Kevin Murphy談遊戲未來盈利(付費)模式的預測

本文原作者:Kevin Murphy 譯者:遊戲邦ciel chen

聊聊我們遊戲未來的盈利模式會是什麼模樣。首先我們概括一下我之前說過內容好了,我之前對遊戲打折時段越來越提前表示了憂慮(比如《戰地》、《使命召喚》以及《泰坦隕落》在上個聖誕就開始打折了),以及擔心這會影響玩家對遊戲的認知價值。

對於Spotify和Netflix成功的盈利模式應用於其他行業這件事我表示很擔心,我們實際已經感覺到事態正在往這個方面發展,像Humble Bundles、EA Access以及其他類似平臺都有這個趨勢。

在遊戲產業裏,如果我們一不小心就有可能步入沒錢可賺的境地——只有那些最老套、通俗、較低成本和具備較廣吸引力的遊戲(比如《使命召喚》和《FIFA》系列)纔有可能賺到錢。如果這樣的趨勢在未來的十年或者更久的時間裏紮根發芽,那作爲玩家我們會失去很多遊戲的樂趣。

我看到的問題是,傳統的遊戲價格模型正在從根本上發生變化,然而包括我自己在內的很多人依舊願意爲那款我們想要的遊戲買單來擁有一份它的copy——而這類遊戲的利潤正在縮減,未來我們可能將失去很多可供選擇的遊戲,因爲遊戲開發者將再也無法支付不起運營一個工作室的資金,即使是那些較大型的工作室也將不再怎麼願意(甚至比現在更不願意)對他們的遊戲進行變革性的創新了。

the future of game monetization(from gamasutra.com)

the future of game monetization(from gamasutra.com)

我想來看看遊戲的盈利模式正在經歷着怎樣的變化,我們又能對此做些什麼?

今天的遊戲盈利模式發生了什麼?

正如我上文提到的,我們正看到遊戲盈利模式向訂閱付費類型走向發展,即支付一定費用便可下載給定範圍內的所有遊戲。這在前面那條博客我已經具體說明了我爲什麼不想看到這種盈利模式取得成功,所以這裏我就不贅述了。

我們也看到了——《星戰前夜(EVE)》和《魔獸世界(WOW)》已經願意讓自己的遊戲以F2P的形式給玩家玩到一定等級,不過等玩家玩到較高等級時,他們依舊保留了他們訂閱式的付費模式,但這裏值得注意的是——這些遊戲鉅作訴諸於F2P模式來試圖擴增穩固自己的玩家數量。未來我們還會在新遊戲中看到訂閱式的付費模式嗎?這是個值得探討的話題。

DLC現在也在一定程度上發生着變化。EA開始發行對附加的多玩家競技地圖收費的DLC,不過只有屈指可數的玩家爲此買單,所以他們基本全部服務器都在空轉沒人用。雖然還沒有太確切消息,不過《星球大戰:前線2》今年似乎已經聲明瞭他們將不再發行DLC,或者說至少不會再有那種會阻礙他們的玩家粉絲團戰的DLC了。

很不幸地,開寶箱正在變成一種相當流行的遊戲盈利模式。《守望先鋒(Overwatch)》、《反恐精英(Conter-Strike)》、《戰地(Battlefield)》以及其他數不清的遊戲都在踏入這個利用人類投機心理的陰暗面的坑中。好吧,這終究是必不可免要發生的,因爲這個模式真的很有效,我們確實無法抗拒它。這實際上就是變相的道具收費,但這種形式相當不健康,而就目前看來這將成爲未來幾個主要的盈利策略之一。

F2P的運營模式目前爲止進行的還是相當順利穩當的,尤其是在手遊領域和東部地區,但是就像你在Youtube上所看到的的那樣,廣告商已經越來越不願意在視頻裏放置可跳過的廣告了,他們現在都選擇直接贊助視頻內容然後讓視頻主播幫他們推銷。那麼當他們厭煩了幫手游上的瘋狂派對買單的時候,這種模式還會持續多久?又或者說什麼時候會消亡呢?

當然還有很多的例子和更多的混合的付費(盈利)模式,不過我們該進入到下一個話題了。

初級經濟學課程

我在文章一開始曾提到過遊戲價值似乎走在走低的緣由。從傳統經濟學上來看,價格的定位取決於供求關係。而我們在現代所面臨的的問題是數字產品(對所有目的與意圖)的無限供應(忽略潛在的服務器成本);而市場對遊戲的需求卻是有限的,因爲這中需求是基於人類而言的——由於我們有無限量的遊戲供我們選擇,於是一個額外的遊戲代碼在很多人眼裏就失去了其固有價值,特別是當我們考慮到市面上還有那麼多的遊戲,這種固有價值的更加微不足道了。

基於市場上游戲數量之多,人們開始致力於打擊盜版和作品剽竊,然而依舊有些人是不怎麼接受新遊戲數字版要價的,因爲他們覺得數字版的成本沒有在Gamestop商城上購買的實體版來的多(這是一個值得探討的內容,不過不屬於我們該文章討論的範圍)。

不論問題能延伸到什麼程度(值得討論),我懷疑你會不同意這個看法:玩家接受遊戲的定價越來越低,但是卻願意爲新的蘋果手機花個1000美金(對那些有支付能力的人來說)。實體貨品能保住它們的固有價值是因爲其供給是有限的——這也是爲什麼一些經典唱片與任天堂SNES越來越值錢,卻沒人對盜版數字版的《The Doors’ Greatest Hits》(唱片)或者《Zelda》(遊戲)有什麼想法的。

所以要如何爲我們的產品保值來避免無限量供應所帶來的市場崩潰?就憑自己一片赤誠的理想主義精神,依仗玩家的慷慨大方可不是個辦法。“你想付多少就付多少”的付費模式能成功的案例是少之又少——我們已經可以看到CryTeck的遊戲在這條道路上已經走到了幾乎要退出遊戲業的絕境了。

那麼,純屬處於好玩,讓我拋出幾個我的想法,我們可以看看有沒有可以拿來說道說道的內容。

對於這樣的市場現狀我們能做些什麼?

我要重申下我絕對沒有想讓我所說的這些被付諸實踐的願望,並且我知道目前沒有幾個玩家會支持我的這些說法,不過反正我想說的只是遊戲銷售方式變化之大,所以我就按照我自己想說的來說了。對於每個人都應該有能力買得起一款遊戲以及每款遊戲之間成本都應該差不多的這個想法是存在根本性缺陷的(不過這對很多其他比如跑車、手錶、公寓、食物、研討會、網絡教程的享受型商品並不適用),不過我覺得這種想法很有可能在未來依舊存在。(說說而已)

無論如何都得對產品供應進行限制

你覺得如果說你只發售1萬份的遊戲copy,但每份售價要100美元,會發生什麼?你能賣得出去給你真正的遊戲粉們嗎?也許能。因爲他們不會想錯過你遊戲的限量版。好吧實際上這還是取決於這款遊戲內容和製作者的名聲夠不夠響,反正我覺得這招行得通。畢竟這在經濟理論上是很合理的。

再想想,如果你構建了一個網絡實時開放型遊戲世界,這款遊戲是玩家從未見過的賞金狩獵型遊戲,不過你只允許每次只能有100名玩家通過得到通行碼進行遊戲。而這個通行資格的售價定在2000美元,當用戶購得通行代碼所有權後就可以對玩遊戲的權利進行拍賣(所以這個通行碼會升值)。其中開發者要求得到一半所得利潤——會發生什麼呢?這些數字是我隨便編的,不過我覺得這裏的理論是站得住腳的。我覺的想在Youtubers中找出100個有錢人讓他們多花點錢來對這個具有歷史意義的新遊戲進行直播還是不難的。他們可以在Stream平臺上把這個錢賺回來的,而且之後他們還可以倒賣他們的通行碼來賺更多錢。

虛擬房地產

我們來說說《俠盜獵車5》online版本吧(對其他hub world遊戲也適用)。你通過支付遊戲內貨幣來購買一間好看的(或者不那麼好看的)安全屋來藏你的車以防被搶;郊區房子價格相當便宜、頂級公寓則貴上好多——你用的是遊戲內貨幣來進行購買,所以這個過程更傾向是作爲獎勵而不是一個盈利機制——不過鑑於你可以用現實的貨幣購買遊戲內貨幣,那麼這個界限就不再那麼明確了。
這裏的重點是,遊戲只是根據你的情況給你了一間頂級公寓。這應該是城市裏最高端的藏身之所了,不過只要玩的時間夠久,基本所有人都能得到這所公寓。所以沒有了特殊性和稀有度,它的價值也就降低很多。那麼,如果遊戲規定每種安全房只能有一名玩家擁有呢?好了,現在由於你可以購買遊戲內貨幣了,每個人就都有機會成爲唯一擁有這套安全房的人了——很多玩家可能對買安全房沒什麼興趣,不過這裏我只是給出一些橫向思考的觀點讓大家知道——遊戲開發者是可以通過虛擬財產來賺到現實財產的。現實財產之所以能保值的原因是因爲它們的有限,而虛擬財產並沒法提供現實的庇護而被忽略,不過當我們在數量上加以限制,這種虛擬財產就會突然被賦予價值。所以如果虛擬資產只能在遊戲裏週轉,但開發者這時對其數量加以限制,雖然遊戲依舊是個MMO遊戲,但其收費機制此時卻出現了同現實房地產經濟相似的規律。

無論你怎麼評價《星際公民(Star Citizen)》這個遊戲,至少它證明了傳統的付費模式不是唯一出路。當他們把迷你版護衛艦Idris售價1000歐元並說只限量發售12只的時候,這些模型倒是沒多久就會被瘋搶一空,畢竟物以稀爲貴。

爲子彈買單

我朋友Colm Larkin(迷宮指導)曾經開玩笑有一天晚上開玩笑地提過一個建議——你可以讓子彈收費。儘管他是開玩笑的,不過我要認真地就這個提議好好講講。一場死亡競賽和漆彈遊戲之間的區別是什麼?絕對是汗水和有限的彈藥!

生存遊戲是一項愛好娛樂,在這裏對那些有支付能力的人他們會買下最好的裝備、武器、手榴彈等等,而另外一些人則租用場地提供的普通槍支,一整天下來結果都在努力地節省彈藥。沒什麼人會真的抱怨這個遊戲“要付錢才能贏”的,事實上還就是這麼回事。你想想,如果你有一款F2P射擊遊戲,你被要求支付登錄服務器的一天權限、或者給你一點折扣買個包月權限、再或者跟你收額外彈藥的錢(真實貨幣),你覺得怎麼樣?

沒有人會玩這個遊戲的,因爲射擊遊戲現在多得是,而從根本上來說你選擇什麼方式度過你的周天下午並不存在太多娛樂價值上的差異。我想問:爲什麼這種收費方式行不通呢?畢竟,在家用網絡流行起來之前,我和朋友經常花錢約去網咖在局域網上玩《Delta Force》、《Unreal Tournament》或者《Half-Life》。如果你覺得這麼做很老土,那你看看人家韓國人現在可流行跟朋友開黑一起去咖啡廳打《英雄聯盟》了。

出租設備

說到網咖之類的地方,我想起最近聽說的VR在中國和日本市場的逐漸興起。人們喜歡VR,不過鑑於中國日本平均家居空間有限,VR一整套系統設備對他們來說太大了,所以他們會去商場之類有設立高端VR PCs租用的地方按小時(或其他計時長度)去體驗。

我們這裏只有有限的場地和可租用設備,所以該案例就不是數字化遊戲的固定價值問題了。從根本上來看,要是說我們探討的有什麼區別的話,那就是它證明了我的觀點:當供給有限時才能創造出價值,而無限的供給將會對未來電子遊戲定價造成影響。

現在“雲遊戲”也正在發展起來。目前我們可以讓遊戲運行在高配置PC“雲端”上,然後直接用你比較小比較便宜的設備(這些設備本身根本跑不動這些遊戲)來玩這些遊戲。你可以根據自己的需求租用某人的遊戲PC,然後把運行結果投映到你家的電視或者平板上。那麼再強調一遍我們說的是作用硬件設備,不過你可以想象成這樣:某個類型的遊戲或者遊戲主機只能由一家持股公司提供,而這些遊戲或主機之後收授權費。此處的供應是有限的,當供應滿足需求時,合理的價格會出現。想想滑翔式VR設備或者Virtuix Omni設備——這些設備對大部分人的家來說都太大了。爲硬件設備來量身定製一款遊戲的難度可比遊戲開發來的困難得多,不過這在遊戲的指定供給單位內給予了其價值保障。

競賽報名費

這裏是另外一個很簡單的選擇。你在你的遊戲裏辦比賽——對戰賽、體育比賽、或者死亡競賽這種多人競賽的都可以考慮,不過其實單人遊戲也可以行得通,因爲可以根據最高分或者完成比賽時間最快來決定誰是贏家。

比如說50個玩家的比賽,每人付5美元參加比賽。這樣就有250美元了。冠軍獎勵100美金、第二第三分別拿35、15美金。開發者每場比賽再給自己留100美金來付競賽成本、員工費以及回收開發成本用。

這能行得通嗎?怎麼不能!現在遊戲的社交向越來越明顯,所以我覺得這跟賓果遊戲和週期表沒什麼太多的區別,尤其是當這些錢用來做慈善的時候更是如此。

當個大明星

你知道爲什麼大部分演員都在跑龍套,沒能從演戲中賺到幾個錢,但同樣作爲演員的布萊德.皮特(Brad Pitt)卻能有上百萬的收入?並不是說他比別人出色幾百萬倍,而是因爲他不受演員市場中的供需規律的束縛——他的事業已經超出了演戲的範疇到達了更高的層次——他做的是屬於“布萊德皮特”獨特的事業。所以他可以賣手錶可以賣香水賣車——對他來說沒有區別。

如果大部分遊戲都賣99美分的情況下,Hideo Kojima做出了一款新遊戲,你覺得他也會只賣99美分嗎?當然不會。他會賣到50-100美元(只要遊戲評價好或者只要遊戲一完成)而且人們還能夠欣然接受——這是因爲人家名聲夠大夠分量。畢竟,在這個連我這種傻瓜都能一年內自學學會編程遊戲的世界裏,當個名人是很值得的。

Jonathan Blow之所以能通過《The Witness》賺到前所未有的高額收入(作爲獨立遊戲來說)——是因爲他是做《Braid》的開發者,而這跟《The Witness》比下一款要發行的獨立遊戲出色上兩倍毫無關係。

那不是有點……呃?

“不!是有很多!”——企鵝人在《蝙蝠俠歸來》(1992)裏用傘槍殺死一個有問題的親信時這樣說。

陰暗嗎?有點吧?某種程度上吧至少。我想說的是,當我花了一個定價(低於60美元)向GOG(好玩的老遊戲)購買了一款遊戲的DRM-free copy版,那真的是我最高興的時候,因爲我可以在我想玩的任何時候來各種重複地玩這個遊戲。所以如果這種付費方式消失我會很難過的,不過我知道世事始終會變遷的。我最討厭的是Season Passes、大部分的DLC(特別是付費的)還有開寶箱,不過我也不想看到我自己開發的遊戲會落到跟Spotify-For-Games一樣——整個遊戲生命週期只給我賺了100美元的這種境地,這樣的話我以後就再也不做遊戲了。我只想向“錢”看。

我們要記住的是,想在遊戲這個行業生存始終還是極其困難的,你隨時都有可能被擊殺出局,所以你得馬不停蹄地把一個個零散的組件整合成一個完整的遊戲機制……不過這是我們最愛的過程!這就是現代遊戲產業的誕生,但是同時你也會看到這個誕生方式可以是非常邪惡的。事實上,我們希望一切都可以免費,因爲這可以讓我們用較低的成本(記住不是“零成本”)來開發每個附加單位內容,這已經成爲一種非常有權威的觀點了——而我則認爲這個觀點會讓遊戲產業以跟音樂產業一樣的方式走向滅亡。

總結

這個主題還是很開放式的,值得各種討論和解讀,不過這當中能讓我引發思考的是 “當供應無限時,供需模式會發生怎樣的變化”這個核心概念。價格會因此不得不走低,二當價格低到不行的時候,就不會再有人開發遊戲了。這個核心邏輯是沒有可以辯駁的地方的,但是接下來十年裏會發生什麼依舊非常有開放性,讓人難以預料。

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To briefly sum up what I’ve said before, I’m concerned by an increasing trend towards heavily discounting games earlier and earlier (Battlefield, Call of Duty, and Titanfall last Christmas, for example) and the effect that this has on the perceived value of games.

The success of Spotify and Netflix’s models in other industries worries me and we see a bit of a move in that direction with things like Humble Bundles, EA Access, and the console equivalents.

If we’re not careful, we’ll get to where there’s no money to be made in games and only the most trite, generic, relatively low cost and mass-appealing titles (the Call of Duties and FIFAs) will be financially viable. We stand to lose so much as gamers if certain trends take root over the next decade or so.

The problem as I see it is that there’s a race to the bottom happening with the traditional pricing models, and while many, including myself, still prefer to pay for and own a copy of the exact game we’re looking for, the margins are shrinking all the time and in the future we may have far fewer games to choose from as smaller developers may no longer be able to afford to run studios, and even larger ones will be far less willing (even less than they are now) to innovate with their games.

I want to look at what is being done, and what might be done about this.

What’s Happening Today?

As I mentioned above, we’re seeing some movement towards library subscriptions, where you pay a fixed fee to access all games in a given library. The previous blog detailed why I wouldn’t like to see this succeed so I won’t go into it again.

We’re also seeing Eve and WOW allow Free To Play access to their games up to certain levels. They retain their subscription payment models for higher levels, but it’s worth noting that these titans are resorting to F2P to try and shore up their player numbers. Will we ever see subscription models in new games again? It’s debatable.

DLC is also changing, partly. EA are beginning to realise that charging for extra multiplayer maps, and having only some players migrate over leaves all of their map servers underpopulated. We don’t have details yet, but Battlefront 2 this year seems to be saying that they won’t have DLC, or at least none that prevents all of their fans from playing together.

Loot crates are unfortunately becoming pretty prevalent. Overwatch, Counter-Strike, Battlefield and countless others are tapping into the dark side of human psychology by charging players to maybe win something they want. Well, it had to happen eventually, and because it works, we seem to be stuck with it. It’s just a variation on a microtransaction, but it’s a pretty unhealthy one and currently looks like it might be one of the leading monetisation strategies in the future.

F2P is also still going fairly strong, especially in mobile and especially in the East, but as we see on YouTube, advertisers are less and less happy to place skippable ads on videos, and are now opting to directly sponsor content and let the broadcaster deliver their message for them. How much longer will it be before they decide that they’re sick of paying for the party on mobile and this payment model changes, or dies off?

There are of course more examples and more combinations, but let’s move on.

Economics 101

I mentioned at the start how the value of games seems to keep falling. In traditional economics, the price is set where supply meets demand. The problem we face in the modern age is that with digital goods supply is infinite (for all intents and purposes. Ignoring potential server costs). Demand for games is still a finite number because it’s based on people, but since we’re not tied to a limited print of 1 million physical cartridges (or whatever), one extra game code has no inherent value in the eyes of many. It has even less when you consider the sheer volume of games on offer nowadays.

People attempt to justify piracy and theft on this basis, but others are also less willing to pay the asking price for their digital copy of a new game because it doesn’t cost as much to produce as the physical copy on the GameStop shelf (they’ve got a point, but that’s another topic).

Whatever the extent of the problem today (we could argue on that) I doubt you’ll disagree that gamers seem willing to pay less and less for games, but are still willing to pay the guts of $1,000 (those who can afford to) for a new iPhone. Physical goods hold value because their supply is limited. Classic vinyls or SNES cartridges are more valuable now than when they first sold, but people think nothing of pirating The Doors’ Greatest Hits or emulating Zelda digitally.

So how do we shore up the value of our wares to prevent a crash when supply is unlimited? Appealing to consumers’ generosity and sense of idealism isn’t the answer. Pay What You Want models are rarely successful and we’ve seen CryTek almost go out of business attempting it with their game engine.

Well, just for fun, let me throw out a few ideas and we’ll see if there’s anything to be said for them.

What Might Be Done?

Let me disclaim that I’m not necessarily hoping to see many of these in practice, and currently gamers would never stand for many of them, but since I’m talking about radical changes to how games are sold anyway, let’s just go with it. The idea that everyone should be able to afford a game and that all games should cost around the same as their peers is fundamentally flawed, doesn’t apply to many other luxury goods anyway (like sports cars, watches, hotels, food, seminars, online training courses) and, I think, will likely be something we leave behind in the future. Just saying.

Limit the Supply anyway

What if you announced that you would only sell 10,000 copies of your game, but that it would cost $100? Could you sell it to your true fans? Probably. They wouldn’t want to miss out. Okay it would depend on what the game is and the reputation of the creator(s), but I do think it would work. The economic theory is sound, anyway.

What if you built an online, living, open world like nobody had ever seen and made a bounty hunting game, but you only allow 100 access codes to the game at any one time? Access costs $2,000 and when you’re done with ownership you can auction off your right to play (so its value may rise) and the developer gets 50% of the resale? I’m only throwing around numbers, but the theory holds, I think. Could I find 100 rich YouTubers who would pay a premium to be one of the few broadcasting this historical new game? I think so. They’d make their money back on the stream, then resell their access and make more.

Virtual Real Estate

Let’s talk about the apartments in GTA V Online, but this could apply to any hub world. You pay in-game currency to buy swanky (or not-so-swanky) safe houses to store your cars in and launch heists from. The suburban bungalows come in pretty cheap but the penthouse apartments cost a lot more. You buy them with in-game cash so it’s more of a progression reward than a monetization, but since you can also buy game currency with real money the lines are blurry.

The thing is, the game just puts you into your own instance of the penthouse apartment. It might be the most exclusive high-end safehouse in the city, but pretty much everyone has it after a bit of play time or direct payment. What’s the value of that? There’s no exclusivity/scarcity. So what if they only allowed one instance of each safe house? Now, okay, since you can buy in-game cash with real world money then we would probably just have some entitled little troll lording it over everyone, and that’s not much fun for players, but I’m just trying to point out some lateral thinking. The game’s developers would be selling virtual property for real money. Real property holds value pretty well because it’s limited. Virtual property doesn’t offer real shelter, granted, but when limited in quantity it would suddenly be something that creates value. If it could only be transferred within the game, and the developers took a cut, then suddenly MMOs are still games, but now monetised by rules similar to real estate economics.

Say what you want about Star Citizen, but it’s proving that traditional payment models aren’t the only way to go. When they sell an Idris mini-carrier for €1,000 and say that they’re only selling a dozen of them, they’re snapped up in moments because the goods are (or will be when released – whatever) unique.

Pay for bullets

My friend Colm Larkin (Guild of Dungeoneering) suggested jokingly the other night that you could charge for bullets. Although he was joking, I’m going to address it earnestly. What’s the difference between a round of deathmatch and a round of paintball? Sweat and limited ammunition. That’s basically it!

Airsoft is a hobby where those who can afford it buy all the best gear, sidearms, grenades, etc, and the others just rent the site’s bog standard gun and try to conserve ammunition over the day. Nobody really complains that it’s “pay to win”, yet it kind of is. What if you had an F2P shooter where you charge admission to the servers for a day, or a reduced rate for a month’s membership? Or if extra ammo cost real money?

Nobody would go for this because shooters are a dime a dozen, but fundamentally there’s not a whole lot of difference to the entertainment value of how you spend your Sunday afternoon. I pose the question: why couldn’t it work? After all, before home internet was much of a thing, my friends and I would often pay to hang out in the local internet cafe and play Delta Force, Unreal Tournament or Half-Life on a LAN. If you think that that’s a thing of the past, just take a look at South Korea, where going to a café with friends to play League of Legends all night is very much a common past time.

Rent the hardware

Speaking of internet cafés and the like, I’ve recently heard how VR is really taking off in China and Japan. They love it, but the size of the average home or apartment is way too small to house a VR system, so they go to shopping malls and arcades that have set up high-end VR PCs that can be rented by the hour (or so).

Here we have a limited amount of real estate and hardware being rented, so it’s not the case that digital games are providing fixed value here, but we’re still fundamentally talking about games and, if anything, this just proves my point that limited supply is how value can be created, and infinite supply is a problem for the future of video game pricing.

Cloud Gaming is becoming a thing, too. It’s now possible to have your games running on high end PCs “in the cloud” and streamed directly to your smaller, cheaper device that could never ordinarily run them. You can essentially rent someone else’s gaming PC as desired, and stream the results to your TV or tablet. Again, we’re talking about renting hardware, but you can imagine how certain specific games or controllers could only be provided by one proprietary company, and they then charge for access. Here, supply is limited, and price well be set where that supply meets demand. Think of the hang-gliding VR tech or the Virtuix Omni which most people couldn’t fit in their home. Tying your game to custom hardware may be more difficult to produce, but it does ensure that you retain value in the units that you do supply.

Competition Entry Fees

Here’s another quite simple option. You run tournaments in your game. Fighting games, sports games, or deathmatch games seem likely candidates for this, but it could even work with single player games where victory is determined by the highest score or fastest completion time.

Let’s say 50 people pay $5 to play. There’s $250 in the pot. The winner takes $100 and the next two runners up take $35 and $15 each. The developer then has the remaining $100 per tournament to pay server costs, staff, and recoup development costs.

Would that work? Why not? Games are pretty social now, so I don’t see a whole lot of difference between this and going to bingo or a table quiz, especially if some of the money went to charity.

Be a Superstar

You know how most actors wait tables and earn very little from acting but Brad Pitt earns millions for the exact same job? It’s not because he’s a million times better than the next guy, it’s just because he’s not subject to the market forces of supply and demand for actors. He’s not in the acting business. He’s risen above that. He’s in the Brad Pitt business. He can sell watches or fragrances or cars. It doesn’t matter.

If the vast majority of games were being sold for 99c, and Hideo Kojima made a new game, do you think he’d also sell for 99c? No. He’d charge $50-$100 and (as long as the game reviewed well/was finished/etc) people would pay it. Gladly. Because his name carries weight. In a world where any simpleton like myself can teach themselves how to make games in less than a year, it pays to be a celebrity.

Jonathan Blow managed to charge over the odds (for an indie game) for The Witness because he’s the guy who made Braid. It didn’t have anything to do with The Witness being twice as good as the next indie game out there.

Isn’t that a little uh….?

“No! It’s a lot!” – The Penguin, Batman Returns (1992), as he murders a questioning henchman with an umbrella gun.

Shady? Some of it? Sort of. I mean, I’m happiest when I pay GOG a fixed fee (under $60) for a DRM-free copy of a game that I want to play and replay whenever I want. I’ll be very sad if this goes away, but things are shifting too. I hate Season Passes, most DLC, and especially fee to pay or loot crates, but I also don’t want to see my own developed games on a service like Spotify-For-Games earning me $100 in their entire lifetime, because then I won’t be making games. I’m just trying to look ahead here.

We have to remember that games used to be extremely difficult and try to kill you off quickly so that you’d keep pumping quarters into the machines… and we loved it!! It was the birth of the modern games industry, but you could see that approach as being pretty nefarious, too. The fact that we want everything free now because it costs less (not ‘nothing’, remember) to produce each additional unit is a fairly entitled view and, I suggest, it would lead to the destruction of the games industry in the same way that it’s gutted the music industry.

In Conclusion

This topic is wide open to debate and interpretation, but the core idea that got me thinking was “what happens to the Supply and Demand model when Supply is infinite”? Price has to drop. When the price drops too low, games will cease being made. There’s no arguing with that core logic, but what happens over the next decade is fairly wide open and hard to predict.(source:gamasutra.com  )