2D Boy asked consumers to name their price for World of Goo until the 19th, but just as it worked with Radiohead, it did with them. Now, in case you still haven’t bought World of Goo, you’ve got a second chance…until the 25th.
If you don’t know what this is about and why 2D Boy and Radiohead have something common, check the previous post “Catering to the Consumer”.
Though publishers, developers, and service providers might worry about tending to their customers, truth be told: In the end it’s about the profit. A business cannot maintain itself without making money and that isn’t something new. The novelty arises when different strategies are used to cater to the consumer and obtain income simultaneously. 2D Boy acted in that sense by allowing customers to pay what they wanted for the game World of Goo for the duration of one week.
The response came through statistics released by 2D Boy via surveys and interestingly revealed that though consumers do care about those developers, publishers (not so much), and service providers who treat them well, in the end it is how much they can afford that matters. According to the sale results, 2D Boy’s Ron Carmel deduced “Few people chose their price based on the perceived value of the game. How much the person feels they can afford seems to play a much larger role in the decision than how much the game is worth.” At the time, 22.7% of the buyers had confirmed in a post-purchase survey that they paid what they could afford.
It does make a lot of sense that people might think a a game is worth $60 (insert currency here) or more. It also makes a lot more sense that you can’t buy what you don’t have money for or isn’t considered a priority. Entertainment, as a whole, tends to always remain steady among society’s needs, however when choosing between putting food on the table and going to the movies, it is pretty clear which choice prevails. The strategy adopted by 2D Boy and their conclusion reveals that making things easier for the consumer, in this case financially, is extremely more valuable than opting for aggressive anti-consumer measures (such as DRM). After all, when people pay what they can (or want within their limits), buyers are being created where previously there were none. Even if one cent is a meager amount, this means that 17,000 new buyers payed one cent where previously there were none. The same goes for the $1-$1.99 pricing category with at least 16,000 buyers.
Please note that figures might rise and change because the sale has been extended to the 25th.
I opted to pay $5 USD (which comes close to $10 Reais) and became part of 29.3% of the buyers. I justified my purchase by selecting the “I like the pay-what-you-want model and wanted to support it” answer and became part of 25.6% of the buyers. In other words, I am also one the buyers that came into existence once the “price bar” declined. I also said I thought the game was worth around $15 USD (along with 25.9%), which still is less than the usual price. Are we hypocrites? On the contrary, consumers need to dictate what services please them, because by paying for something (or not) they are expressing their priorities. Alternative pricing models, like this one, reveal that it is better to have a (cheap) paying customer than none.
Carmel’s words to Gamastura were especially insightful regarding their perception “I do get a sense … that there is a lot of room for improvement in how games, and in fact, all digital products, are priced. I think the optimal pricing strategy for any digital product is one in which every person pays what they feel is a fair price that they can afford, based on their economic situation, their perception of the value of the product, the balance of their bank account on that particular day.” By acknowledging consumer’s difficulties and particular scenarios, he continues “Neither fixed pricing nor pay-what-you-want even come close to achieving this, however. The answer is elsewhere, but this was our first step in exploring alternative pricing models, not sure what our next step might be yet.“ Regardless of being an experiment, this has definitely been a very important step for business models in the game industry.
Customers want to pay. Customers want to go legit and show their appreciation for a service or product, but they won’t be fooled twice (or so we hope). Show them your respect and their money’s worth, and they’ll show you they care.