Special Promotion: Azada Game For 99 Cents (Is That a Good Practise?)

Big Fish Games is making the hit game Azada available for 99 cents. Click here to read more about the offer (and remember to use the coupon code AZADA99 in case you want to take advantage of this). The offer ends on August 15.

So… why Big Fish Games is doing this?
I don’t know their marketing strategy, but I’d suspect thre’s pretty clear reasons on why they wanna do this. Here’s some of them:

#1 – Getting new customers under their wings
This is most likely the reason for the campaign. Big Fish Games wants more customers. Heavily underpricing their product (yet reminding that it’s quality game) is a common marketing strategy for gaining customers. They expect these customers to come back and buy later from them, and that’s where the profits are made (and I suppose Azada has already sold loads of copies, so there’s not really big risk in this – besides, the offer lasts only a week).

#2 – Gaining press interest
Campaigns like this wake up the press and developers. People will talk why they are doing this and why they are doing this. Bloggers will promote Azada and write reasons and guess why this or that happens.

I think they got me.

#3 – To piss of developers
Okay, maybe they don’t intentionally want this to happen, but I’m sure somewhere you can find some developers saying how portals are evil because they are selling so cheaply. Yet… they keep contacting portals to sell their games. There will be somebody who says that they shouldn’t be selling this cheap.

I’m not taking sides on this matter – I just simply say that some people might be offended by this.

The fact is that Azada was made by Big Fish Games, so I suppose they have the right to do whatever they want with their game.

The bottom line is: Azada is now only 99 cents, and you have about week to get it.

What do you think?
What’s your opinion about promotions like these? Obviously they are pretty good for customers, but are they good or bad for portals? What about to developers?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. As a senior producer in the casual games industry, I can assure you that a title like Azada could never be done in three months by a single developer, let alone one month, or for $5000. A high quality Time Management game such as Diner Dash, Cake Mania, or Sally’s Spa takes between six and nine months to complete, with a team of 4 to 8 people working on it full time.

    You’re looking at a cost for a US team of around $200,000 to $300,000 for such a quality title, lets if you can do it in eastern europe or south-east asia.

    It may be possible to earn that money back at $1, but it seems unlikely. Remember that Big Fish takes their cut, and the developer only sees part of that sales price. That doesn’t mean that discounting has no place. If Big Fish can sell 4x the games at $7 as at $19 then discount away, but there is a sweet spot, and nobody understands that better than the portals. Remember, they want to make money too, and they’re not going to shoot themselves in the foot.

    So why would they sell Azada for 99 cents? First, it may be a marketing thing. Second Azada has been out for just over a year, and it hasn’t seen even a glimpse of the top 10 at BFG since march. It’s sales window is over. Why not crank out some more sales at a very discounted rate. I’d be happy if they did that with my games that have left the top 100.

  2. @Thomas D. It’s simply not true that most casual-download games could be done by one person in a month, maybe 3 months minimum for a programmer and an artist based on the current quality level, but as I said most take longer now.

    Agreed that Indie “authors” don’t get paid a salary because you just get royalties once the game is released (I’ve done this multiple times so I know about it). But it’s still fun to look at your royalties over time and work out what you were paid per hour/day/week/month whatever for making that game. It’s not good business sense to say “OK I’ll make a game it’ll cost $5000 and I hope I make that money back” without factoring in some kind of approximate salary for your programming time.

  3. @ Jake: I think your post shows a number of subtleties that make my opinion on this differ so much. For starters, I think of game producers more like authors or directors than factory workers, making the idea of monthly salary somewhat alien to me.

    But yes (jumping to a different part of your post), there is a problem of to many people involved in making a game (we’re talking about games at casual-download level here, most of which are clones of simple ideas that could be done by one person within a month, plus QA, although the problem itself stretches further up). As I said, I exclude higher profile games, Braid being a recent example of a high-profile game (in terms of content complexity) for the download market. Ironically, Braid was basically done by two guys with the help of a few licenses, though I don’t know how long it took them.

  4. Thomas: well, Jake kind of explained my thoughts on this matter.

    To make $10,000 you would need to sell maybe minimum of 20 000 copies – or even more (take away costs to market, hosting fees, payment processing fees) and increased customer support needs.

    I suppose there’s nothing that prevents people trying… but there indeed is tests made earlier. I remember one indie reporting that using price $10 or $20 didn’t cause much difference in terms of profits.

  5. Selling all downloadable games at $1 would kill the market. It already hits developers hard when games are sold discounted from $20.

    When people spend $1 on a game they still have to go through the payment and unlock process and this all takes a bit of time and many of those people would still buy it at $5 or $10 simply because they want it. There’s plenty of research done on this. Sure you might get some extra sales at $1 but all those extra sales would not make up for the drop in price from say $10 or $20. There’s a bell curve for all products where there’s an optimum price point which balances number of sales and unit price.

    Can games really be made for $1000-5000? Well perhaps you could spend that little on art/music assets (but it might not look/sound very good) but what about your salary for making the game? Surely you want to be paid more than $100 or whatever per month for making a game that takes 6 months? Most half-decent casual games cost considerable more than $5000 to make even if you don’t factor in a programmer salary.

  6. What do you mean by “loads of copies”? I excluded high-profile games which leaves us with games that can be done at a budget of – what? 1,000 $? 5,000 if it’s an expensive one. I don’t know of the number of sales to expect in this market on average, but selling 10,000 copies of something that is 1$ does not seem like a difficult task to me, at least not in a markt as big as the english-speaking world.

  7. In fact, taking into account the fact that those games do not cause any significant costs per download (like disc production would do), all downloadable games should go for around that price (except if they are really big files or high-profile).

  8. How can you not know that this is to prepare for Azada’s 2 upcoming release?

    Everyone and their dogs know about this since they also did the same deal for MCF3 just before MCF4’s release.

    Are you really that ignorant of the PC casual games market? Do you know how many people are laughing at you and this blog right now?

  9. They are doing it because Azada2 is coming soon. So, that way they can make people aware about the brand and get some interest about Azada2. This is call marketing.


  10. I already own it but I suspect it may also be that they are drumming up interests for Azada 2…I have been waiting for Azada 2 so I HOPE this is the reason!

  11. it’s a sweet deal, I’ll take advantage of that any day of the week. Azada is a great game and if they want to generate some interest and traffic, so be it. I’m sold!

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