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December 02, 2009

Comments

Daniel James

As a manager who is trying to pay the bills and keep the lights on at my Indie shop with a business not a million miles from Heroes in model (and possibly revenues, team size, etc.), I often want to change pricing.

Occasionally I am brave enough to do so, despite spittle-flecked outcry about how unfair it is to charge money for a product that people like playing and can obviously leave and freely play any number of alternatives.

It's not easy to pick a pricing model from scratch and magically get it right first time. It's the nature of online games to change and be updated, and pricing is a key part of that process of optimization. Without changing pricing and hitting some kind of 'profit target' (like, I suspect, breaking even let alone recouping development costs) EA will almost certainly fire the team and avoid future such experiments. So I'd say we should all be supportive of them changing things to improve their chances of success.

I'd expect the players to complain bitterly at a pricing change, I'm used to that, but I'd hope for a little more understanding from the gallery of my peers!

- Daniel, only slightly shiny-faced

Mr Tom

No bugger plays this any more anyway.

Alice

Why Mr James! Howaya! :)

Hey, nothing wrong with changing *pricing*. But changing the game *balance* is surely not a good idea.

Although it's true that korean games tend to be entirely buyable, and no-one seems to complain there.

Still, a middle-of-the-game shiftaround with emphasis on power being purchasable over earnable, meh.

Kim

I'm with Daniel. It's a brave new world here and the pioneers are going to have to experiment a lot. Some of those experiments are going to be failures. Some of them disastrous failures. Some not so much.

Not unrelated, I went to a talk last night by the guys that just released TouchPets Dogs for the iPhone (NGMoco published, Stumptown Games Machine developed). It uses a free-to-start, pay-to-play model, and and they noted that user feedback may have them adjusting away from pay-to-play and toward 'freemium' (pay for higher end items and missions). I took a few notes here:

http://www.kimpallister.com/2009/12/iphone-touchpets-post-mortem-talk-at.html

As for changing pricing vs balance... had they shifted in the other direction, would anyone be complaining? I'd argue they just made the game more expensive, c'est tout.

Kim

I'm also curious (Daniel, others?) on how you do A-B testing on pricing when everything is so widely published and spreads across the web so quickly.

In 'traditional' casual games, there was opportunity to do a little bit of this (offer a game for $10 to group A, $20 to group B; 30 minute free trial vs 1hr, etc. But it seems Battlefield couldn't get away with that.

Alice

Did you guys click through to the Kotaku piece though? It's less about pricechanging and more about gamebreaking due to pricechanging; I should have clipped more of the article I guess.

It's the IWin button that's the problem, not the testing price points.

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