Games are too cheap, that’s why we invented Collectors Edition

20 01 2010

Price wars dropped the price of casual games from $19.99 to $6.99. It happened fast and didn’t leave us much time to accommodate. Now new problem arises. Prices are still low, but development budgets are getting bigger and bigger. Folks at Big Fish Games have realized that $6.99 games can not support development budgets of games like Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove and introduced Collectors Edition, packed with few extras and priced at $19.99. Great move. Especially that Dire Grove is not the only game that was released as CE.

Recently I found interesting post on BFG forums. Picman050967 tried to explain why BFG decided to have CE (picman is not just regular forum mod, he is most probably a man from BFG headquaters):

Why we offer Collector’s Editions

The nice thing is that this is totally optional, you have a trial version, it does not count as the New Game when it is released and you always get the normal game like before. Having a collector’s edition allows the budgets for future games to almost double. One of the big benefits is early access. The bonus features are there to reward folks who purchase for early access.

People complain a lot about how short games are lately. This is a way to allow the avid gamers to pay for early access and some extras to increase budgets without hurting those who are on tight budgets. These CE purchasers now help fund half the budget of future games so they can be longer and higher quality. Then in turn, the folks that wait for the regular game actually benefit from the larger game budgets paid for by the CE purchasers.

So if you wait for the regular version, that is fine for you, but realize that those buying the CE are allowing developers to increase their development budgets without going bankrupt! This game was developed with a budget that assumed the additional revenue from the Collector’s Edition…without it, the game would have been shorter or of lower quality to make it for less costs.

If we simply raised prices (like to $7.99), not only would there be a customer revolt, but we would sell proportionally fewer games and thus the developer makes no more money. Also higher prices would also hit those that are in tough economic times to be able to play less games. While some may not like to wait, this does solve a very real problem for both developers and economically hard hit customers.

So if you can’t afford it or do not like it you should not buy it, but you should also respect those who do, as it benefits you!

Just trying to share BFG’s and developers’ perspectives.


I highlighted most of the interesting sections. You can find the whole discussion at this link.

I’d also want to quote a post from govegirl, as she made very interesting points too:

I do not know Playponds financial status but I do know that Big Fish is not in danger of going bankrupt and 2 of 3 CE’s monies are for Big Fish.

What I wonder is this- those that pay $20 for a Collectors Edition- do they still buy the same amount of $6.99 games or do they forego those games to save up for 1 or 2 more expensive games a month? The importance people are putting on 3 punches indicates to me they buy fewer games for the same result of a free game. I can see smaller developers games getting even further ignored whilst the already large and successful developers charge extra for their games.

Unless all games launch with a $20 edition first then it cannot be equally fair for all developers. Those that only charge $6.99 are not getting the money for further development so does that mean they have to continue to develop short and inferior games? It sounds to me unless we pay $20 originally then those developers cannot make better games. It has to apply to everyone – not just the developers who suits them to cry poor.

Collectors Editions may be the first step on the road to increase average game price. Some portals sell games on premium price with success. Hopefully we can see the trend of falling game prices reversed.

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The Perfect Tree launched… not so perfect

23 12 2009

Yes, you hear it right. The Perfect Tree was released a couple of weeks ago on our site, but just recently was released on Big Fish Games. A lot of credit for such a quick release goes to Big Fish Team – Thanks! Other portals didn’t even bother to reply, but I didn’t expect them to launch our game anyway – it was almost December 10th when I contacted them.

Anyway, if you haven’t noticed, Big Fish Games started to launch 2 games a day. Not every day (lucky we). But unfortunately our game was launched with another one – Virtual City. It’s hard enough for games to get noticed when you have to compete with all the top 10 games, yesterdays release and tomorrow’s release. Imagine that we had to compete with all that and another tomorrows release and a day later with another 2 releases. Too bad Big Fish doesn’t display all “Tomorrow’s Game Today” releases.

Our game was noticed probably only by hardcore forum readers (when your game is launched a dedicated forum for it created). It was very quiet there until next day when we moved to “Today’s release”. Still, we’ve been below Virtual City and as you could find out on forums not every one noticed that there are two games launched.

So I’m thrilled to check top 100 today, as that’s the first day we will be listed (hopefully). Keep your fingers crossed for me.  I hope your game won’t have so hard times during launch.

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Is 80 minutes trial a new trend?

18 08 2009

60 minutes trial is a standard in casual games. It’s accepted by customers, developers and portals. We got so used to it that we don’t even check it. Imagine my surprise – yesterday I downloaded Airport Mania First Flight from Reflexive. I played it for a short while and when exit reminder appeared I thought that it’s wrong when it said that I have 74 minutes left. It took a while to notice that the full trial is 80 minutes long.

Airport Mania was made by Reflexive so I had to check if it’s just with their games or all games. Of course I don’t have the time to check all games so I downloaded just one more – Tales of Monkey Island.  And it has 80 minutes trial too.

Doesn’t it make your life harder? When everyone had 60m trials you could optimize that first 60 minutes and set a tipping point around 60 minute to get a better chance of getting a sale. Now you either leave it unchanged and let Reflexive customers get past that point or make two versions. Eh….

(BTW. No need to rush to Reflexive Game Center Solution – Tales of Monkey Island are not available to affiliates)

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Director’s cut or… Author’s Edition

13 08 2009

Have you ever heard of director’s cut version of your favorite movie? I’m sure you did. How many developer’s cut versions of games have you heard of? Not too many? If at all.

Two days ago Darek Rusin made a comment on my blog and because I haven’t heard from him for a while I went to his website to check out what he’s up to.  He started Orchid Games and released Heartwild Solitaire.  So far his website is dedicated to just this one game and that made it easier for me to spot the thing that made me mention his website. Right under the title he put Author’s Edition. That made me very interested and I immediately wanted to check out what is so special about this version. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any info about it. Too bad. It could help “steal” customers from portals.

When we worked on Runes of Avalon we had to remove very nice feature in my opinion – Amulet of Spells. We had to remove it because it didn’t work so great and we didn’t have time to find out how to fix it, but I really believed in Amulet of Spells (you don’t earn money by having great ideas, but by releasing games). This made me thinking about releasing developer’s version of Runes of Avalon. It never happened in the way we know it from movie industry. It was much better for us to release this version as Runes of Avalon 2, as we figured out that amount of changes is too big to make it “just” a special edition.

So you see, it’s worth commenting on blogs. You might get a link to your website for  free ;-)

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