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Indie games should be cheaper - Zeboyd

Cthulhu Saves the World developer against "disturbing" trend of indie games launching at $20 or higher

While some indie developers are worried that games are getting too cheap, others are worried about them getting too expensive. In a post on NeoGAF today, Zeboyd Games' Robert Boyd expressed dismay at what he called the "disturbing trend" of indie game price inflation. Specifically, the designer behind titles like Cthulu Saves the World and Cosmic Star Heroine said the previous norm of $10 to $15 for an indie game at launch seems to have given way to $20 as a standard price point.

"Lower prices often benefit both players and the developer," Boyd said. "Lower prices mean more people play your game. Lower prices often result in more positive reviews. Lower prices means more buzz around your game and more people tell their friends to play the game. Lower prices often means more total revenue for the developer as dropping the price in half often results in WAY more than double the sales."

High prices at launch condition customers to hold out for sales, Boyd said. And by the time those sales some around, much of the buzz around an anticipated game tends to have died down. And it's not like launching at a cheaper price point negates the impact of sales. Boyd noted that Zeboyd can sell a years-old game for $3 normally and still sell tens of thousands of copies in a week when it gets discounted.

Boyd acknowledged that titles like Transistor and Ori and the Blind Forest have done well at $20 price points, but called those exceptional cases. The former was the first follow-up to Supergiant Games' breakthrough hit Bastion, while the latter was "one of the best looking 2D games of all time with the direct backing of one of the most powerful companies in the world."

Boyd fleshed out his ideas further on his Twitter account.

"$1 games on mobile is devaluation. Charging $10 for your indie game on Steam or consoles isn't devaluation, it's providing a good deal," he said, adding, "Games have never been so easy to make. Distribution costs are practically zero. 30+ years of competition. Game prices SHOULD be cheaper now."

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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