Change the price man, $20 is too much. $15 is perfect for this game.”
That indie games should by default be ‘cheap’ is a belief that a lot of smaller studios have to contend with. And one developer has chosen to explain precisely why 14.99 is fair price for its title.
We have spent five years making Brigador, if you include when we started building the engine,” developer Stellar Jockeys explained. Five years. Much of that has been working full time, 6-7 days a week, 8+ hours a day. Even at a very conservative estimate that’s over 10,000 hours of work per person, and there are four of us. We did not do a Kickstarter, we do not have a publisher. We have funded this entire project out of pocket.
$20 a copy, once you factor in Valve’s take and taxes, gets cut down to about $10 a copy. Pretending we don’t have to pay contractors or have any other development related expenses, to pay ourselves minimum wage for the time we’ve put in requires selling 25,000 copies of Brigador. Factoring in contractors and any kind of reasonable living and that number jumps up to ~50,000 copies.
While not unheard of, that’s already getting into long-shot territory, especially for a new company that has no pre-existing ties to games media or the backing of a publisher. And people’s reticence to pay what amounts to a pint of beer more for the game means adding another 33% or 16,000 copies to see the same results. That increase alone amounts to more units than many independent releases ever sell.
We’re not asking for pity or charity, nor are we saying you should buy a game just because people worked hard on it– it’s possible to struggle valiantly and still make poo. But quality, depth, innovation all require time, and projects of this scope demand full-time work. If Brigador is not worth $20 to you, that’s fine, by all means wait until it goes on sale. But understand that you’re making an already extremely difficult job that much harder.”
The studio listed a number of others things that take five years to complete, including getting a PhD, serving a term as President, fighting World War I and drinking too much and gain[ing] 20lbs because of stress from starting a company and building a game for five years”.
Also listed are several things that cost more than 15, including a 30-pack of Budweiser, the Point Break remake on Blu-ray and a Nickelback poster.
It’s bad enough there’s a Nickelback poster worth more than the game we’ve spent the last 5 years building, worse still to have people come along and announce that in fact our game is only worth about as much as this other more common Nickelback poster[www.amazon.com],” Stellar Jockeys added. I hope you can understand the frustration this inspires.”
At the end of the day we all have to eat. So yeah, we think it’s worth $20. Hope that clears things up.”