ORIGINAL: Jim D Burns
Complaining about prices is not constructive criticism when the company already laid out their reasons (something 99% of other companies would never do) for sticking with their business model, I can't think of anything else to call it except whining if you are not then ready to let it go.
They obviously still generate an acceptable revenue stream from their older titles which is what allows them to continue to support those titles many many years after release. I guarantee if they resorted to discounting their games 2 or 3 years after a title is released, the ability to support those same titles for more than a couple years max would vanish overnight, Paradox being the best example of this fact. Paradox has stated time and again there is no budget for more than 2 or 3 patches for a given game, if it isn't fixed by then it won't be getting fixed. Because of their business model they have to move on to a new product line.
The people at Matrix and their developers have families and mortgages just like the rest of us. I seriously doubt 100,000 sales of game X at $5.00 per game would keep a development house and the production team at Matrix in business for more than a year or two max. Not to mention the fact I seriously doubt they could sell 100,000 units of any of their titles even if they were severely discounted, Distant Worlds being a possible exception due to its crossover appeal.
Once a game has gone through a severe discount period, there are very few people left who would be willing to buy the game for a higher price again years later as we see now occurring with PON. Those who paid 1.50 for PON basically put the money in the pockets of the discounters and gave nothing to the men who did the actual work to bring that game into being. While I understand the urge to pay such a cheap price for a game, you did take food out of the mouths of those men and their families by not supporting them and buying it from their site at their listed price.
And because you enjoyed getting something for nothing from those men you now want to convince Matrix and all the other developers here that you should also be allowed to take food from them as well. If wargaming was mainstream like most other genre's out there I'd be the first one screaming for price breaks because they'd sell enough units to make discounting a viable business model. But years of experience in this hobby first with board games and now with PC games has taught me that anyone who tries to make wargaming work using a mainstream business model will fail in very short order.
Talonsoft is a perfect example. They were arguably the most successful early PC wargame publisher out there. Then they had one non-traditional wargame title (FPS title can't recall the name) sell hundreds of thousands if not millions of units and they tried to bring their business up to support the staff and warehousing such a success needed. They were out of business within a year or two having to sell out to Take 2 because there simply wasn't enough interest in the rest of their games (almost all were traditional wargames) to allow them to stay in the black.
They did try and move into games they were not experienced at developing, but they simply couldn't succeed in time to stay afloat. If memory serves they tried to develop some vampire FPS game and a RTS title, but their customer base revolted on them when they were told by Talonsoft that PC wargames were going to be different from now on. Translation: They couldn't keep the success going with traditional wargames.
Had Talonsoft been successful at crossing over to mainstream titles and were it still in business today, I doubt there'd be any more wargames on their roster of games offered. Wargames will never sell enough units to support a discount business model unless you shift your games quality to something that appeals more to the masses.
Paradox used to be a quality production house for wargaming, now they simply pump out garbage and come up with ways to sell the same garbage to their customers over and over. If they stuck with their titles long enough to get them working as intended I wouldn't be so negative on them, but the fact games like HOI3 will never be finished because they can't generate enough cash to support the work needed to fix it tells me their business model is not worth supporting no matter how cheap they decide to sell their garbage.
Even if Matrix has a bad release, I know from experience they will stick with it till they get it right. To me that's worth the higher price point any day of the week.
I don’t think I can agree with you on this, for the simple reason that I do not believe it is wise to accept anyone’s word, my own included mark you, as the Voice of God bearing ineffable truth. All people are fallible, and in the absence of a Truthrock that glows gently in the presence of objective truth, the only way to resolve any disagreement in opinions is through debate and discussion. So long as we are polite about the matter, and explain our positions as clearly and as well as we can, what harm can there be in expressing our opinion that Matrix Games may have overlooked potential profit?
For that is the key point at stake here. Those of us arguing for lower prices are hardly trying to “steal money out of the mouth of developer,” and I am not at all certain that there is any benefit in accusing us of such. Rather, we genuinely believe that lower prices, particularly with older games, would bring in MORE money for Matrix Games and their developers – that such lower prices would be a net benefit not only for the customer, but for Matrix Games as well (for details of why we think this is so, please refer to my earlier posts. I apologize for their length!) Certainly they are experienced publishers – certainly they have garnered a commendable success in their projects – certainly they do have some idea what they are doing. But does that truly preclude the possibility that some of the fans might have good ideas and good arguments behind those ideas which Matrix Games, which is only human, might have overlooked themselves? And even if we should be complete Neanderthals incapable of stringing two concepts together, cannot Matrix Games simply ignore us and leave it at that? I see then no harm whatsoever in polite discussion about the matter.
So much, then, for our right to speak our piece. As to specific arguments, I think I must object to two particular prongs of your offensive. Firstly, you have a particular amount of vitriol for Paradox Interactive, and seem to believe that they don’t ever patch and are doing badly. This is more than a little surprising to me given that they’re pretty much the biggest name in grand strategy and that they possess quite a good reputation for being willing to stick with their games for rather a long time – longer, certainly, than any more mainstream publisher you might care to name. I’m completely baffled as to where this claim of “two-three patches then BUST” comes from. In fact, with their newest modular DLC system (visible in CK2 onwards), one can’t even argue that you need to buy their expansions to fix their games – their DLC/expansions unlock new features within the game, but patches will always be free and constantly coming even for those who only ever bought the base game. This doesn’t REALLY seem to fit the image you paint of an addict on the verge of starvation constantly stumbling towards their next fix. And while you may not care for the direction their games are going in, it seems hard to argue that they’re doing quite well for themselves. May I ask you to provide citations to back up these claims of bad patching and poor financial stability?
Moving on, then, you bring up Talonsoft as an example of a company that went bust trying to become mainstream. Now, I wasn’t particularly aware of who Talonsoft was, and had to look it up – I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did in fact recognize one of their games, and easily the most famous one on the list – Jagged Alliance 2, a tactical turn-based squad game that’s still considered one of the great classics by gamers across the world. None of the other games on their list comes anywhere close in terms of recognizability – I presume, then, that this was the “FPS” you were talking about? Not exactly, I would think, the sort of thing that denotes them diverging wildly from their roots, but perhaps you have a differing perspective on the matter.
But regardless, we move on as you tell their story about their attempt to branch out which collapsed swiftly, and cite this as evidence that wargames cannot be sustained using standard pricing tactics. While this is certainly a useful cautionary tale, I think I must point something out – Jagged Alliance 2 was released in 1999, Talonsoft was acquired by Take-Two in 2000, and it went out of business in 2005. In terms of the gaming industry, this was a VERY long time ago, in the days when “digital download” was a thing that a few homemade shareware developers did and retail stores were the only places you could get your games from. The advent of major one-stop-shopping distributors such as Steam and Gamersgate changes the old retail dynamics dramatically. For more details, I refer you again to my previous posts in this thread, but in short, Steam provides enormous visibility. The main problem that niche games of all kinds have always suffered from is finding their customers and selling to them, but Steam sidesteps this issues that making practically anyone with a PC game aware of anything that comes to their front page, making it much, much more likely that anyone with a potential interest in the niche will find what they didn’t know they’d loved all along. It is for this reason that Steam et al. are considered responsible for the recent boom in indie niche game development, and why so many niche developers are so willing to sign on with Steam.
In the old dynamics of 1999, when customers could only see what they can find by browsing on the shelves and where wargames were customarily shoved into less prominent spots, it was unlikely that wargames could succeed by trying to compete in price. But now in the age of mass visibility, unlimited storefronts, and digital pretty-much-everything, is it not possible that these old dynamics no longer apply, and that wargames can make an excellent profit even at a lower price because they’re capable of finding many new eager wargaming fans from major distribution outlets? That is the great question. Are the lessons of Talonsoft, then, so relevant to the year of 2013?
< Message edited by Tomn -- 4/25/2013 3:16:15 PM >