Wednesday, November 04, 2009

World Of Goo: Of Cleverness And Pricing

The makers of the remarkably charming World Of Good recently announced that, as a special anniversary sale, purchasing customers would get to choose how much they paid for the game.

It's an interesting idea--very interesting, actually--and it was, by all accounts, incredibly successful. In 13 days, over 83,000 copies were sold.

Maybe "incredibly successful" isn't adequate to describe that response.

Originally, developers 2D Boy reported that 57,000 copies had been sold at an average of $2.03 a copy. They also noted that they paid 13% of the total in transaction fees, but even after subtracting transaction fees that's still $100,667 in total.

Even better, they posted an update that the final total was over 83,000 copies, and they noted that the average price paid had gone up, so very conservatively, that's another $50,000.

So what happened here? This may require a new principle: if you make an excellent game, the customers who don't suck will outnumber the customers who do. World of Goo was an extremely highly rated game (average Metacritic review of 90 on the PC, and 94 for the Wii version), which generates a tremendous amount of consumer goodwill. And even though roughly $2 per copy is a low price, if the "voluntary pricing" model makes volume explode, it's still more profitable in the end. Even better, think how many extra people will now be looking forward to the next game that 2D Boy develops.

One of the biggest challenges facing indie developers is finding an appropriate pricing model, and many developers with interesting games price themselves out of the market, because it's very hard to even define "the market" when it comes to PC game pricing. It's quite brilliant, though, given those difficulties, to let the customer define the market instead.

Look at it this way: how many indie developers have ever said "I sold too many copies at too low a price, and that's why I failed"?

Thanks to hippo for sending me the links to this story.

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