Part of being successful on the game industry relates not only to making great games, but also establishing a healthy relationship with your consumer. Many developers and publishers fail to see their gamers as legitimate consumers and when that happens, sales tend to drop. These scenarios have been witnessed before, be it with aggressive DRM implementation or broken promises. On the other hand, allowing for player customization, such as mods and plug-ins, and providing free DLC through ongoing development are known strategies that have led to the growth of loyal gamer communities. No developer or publisher is perfect, but a consensus remains that usually it pays off to treat your customers with due respect.
In this sense, aiming for similar strategies, World of Goo developer, 2D Boy, has just announced that you can name your price for their game. Starting at one cent and normally being charged at $20 USD, customers have now the opportunity to pay what they think their entertainment is worth. Some might may this business strategy is flawed, but RadioHead would disagree. They did it before and simply revealed that new business models demand new forms of pleasing your customer. When it came to World of Goo’s birthday, 2D Boy took the opportunity to come up with a nice surprise. No matter the cost you pay for your Linux, Mac OS, or Windows version, you’ll certainly be sure that the developers are aiming for something than your money. That extra something you’re paying is your potential loyalty. As in the future, it is only natural that we, as consumers, tend to favor those who in the past have done good deeds. Be fast though, their benevolence ends on the 19th. Oh, and 2D Boy, please release the statistics tracked for prices over the week.
Bioware has also adopted a seen-before-strategy to cater to the customer. However this time unrelated to the music industry. By releasing their Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator, the developer is allowing players to create and customize a player character which they can save and use when the PC game launches. Spore did this before and the number of assets (or weird creatures) created through their Creature Creator before the release of the game was huge. Dare I say it generated a lot of talk and buzz about the game itself, but ultimately (given the reviews on the final product) the creator itself became more popular. Regardless, consumers felt honored by getting the chance to actually create their aberrations before the game was out and make up their minds whether or not they would like to take part once the game hit the shelves. Now you can save hours of character creation before Dragon Age is released and when the game is out, you’ll already be itching for a long time to be playing with your human noble, commoner dwarf, or magi elf. This time, the strategy is not about paying less, but staying in tune with the potential product you’re about to acquire.
In the end, the one that strives is the one who pleases the consumer. No longer are we gamers playing simply for the products themselves but the services that accompany them, be it innovative DLC, up-to-date patches, customizable add-ons, and better integration with a social network.