Amazon's game downloads

I’m not sure I follow your logic. I stand by what I said. I think that expecting this to more than double the sales of these games that Amazon takes away from other sites is naive.

Dropping prices does not always sell more games. In fact, usually, it doesn’t. Usually it just means you get less money.

I hope I’m wrong, of course. I hope overall numbers of sales more than double, and everyone involved comes out ahead. It just seems incredibly unlikely.

Nobody’s really talking about the developers selling these games themselves. That’s not how it works. Developers sell their games through game portals who have large established audiences who visit frequently with the express purpose of buying games. The issue isn’t comparing amazon’s sales to some dev’s personal site. It’s comparing it to other portals like RealArcade, BigFish, and (previously) Reflexive. You know, places that are good at selling stuff too.

some developers (like me) DO sell direct too. The casual game portals tend to have a “we set the price, and you can take it or fuck off” attitude to developers. Thats how they could halve the price and not even bother notifying the developers. Some of the less casual portals behave a lot better.
Games take time to play. If every game got reduced by 50% tommorow, that doesnt mean people have 50% more time to play games.
Also, the idea that every game is worth the same and should fetch the same price is just silly.
Ultimately, this is a step towards online publishers treating games and shovelware that can only command the price of a pint of beer. If that’s the case, really deep games, and really niche games are effectviely killed off.
This is great news for gamers who want lots of diner dash clones at a cheap price. It’s not great if you like more niche stuff.

Ultimately I don’t think it’s anything of the sort, it’s exactly as postulated earlier, low price games so that Amazon establishes a mind-share within this sector and so, in the long-term, sells more games.

If Amazon/Reflexive wanted to do this right they could have slashed the prices without halving the commissions to the devs and absorbed the losses themselves, since they’re the only ones benefiting from this promotion.

Or at least bothered to tell the devs they were doing it. Emails aren’t expensive

I agree that should have notified its partners. Failing to do so was unfair. However, the fact remains that most independent games go for about twice what they’re really worth to any normal consumer. Imagine how well games would sell if they weren’t absurdly expensive?

I don’t know how much a game developer gets from Amazon when a copy sells, but I’d imagine it’s not much. will sell close to twice the number of games that otehr sites generally would, if not more. That’s a pretty fair minimum to expect. Perhaps should’ve cut the price of the games in half but left the developer rate at around 75% of its previous level. That would make sense for everybody. Whether developers want to admit it or not, there’s tangible value in selling game downloads on its site. Greed and common sense need to be balanced on both sides.

You’re not the first person to say this. Does anyone have any basis in numbers for this?

Because if all it took to generate more than double sales was to halve the price, that would have been done a long time ago. It’s not like it’s some revolutionary idea that Amazon’s team of mad scientists was the first to invent.

I know we all want it to be true. But I don’t understand what evidence people have to think it’s based in reality.

I don’t have hard numbers, of course, but I have logical conclusions. basically led online holiday sales this past season, and that’s not really a change from the norm. They have the largest audience of regular consumers (among sectors related to games) on the Internet.

Hardcore casual game fans know about the various portals for downloading games, casual and otherwise. Other people do not. My wife likes and will happily play an endless stream of casual games, yet still hasn’t a clue about what portals provide them most consistently. She stumbles across them sometimes, but that’s it. Meanwhile, a game featured on Yahoo! gets her attention because she’s already going there.

It’s the same with a site like People are already going there to buy games and books and CDs and such. They’re browsing even if they’re not buying, and’s excellent recommendations system will remind them of games and probably recommend interesting downloads to boot (plus e-mail them about it on occasion). The results really are relevant and interesting.

So you have the largest online retailer suddenly selling games at great prices and doing follow-up marketing, really reaching out to people in a way that casual games portals simply do not. This is a huge boon for independent game developers and it’s not unreasonable at all to expect that sales on will be substantial and perhaps even dominant.

That doesn’t justify springing this on developers without advance notice. That was a discourteous thing to do, even though it will probably work out in the developers’ favor.

Well, sure, Amazon has a good shot at being a very successful reseller of digital downloads.

That wasn’t the question, though.

The actual question was: will cutting prices in half more than double sales?

If yes, then cutting prices is a good idea. If no, then cutting prices doesn’t help developers at all.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how much Amazon will sell in comparison to other sites. The relevant thing here is how much Amazon would sell at prices $X and $1/2X. The only place where other sites really factor into this is if you start to consider how many full-price sales at other sites are replaced with half-price sales at Amazon.

Appeals to “logical conclusions” and “any normal consumer” are all well and good, but they’re a lousy way to run a business.

The answer, logically, is that cutting the price in half by itself would not double sales. Some casual games just aren’t going to appeal to anyone–even if they were free–no matter how developers might wish otherwise.

Cutting prices in half while also making them available to the audience? That’s a big deal. Without extensive market research, the logical conclusion here is that’s impact on the scene will be substantial and perhaps even double the market.

While I realize that such things can’t fairly be claimed as fact, they do at least make more sense than the conclusion other people were reaching (that this is a bad thing for developers).

Right, but how does it compare to making them available to the Amazon audience without cutting prices in half?

You’re framing it like the only two choices are “sell full-price somewhere other than Amazon” and “sell half-price on Amazon”. Why do you believe that to be true?

I don’t read this thread as people saying that it’s a bad thing for developers if Amazon sells their games. I read it as people saying it’s bad that Amazon cut prices in half without warning or discussion.

Talking about how awesome Amazon’s reach is isn’t really relevant to that.

As I see it, game developers in the past had to make whatever money they could get from tricking consumers into thinking that a $10 game was worth $20. They would sell half as many, but they could be sure that the market they were reaching was dedicated to the idea of downloading games.

With entering the scene, there’s the potential for the games to reach a much wider audience. However, that audience isn’t as hungry for downloadable games and will resent it a lot more because they’re not necessarily as thrilled about supporting art and the independent developer as they are being entertained. They’re a tougher sell but–and I would imagine that you’ll agree with that–still worth the sale.

So looked at the landscape and said “Yeah, we can sell to a wider audience but they’re not going to pay as much.” The price point is likely a significant factor in their decision to get involved at all.

Jeff Bezos could answer that better than I could, though, I’m sure.

You’re also treating this “the games were only worth $10 to begin with” bit like it’s Objective Truth and not just, like, your personal opinion.

What do you base that on?

I base it on my personal opinion, of course. That’s why I said “As I see it,” which is roughly equivalent to “In my opinion.”

Anyway, don’t hate me for saying that. I know a lot of people who think that $10 is still too high. The question really is what are consumers going to be comfortable paying? In my experience, Amazon’s price of $10.00 is a whole lot closer than $20.00, especially when $20 will buy two or three casual games compilations at most brick-and-mortar stores (or a classic PS2 game or two at GameStop).

I’m not saying you’re not entitled to your opinion.

What I’m saying is that you might consider that lots of “this just seems so obvious” things turn out to be wrong, and that since you don’t actually have any sort of evidence here you might do well to be less sure of your hunches.

It’s not like Amazon is the first company to ever spend more than 30 seconds thinking about how to sell games to consumers, you know.

If you don’t have the slighest inkling whatsoever about the way sales, marketing, and pricing works in the real world, thoughts like these are best left in your head.

Fortunately, Tracy, I do have the slightest inkling. I don’t know how qualified you are to comment and I won’t assume that you’re totally clueless. I’d appreciate it if you’d afford me the same courtesy.

So what, exactly, is the objective measure that makes, say, Kudos 2 worth only three grande lattes as opposed to six? Is there some kind of meter that I can buy to analyze my games to ensure that I’m not paying too much for them?

No, you don’t, or you’d substantiate your arguments with more than “logical conclusions” based on nothing more than your opinions and a few anecdotes.

For example, you don’t even seem to realize that increased revenue doesn’t necessarily translate to increased profits. Let’s pretend that slashing prices in half really does double sales (even though it doesn’t). You’ve made the same amount of revenue you would have made at the higher price, but now you have to provide support for twice the number of users. It’s not a decision a developer casually makes.

Conjecture just doesn’t cut it when you’re arguing with people who are actually involved in this industry and are personally affected by Amazon’s policies. I didn’t assume you were totally clueless, either, until you were asked for credentials, facts, or anything else that would support your claims and you couldn’t supply anything better than “these are just my opinions so you can’t argue against them.”

Your portrayal of indie developers as a bunch of snakeoil salesmen intent on ripping off as many people as possible with crappy wares certainly didn’t improve my opinion of you, either. You seriously have no idea what the hell you’re talking about, and you picked a really bad thread to do it in.

Tracy, I didn’t argue for one minute that the simple act of halving prices would result in twice the sales. You’re debating a point that I’m not even attempting to make!

The low price that is charging for each download is part of what would likely lead to a substantial increase in sales. The other part–the more substantial part–is the full range of benefits that brings to the table (which I have already touched on elsewhere in this thread). Those two things combined lead to the likely increase in purchases. Note that I’m not even saying that increase is certain, just that it’s likely.

You’re right that I didn’t factor in the costs of support. You imply that they would double if twice the games sell. I counter this by saying… nothing! I wasn’t even talking about that stuff. It has nothing to do with your assertion that I know nothing about marketing or sales or pricing. All you’ve proven is that I know next to nothing about the behind-the-scenes costs to the game’s developers, something I readily admit. I never tried to say that I knew how much the game would cost the developer to develop and support. I don’t!

Incidentally, that’s why I didn’t try to provide hard numbers to back up my opinions: because it was never my intent to state anything as fact. I’m no seer and neither are you (or if you do have some mystic connection that I don’t know about, you haven’t chosen to reference it within this thread). I was merely countering the general tone of the thread up to my point of entry, which presented this as a nearly complete loss to game developers. I don’t recall saying that because I stated my opinion, you couldn’t argue with me. People that try to pull that annoy the crap out of me and it was never my desire to suggest such a thing.

I’d also like to apologize for anything I said that made it look like I think nasty things about independent game developers. I don’t. I admire their passion and sometimes I even admire the games they produce. Let’s not pretend that every indie game is good, though, or even that most of them are. They’re the output of people working with limited resources that can affect any and all areas of a given game. Sloppy menus, grainy or repetitive textures, over-in-two-hours gameplay and cringe-worthy voice acting are just a few examples of the things that gamers are often asked to overlook in the interests of supporting the independent game developer. Producing a sloppy game–because you can’t afford to do better–and then turning around and charging $20 for it isn’t doing anyone any favors. If you are going to charge $20 for a game, make one that compares favorably to other $20 games the consumer could choose to buy instead!

I’d like to see independent game development thrive, but that can only happen in an environment where the games are priced so that the value they offer is not exceeded by the price. My comments about independent game developers in this thread were the result of my frustration with the current PC price setup for downloadable games and I didn’t mean to demean the excellent work that talented independent developers do on a regular basis. I apologize sincerely.

Like the rest of the vocal participants within this thread, I believe that should have contacted the game developers before the blanket price drop, since clearly there will be financial fallout. I merely seem to be alone in feeling that the long-term benefits outweigh that. I also continue to feel that the fees paid to developers shouldn’t have seen a 50% reduction, something that also seems to be the going consensus in this thread.

Saying I have no idea what the hell I’m talking about is unfair. I’m coming at this from the consumer point of view–something I can defend with numbers (and pictures, if you send me a digital camera)–and it seems to me like that would be plenty relevant when what we’re ultimately discussing here is whether or not consumers will make’s initiative a success and allow developers to see real benefits.