I see in one thread about different indie games, mentioning a pricing model where players could purchase development version for discounted price (that helps developers get money during the development), and get the upgrades (and the final version) for no additional cost. I think that’s pretty interesting idea for pricing, but of course comes with some questions:
- What can you promise? If you promise to provide more than you eventually will, do the customers get money back – or were the customers just buying the development version? How do you communicate this to customers (and ensure that people don’t assume that all new fancy ideas will get into the game)?
- How you keep people interested? Providing a proper schedule where you add new stuff frequently (every week? month? 6 months?) can help this, but how do you ensure that people will keep playing the game?
- How do deal with the customer support? Handling a community, sales, support, ideas and everything takes time. How players will be able to influence the development? What communication methods you will use? How much time are you willing to spend into this?
- How low can you afford to go? A rule of thumb is that discounts are good for bringing traffic in campaigns, and good for volume purchases, but keeping low prices might not be as good for revenues as having higher prices. It can work, but this type of thing could be considered. (Yes, I’m opening the can of worms here).
- How do you know when the game is “ready enough” to be sold? (Answer is: you really don’t before you put it online…)
- What if you change the game so that some new feature makes people irritated? If they bought the game for specific feature X, and now you introduce not so fun feature Y (not so fun for some player), can the customer ask for a refund since he was thinking that the feature X wouldn’t be touched?
All these questions can be answered (and have been by some indies for example), and I’m also dealing with some of these in my own zombie game’s development – so certainly this was an interesting approach into selling the game. There are potential problems, but it sure is a nice way to fund the game right from the beginning.