Over at Game, Set, Watch Phil Cameron conducted an interview with Vic Davis, the genius behind Armageddon Empires and Solium Infernum.
GSW is one of the best newsblogs on the internet, partly because it is so willing to giving space to indie games in a serious way. This is part of their IGF/Gamasutra mission, I suppose, but they could always give it up and go the way of other newsblogs. They don’t.
This interview treads the usual “getting to know you ground”, so you guys probably already know all the stuff Davis talks about. My favorite bit is where he jumps into the tired-but-never-exhausted debate over what an indie game should cost.
I actually thought hard about going with an even higher price point for Solium Infernum….in the $34.95 range. Seriously though, I think that a higher price might even be better but I have yet to test it out. I like the thought of winnowing out the people who are going to buy based on impulse and then not enjoy the game. My games are an acquired taste. It saves us both a lot of time, money and effort in the long run….and I can focus on my niche. I only want customers who feel they got some value for their purchase.
All that said, Solium Infernum is on the lower end of the price spectrum for niche strategy games (but is admittedly on the high end for and “indie buzz” game). But pricing in the games industry is undergoing a tremendous amount of turmoil. You have AAA games debuting at $60 and then a race to the bottom depending on the “success” of the game. You have a downloadable casual market that has just imploded in the Great Portal Wars deflation and you have services like Steam that offer huge volume moving sales while adding continually to already large catalogues. For a small developer or you might even say hobbyist like me that’s scary….how do I fit in? I basically just pick my price, stick my head in the sand and try and make games that justify the price to a small niche audience.
Thirty dollars is more than fair for what is a really original design. I think the days of expecting indie developers to be happy with shareware or twenty dollar price points are well behind us and thank God because this is where PC gaming is going and where strategy games are.
(Yeah, I complain about how some wargame companies charge too much, but that’s more rooted in how derivative and unoriginal so many wargames are. There’s a difference between thirty dollars for an original design and fifty for what amounts to new scenarios in an old engine or a re-release of a ten year old game.)