Pricing is a real bugaboo for wargame deelopers. Many developers have told me, over the years, that "If we could sell our games for $100 each, we could afford to add X, Y, and Z." Most lament the fact that while the costs to develop a modern computer wargame are increasing, as players demand better visuals, better AI, and a continued high standard of research and historical accuracy, the price the developer can charge has moved downward, or at best remained fixed at around $40-50.
Combined with a very small market for wargames, we now have 1) fewer wargame developers, a mere handful; 2) a fairly static field in terms of game development innovations, with conservatism trumping moves towards state of the art design; 3) lackluster AI development; 4) a focus on "system" games that reuse core elements; 5) games that overall lag far behind the curve in terms of interface, graphics, and audio, when compared to other genres in computer gaming.
What's amazing is that we have ANY wargames to choose from, and some that are pretty damn slick to boot.
The upshot is, though, that if you want more "stuff," like good looks, enhanced AI, more scenarios, more "chrome," somebody has to pay for it. Non-wargames sell more copies, and thus have bigger budgets. They also have more competition, not only in the PC realm but from consoles. The only thing holding down wargame prices really has been the desire of developers to keep the prices within a traditional norm, but I suspect that might change. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Consider: Would you rather pay $60-75 for a more state of the art, more polished, more robust and more entertaining wargame that played as well solo as PBEM, or $40 for more of the same?
However I really do feel Matrix should offer for the same price plus delivery a boxed version with manual. Same as they sell HTTR still in the box. All those people still with dial up (some in the UK cant get broadband at all as they live in the wrong area) who may be short of the pennies will be put off. Also I really do feel this download way is putting off any new people to wargames/wargaming. There would have been quite a few chance buyers who would have become converted but I just cant see anyone not all ready into wargames buying a game by download. It might be a psychological thing. Nothing real/physical is changing hands.