Mind Games–An awesome Indie game idea

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IndieRoyale

By Gareth Fouche

Well now. This is interesting, isn’t it? A new indie bundle deal has arrived on the scene, and it brings with it a cunning sales trick.

Now, you all know that I’m on the side of my indie bros. Being an indie is tough; you’re the scrappy underdog fighting for every bit of attention you can get, every sale you make is meaningful and appreciated. But this…this is kinda like gamification. It’s a little…evil.

Not very evil, don’t get me wrong. Just a tad evil. It’s a Jedi with a few more Dark Side points than Light Side. It’s taking advantage of a simple psychological trick to increase sales. The price starts low, but every sale they make (potentially) increases that price, and visibly so. Which adds the mental goad of feeling that you should get it now, if you want it, before the price increases. So people all rush to get it, but that just accelerates the upward pressure on the price.

But there’s more! The site offers an opportunity for heroism. If you give more than the standard, you can bring the price down for everyone else, and get your name up on the front page to boot! Champion! Which is not a bad thing, really, it just feels like they’re ‘gaming’ your charitable streak a bit, doesn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a rather clever tactic, and possibly the natural progression of the Humble Bundle’s ticking countdown timer. And as an indie you need to find new and novel ways to stand out and draw attention amid the triple-A PR campaigns. But my worry is that people will start to feel manipulated, just a little. Maybe I’m over-thinking it, I’ve been wrong before. Maybe the extremely generous price for a bundle of high quality games is more than compensation for a little bit of psychological tomfoolery. I initially thought people would burn out on frequent Steam sales, but from all accounts they are a smashing success. My own 25-game backlog of titles I bought on sale attests to that.

But still, I worry. In these days, when publishers are carving strips from their games to sell to you as premium DLC, or as deterrent against buying 2nd-hand, might gamers grow tired of people attempting to push their buttons in one way or the other?

Last Updated: October 27, 2011

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