Why People Buy Games

Why people buy games is the question, and here’s one reason: because of insane need to buy.

I’m a big fan of Tolkien & Lord of The Rings stuff: I own 2 out of 3 movie extended editions, I have the 3 books, I have the Middle Earth Role Playing game *somewhere*, I enjoy playing PC game Battle for Middle Earth, I own the board game Confrontation and so on. I’m not totally crazy fan (like I didn’t wear elven cloak when the movie was shown…) – but nevertheless I’m a fan. Last week I started thinking that I really need to get the first movie’s extended edition, but it wasn’t in stores. I decided to buy the shorter version, but day after the purchase my friends told me one online shop that still sells the edition (with Finnish subtitles). I faced a terribly strong urge to buy the DVD box and I did. I mean – I had to get that edition, and I had to get it right away. Waiting for Christmas was out of question – I wanted it now.

Next we just need to figure out how to get people to feel that strong urge to buy indie games…

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Its the experience.
    People buy an experience, not a product.
    They like the experience of buying the product, of drolling on the product until they will get it.
    They like the pictures, if there are good pictures of characters of your product, it stimulates their imagination about how great is the product.
    All this is before they even get the product.
    It would be easier to think about cars.
    People enjoy tjeir cars even when they are not driving it, only the fact that you have an expensive car in your garage make them feel good.
    I am sure you can figure out more why people like to buy stuff, if you think about it more. But thats what I thought about for now.

  2. “The way the spines of some DVD series will form a continuous picture when side by side on your shelf”

    Yes that’s a good argument / example. Perhaps if you build up a cool image of your game company, and then add something continuous into your products that thrills the player so he MUST have it in order to complete the collection, that would be great.

    It could also help to have some “limited editions”, so there’s the “rare” attribute ;)

  3. In LotR’s case its all about tiering content and having a lot of it. Indie producers don’t have 300 million to make content with, so we have to make up for it with procedural depth.

  4. You would probably need to create a checklist or collectable mentality, somehow. People like to complete collections, that’s the compulsion behind buying DVDs or CDs, and many retro games. It’s easier when there’s something tangible, or when there’s some easy way to see the current state of the collection (eg. The way the spines of some DVD series will form a continuous picture when side by side on your shelf). Maybe the indie games industry is just too dispersed and intangible to tap into that?

    If a high quality portal (or even an indie developer with a few good games to their name) had a checklist or percentage of games owned measurement built into a membership system, you’d probably find a few extra games being sold just to build up the collection and check something off a list. It’s similar to what drives people to want 100% completion of a game, even when they’ve already seen almost everything, only with a collection it’s easier to get the extra percentage points, you just have to pay for them.

  5. By greating a game that they really really like? :)

    I’m really a programmer, not a business dude, but as far as I’m know it really isn’t any magic to sell stuff to people, you just need to find the right people who like the product and they’ll buy it. Same with you : the Lord of the Rings products found you, then you read the first book / watched the first movie, after that you were hooked.

    Of course, if you find a way to get people buying any kind of indie game only because they want to have the largest collection of indie games..

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