for bargain basement prices. It's a shame for devs and publishers, but that's the state we're in. The devaluing of the industry is something I'm glad Nintendo have played no part in, even if it hits my bank balance more, because ultimately the majority of the games I buy are worth the £40-60 I'm asked to shell out for them.

I don't think we became trained, I think it's more a case that people, generally, do not want to pay £60 or £70 for individual games. It is a lot of money. I honestly think it's as simple as that. Many people just do not inherently value games so highly.

3 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

Media may depreciate over time, but not to the point where a game is half the price 2 months later like Immortals Fenyx Rising as one of many examples. A quality game is a quality game regardless of if it's played in Nov 2020 or Jan 2021.

Is there any advantage to keeping the price fixed at £60 (or whatever the RRP is) for 6 months instead of 3?

The way I see it, you have people who will buy at launch or close to, who are willing to pay full price to get their hands on the game right away. Then you have people who have a price in mind at which they are comfortable paying (e.g. £30), perhaps because they are not in a rush or overly sure about the game. Those people are willing to wait.

I don't think that having longer intervals between launch and that reduction necessarily makes sense. People who are going to wait are going to wait (whether 3 or 6 months), and people who buy around launch have already bought the game. 

I suspect Ubi's timing with the discount for Fenyx Rising was based on when their launch sales dropped off. I guess at that point, what's the use in keeping it at the highest price?

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22 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

 

My point is simple, people have been trained to wait for bargain basement prices. It's a shame for devs and publishers, but that's the state we're in. 

The biggest reason for people waiting longer these days is due to developers and publishers releasing buggy games, then there is post-launch content (free and paid), so you may as well wait until it's all out so you can play in one go.

 

You get a better first experience if you play a non-miltiplayer game a year late. This is due to the choices purposefully made by developers and publishers.

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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, Sheikah said:

For all we know the price reductions mean they make more money overall by selling more copies than if they held the price at £60 throughout the generation.

This whole conversation started because a AAA dev was pleading with people to buy games at launch, and not wait for sales/PS+.

41 minutes ago, Sheikah said:

I don't think we became trained, I think it's more a case that people, generally, do not want to pay £60 or £70 for individual games. It is a lot of money. I honestly think it's as simple as that. Many people just do not inherently value games so highly.

You keep saying £70 but until 6 months ago games were £45 at release on Amazon. 

And of course people have become trained to wait for sales, how it that even a debate? You constantly see posts on here where people say they'll wait for a sale before getting a game.

41 minutes ago, Sheikah said:

I suspect Ubi's timing with the discount for Fenyx Rising was based on when their launch sales dropped off. I guess at that point, what's the use in keeping it at the highest price?

Ubi's timing with that game was because they're aware this is how the industry now works, with years of gamers being trained to expect price cuts. Like I said, there's no quick solution, the industry has already been devalued.

38 minutes ago, Cube said:

The biggest reason for people waiting longer these days is due to developers and publishers releasing buggy games, then there is post-launch content (free and paid), so you may as well wait until it's all out so you can play in one go.

That's one part of it yeah, but no one's waiting to play Returnal because of bugs the game may or may not need fixing, they're waiting for the inevitable price drop. You've multiple people in the thread saying as much. Same with Immortals before it was released. 

Edited by Ronnie

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6 hours ago, Jonnas said:

I fear we're clogging up the Switch thread. Maybe a thrip is in order? Should I ask a mod to create a new thread about videogame prices?

Thread consensus on this? May push it to GGD over Nintendo parent but happy to split if folks want?

 

(I was gonna comment myself on the subject but tbh mine is actually more into meta of market economics and thought i'd address this first rather than contribute that)

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That's one part of it yeah, but no one's waiting to play Returnal because of bugs the game may or may not need fixing, they're waiting for the inevitable price drop. You've multiple people in the thread saying as much. Same with Immortals before it was released.

But they're not waiting because they're 'trained' to want the best possible price, at detriment to the game makers. They're waiting because £70 is perceived by many as too much for this type of game.

If this game launched at £29.99 (about right for a procedurally generated roguelike) and reviewed well you wouldn't see as many people wanting to wait.

As I've been saying, it all comes down to that initial price and what people perceive as good and fair value for what's on offer. £70 is the new normal for Sony games but I don't know anyone that feels that's a fair price. Just as many don't want to pay £60 for Days Gone at launch when it's buggy and a bit by the books. People will pay a premium for a game they perceive as high quality, though. Ubisoft games are not generally held in that regard, though.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Rummy said:

Thread consensus on this? May push it to GGD over Nintendo parent but happy to split if folks want?

 

(I was gonna comment myself on the subject but tbh mine is actually more into meta of market economics and thought i'd address this first rather than contribute that)

Yeah, go ahead and thrip it to GGD.  It’s an interesting topic that probably deserves its own thread.

Edited by Dcubed

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Posted (edited)

Personally I very rarely buy a game at full price, the only time I have done in the last few years was Spider-Man remastered/Miles Morales, the time before that was Breath of the Wild. So both console launches. 

And it’s not that I’ve been “trained” to wait for a discount, I just don’t really think any game is worth full price. So if games never became discounted I would possibly walk away from gaming altogether.

So, just because people are waiting for games to drop in price doesn’t necessarily mean the publishers are missing out. They may loose more money in the long run if they were to remain at full price ::shrug:

Which is better, selling 100 copies at £60 or 200 copies at £30? I would argue the latter - more people to further spread the word and more total units sold that in turn can be used as part of marketing to make the game appear more successful. 

Edited by Eddage
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28 minutes ago, Eddage said:

Which is better, selling 100 copies at £60 or 200 copies at £30? I would argue the latter - more people to further spread the word and more total units sold that in turn can be used as part of marketing to make the game appear more successful. 

Ah, but that's not how it works. Most third party publishers get a fraction of the money from each sale, so halving the price will more than half the profit.

Anyway, I also support a thrip.

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Ah, but that's not how it works. Most third party publishers get a fraction of the money from each sale, so halving the price will more than half the profit.
Anyway, I also support a thrip.
But the reason they halve the price is because people aren't really buying it anymore at full price. So they actually get more profit overall by lowering the price.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Sheikah said:
18 minutes ago, Glen-i said:
Ah, but that's not how it works. Most third party publishers get a fraction of the money from each sale, so halving the price will more than half the profit.
Anyway, I also support a thrip.

But the reason they halve the price is because people aren't really buying it anymore at full price. So they actually get more profit overall by lowering the price.

No disagreement, I was more referring to the claim @Eddage made that selling double the copies at half the price is better. Because it isn't for the majority of publishers.

Edited by Glen-i

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

No disagreement, I was more referring to the claim @Eddage made that selling double the copies at half the price is better. Because it isn't for the majority of publishers.

This is just being pedantic. It may not work out perfectly that halving the price and doubling the sales means the same profit, but if a publisher takes 20% of a games sale then that is £12 of a game sold at £60. If the game was sold at £30 then that 20% equals £6. So, twice as many sales is more or less the same. Okay, so there may be other things to consider like the production of the media (when talking physical), etc, but the point I was making is still perfectly valid.

Edited by Eddage

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No disagreement, I was more referring to the claim [mention=201]Eddage[/mention] made that selling double the copies at half the price is better. Because it isn't for the majority of publishers.

A more accurate example would be selling at full price for a few months (which they do) followed by a price cut, versus never having a price cut.

 

It would be more like selling a 100 copies at full price and another 100 at half price, versus just 120 copies at full price.

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43 minutes ago, Eddage said:

This is just being pedantic. It may not work out perfectly that halving the price and doubling the sales means the same profit, but if a publisher takes 20% of a games sale then that is £12 of a game sold at £60. If the game was sold at £30 then that 20% equals £6. So, twice as many sales is more or less the same. Okay, so there may be other things to consider like the production of the media (when talking physical), etc, but the point I was making is still perfectly valid.

This whole debate started because a AAA game director was pleading for people to buy games at full price, not to wait for the usual slashing of prices.

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This whole debate started because a AAA game director was pleading for people to buy games at full price, not to wait for the usual slashing of prices.

That's because he wants all the sales they made at the lower price to have been full price sales instead. Which is not realistic, given the asking price and state of the game at launch.

 

If the price never got slashed I doubt they would have sold many copies or made much profit.

 

What he really wanted was for the game to be more popular and better received by critics, like how Ghost of Tsushima was (which did very well at launch). But...this situation is down to the developer and publisher. He can't blame the players, is he basically expecting people to buy a buggy game at launch for £60? Is it the players fault for not bankrolling their work-in-progress game?

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18 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

This whole debate started because a AAA game director was pleading for people to buy games at full price, not to wait for the usual slashing of prices.

A disgruntled ex-game developer, looking to blame anyone other than himself. There was a big rift between him and the newer members of staff, he was known to be difficult to work with. 

 

Edit: Ghost of Tsushima is a good example, as that has only just been reduced by a couple of stores, but hasn't been included in subscriptions or had any official reductions, because it's selling well anyway.

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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

This whole debate started because a AAA game director was pleading for people to buy games at full price, not to wait for the usual slashing of prices.

I'm sure he would love for everyone to have bought it at £60, but the point is that if they hadn't reduced the price then those people who bought the game at a lower price may not have bought it at all. That would have been worse.

And before you come back with the "trained to wait" response, as I have said I am basing my responses purely on how I perceive the value of games personally. I would never buy a game like Days Gone for £60 as, for me, it isn't worth that much but if it was reduced I am more likely to pick it up. I am sure I'm not the only one thinks this way.

Edited by Eddage
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A disgruntled ex-game developer, looking to blame anyone other than himself. There was a big rift between him and the newer members of staff, he was known to be difficult to work with. 
 
Edit: Ghost of Tsushima is a good example, as that has only just been reduced by a couple of stores, but hasn't been included in subscriptions or had any official reductions, because it's selling well anyway.
Exactly, GoT was critically very well received, which is why it's only just seeing modest price cuts now. This root of this guy's bitterness is that the game they made just wasn't as well received or polished, that's the reason behind why people waited for a price drop.

And another example - Sekiro. That game kept its price remarkably well; this isn't unusual for quality games.

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22 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

This whole debate started because a AAA game director was pleading for people to buy games at full price, not to wait for the usual slashing of prices.

Yeah, think you mentioned at the start of this that of course his logic was pretty dubious considering he wanted you to pay full price if you love the game, which is impossible to know until you, well, have played the game. Which many wouldn't have been doing at launch in large part down to a variety of factors: as @Sheikah mentioned, the game was a technical joke at launch which likely hit the hardcore gamer crowd harder than it did the more casual audience, and I think a wider issue with Days Gone in particular is just how indistinct it is - when you look at its visual colour palette, it's general gameplay loop, it's genre - to The Last of Us. I know there were recently conversations in another thread about Sony's offering being cut from the same cloth, and while I don't agree with the sentiment being applied generally to their first party offerings, I do think it applies to some degree here. Personally, if I hadn't known Days Gone was another first party PlayStation studio taking a whack at a post-apocalyptic, undead-filled world...well, just looking at it, I would have thought it was Ubisoft or some other big third party publisher trying to stick an open world over the top of a game trying to ride off the tails of TLOU's success. 

So, while it's great to see Days Gone finally getting more attention after its long list of updates (even if discounted, as part of the PS+ Collection, or as a free game), I think it's failure in Sony's eyes lies squarely with Bend in that regard. It's like if I became a film director today and came out with an epic, fantasty-based space opera; it's clear as day to a casual audience that not only have they seen this elsewhere, they've already seen it knocked out of the park and become part of pop culture's subconscious. I hope it's a lesson Bend take moving forwards, because I've heard many people enjoy Days Gone, and they deserve all the success they can get, but you aren't helping yourself by making such a visually similar game, and that's why I'm excited to see them take a crack at a new IP rather than a sequel next. 

But, back to the topic at hand and the discussion of price, it's pretty simple in my eyes: beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in this case, that's just how much publishers value their own IP. Nintendo value their games greatly, and have my respect for sticking with their prices, but not everyone can be Nintendo, whom - as we all seem to agree - are more likely to give you a great game than not. Though, I do have to say, I think it helps massively that their first party studios releases games on a consistent basis of high quality, and exclusively; especially now that we're in a new generation for gaming, many games aren't given the same value in the audience's eyes as they simply aren't the newest and shiniest thing and are being released on last generation consoles first and foremost. 

Immortals Fenyx Rising was treated the exact same way as Assassin's Creed, and all of their other games, by Ubisoft, who seriously undervalue the value of their games consistently, so I'm not surprised it's price is slashed. Square Enix do the same. The examples @Sheikah gave it Sekiro and Ghost of Tsushima I think are good ones, because clearly the quality is there and they are highly valued by their respective publishers, which has seen them decrease in price much more slowly than other games over the last couple of years. 

Plus, remember with Sony, they want to focus on expanding their audience for IP above all else right now, hence the focus shifting to some degree towards blockbuster titles. God of War is free as part of the PS+ Collection, Horizon Zero Dawn is free this month as part of Play at Home, and that's clearly a move they're making with eyes on those games' sequels in mind: the larger the audience of those games, the more likely they are to crush some records on release. Days Gone I think comes on the other end of this where a sequel seemingly isn't in the works at the moment, and focus is going to be back on The Last of Us for the foreseeable future with Factions, TLOU Remake, and the HBO series, so I think this move to have more people play it is simply playing the long game to grow that IP's audience for its potential return years down the road. They have the numbers and probably didn't see it being played by as many people as they would have liked, hence why they seem so eager to give it away. Plus, from an audience perspective, it adds value to PS+, and now that game doesn't run poorly, the fact that middling reviews are out there, and that we're well removed from launch, I think players' expectations going into that game will be fair and the game will be appreciated more for what it is than what it isn't. 

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, Sheikah said:

That's because he wants all the sales they made at the lower price to have been full price sales instead. Which is not realistic, given the asking price and state of the game at launch.

You don't know that. And the "asking price" at release was the same as big AAA games have cost for multiple generations, at retail at least, and with far more content included.

People say "I'll wait for the price drop" all the time. If that isn't an industry being devalued I don't know what is.

Edited by Ronnie

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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, Ronnie said:
You don't know that. And the "asking price" at release was the same as big AAA games have cost for multiple generations, at retail at least, and with far more content included. People say "I'll wait for the price drop" all the time. If that isn't an industry being devalued I don't know what is.

"You don't know that" - so you're saying that if, say, 80% of the sales were made when it was reduced, those people would have in fact paid full price if they never dropped the price? I think we can be very sure that the game wouldn't have sold as many copies if it never got reduced, so this guy is wishful thinking.

Or by saying "you don't know that" do you mean that he might not be saying he expects everyone who plays it to pay full price? Because that's what he is saying.

This isn't the kind of game that people were crying out for, it's the sort of game people took a chance on when it got cheap. If they never reduced the price many people would simply have never have bought it, as they don't value it as a £60 game. That's just the reality of it.

Your seem to be suggesting that the main reason it didn't do well at launch was because nearly everyone just plays the waiting game for a discount. But time and time again we see games like Ghost of Tsushima do well at launch. You can't just dismiss all the examples as 'outliers'. People will pay for the game at launch if they value what is on offer.

You are also suggesting all AAA games are treated equally - people will pay top dollar for games like BOTW at launch, the same can't be said for this.

Edited by Sheikah

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12 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

You don't know that. 

He likened it to piracy and how every single incidence of piracy is a "lost sale" ) indicating that he thinks that every single person pirating something would buy it if a pirated version wasn't available.

He definitely expects everyone who played it to have paid full price.

 

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