Home Gaming Are cheap games devaluing consumers?

Are cheap games devaluing consumers?

3 min read
47

Whining

The debate keeps taking new forms, but in the end it boils down to one thing – indies are worried about the state of gaming. With so many indies making so many games that are available on Steam, is this devaluing gaming or are people just whining about the awesomeness?

Over on Games Industry, Puppy Games co-founder said that price erosion is going to catch up with the industry. According to Caspian Prince, as players pay less for games, their value as customers is also decreasing. This means that the indie developers are actually incentivized to ignore customer support – players just aren’t worth the effort.

People turn up and buy stuff whether we promote them or not. It doesn’t seem like we’ve got much effect on it. We don’t really have a lot of control over who’s buying our games anymore… It doesn’t matter how much money we spend on trying to advertise or market [our games]. It’s nothing compared to what Valve can do on a whim.

Sure, I’ve heard plenty of times how Valve is oh so evil and decides which games will sell well and which ones won’t. Just like I’ve heard how YouTubers determine indie game successes. Maybe it’s all just a broken system, but I’m really tired of hearing people blame the sales and bundles. Sales and bundles still bring in developers a ridiculous amount of money – our local developers have raved about making a million Rand or more during the Steam Sales when their games are dramatically reduced in price.

Does buying a game for next to nothing cheapen it for us, though? Well, I’d argue no. I picked up some of my favorite indie games of the past few years in Humble Bundles and Steam Sales. I’m such a fan of Thomas was Alone that I will happily buy Volume at full price at launch. The same goes for anything that Klei make thanks to the glories that were Mark of the Ninja and Don’t Starve. When developers do a good job at making games, and interacting with their communities, they earn a ton of goodwill, and a higher chance of being even more successful with future releases.

Yes, gamers are demanding. However, we are also particularly loyal – buying games from developers we love or franchises we still believe in, even years down the line. Of course, if developers burn us or don’t offer the expected levels of support, we will also avoid them for years. As a result, I’m not sure that I can agree with Prince’s argument. Developers now, more than ever, need to ensure that they deliver excellent player support so that people don’t rage on the internet. If they get it right, though, people will rave about the excellent game that they bought for almost nothing.

Finally, in a related note, I have decided not to feel guilty about my backlog anymore. It is a gift I’m continually giving to my future self. It’s like insurance against ever running out of games. I don’t feel bad about buying plenty of books for my library, even if I’m not sure when I’ll get around to reading them, and this is pretty much the same thing.

Last Updated: August 25, 2014

47 Comments

  1. ToshZA

    August 25, 2014 at 15:06

    I quite like looking at my backlog and wondering which game I’ll install next. It’s rather a fun experience. Also, you are 100% right. I’ve bought a few games on special, and their sequels I’ll happily pay full price for.

    Reply

    • Alex Hicks

      August 25, 2014 at 15:15

      I, sadly, won’t buy a sequel at full price, no matter how good – simply because I could not justify that expense to myself. I’m very cognisant of the requirement to recover costs and whatnot; but my financial situation (well, not my situation; but what I refuse to let my situation become) means that I can ONLY buy games on special.

      So, are cheap games devaluing customers like me? No – because no matter how loyal I am, and how much I would like to support the industry that has given me so much; I can’t justify the spending of cash on a game over providing food for my family.

      Without the sale, I would never have bought and just continued to stare in envy and plot the downfall of those who did.

      Reply

      • ToshZA

        August 25, 2014 at 15:35

        I agree on pretty much everything you’ve said.

        The way I work around this is that I allocate a monthly entertainment budget. Say it’s R400 (this’ll depend on each person, and has changed depending on my job and financial obligations at the time). If I want a game at R600, I don’t spend that money the previous month and save it. Otherwise, if there’s a good special on, I’ll weigh up the pros and cons, and make a decision.

        In the end – I have loads of games, and Steam Specials and a few good Humble Bundles have been invaluable in adding to that collection. But I will still happily pay full price for a game I really want.

        Reply

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          August 25, 2014 at 15:41

          I spent more on The Witcher 3 collector’s edition, one game, than I have on games over the last 2 years.

          Reply

          • ToshZA

            August 25, 2014 at 15:42

            Worth it. 100%. I’m jealous. Bastard!!! xD

          • Sith JJ

            August 25, 2014 at 15:42

            Probably worth it.

        • Anon A Mouse

          August 25, 2014 at 15:48

          Hah, R400 will not even cover my weekend “entertainment”. *wink wink*

          Reply

          • Sith JJ

            August 25, 2014 at 15:49

            So I’m guessing you’re married then ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • ToshZA

            August 25, 2014 at 15:49

            LOL!!!!

          • Anon A Mouse

            August 25, 2014 at 15:56

            #foreversp, it’s far more liberating ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Sith JJ

        August 25, 2014 at 15:37

        I once made the mistake of pre-ordering a sequel because of the memories from the original. I am never pre-ordering again in my entire life.

        Reply

        • ToshZA

          August 25, 2014 at 15:38

          Yeah pre-ordering isn’t a good idea in my eyes. Neither is Early Access. But those are topics for another day. hehehe.

          Reply

          • Sith JJ

            August 25, 2014 at 15:40

            Quite. I own two early access games but got both after hours of reading Steam reviews. Both are worth it, imo. But it’s not likely to happen again.

          • ToshZA

            August 25, 2014 at 15:41

            Yeah, there are 2 games I want that are in Early Access, but I’m not a damn going to pay money until the final product is done and dusted and well received.

  2. Sk3tz0

    August 25, 2014 at 15:10

    I had a Look on Steam other day.. there are too many indie games, sadly shit like Goat Simulator is eclipsing the better game..

    Reply

    • Sith JJ

      August 25, 2014 at 15:19

      Indie games deserve their spot, if there’s a market, sell it.

      Reply

      • Sk3tz0

        August 25, 2014 at 15:20

        I mean Better Indie Games.

        Reply

        • Sith JJ

          August 25, 2014 at 15:22

          I get what you mean. And it sucks to see a wave of them when the real good ones get lost between the ridiculous ones. Sadly though, there’s a market for those crappy ones (though that goes for apparent “AAA” games also that end up being nice graphics on a lacklustre game)

          Reply

    • Ross Woofels Mason

      August 25, 2014 at 15:41

      Hey I have a ton of fun with goat simulator =p I get what you are saying though lol.

      Reply

  3. Alien Emperor Trevor

    August 25, 2014 at 15:12

    The multitude of games is what’s driving down the price. Welcome to the wonderful world of capitalism & competition. No one owes you millions for making a game, which is what half of this whining seems to be about when reading between the lines. And for whatever reason & however unfair it may be that an indie dev goes under, another one will replace him – so the whole “extinction” thing is really stupid because we’re not going to run out of devs. So it might suck for you specifically Mr Dev, but for consumers like me it doesn’t matter all that much.

    Reply

    • Weanerdog

      August 25, 2014 at 17:03

      My thoughts exactly. You need to make a spectacular game now to get some love not just a mediocre title.

      Reply

      • J_Joestar

        August 25, 2014 at 20:10

        you also need a lot of luck with the right timing and word of mouth.

        Reply

        • Weanerdog

          August 26, 2014 at 10:45

          To decimate and reconstruct a quote from Gary Player: the more you plan, effectively implement and learn from your mistakes the luckier you get. Selling games is not about programming it is about selling.

          Reply

  4. Rinceable

    August 25, 2014 at 15:14

    I just want to say that poor devs like Phill Fish are suffering. #supportFISH #FishFoodSupport

    Reply

    • ToshZA

      August 25, 2014 at 15:31

      There’s a saying I think that’s perfect for this Fish guy. “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

      Or something like that.

      Reply

  5. Alien Emperor Trevor

    August 25, 2014 at 15:15

    I don’t feel guilty about my backlog any more either. I love that I’ve got so much choice available to me when it comes to entertain myself – whether it’s gaming, reading & watching something.

    Reply

    • Rinceable

      August 25, 2014 at 15:16

      Think you left something out there…

      Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        August 25, 2014 at 15:19

        SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE

        Reply

        • Brady miaau

          August 25, 2014 at 15:20

          Well, you opened it up with your careless choice of words

          Reply

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            August 25, 2014 at 15:29

            Bah. In my head it makes perfect sense. I don’t know what’s wrong with all of you ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • Rinceable

          August 25, 2014 at 15:22

          Hehehehe

          Reply

    • Sith JJ

      August 25, 2014 at 15:20

      You always entertain us. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Reply

    • Anon A Mouse

      August 25, 2014 at 15:40

      Somehow the last part of your sentence about entertainment makes me feel sad. #foreversp

      Reply

  6. Sith JJ

    August 25, 2014 at 15:18

    No. Definitely not. Because DLC’s and Microtransactions are f@cking up the consumer value.

    Reply

  7. Brady miaau

    August 25, 2014 at 15:19

    Cheap games do not kill people, bad games kill people

    Or something

    Reply

  8. Sk3tz0

    August 25, 2014 at 15:25

    lets hope History will not repeat it self and like with the E.T Atari video game, the kak Indies will flood the market and just kill said market completely.

    Reply

  9. Alien Emperor Trevor

    August 25, 2014 at 15:26

    Funnily enough I got a 50% off coupon for Ultratron a while back & still didn’t bother buying it because it looked boring. Think I got Revenge of the Titans as part of an indie bundle.

    Reply

  10. Sith JJ

    August 25, 2014 at 15:27

    I’ve said this before, but I would pay more for some games than others.
    I would pay above the current retail price for a game like PayDay 2 (imo)
    But for something like YET ANOTHER NFS GAME, I would never ever pay the full price.
    At this rate games like FTL hold way more value than some “AAA” games.

    Reply

    • Sith JJ

      August 25, 2014 at 15:28

      I’m sure the Admiral smelled my FTL comment and is already on his way here.

      Reply

  11. FoxOneZA

    August 25, 2014 at 15:32

    In a perfect world everyone would afford a R700 game. This is not a perfect world.

    PS: #DEALWITHIT

    Reply

    • Sith JJ

      August 25, 2014 at 15:33

      Perfect world you say? Please, come this way, let me introduce you to the world of pc gaming. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Reply

      • FoxOneZA

        August 25, 2014 at 15:43

        Hehehehe ๐Ÿ˜›

        Reply

  12. Anon A Mouse

    August 25, 2014 at 15:38

    There is this hipster, new age sentence that’s always thrown around in my industry. “Remember the future value of the client”. All that that implies is that you may not make a whole bunch of money on the first purchase but you will fill your safe with all the other sales in the future from this client. I feel any industry work more or less on the same principle. If you have a loyal customer you will win in the long run as opposed to once of sales to different customers. It also more expensive to try and win over new customers than it is to retain them. That is where good customer support comes in. If you don’t do that and screw over the customer you will end up with no or little sales and few happy customers.

    Reply

    • Sith JJ

      August 25, 2014 at 15:40

      The only problem with this these days. Especially in gaming. Is that the company isn’t loyal to its consumers anymore (Listen up EA and Squeenix)

      Reply

    • ToshZA

      August 25, 2014 at 15:40

      A wise man once said “Repeat business is the business you want. That’s where the success lies.”

      Ross Johnson I think, from 3.7 Designs.

      Reply

      • Sith JJ

        August 25, 2014 at 15:42

        And it costs more than five times to sign a new customer than it does to keep servicing an existing one. This is a fact that is sadly lost on gaming publishers these days.

        Reply

  13. WhiteRock

    August 25, 2014 at 15:52

    All Good points. Maybe this is off target, but since the “death” of the demo, the steam sales and humble bundles have been an alternative to “trying out” a game for a cheaper price. Take Company of Heroes in my case – I got the 2 iteration during the last steam sale and because I love it so much I ended up buying everything(COH1 and all the DLC). Without the sale I never would’ve looked at it twice. In terms of my backlog – it does frustrate me some days as I have too many options – but I’d still rather have too many choices, than none.

    Reply

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