|Diary:||This is a response on this blog entry.|
I am in the fortunate position that I don't actually need to earn my money by making indie games, at least not yet. However, I do think about these things, and I would like to add my opinion to the pool. Of course, it's 'easy for me to say', but I hope I can vent a different opinion.
Of course, to do that, you would like to know something about me. I am a 25 year old student, almost done with school. I play and try to make games, though I still need to make that first dollar through it. I can't spend a lot of money on games, but what I have I try to spend wisely, on other people trying to make a living through indie games.
Before I continue, let's observe that the Apples and Valves of this world are quite unlikely to stop. Sales will be sales, and indie games will be valued lower.
I would like to go deeper onto that last point. An AAA game like Skyrim can be found for about 35 euros at it's cheapest. This game has thousands and thousands of man hours, and hundreds of mouths to feed of it.
Some indie games are sold for as high as 20 euros. Now, I'm not saying that these games are bad. In fact, most of them are very good, well thought out, and fun to play. However, they have much less man hours than, for example, Skyrim, and on average at most 5 mouths to feed.
With the observation that Apples and Valves will be Apples and Valves, what do we do, being Indie developers? In my opinion, there's 2 possible options. The first is to lower your prices, or do occasional massive dropout sales (Like -75%) to entice people to buy your games. In addition to this, one should work on marketing. I completely understand that it's very hard to become the star of the App Store, and even moreso to become the new Steam Protégé, so that's not the horse to bet on. There should be other ways to get connected with people, and tell them of your sales. A good, new media solution, is Twitter. If you can entice people to follow you, you have an instant media connection with them. Try to connect with interesting media like @Desura, @IndieGamesCom etc., try to get them to retweet your blowout sale, or at least mention you so people start to follow you, and get that personal connection with your customers.
The other option is simply to give up. I think the worst thing you can do is to keep trying to sell games for 20 euros. As I mentioned before, the Valves and Apples aren't going to go away, and you will just get more people being disgruntled about 'the massive amount of money' they have to spend on your games.
So where does that leave the customer? The customer has expectations, and a spending pattern. I think discounts are more likely to generate sales than dropping your prices too much. Think about it: What's more valuable? Something which is 5 bucks, or something which usually is 20 bucks, but 5 bucks now? You'd better get that last item fast! While the first item, not so much.
It'll also give you a larger customer circle. If I have to choose between paying 10 bucks to support 5 indie game devs, or 20 bucks to support 1, I'm going to have to choose for the first. I'm just a poor student, I can't do both, even though the 20 bucks game looks like more fun, it's just a too big bite to go at once.
There are other ways to get customers, and to please them, good examples are the 'free' games on IPad where you end up putting more money in just so you can keep playing (I never do that, again cause I'm a poor student, but I understand the principle) or free games simply to get your publicity up.
As mentioned before, this all is 'easy for me to say'. But I said it. If you would like to discuss this, please talk to me on Twitter via @Gemberkoekje.