MMO Price Point (Part Two)

Apparently Rav linking me on Kill Ten Rats has generated a lot of initial buzz. Thanks Rav!

I received some surprisingly good feedback from Hardcore Casual on my first post about the MMO Price Point.

I must say, I agree with two of the points brought up.

The first being that the game community has a tendency to associate lower price with an inferior product. Which is true. It is a symptom of the current price point system that all games use. In general, games do not drop in price unless they are either old or doing poorly in sales. Poor sales are usually a reflection of a bad product. So, because of this system, when games launch at a lower price point or reduces in price shortly after launch it sends off the vibe that the game is a bad game.

However, I believe that can be overcome by a quality product breaking from the norm. Quality products can overcome the price point negative vibe. Team Fortress 2, for example, originally launched both separately and with the Orange Box. At launch, the game itself was $20. Normally, one would assume a sub-standard product or an Indie game to launch at that price. But the game was very, very high quality in just about every aspect. Then again, it was also released in the Orange Box, so I don’t know how good of an example it truly is.

And the second point I agree with is that you don’t necessarily want a larger player base on launch day. This, however, is because of an entirely different issue – the fact that MMOs continue to launch in a “beta quality” state rather than a finished product. Given that continued, horrible trend in the industry, I must agree that initially launching at a $30 price point may actually be detrimental to the game.

An MMO might be better off giving other incentives to early adoption and then slowly lowering the box price as the game ages (say, 2-3 months down the road dropping to $30-$35). Hardcore Casual gives some pretty good examples of incentives that companies could use.

I still fully endorse the idea of lowering the price of the box copy, but I’m willing to push the price drop back from initial release to a couple of months down the road. Then again, that is only because of the bad custom MMOs have of launching in near-unplayable state.

But that’s another post . . .

Published in: on January 22, 2010 at 10:29 am  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. TF2 is also a sequel to a very popular game, from a company with an established track record of quality. Only the launch of WoW 2 would fit that description, and something tells me Blizzards next MMO is going to cost $60+ come release 🙂

    As for launching in a beta state, I don’t think we will EVER overcome that (though I’m looking forward to your piece about that). Games will vary in polish (some will be closer to alpha, some closer to ‘done’), but I don’t think we will ever see an MMO launch and not have the traditional issues that go along with it. If such a title was about to release, everyone and their mother would be there day one, and much like the number of players in a zone, the problem then escalates exponentially.

  2. I think there’s a lot to be said for self-regulation by customers.

    The games company doesn’t particularly want me there on Day One. I don’t want to suffer the logging in issues, server crashes and bugginess of a brand new mmo again.

    I think I’ve learned more or less to wait a few weeks and I’m sure my restraint is good for the games companies.

  3. Torchlight is a good recent example. It can easily compete with the “big boys” of the dungeon crawl genre, and could have sold well at the $50 pricepoint. It’s a great game.

    And yet, it released at $20, and almost every single reviewer noted that it’s a fantastic game *and* it’s cheap. I suspect that the game’s quality came as a surprise to some, just picking up what they thought was a cheap game. (And some almost inevitably thought it was “good *for* a cheap game” rather than good, period.)

    That sort of goodwill is a slippery factor, but I can’t help but think that the initial buzz around the game was greatly helped by the pricepoint on release day, and sales almost certainly followed. We can’t test it in a vaccuum and see what parallel universes would have done with different pricepoints, but I can’t help but suspect that it sold more and made more money precisely because it sold at $20 instead of $50, if for no other reason than $20 seems like impulse purchase territory. It’s not microtransaction territory, but in a shelf filled with $50 games, one that looks good for $20 is almost a reflexive purchase for many gamers.

  4. Thanks the author for article. The main thing do not forget about users, and continue in the same spirit.

  5. The subject is fully clear but why does the text lack clarity? But in general your blog is great.

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