What Would a 2.99 Price Point Do To Casual Games?

I’m asking because Big Fish Games just let me know about the Catch of the Week: which basically means they have an expiring offer for a game that costs only $2.99.

I’m sitting here in front of my computer and thinking:

“What these “weekly deals” will do for casual games?”

Maybe these and other deals slowly but unsteadily mean that other portals will start doing the same. And when everybody is doing weekly deals, it won’t last long for others to start do weekend deals. And then daily deals.

And soon the expensive $6.99 turns into $5.99. Then $2.99. Soon iPhone games will cost more.

Who knows when eventually casual games also start doing micropayments and “selling extra content” inside games. (For $0.99 to $2.99 per package).

Your thoughts?

22 thoughts on “What Would a 2.99 Price Point Do To Casual Games?

  1. 6.99 is already much, much too low. Going to 2.99 would mean something like 50 cents per game royalty to the developer (because of the disproportionately high payment processing costs and bad royalty share).

    The portals simply can’t move the numbers needed to make it a viable business for devs if they go that low.

    There may have been business sense in 6.99 for the portals (but certainly not for the devs), but I think even though would suffer with 2.99.

    The daily deal program is a decent deal for devs, though – it brings a good lump of money in on an old game which had long since slid off the charts (Deep Blue Sea 1 ran as a Daily Deal, and it made a decent lump sum).

  2. As more devs flee the casual download market for “greener pastures” like Facebook it’ll leave more room for the better devs to succeed (providing that the customers don’t flee too).

  3. Ah, okay. Thanks for this.

    Well… we’ll see how it goes. First it was $20 then $10 then $7 and slowly coming to $6… soon it’ll be $3, then $1-2 ;)

  4. There are plenty of good free games out, I don’t believe that lowering the price necessarily “shoots developers in the foot” or whatever. And I have seen free flash games with microtransactions in them, which give me mixed feelings.

  5. @Juuso: To answer you indirectly, the $2.99 thing only seems to happen for games one or more years old e.g. http://www.casualcharts.com/games/detail/spiritofwanderinglegend.html

  6. I´m afraid about the “zero-running-prices”, as happening in AppStore .

    Indiealliance appears to be a good move to get audience to indies (I did not send any games to them yet).

    Anyway, keep swiming.

  7. Sorry, wanted to stay anonymous.
    I have been a casual download game dev for few years now. Let’s face it: IT’S DEAD NOW.
    too much competition (almost 2 games released per day on BFG), too little exposure, too little revenue. There isn’t any long tail anymore and the dev cost have skyrocketed. No need to be a math expert to see that the figure don’t add up.

    Yes, some very lucky dev with an EXCELENT game can make big money but for the most of us it doesn’t make any senses anymore.

  8. As a gamer with a limited budget, I hardly ever touch games until their prices are at least cut in half. I’ve only ever bought one console game at it’s $60 dollar price, the rest I’ve bought used, or on sale.

    Personally, most games regular prices are horribly high. Even Indie games like World of Goo. It’s regular price was $19.99. I’d never buy it at that price. I’d consider it at $10, and when they released it as part of that ‘pay what you want’ deal, I snapped it up.

    Casual games are designed for people who just want a quick break. If someone is just looking for a quick break, they aren’t going to pay much for it. So, $5 would be the price I’d look for.

    $2.99 does seem a bit low. But it definitely lowers the risk factor. People regularly pay more than that for a cup of coffee. So if they buy the game and only spend 15 minutes on it, it wasn’t a waste of money for them. Where if it was more than that, they’d feel bad about wasting money, and be less likely to buy new games.

    As an entry level developer, I don’t have any experience with the game market. So, if I ever release a game, I’ll have to do a lot of reading and experimenting to figure things out. From what I have read, and how I personally buy games, I’ll look for a midrange price that is less than the normal high prices. I’ll also create add in content. That’s where I think most money will be made in the future.

  9. @Jake: I suppose. I don’t know when “The Spirit of Wandering: The Legend” was published on BFG. How long it takes for games to become “old” and stop “generating revenue at $6.99″?

  10. Good discussion folks.

    I sort of lean to go with laurent here:
    “I think it is a signal to dev’s that a new means of revenue is needed”

  11. Seems to be a lot of misinformation floating around about the $2.99 price point. It’s only for OLD games that have ceased to generate decent revenue at $6.99. When they appear on the front page for $2.99 they get a huge boost in sales (happened to one of my games) that carries on for quite a while even after the game returns to $6.99. As a dev I for one think it’s GOOD. It’s just the same as a Steam sale after all.

  12. I think it is a signal to dev’s that a new means of revenue is needed. The race to zero as described by Chris Anderson in Free is on for online games.
    What is needed to keep price points high is by branding your games as quality. Do what Apple does.
    Devs need to go to combo of revenue streams – ads in-game, full brand sponsorships, micro-transactions and special downloadable items.
    Innovation in business models is what is needed.

  13. I agree with Andy that its purpose is to get more customers.
    I don’t think that BFG (or others) will try to cut developers part to reduce the costs. They are smart they will try to achieve and maintain the win-win-win situation. To gain more happy customers for even lower prices (customers win) while keeping the total profit higher (BFG win, developers win). If they would try to exploit the developers they would be making more bad for themselves then good – I hope:)
    But maybe I’m naive and they already have enough in-house developers to maintain themselves and they no longer need us!:(

  14. Even when old games are discounted, new indy games can still compete. Steam just put up indy game Eversion for £3.14 and it’s already #1 seller in the under £4 category.

  15. Surely BFG’s move is for one reason – to reel in more regular visitors.

    On one hand they are offering (older) games for $2.99, however on the other they are releasing collectors editions for $20 each!

    I have to admit I was very tempted with “Royal Envoy collectors edition” but held off until the usual $6.99 version appeared, which then appeared to be a reasonable price! Clever move on their part methinks.

    Anyway in a nutshell I reckon it’s just a publicity move to get more customers lined up for higher priced stuff. I shouldn’t think it’s a plan to change all prices to $2.99 ;)

  16. Are U sure what you talk about is not just a sales promotion?
    I mean… every business has a sales promotions’ budget that they use to sell more. It doesn’t mean that they pay less to their providers (game devs), because they spend part of their promo budget to support that price discount.
    Imagine Big Fish wants to get more players. They need blogs to talk about them, so they decide to make a promotion that everybody will like. So, as they have a promotion budget, they say “ok, let’s spend 300 for the promo. We calculate that with this blogs talking about us we’ll sell 100 more games this weekend, so let’s make a discount only on the weekend of 3 per game”.
    Developers will never suffer that discount, of course.

  17. I share jtrencsenyi’s view of game dev suicide. The only restriction I want to add is that it seems to be the coming death of the CASUAL game dev as we know it today.

    Portals won’t stop decreasing the price until they shoot themselves (and their fellow developers) in the foot. BFG is not dumb and won’t cut prices to gain less profit. They optimize and try out different routes as every good company should do. The problem (for us) is that cutting down developers is a no-brainer for cost reduction. Only the big ones will survive this evolution and the small ones have to move over to other territories.

    Finally it’s an old story. As long as developers are willing to switch main pillars it should not be a problem.

  18. To Pathogen David: It made me laugh. I have never seen before that justification “they won’t miss that dollar”. It seems that pirates will always pirate:)
    If product is expensive than they say it too expensive to buy. If product is cheap than they say it is so cheap you won’t the money:) Cool:)

  19. jtrencsenyi can you explain me where do you see the threat of this? My view (maybe it is naive or I’m blind) is that portals like BFG is not about to lower their profit. Therefore if they somehow (long experiences, experiments or whatever) figure out that lower price means more sales AND money for them then it means more money also for game developers, doesn’t it? (if the percentage for developer stays the same of course)

  20. imo as we dig down into the lower prices, we also make our games look like they are worth less. Many pirates like to justify pirating music because “they won’t miss that dollar” when they don’t realize if they do it a lot or everyone does it then they will miss those thousands of dollars.

  21. It’s the slow suicide of the game dev, imho. :(

  22. Chris Gander

    Reducing the overall price of casual games will do nothing but reduce the quality of casual games. Plus it will reduce the number of quality casual games being released. Why? Because experienced casual game developers and distributors just won’t waste their time on creating amazing casual games that are really addictive and fun. The casual games you will start to see will be cheap and nasty games that you’ll play for a couple of minutes and never go back to. These games will leave a bad taste in the player’s mouth and do nothing to further the industry.