Title: On Registration
Dark_Art - December 29, 2011 03:29 PM (GMT)
A friend of mine who was/is considering the game brought up a very valid point. He very much likes the idea of nominal fee for "as is" version, but his comment was: " OK, so I try the game for a few bucks and if I like it, I still have to fork out a full price for full version? Shouldn't there be some kind of credit for getting the game already? ". I know that he can be kind of a cheap bastard, but IMHO, that can be a strong marketing point for you guys - whichever version you get, it would count towards life-time. That was more guys would be stimulated to just try it, knowing that not a cent is lost if they like it and those who got "as is" version, would be motivated to upgrade, knowing that they simply expand on whats been spent already.
Blaze - December 29, 2011 04:57 PM (GMT)
If a buy a $3 single registration package, that's all you get. Upgrading to a major registration pack will still cost $5.
A single registration technically is a full game in itself, but you will have to repurchase it when the next version (3.15) comes out. Granted, it'll probably be a few months before another significant release comes.
Bugfix patches come at no cost even with a single registration.
phantasm - December 29, 2011 07:19 PM (GMT)
IMHO it should be that you get full refund of paid *still valid version* when buying lifetime license. That would make it perfectly valid to try out with $3 or $5 license. (The overhead from single to major is too much to make it viable. So only when going to lifetime from those.)
Dark_Art - December 29, 2011 09:17 PM (GMT)
I am sorry if I wasnt clear to begin with. phantasm phrased it exactly right.
P.S. Oh an personally, I cant care less - i have my lifetime reg
erkka - December 30, 2011 10:05 AM (GMT)
I haven't recently discussed this topic with Sami, so this is purely my opinion:
The suggested logic would be pretty fine, if UrW was a commercial game turning steady profit, produced by an established company. But it is not. There is no marketing department, no customer support personnel, not even a secretary. There's some help from me and other friends, but otherwise it is just Sami alone taking care of everything. And I guess he'd rather spend more time on actual coding instead of spending more time on running the registration stuff. That's why the registration system isn't any more complicated than it is.
And then also - what is $3 ? Does it buy you a movie ticket? When the Hobbit comes out, do you ask for discount "because I already paid this and that much money for all the three of the Lord of the Rings!" ?
So; instead of there being just demo and life-time-registration, Sami is also offering cheaper and smaller licences for those whom don't feel like investing in life-time license. From my point of view, this is just fair and OK and balanced. If someone feels bad about losing $3 or even 3*$3 before buying the life-time license - well, then, the only thing I can say is this: "Sami is not any of those big bosses getting richer and richer, he is more like a starving artist. If you are against unfair economical structures, then go join Occupy movement or anything like that."
MettienTyvär - December 30, 2011 03:20 PM (GMT)
I agree with Erkka. This isn't a moneymaking business for Sami, more likely it takes more from him than actually gives in the terms of his economy. And even the cheaper options are full and working games in themselves, and very cheap. Just go see in any gaming store, and you find games the quality of a small netgame costing 20 euros and up. :/ And he's given a fair option to try game free first also.
I personally don't mind paying for the cheaper versions again and again with every update, or having used the money on them if I eventually buy the lifetime registration too. I see it as investment for Sami to be able to keep them updates coming.
Dark_Art - December 30, 2011 08:52 PM (GMT)
Ouch.... Just to clarify - Erkka, by no means I consider you guys (or any other indies that I support) one of "big bosses who keeps getting richer and richer". Believe me, I understand what's it like to run a small business and well aware of the crap that have to dealt with, especially if someone takes a creative stand in moneymaking.
If my comments offended you in any way - dont take it close to heart, as no offense was meant. I was simply passing down info that I thought might be useful and , potentially, INCREASE sales. I will refrain from posting my ideas here.
erkka - December 30, 2011 09:02 PM (GMT)
Oops! Hey, really, I'm very sorry if I sounded harsh. It certainly was NOT my intention. Oh lord please don't let me be misunderstood =)
Not for a split second did I think that DarkArt or anyone else would be underestimating Sami's efforts. I also understand that you, DarkArt, were passing on an user feedback from another player - that is very welcome!
I agree that the mentioned idea also might increase sales. I only tried to say why I think that Sami might not be so eager to make registration any more complicated for him than it is now. I think he still uses pretty manual way of storing registeration data. Anything more complicated would require installing, testing and learning to use automated software for maintaining a registration database (this might be necessary at some point in the future, anyhow).
So, please, accept my apologies. I tried to illustrate why the current system might be "good enough as it is".
Dark_Art - December 30, 2011 09:47 PM (GMT)
Point taken. Glad we sorted this out :)
erkka - December 31, 2011 12:13 AM (GMT)
Those phrases with "... big bosses who keeps getting richer and richer ..." were not directed at you, nor at the friend of yours. It was directed at some imaginary person whom strongly claims that it is unfair not to get any discount for life-time license after paying several single versions. I don't know if such person exists in real life, I was just constructing an artificial person, having a dialogue with him and then knocking him over with my pseudo-clever arguments. This is just my unclear, home-grown philosophical way of writing :P
Rain - December 31, 2011 01:02 AM (GMT)
This is something Sami should think about a bit because the current model does discourage sales.
I, myself, bought several shorter licences before buying a lifetime. I probably would have bough a lifetime much sooner if I was earning credit towards it with each purchase. Instead I continued to buy shorter licenses because dropping that much cash on a game I already had paid so much for seemed wasteful. Of course, Sami did end up getting like 2x the money from me in the end but 95% of customers will not take that route and will just go play something else or buy another short license in a few years.
Maybe something like every purchase you make is a discount to a lifetime purchase, up to 50% of its value. You don't want people to hold off in going all-in until the credit is just a few bucks short of a full but you also don't want somebody that has bought a third of a lifetime to buy one more temp license and then quit.
erkka - December 31, 2011 02:22 AM (GMT)
I don't say that the idea is bad. I only say that there might be some practical obstacles in implementing it in near future. Or, this is what I think. Let's see what Sami says when he has time to comment.
From my behalf, I ask how would you prefer it to work? Like, if one gets discount for x number of single versions paid, then there should be an automatic system tracking sold licenses to spesific user. So should we have an on-line store, where you have to create an account and sign in?
As I see, it is out of question to have a person sitting next to a database application, checking every individual registration and discounts manually. The system should be automatic and on-line. And I really don't know if Share-It is capable of doing it. And I mean just it - I'm not saying that share it can't do it, I'm just saying that I never thought about it and never asked Sami. So, yeah, let's see what he says :)
askot bokbondeler - December 31, 2011 05:49 AM (GMT)
with the frequency with which updates are made i'm perfectly comfortable with bying minor registrations each time a new versions comes out, even if i end up paying several times a lifetime registration. paying 50 bucks, while an entirely reasonable price for the game, is still somewhat a hit to my monthly budget, but paying 5 dollars every third month continuously for a few years would be pretty easy for any person with any income, i don't get why that business model would drive away anyone. most children spend more in candy every day
erkka - December 31, 2011 01:15 PM (GMT)
|most children spend more in candy every day |
LOL! Most UrW players aren't children anymore. I understand that amongst the fans there are low-budget hippies, underpaid part-time workers, unwealthy parents buying candy for their kids and struggling to save some money for their own refreshment, students already working to pay their expenses, unemployed, hobos, and then yes, also some children, adults belonging to established working or middle-class. And maybe an occasional university professor or wealthy poker shark, you never know =) And all of the players are equal, no segment gets higher priority.
I'm not to underestimate that some people would find it more appealing to get discount of life-time license after paying this or that many single versions. But the question largerly remains, that how would you suggest it applied to the real-life reality? Having Sami check each and individual life-time registration manually, calculating discount percentage for each? Asking Share-It if there is any way to do something like that with them? Dropping share-it, building a similar system of ones own, possibly importing the old registration data into an on-line database, and then have it automated so that it keeps track of purchases of users once they log in? (which means, that in addition to UrW itself we would open up another realm of bug-potential, need-of-customer-support-and-techincal-maintenance, not to mention risks of cyber attacks. Or at least I don't have a vaguest idea about making on-line databases safe and secured... These are some question marks in my head.)
Dark_Art - December 31, 2011 04:58 PM (GMT)
Hmm... While I am not a e comm developer, I do know one dude who deals with that kind of stuff. I'll talk to him once holidays are over and we are back to work. I dont think this is very easy task, but at the same time it cant be all that difficult. Only concern that I can already see is backwards compatibility. Meaning, once DB is built, server hosted and service enabled, you guys will have to go back and manually add the users that already have smaller licenses. Otherwise, i think its quite doable.
erkka - December 31, 2011 05:31 PM (GMT)
|Meaning, once DB is built, server hosted and service enabled, you guys will have to go back and manually add the users that already have smaller licenses.|
Yup. I have no idea if that information can be extracted from Share-It. If yes, and if the data is available in any sensible format, I think I could write a simple conversion program.
|Otherwise, i think its quite doable. |
So, how do you think, should every user create an account to buy a license, or should people be able to choose a faster, simpler and anonymous single version registration with no option for any future discounts?
I admit that I'm somewhat interested in this, not just for being able to provide discount on life-time registration for those whom have paid for several single versions. But also to be able to easily manage special offers, limited time discounts, maybe even gift coupons. And to have easy, automated database of registered users - if things go bigger we need that anyway in the future, and it would be better to make it now when it still might be doable.
Still, I haven't heard Sami's opinion yet. I guess he is having his well earned holidays now. But if he is not strongly against it, then I think there is nothing to lose if someone feels like giving proper advice. I think I should save Sami's brain capacity and volunteer for reading, thinking about and sandboxing with automated user registration and on-line sales software, provided there are some good suggestions how to begin with.
Loimulohi - January 2, 2012 03:40 PM (GMT)
erkka & Sami: As I happen to do some volunteer work as a convention organizer (one of the main organizers of the numerically biggest anime / roleplaying convention in Finland, actually *ego bump!*) I ran into an interesting little Finnish firm called Holvi.com.
The idea of the firm is that they offer small businesses and conventions a virtual bank account that you can deposit and withdraw money into / from but they also give the option to open an online store where you can sell your company's stuff (tickets, registrations, whatnot). The money paid there go of course directly to your account, you get data from the stuff people have bought and so on.
So basically it would probably be possible to create a webstore for UnReal World using Holvi.com. They charge similarly as banks do for money transfers without a transfer number, I think they quoted 90 (euro) cents per transaction last fall when I saw a presentation by one of their workers.
The brilliant thing here is that since they're still a start-up business themselves they are quite willing to negoatiate. As far as I remember they do not charge (yet) for opening a new account into the system and if you do become one of the pioneers using the system they said that they are more than willing to make personalized deals on the charges per transaction and so on.
So basically what I'm saying is that Holvi.com could be a solution if one wants to create a system where people could get discounts for previous purchases and so on. I'm pretty sure their system has built in features to cater for that and if they don't, they will probably create such a feature per request, after all it is a rather basic marketing strategy for any webstore.
Sami Maaranen - January 4, 2012 10:14 PM (GMT)
I did read this thread very carefully and it really got me thinking. It was good that you brought up different viewpoints, and solutions, to the issue.
Few things are clear:
1. If you players feel justified to get a discount from minor licenses when updating to lifetime license then I'll listen to you.
2. Maintaining a customer base all alone, even with a sophisticated database can be really time-consuming. But that's also my job, so I don't complain.
1) When we started, some two decades ago, lifetime registration was the only option to purchase the game. It was a leap of faith for many, but it has carried far. Cheaper licenses were added to show the full potential of UrW for those who weren't (mentally or financially) ready for the leap. Cheaper licenses were a good addition and have brought many new souls into the Unreal World - but I really never tought that buying cheaper licenses in a row is a good way for many players. And now as I think of it, well, of course it's reasonable - but we started with lifetime-only and it has kind of stuck into my brain.
2) If one would find or create an ultimate UrW customer database it would need to be a system that runs without too much maintenance for another few decades. If there really would be such a system that would take care of purchases, individual discounts, registration package deliveries and all that without too much effort on my behalf I'd be quite happy - but I think that's sort of an illusion. There are lots of people who buy the game as a gift, or parents who pay it for their children,
or people who pay by their friends bank account/paypal, or finnish people using a direct bank transfer. Not all of those people like to register in a system of any kind - and even if they do it can still be a mess. Yes, there are online purchase systems that seem to work smoothly and flawlessly but there are bunch of guys working full time to make it happen. And when all systems fail, I'll get the e-mail.
Sounds like I'm giving up the discount idea? No.
I could easily give it a shot: when you're ready to go for a lifetime license then you'll just contact me and we'll track down your purchase history and settle the discount.
There'll be lots of "then my father bought it for me, and the next time I didn't give my real name, then I made a wire-transfer from my brothers account" but I still think it'll be a better solution than to go building a system of our own -> "create, test, test-again, import data, fix, test-again, have online, have offline, fix, have online".
I may sound cynical about online systems, but I really think that it takes less working hours to run lifetime-discount circus manually than start looking for a perfect way to do it. (And then again, business isn't my business - so I'll try to avoid it the best I can)
erkka - January 4, 2012 10:37 PM (GMT)
|I could easily give it a shot: when you're ready to go for a lifetime license then you'll just contact me and we'll track down your purchase history and settle the discount.|
Fair enough. Time to make clear discount rules?
Is it like "full price of each single version off from life time registration, up to maximum 50%" or like "you get $0.50 discount for every $1.00 already paid"?
|I may sound cynical about online systems, but I really think that it takes less working hours to run lifetime-discount circus manually than start looking for a perfect way to do it.|
Well, at least it is possible to start it the manual way and see how things go!
Sami, I hope that I can come to visit you at some point in January/February, so we could discuss this in more detail.
askot bokbondeler - January 4, 2012 11:56 PM (GMT)
well, i don't really plan to buy the lifetime version, even if i end up spending more in minor versions. i intend to buy all further minor versions, i like the mechanism of paying directly for the work that has been done, and i'm not wealthy at all but i feel 3 dollars is just pocket change
onetwentysix - January 5, 2012 12:51 AM (GMT)
I mean this in the most respectful way, but have you ever considered changing your business model to go with the times, rather than sticking with the same system you've been using for the past twenty years (or less I guess; the $3 and $5 versions sound relatively new)? $55 for an indie game just doesn't happen these days; even big studio games are typically around $50, and they tend to drop to around $30 quickly. You've got the option to buy the minor and major versions, which is great, since they're more in line with what most people are willing to pay, but it's also off-putting for new buyers. You don't really move on to new major (or even minor) versions very often so it is a good deal, but someone that hasn't been following the game for years doesn't know that and may be hesitant to buy a game when their version might quickly become obsolete.
The $55 price tag doesn't really make a lot of sense to me. The game has obviously changed a lot in the twenty years you've been working on it, and back then higher price tags were common for independent games, especially since they were more in line with what was being produced commercially. But now, most indie games sell for around $10, and rarely exceed $30. True, you don't see many games designed as a long term life's work, except for Dwarf Fortress, and that's free, supported entirely by donations (he made $42,000 last year, despite no releases since March).
I don't know how much money you make in a year on the game, but I can't imagine you're getting a huge flux of new customers on an annual basis, and I can't believe that many people buy the $55 version. To me, the game isn't worth $55; it's a lot of fun, and I've gotten a lot of enjoyment out of it, but I couldn't justify paying $55 for it. Which is why I'm glad that you have alternate licenses, but the thing with that is that you're not greedy, and you don't keep churning out new versions for the purpose of making people pay you more money, so I just kind of wonder why bother with them at all?
Have you considered changing your payment scheme? Instead of keeping track of all the different registration types, why not just have a free demo and then the full version for $10 or so. The game's worth it, and people can easily afford to pay $10 for a game like this. This way they don't have to worry about their license expiring and having to buy it again, which probably discourages a number of people. I mean, how often do you put out a new major version? Looking at the patch notes, 3.10 came out in 2008. Given this, the average person isn't going to play the game long enough to have to pay more than $10 anyway. You'd lose the $55 purchases, but how often do you get one of those? I'm guessing that people who buy the $55 license aren't buying it to avoid buying new licenses every couple of years, but because they feel it's worth supporting the developer of the game they enjoy. Adding a donation box would allow these people to support your game and would encourage people to do so if they can only afford to donate a smaller amount. I don't think you have a large enough fan base to be entirely supported by donations like Tarn Adams of Dwarf Fortress, but you've got a sizable group of people interested in the game over all these years that would probably be willing to chip money your way if they saw a place to donate.
Alternately, have you ever considered trying to get on Steam or some other digital distribution service? A lot of indie games have had great success on Steam, where word of mouth and high profile, advertised sales gives them high visibility. Steam has had a number of successful games released that were essentially beta versions that sold really well and eventually added new content (Terraria, Dungeons of Dredmor, etc.), so there would be precedent for you to continue working on the game. It would also take the sales aspect of the game out of your hands, while providing a huge surge of new players to the community.
Ultimately, I'm just trying to suggest what I would do in your position. I'm going to keep playing the game, and I'll buy a new major version when the time comes to do so. I just think it's kinda silly to worry about the minor and major versions you've purchased so you can get a discount for the lifetime version, when the whole minor/major/lifetime license thing just doesn't make sense to me. A $10 lifetime version with a donation button on the patch download page seems easier and more profitable to me; I waited forever before I went with the major version because I was unsure of how long it would last, and would have dropped $10 much more quickly on a lifetime version. Alternately, if you managed to get on Steam, you'd make tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars and increase your player base instantly, and then make thousands more every time the game went on sale. Either way, you could provide little thank you bonuses for the people that bought the $55 license or donated as much, such as how you offered early beta testing and so on.
It's just my opinion; you're free to market your game however you want, but I guess I never really understood the thought process behind the minor/major/lifetime license model. One of the fun things of buying in development indie games is forgetting about the game for a while, and then coming back to it to see what has changed, but your system kind of discourages that.
Jehdin - January 5, 2012 04:26 AM (GMT)
I have to agree with onetwentysix, the current licensing system really put me off at first.
Just having one purchase option for $10 (or maybe even $15) would be more friendly to new people, I think, and likely draw more sales.
As for donations, I know I'd donate every once in a while if the option was there.
Getting UrW on Steam or Desura would be great and it'd certainly help grow the fanbase.
askot bokbondeler - January 5, 2012 06:40 AM (GMT)
i disagree, i find it easier to throw sami more money over prolonged periods of time. i've bought my third licence, i gave sami 9 dolars and plan to continue to buy licences even if sami speeds up his release cycles; especially if he does. if the minimum price for a version was 10 dollars i probably wouldn't have bothered buying the game in the first place and would already have forgotten about it, URW is a fantastic game, but it isn't that impressive to newcomers. the minor version costs just about what you can find between the pillows of your couch and buys you a full game that you can play for ever, further versions can be seen as dlc or expansions; they are not required, and are a means of continuing to support and reward the developer for staying faithful to the project.
erkka - January 5, 2012 09:10 AM (GMT)
See, there is not an simple and evident solution which would fit everybody. To me it seems that, all in all, renewing the registration system & marketing scheme is a topic which is not a matter of quick decisions. We could use some brainstorming and careful pondering and planning. Yes? It is 4 - 5 hours ride from my place to Sami's, and I hope to have time for the trip later on this month.
Then some points from my behalf;
1. We have different players in different situations, so maybe we also should keep on having different options for registrations - as long as it doesn't get too complicated to manage the system. OK, we could use some re-structuring and modernization. But which ever way we do it, we should of course honour the deal with those whom already have paid for the life-time registration.
2. If Sami decides to have "discount on life-time registration if you have already spent X dollars on lesser liceneces" - then I'd suggest there to be clear and definite set of rules. For example; it must be easy and clear to verify that previous registrations came from same person. Of course it might be a bit confusion when this is introduced, but once it is out, people know the rules and can behave accordingly, if they are willing to make use of the discount scheme. If not, there would still be the possilibity of more anonymous, low-cost single version purchases.
3. Going on Steam or Desura is not a simple question in my eyes. Steam just doesn't allow anything in, they first want to test play and review the games before accepting them in. Well, that is not a problem, but what makes me unsure is that they don't tell beforehand that how much provision they want for themselves, and also they imply that they want to have their say on product pricing. So going on to Steam would surely bring tons of new customers, and also reduce Sami's independence on product pricing and licensing options. Well, of course it would also take away a lot of work, since Steam does it automatically and if something goes wrong people e-mail Steam instead of Sami... well, Desura seems more indie-friendly to me. But yes, this is not one night decision.
4. If we set up any on-line sales / registration system own our own, I feel that we should share the work, leaving Sami with more freedom to focus on actual coding, me taking more responsibility on customer support and web maintenance. (it doesn't necessarily have to be an perfect full blown web shop. One possibility would be to have just an automated user registration database. Like, those whom would like to get the benefit of discount, could sign in. And when ever they buy a new version they could register it also in the on-line database. Thus, when they feel like moving to life-time registration, we would have readily available their registration history in easy-to-acces automated database.)
5. There actually is a donate option, and it has been there for a while! On the game home-page it is hidden under tab "Enormous Elk", where we offer our add-on materials. It is directing the donations to my account, so may I suggest a deal; if any of you really do feel like donating a small amount please do so - I promise to use every cent of it to improving our on-line services & customer support.
EDIT: While this discount-scheme is a good idea, we have to consider also how it fits with the whole system. Especially, if we go on to Steam or Desura, it might become increasingly difficult to track different licenses sold in different places... in that sense it would be more fluent to keep it simpler, reducing the need to dig into peoples registration history... Oh well, but I'm very happy that we have user feedback and good discussion going on the subject.
Jehdin - January 5, 2012 09:32 AM (GMT)
All good points, and yes, this is definitely something that should be given some thought and not rushed into.
I had no idea that donation page existed, will definitely make use of it.
You might consider making it more visible, though.
EDIT: The thing about going on Steam or Desura is that any license bought through them will probably have to be a lifetime license. I don't think they're set up to handle a multiple-license system like your current one.
erkka - January 5, 2012 09:45 AM (GMT)
|I had no idea that donation area existed, will definitely make use of it.|
You might consider making it more visible, though.
a valid point.
Right now the game homepage maintenance is up to Sami. This also I have to discuss with him. I think that with a little bit upgraded system we could make it easier both for him, me and everybody, everybody.
EDIT discussion going on :D
|EDIT: The thing about going on Steam or Desura is that any license bought through them will probably have to be a lifetime license. I don't think they're set up to handle a multiple-license system like your current one. |
way around that would be to make it more conventionally.
Like, isn't it so that if people bought a full version of Fall Out, they got it and all the pacthes. And when Fall Out II was out, they had to pay full price for that, again. And so on, sequel after sequel. There is no life-time option to pay for all the possible sequels ever to come.
So, if we went to Desura or Steam, it would maybe be about selling major version licenses, including patches and minor version updates. Every major version update would count as a new sequel in the series. Altough I don't know if the Steam team would agree with this...
Jehdin - January 5, 2012 10:58 AM (GMT)
|QUOTE (erkka @ Jan 5 2012, 09:45 AM)|
|So, if we went to Desura or Steam, it would maybe be about selling major version licenses, including patches and minor version updates. Every major version update would count as a new sequel in the series. Altough I don't know if the Steam team would agree with this...|
That's a good idea, the only issue I see is that eventually (years down the road, of course, as major versions do tend to last a while) it'd get messy and confusing with multiple versions being listed. You'd want to at least make the version numbers more distinct or just stop sales of the older ones. Although I'm not sure how that would be handled, as you'd still need to allow the people who own older versions to play them.
And of course, there'd need to be a way for Desura and Steam to handle registrations themselves, I highly doubt either of them will be willing to let Sami handle that manually.
erkka - January 5, 2012 01:05 PM (GMT)
|And of course, there'd need to be a way for Desura and Steam to handle registrations themselves, I highly doubt either of them will be willing to let Sami handle that manually. |
Naturally. But that is also the good side, as they would then handle it, leaving Sami with more time to do the actual coding. Luckily enough even Steam doesn't want exclusive rights for distribution, so one is still free to sell elsewhere and run manual registrations oneself.
Steam just leaves me with an uneasy feeling, as they don't tell all the necessary facts openly beforehand. So, if you give it a try, and by years it turns out to be a bad experience, then what? Can you get your titltes out, stop them selling your game? There is no way to know if they are charging the indies with higher provision rates than the mass selling big companies. I just don't know - as they don't say if the provision is more like 33% or 66% - I just don't feel like asking...
Jehdin - January 5, 2012 01:58 PM (GMT)
The only actual numbers I've seen were 40-70%, with indie devs typically getting the worst deals. Though, those numbers aren't from a reliable source, so don't take them as fact.
Apparently you have to actually start the submission of a game to Steam before they'll talk numbers with you. :huh:
Yeah, I don't think I'd be too eager to put a game on Steam either.
erkka - January 5, 2012 02:11 PM (GMT)
|Apparently you have to actually start the submission of a game to Steam before they'll talk numbers with you.|
Yup. I just happen to dislike that kind of business behavior. With that kind of beginning you never know if they are also going to one-sidedly introduce some changes in the agreement. Or, other way around, if you begin with a not-so-good agreement and then your sales go up, will they be ready to re-negotiate?
|Yeah, I don't think I'd be too eager to put a game on Steam either. |
Especially when we are talking about a life-time project of Sami. It is something more personal than just an object of sales. If we had separate, stand-alone game titles, then I could try Steam with them. But always when I've been thinking of it, I end up deciding that it is best to devote all of my own coding time to directly support Sami with UrW (instead of starting a side-project of my own.)
AbNo - January 5, 2012 09:41 PM (GMT)
Honestly, if it works for both of you, I wouldn't mess with it too much.
I'm sure some automation might help, but to each their own.
erkka - January 6, 2012 07:20 AM (GMT)
My brother Jake is a performing artist, and one of his favorite lines is: "The good is the enemy of the better". So, if something seems to work out fine, it shouldn't stop one from rethinking and making some improvements to make it work even better. That's the question; to sort out ideas and possibilities to find the ones which are both doable and reasonable.
when he was 16 years old, my brother suddenly decided that instead of studying engineering he would like to become a professional dancer. So, from a little rural village in the Finnish countryside he went onwards and onwards, ending up being one of the lead dancers in Scottish Ballet. After six years of that he grew bored and answered the call of his wanderlust, becoming a free lance again. Go see him if you spot him in a production performing at your location =)
Sami Maaranen - January 8, 2012 05:00 PM (GMT)
This thread is starting to sidetrack a bit and may soon grow to an unnecessary extent so I'll just post my final thoughts on the points brought up by onetwentysix.
|QUOTE (onetwentysix @ Jan 5 2012, 12:51 AM)|
|I mean this in the most respectful way, but have you ever considered changing your business model to go with the times, rather than sticking with the same system you've been using for the past twenty years (or less I guess; the $3 and $5 versions sound relatively new)? $55 for an indie game just doesn't happen these days; even big studio games are typically around $50, and they tend to drop to around $30 quickly.|
Yes, I have. A concept of lifetime license is quite difficult - and it's also difficult to set a price for such a license as there's unforeseeable amount of development and number of releases ahead. For me also, it would be most simple to have only the current version for sale and consider it worth a few bucks. Should a player feel the same he could buy the game. One price for one product - a pricing model that most developers (indie or commercial) seem to use.
|I'm guessing that people who buy the $55 license aren't buying it to avoid buying new licenses every couple of years, but because they feel it's worth supporting the developer of the game they enjoy. Adding a donation box would allow these people to support your game and would encourage people to do so if they can only afford to donate a smaller amount.|
True. After we've got all these licensing things sorted out a proper donation box is something to appear. And I've also considered a set of completely free releases with donation-option to get a picture of that side of the story.
|Alternately, have you ever considered trying to get on Steam or some other digital distribution service? A lot of indie games have had great success on Steam, where word of mouth and high profile, advertised sales gives them high visibility.|
Yes, I've been suggested this and that distribution site once in a while, but I'm constantly short of time to give them a good look - and also having multiple licensing options makes it a bit difficult to have an easy start on such a system.
|One of the fun things of buying in development indie games is forgetting about the game for a while, and then coming back to it to see what has changed, but your system kind of discourages that.|
Ok, so let's try to make it more comfortable. Hmm..could you name an indie game with an especially encouraging licensing system?
askot bokbondeler - January 8, 2012 06:43 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Sami Maaranen @ Jan 8 2012, 05:00 PM)|
| Hmm..could you name an indie game with an especially encouraging licensing system? |
running the risk of sounding sycophantic, yes, i can; Unreal World.
seriously, 3 dollars buys you several months of updates, 5 dollars several years, it's quite cheap and i love it. the only way i see could be more encouraging would be making it free, or better, actually paying people to play it, but i'm not seriously suggesting that, eheh.
as i've stated before several times, i'm very satisfied with the current system.
echo - January 11, 2012 02:58 PM (GMT)
i dunno. i went from playing the forever free super old version, then the 10 day trial version, to buying a lifetime version. i did so because from those humble old beginnings i saw what could arguably be the most free & roguelike sandbox survival game ever created.
whatever it is that you see in this game... considering it's 2D graphics and the fact that you have to read... you either buy it because you love it, or you minimize your costs for the minimal enjoyment you think you are going to get.
maybe i'm biased tho... i really only brought it for one reason. THANK YOU SAMI I LOVE YOU!!!! =D
onetwentysix - January 12, 2012 03:54 AM (GMT)
Several years ago, Mount and Blade was in development and had a pre-order option. There wasn't much to the game at the time, but buying then would get you access to all their future builds, including the full version when it was released. They built the game over several years, and a couple times a year I'd see what had changed, download the new version, and play it like it was a new game. I thought it worked well, though I don't know if heavily discounting the pre-orders, and then raising the price slowly until it reached the final price was a good idea; they probably lost a lot of money by discounting it so heavily at first, though I suppose they needed the start up cash.
I'm not very familiar with the game, but Towns offers a similar option; pre-order at a discount for current builds and final game.
Xenonauts has a similar model, without the discount for early orders. People that pre-order the game get access to all the current development builds, and then receive the full game when it comes out.
Dwarf Fortress has a nice model that fits what I was describing; currently in development with sporadic updates that change major features of the game; I typically play a lot around every new release and then wait for the next one. It doesn't quite apply, though, as the game is entirely supported by donations rather than through licenses. Your development style is closest to Tarn Adams' than any other, though; a very long term development more centered around making the game you want rather than a finished product in a year or couple of years. Unfortunately, I don't think his model would work for you, or at least not enough to completely support full-time development.
Overall, most Indie games are either free, generally for donations, or available for $5-25 for the full version and any current releases. A few, though I can't think of any names off the top of my head, offer current versions only to those that've purchased the full game, and then offer older builds as free downloads. I don't know of any games other than URW that have a pay per build option, though there may be some out there.
It's not really an issue for me, personally; I mean, I'm happy with what I get for what I've paid. One thing I would kind of like to see would be the ability to play older versions as well, to get a feel for where the game has come. But other than that, it'd be nice if you'd see more money coming your way, and I guess I'd just like to see more people playing the game and sometimes I feel like the model might discourage this. All I have is anecdotal evidence, though. I was made aware of URW through the Something Awful forums, but though there have been two threads, they don't tend to last very long. Opposite this, there's always been a Dwarf Fortress thread, and there's frequently a community LP or two going on. That thread gets 5-100 post a day, even though there hasn't been a release in 9 months, and since April 2010 there's been 17,000 posts and over a million views. Dwarf Fortress is a great game, but there isn't that much more you can do in it than in URW; you run out of things to do in both games after about the same amount of time playing. Even the forums here are fairly inactive, with a handful of posts a day. The game just hasn't reached that critical mass to sustain a group of people like that. A critical mass of people would also inspire a larger modding community, which would also increase the replay value of the game, etc.
I think a part of the problem is marketing. It's got to be hard to generate hype for a game that's been slowly developed over the past 20+ years. The main way to get new players is through word of mouth, but the current model kind of impedes this; there's the demo, but then people may be hesitant to buy into a build since they don't know how long a build lasts, and then word of mouth stops at them when instead you might have expected some of them to like it, and tell their friends, and so on.
You might try a yearly option; it may be more attractive to buy a year's worth of builds to some, so they'd know how long they'll get updates, though I don't know if this would be better or not. You might need to put out more updates, though, so there would be a substantial change in the game a couple times over that year, which probably isn't feasible.
Maybe you could try making a major push for new players with the next version. You've mentioned you want to work on the end game for the next release; maybe you could polish that version up, hype it up like a major improvement, switch payment options (if you decide to try something new), and see about getting an interview or something with a decent indie games website, or whatever; it might start some momentum to get more word of mouth going, and get more people interested.
Or it might not. Hell, I'm a Biologist, I don't know a thing about business or marketing or any of that. They're just ideas; I like the game and would just like to see it with more success.
erkka - January 12, 2012 07:35 AM (GMT)
|Overall, most Indie games are either free, generally for donations, or available for $5-25 for the full version and any current releases.|
Isn't that roughly same as UrW major version registration, at the moment for $5?
|I think a part of the problem is marketing.|
Also, I find very valuable all the other points brought up in this thread by onetwentysix and everyone else. Thank you very much for this feedback and ideas.
I have a feelin that marketing, distribution & registration is a theme we have been thinking about in the background, discussing it while doing other stuff. But then it tends to get lower priority, as it seems to already work pretty well, and we find the actual coding more interesting. Now this thread is a necessary kick in the cave - instead of ponderind now it is the time to put some move going on.
So, yes, we are working on it.
If any of you have further ideas on registration, keep them coming.
Also, what are the decent indie games sites?
The Indie Game Database
The Indie Game Magazine
Other relevant sites?
like roguebasin (which already announces UrW -version 3.14b -release on its main page)
but any sites of related genres? Survivalist, historical ?
AbNo - January 12, 2012 07:41 AM (GMT)
Pongo - January 12, 2012 05:41 PM (GMT)
A relatively small thing to consider might be
Build a list of the emails that have bought version licenses and email them when there is an update to the new version, offering them a new version license(maybe for 50% off or a life time license for 25% off.
the math and tracking for this suggestion would be minimal.
You already have the emails, if people are concerned about being emailed for this purpose ask them to indicate that on their initial enrollment email.
"Thank you for purchasing a single version license of URW! We hope you enjoy the game. URW gets updated regularly with new features and our customers often return to the game after a year off and realize they not only want to enjoy they game they played but try out the many new features that will have been added.
If you would like to be notified of new verisons and be eligible for a discount on that new version or an upgrade to a life time license, indicate that on your enrollement and we will make sure you know about those opertunities as they emerge.(your info will never be used for any other purpose etc...)"
This way Sami, you get increased marketing and some easy to calculate discount that isn't based on counting how many single licenses someone buys.
Many people who love the game and have allready bought it will not know a new version is available right now I bet.
Dark_Art - January 13, 2012 03:17 AM (GMT)
Come to think of it, current system could be changed almost cosmetically, fit in Steam/App Store/Whatever, generate more cash and still be manageable, however, it would require fully functional DB setup, or in a year or so you'll go nuts. Here is fresh set of stuffs that I thought of:
1. Drop the 3$ version altogether.
2. "Major" version gets renamed to "Current" version with explanation that it will last for good several years, maybe even set a timer - IMHO, 1.5-2 years would do. Price goes up to 10-15$
3. "Life-time" version gets renamed into "Premium" or "Golden" some other fancy nonsense, however "life-time" is good enough and renaming is not critical. Price goes down to 35-40$.
IMHO, after these price changes, the game will generate more cash pretty much right away.
All this games with names is to get away from the feeling that a new player gets after glancing over the price tags (first looks often sells or spoils after all). I asked 9 guys these questions at work and the general response was: "Not gonna pay for few weeks-months" worth of updates. However after being explained the issue deeper, more that one suggested that renaming "Major" version would help with the image. Another thing that was mentioned is the list of updates/changes made per "Major" version with dates, so folks can see the difference right away.
New setup would look something like this:
User creates an account
Account name is the master for any purchases and for simplicity's sake - the forum.
Once the game is purchased, SN is added to the account, giving the user access to updates he/she eligible based on that SN.
The system described is pretty much hassle free - its fully automatic (once build of course :)), all discounts (if any) applied based on already existing and tracked SN. Since its the account would have version, name, email of the user, any kind of marketing/statistics would be a walk in the park, as your data would be just a simple select away.