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Castle Doctrine dev says sales hurt players, developers

S. Prell, @SamPrell

Oh boy, look! It's that game you like, and it's 20 percent off right now! Sales are great, aren't they? Well, The Castle Doctrine developer Jason Rohrer doesn't think so. Rohrer argued on his blog that rampant sales create a "culture of waiting," where players wait for a good sale before pulling the trigger on a game, which in turn makes launches weak and early adopters disappointed.

Take that hypothetical game from earlier. You're ready to bust out the wallet for the 20 percent off price. But wait, what if it goes down to 30 percent off? Or 40 percent? Even 50 percent? Potential buyers can wait indefinitely, which Rohrer argues hurts the developers. "Launch weeks become weak, and developers grow to depend on sales for financial survival," Rohrer posted on his blog last week. "This waiting game is likely decimating your player base and critical mass at launch by spreading new players out over time."

Rohrer also pointed out how he believes sales hurt early adopters: "To put it bluntly: sales screw your fans," Rohrer wrote. "Your fans love your games and eagerly await your next release. They want to get your game as soon as it comes out, at full price. But they are foolish to do that, because a sale is right around the corner."

To counter the culture of sales, Rohrer will be offering his own game, The Castle Doctrine, at a pricing scheme that is the "inversion" of the sales business model. The game, in alpha state, is available now for $8. When it comes to Steam on January 29, it will cost $12. One week after launch, it will rise to the full price of $16, which Rohrer wrote that it will remain forever. "Anyone feel burned by that plan?" he asks.

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