Tales from the Dev Side: Magic Seal Pelts by Ian Stocker

Right before a combination of epilepsy, gravity, and IKEA conspired to destroy my brain, I had touched off a debate on Xbox Live Indie Game pricing.  It began with my review on Pingvinas and continued on with my editorial on pricing.  This resulted in my biggest day for traffic ever, and some very awesome point and counter-point discussions in the comments section of those posts.  Pretty damn civil ones too.  I’m so proud of you guys.

Well, now Mr. Ian Stocker, the creator of Escape Goat, wants to weigh in.  At first, Ian was supposed to offer a counter point to my theory on pricing.  Then he changed his mind and sided with me.  Sigh.  Imagine if that happened all the time.  If two guys were debating for the Presidency and all of a sudden one guy said “wow, shit, that other guy is totally right.  Hey everyone, did you hear that?  I totally agree with him.  You should vote for him!” 

Well either way, Ian’s article was both insightful and entertaining and the perfect way to kick off Tales from the Dev Side.  Plus, we’re giving away two copies of Escape Goat.  Read below for details.

Magic Seal Pelts

by Ian Stocker

My name is Ian Stocker, and I wrote three games in the last two years for XBLIG: Soulcaster I & II and Escape Goat.  All three were released at 240 Microsoft Points ($3US).

This article was originally going to be a sort of postmortem on Escape Goat, and I had all my notes together for what I wanted to talk about, until last night’s Twitter discussion took place.  Then Kairi wrote her editorial, and it became the hot topic.  So instead of talking about my production process, which I’ll save for another day, I’m going to give my take on pricing.

It all started last night on Twitter.  Ben Kane reported his 15,000 sales of DLC Quest alongside CSR Studios’s 35,000 sales of Dead Pixels.  I chimed in with my melodramatic tweet that Escape Goat has sold “literally dozens of copies”, which got Kairi’s attention.  After some discussion, she published an article asserting that, to paraphrase, all XBLIG’s should be 80 MSP.

Knowing I was changing my topic to pricing, Kairi added some dramatic foreshadowing to her article.  I had been called out, to answer for my 240 MSP price tags, in what was sure to be a vicious counterpoint to her argument.  But how was I going to do it?  Defend my position? In the face of such stark sales data?

The answer is: I won’t.

I changed my mind.  Last night was a wake-up call.  I now believe that unless you’re making 3D CraftMiner, your game needs to be 80 MSP.  This article has taken its final form: part pricing study, part confession.

Soulcaster set the 8-bit tone that would ultimately lead to Escape Goat, the #2 game on my list.

THE PRICING STUDY

Let’s start by going back to DLC Quest for a moment.  The numbers for this game hit me like a ton of bricks.  Since it came out literally within hours of Escape Goat, I get to hear about it frequently–we get mentioned in the same sentence on blogs and podcasts, forever destined to do battle in the various “pick of the month” features.  We even shared a page in Famitsu 360.

Essentially, both our games were well received by critics, and experienced the same landscape on the marketplace.  Well it’s been a little over a month since launch—let’s look at the numbers.

Escape Goat – 560 sales, net $2.10 each: $1,176 gross profit

DLC Quest – 15,000 sales, net $0.70 each: $10,500 gross profit

Maybe DLC Quest just has broader appeal.  I could buy, say, double or triple the audience, sure.  But no, we’re looking at a 1,000% difference in revenue.  To account for that, you have to look at the one major difference between the titles: the price.

The Confession

I was wrong to set the price at 240 MSP for all my games.  At the time, I had good reasons for doing so, but they were simply hypotheses that have been disproven.

Now, I could just leave it at that, but you guys were promised a heated argument.  Plus, conflict drives traffic.  To that end, I’m opening up a debate between my current, enlightened self, and the Ian Stocker of one week ago.  (We can call him “Dark Ian.”)  His arguments appear in italics, followed by my responses (as modern, enlightened Ian).  Note from Kairi: picture enlightened Ian wearing a lounge jacket and smoking a pipe for added effect.

Let’s begin with the question I’ve been asked many times before:

“So your games are 240 MSP. Are you insane?”

I don’t want to be part of the race to the bottom. If they offered 10 cent games, do I need to offer that?  I’d rather not compete on price.  Besides, $3 is nothing! It’s a latte, a Big Mac, 1/20th of Skyrim.  There has to still be a market for $3 games on the console!

The market exists, but sadly, that market is not XBLIG.  I’ll explain why in a minute.

But…I don’t make “99 cent” games.  I make niche games, targeted to a specific audience who is willing to pay more.  Also, doesn’t the high price tag denote quality to separate me from lower-priced games?  Consumers associate high price with high quality.  I have data to prove it!

Your beloved niche audience won’t get a chance to try your game, because they won’t download the demo.  Simply by being on XBLIG, you are associated with other $1 games, like it or not.

But look at the Soulcaster series.  25% demo-to-purchase conversion on them!  If I went to $1, I would need a 75% conversion to make the same amount!

You’re getting a fraction of the downloads of the 80 MSP games, because people look at the price tag and move to the next one.  Customer gut responses? “How arrogant.” “Nothing is worth 240 MSP!”  You wouldn’t need 75% conversion if you were getting 5x as many downloads.

If you were to look at interviews or tweets from me as recently as a week ago, you’ll find me parroting some of these things.  Well, not anymore.

Low sales or not, Ian should be proud of Escape Goat, one of my favorite games, XBLIG or otherwise, this year.

The Hypothesis

I love studying pricing psychology.  I even considered myself fairly well-educated on the topic when I set my prices–see my well-reasoned (now debunked) arguments above.  This makes this confession and change of heart even more humiliating, but don’t worry, I’m still egotistical enough to write an article containing a debate with myself.

So what was I missing?

The fundamental problem is that I was looking at pricing tactics that work when the price is in US Dollars (or whatever native currency).  And Xbox Live does not deal in that.  They use Microsoft Points.  To explain the subtle effect on the consumer mind, I’ll draw an analogy.

Let’s turn back the clock to 1989, a time when you had to leave the house to play the best games, and some of you were still in diapers. Kairi’s note: I was born in 1989.  Depending on the time of the year I was either in diapers or in a placenta spa.

I’m 10 years old and I show up at the arcade with a $10 bill.  When I look at this $10 bill, I think of the lawns mowed and weeks of savings.  But it’s all worth it, because LOOK AT THE GAMES.  So I go to the change machine and cash it in for quarters.  Now I have a massive handful of small metal disks.  This is no longer “money.”  These are individual tokens, each one granting me entry into one of the magical worlds available here.  (Some arcades give you tokens instead of quarters, but the same psychology applies: once they’re converted to quarters, it’s no longer about price. It’s about number of plays.)

Every game is one quarter.  The ancient Pac-Man machine, the brand new Street Fighter II machine… all one quarter as the entry fee.  But wait, what’s this game asking for two quarters?  I don’t care what it is, they’re asking me to GIVE UP ONE OF MY TOKENS extra!  Nothing is worth that.  I don’t care what the game is.  Moving on!

You see where I’m going with this.  In the world of XBLIG, the consumer thinks in terms of tokens, each one being 80 MSP, which grant access to one of the games.  Except, what’s this?  Here’s a game asking for THREE TOKENS!?  Screw them!  Not even downloading the demo for that!  Who do they think they are, that they are worth three other games?  And look at how pimp this 80 MSP game is.  I just can’t justify three tokens for one game… that’s just… wrong.

(If you’re part of the generation who started visiting arcades in the mid 90’s, after everything was converted into exercise machines, you might be thinking: “But everything costs four quarters.”  Well, don’t throw a wrench in my analogy, it’s all about price expectations.  Plus,  Street Fighter II didn’t come out until 1991.  I was making sure you were paying attention.)

Next, let me respond to something Kairi wrote, to ratchet up the conflict level a bit.  Kairi writes:

My point was WHY is a $3 game acceptable on Steam and not on XBLIG? It’s because a Steam game goes through wringers that games on XBLIG don’t. People feel confident with a Steam purchase. They don’t with an XBLIG, and that’s totally justified.

I agree, quality control is more reassuring on Steam.  But I would take it a step further.  Back in the realm of native currency, with flexible pricing, the customer thinks of the price in a totally different way.  $2.99 actually does compare itself nicely to a latte.  And with games priced flexibly at a broad range, there’s no precedent, like there is with XBLIG: “One game costs 80 Magic Seal Pelts, and thus ever has it been.”

XBLIG is its own world.  It has its own set of rules for pricing psychology.  For example, conventional advertisements in the real world do little to spur sales.  Ask anyone who’s had their game featured on the dashboard.  Downloads go up anywhere from 200% to 500%.  Soulcaster was mentioned twice in the Penny Arcade news section–a rare gift more valuable than many forms of advertising.  Change in downloads after that?  Not noticeable.  Its own world.

Following Ian's epiphany, both Soulcaster and Soulcaster II (pictured) are now only 80 Microsoft Points each.

I spent the last 18 months blind to this.  I dismissed the low sales as turmoil within the marketplace (which, don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of).  I had just written off making money on XBLIG, turning my attention to PC ports: PC, that promised land where dollar bills fall from the sky.  In the meantime, through a combination of pride and negligence, I missed out on plenty of potential revenue.  I was the three-quarter arcade machine in a room full of one-quarter machines.

I’ll close with a quote from Joel Spolsky’s article, quoted within Kairi’s post:

The truth is, the only way to determine how much someone will pay for something is to put it up for sale, and see how many people actually buy it.

As an entrepeneur-programmer-nerd, I listen when Joel speaks.  And as usual, Joel is right.  So today, I’m lowering the price of Soulcaster I & II to 80 MSP.  (I would do the same for Escape Goat, but I have to wait 50 days to change the price on that.)  Let’s see how it goes.  It’s yet another hypothesis, and it would be extra humiliating for me to have to come back in a month to eat these words, but either way, I’ll report back.

I hope this has been amusing and enlightening, at least enough for Kairi to want to extend this guest-blogging offer to more developers.  If not? Well, I’ll be remembered as the guy who ruined it for everyone.

I dedicate this article to my fellow XBLIG devs, especially you guys on Twitter.  Keep it real.

Kairi’s Final Thoughts: Ian, you didn’t ruin it.  I think this editorial perfectly sets the tone for what I wanted from Tales from the Dev Side.  Any developer who has had a game reviewed at this site, whether it was a positive one or a negative one, has my open invitation to contribute a Tales from the Dev Side editorial.  If you want to contribute, e-mail me with a proposal for what you want to write.  Don’t write it and then send it, as I would like to touch base first and make sure it’s something that won’t be too redundant or inappropriate for this site.

I think Ian did a wonderful job here, and I look forward to seeing what other developers can contribute.  If this is the type of feature you want to see more of here, or not, sound off in the comments section.

As a special treat, IndieGamerChick.com is giving away TWO free copies of Ian’s game Escape Goat this Monday, December 19.  One copy will be given away to one lucky reader who retweets this review.  Another winner will be drawn at random from one of Ian’s Twitter followers.  The drawings will take place Monday at 5PM on the West Coast. Limit one retweet entry per a person per an account.

Check out Ian’s Games on the Marketplace.

Soulcaster, which is now 80 Magic Seal Pelts

Soulcaster II, also now only 80MSP (oh, Magic Seal Pelts, M-S-P, I get it now. Ha, funny.)

Escape Goat, the #2 game on the Indie Gamer Chick Xbox Live Indie Game All-Time Top 10.

You should also check out his blog.

About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

49 Responses to Tales from the Dev Side: Magic Seal Pelts by Ian Stocker

  1. Pingback: Tales from the Dev Side… and a Price Drop | MagicalTimeBean

  2. It would be interesting to see whether the trial downloads differ much between DLC Quest and Escape Goat – ie. whether the conversion rate was higher. And also how many trial downloads people typically see on their first game?

    I went with selling Inferno! at 240MSP (my ‘instinct’ was to price at 160MSP, but there’s no such price point, so I opted up rather than down). To the point when I dropped the price to 80MSP (2nd December), I’d had 1616 trial downloads and 35 purchases, so I’m just interested to see how that compares with other developers’ experiences.

  3. A very interesting perspective Ian, thanks for sharing it. I definitely think your onto something with this ‘tokens’ idea. Now you’ve pointed it out, I can see it in my own thinking. If Kairi hadn’t kept telling me what an awesome game Escape Goat is, I might never have tried it. It was three games worth of tokens! (For the record, she was right. Escape Goat is easily worth the money. Moreover, I wanted to get Soulcaster I & II anyway, and now the one reservation I had about buying them is gone).

    I think the way Magic Seal Pelts are purchased also has an effect. If there’s game you want at 240 MSP, you can’t just buy it. You have to buy at least 500 MSP. And what if you want to buy something from XBLIG at 240 AND something from XBLA at 800?

    Microsoft’s currency blocks make things confusing and awkward. That’s why I think, as I mentioned in the comments on Kairi’s post, I think the ‘spare change’ quality of 80 MSP games is so important.

    One last thing: if you want to share whatever you were originally going to write about your production process, I’d be interested to read it.

    Thanks again.

  4. Starglider says:

    The conclusion seems to imply that it is pointless making 150 Mb games for XBLIG, as they cannot be priced at 80 MSP and usually have much higher production costs (than 50 Mb games) as well.

    • I think that is only the conclusion if XBLIG is your ONLY distribution method. If your production values are high enough, you get your title on Steam for primary distribution and the Indie Channel becomes your secondary focus.

      A shot to the heart for all us console lovers, but the PC indie scene is considerably more vibrant than the XBox one.

    • Dcon6393 says:

      That is pretty much the point, and a consensus among most developers. Unless your game is in very high demand, 80 msp is the best choice

  5. Maximinus says:

    Hi all,

    First of all : I wish Kairi the fastest recovery. You sound like a nice person, your blog is interesting, and your medical problem is a shame.

    I don’t agree with both of you (Kairi & Ian). I’ve released 9 games on Xbox Indies (xbox indies sound much nicer than XBLIG). The first one, I priced it at 3$, it’s Globe Clicker (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfCyh4rKgr8). For all the following ones, I priced them at 1$. Here is what I don’t agree with :

    – “Microsoft forces us to use the 3$ price tag”. This argument goes like this “since my game is bigger than 50 megabytes, I am forced by Microsoft to price it at more than 1$”. This is bullshit. If a developer thinks “my game should be priced at 1$”, then it’s very possible to target a size smaller than 50 MB. If the game is both bigger than 50 MB, but should be priced (in the mind of the developer) at 1$, there’s a big problem. I think “if you’re not confident your game will have good sales at 3$, find a way yo reduce the size and the price”.

    – I’ve read this argument : “3$ games can’t have good sales because nobody knows about the Xbox Indies marketplace. As regards these 4 games at the top 4 positions, that are having the best sales at 3$, it’s the exception. It’s because minecraft fans found about them on minecraft forums”. This is a simple example of cognitive dissonance “my theory does not match up with the reality, so I’ll just pretend these examples are exceptional”. The hard reality is simple : the top 4 best sellers are 4 minecraft-lookalikes (I understand that they are not clones, Castle Miner Z in particular is not based on minecraft, but on COD-zombie-mode). These 4 games prove 2 things : first, that the 3$ price tag works, secondly, that many many people found them, and bought them. The fact that they’re based on another concept is not the point. These 4 games prove that you can become crazy rich with Xbox Indies. Ferrari Testarossa rich.

    Looking at the Best Selling Today weblist (for the USA), I can see 2 other games in the top10, that are priced at 3$, and not based on you-know-what : Temple of Dogolrak and Avatar Legends.

    Here is something I agree with :
    – the Top Downloaded system makes it harder for 3$ games to stay visible at the top of this list. That is mathematically correct. However, we have already proven that it’s possible to stay in the top downloaded list with a 3$ price tag.

    As for the different fortunes of Dead Pixels and Escape Goat, I’m sorry Ian, but I think Dead Pixels looks better, and its promise is more interesting.

    My short conclusion : the 3$ price tag can work. If I am confident that my game will succeed (sustain a high volume of sales for a long time), I’d rather price it at 3$.

    Why don’t I eat my own dog food and set all my games at 3$? Because 1$ is less risky, and I was not confident that my previous games would be very successful. If the sales data keep working every day, I will change the price of old games of mine from 1$ to 3$, too see how it pans out.

    The game I’m currently working on is Stock Car Racer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsUXLWZ_5mw), I plan on pricing it at 3$, because I’m quite confident it will succeed.

    • I recognize that name! First off, thank you for helping playtest Escape Goat! And second, Globe Clicker is a household favorite here.

      Don’t worry, I’m not trying to outsell Dead Pixels, or DLC Quest for that matter. All I’m trying to do is sell more than I was before at 240 points.

      In my understanding, Top Downloads counts both trials and purchases (as 1 each). I could be wrong about this. I’ve always advocated for a Top Grossing list to give higher priced games a fair shake, and I think you would be on board with that.

      Stock Car Racing looks like it has a lot of time put into it. Good luck with your release, and I sincerely hope the marketplace is more amenable to premium priced games than I am giving it credit for!

    • Dcon6393 says:

      For the sake of argument:

      — Your first point is perfectly logical in most cases, but some games just cannot fit under 50 mb period.

      — your second point is kind of…. pointless I guess? Those games did not sell despite the price tag, they sold because they are in high demand. All of the Crafting games sold because of the current demand, and they would have sold at any price. They are definitely an exception to the rule because of the current wants of the consumer. Temple of Dogolrak sold because of sex. That is another trend that has just always happened on XBLIG. Sex will sell copies of games. The guys behind Avatar Legends are geniuses. That game sells because it promises a ton of gameplay for $3. A TON. Create your own world, play online with friends, kill monsters. Honestly that can be classified as high demand as well. Those games you pointed out are basically exceptions to the normal rule because of high demand, and no other reason. It is not that the games are special and better than other games on the service, it is just what people want.

      — The main convention still stands, the average person would rather download 3 games instead of 1. Those games you pointed out are definitely exceptions. There are exceptions to most every rule like that. It would be stupid of me to say that 240 msp games don’t ever sell, but on average, 80 msp games will almost always do better. The fact that the top 4 games are of the game general style, it is almost guaranteed that those games sell because of demand, not because they are good. Sure they might be good games, but without the abnormal demand Minecraft games have, those game would not be up at the top of the list.

      • Maximinus says:

        Hi Ian and Dcon,

        For the top 10 best sellers, 6 out of 10 are priced at 3$. That’s not 6 exceptions, that’s a trend “the developers of these succesful games recognised that they could price at 3$”. My point was : 3$ does not prevent good games from achieving high volume of sales. Hell, these 6 games would probably not sell more copies at 1$. My understanding of this market is that quality and communication is more important than the price tag.

        As for what is counted by Top Downloaded / Best Selling Today / in the dashboard / on the web : I don’t know exactly.

        • Dcon6393 says:

          Ok, lets ignore Avatar Legends because I don’t feel like figuring out why that sells so well.

          Temple of Dogolrak sells for sex. Same thing with some other games on the service. Ask Kairi which games get the most hits for her site.

          The top 4 games are all Crafting games. Which is a current trend in the market. We know this because of the success of Minecraft (something like a bajillion dollars, give or take a few million). It is no accident that these games are far ahead of all other games in terms of sales. When people download the trial, they know what to expect. The conversion rate of FortressCraft is about 90%. That does nothing but support the current trend of people wanting crafting games. Without the demand in the market, these games would not have sole nearly as well, and I am sure the devs have no problem admitting it. Sure, the games are good games, but would they have sold as well without the current demand? No, not even close to as many copies.

          My point is that these games are exceptions for obvious reasons (except Avatar Legends, that is just a good game that has sold on merit). The current demand is for Minecraft style games, so those will sell

          • Maximinus says:

            Actually, I’ve double-checked : Castle Miner (without zombies) is 1$, and Flight Adventure 2 is 3$ (best selling today #16 in the web list). That’s 6 games in the first 16 (5 in the first 10) that are 3$.

            I’ve read your comments, and I’ll explain more my feelings. There’s 3 kind of games I feel that I can make :
            – best sellers : these should be priced at 3$, because they won’t make 3 times as much sales at 1$. Maybe they’d make more profits at 5$, I don’t know. The 6 games that are at 3$ in the top16 are in this category
            – average sellers : on Xbox Indies, releasing an average game will not make many sales. With the top downloaded list sorted by sales numbers, it makes a lot of sense to price at 1$.
            – niche games : these games don’t have many competitors (Lacrosse, Globe Clicker…). They are not targeting a high volume / low price model. They must be priced accordingly (at 3 or 5$).

            So, I’m not saying “price everything at 3$”, but rather : choose carefully according to all the parameters. The 1$ price tag is not always optimum. If you’re confident your game will be successful, choose 3$. If your game is more successful than the average, but still not a best seller, it’s impossible for me to tell what price tag will make more profits.

            Finally : you can’t dismiss the success of Dogolrak with “sex sells” and the success of the minecraft clones with “it’s because they’re a trend”. I’ve peer-reviewed Dogolrak, I found it uninteresting and sexist, but I’m very interested in seeing the volume of sales it can get at 3$. These games are successful because they found their audience.

            • Dcon6393 says:

              Ah, so Castle Miner lowered its price.

              Basically you are saying that games can sell well at $3 if they have found their audience. That is exactly what I have been saying the whole time. Everyone should price their games according to their audience and blah blah blah. In the end, as a consumer, I download way more 80 msp game trials than 240 msp games, no matter the quality of the games. I have 240 msp and 400 msp XBLIGs, but those really stood out to me. If you want more money, 9 times out of 10 you want to price at 80 msp.

              Your last point is exactly what I have been saying the whole time. Those game sell because of the need and want for those kind of games. And I am very tempted to say Dogolrak sells because sex sells because I don’t see why anyone would ever download that game otherwise. The crafting clones definitely sell because of the demand for those kind of games.

    • PsychoNotes says:

      “This is a simple example of cognitive dissonance “my theory does not match up with the reality, so I’ll just pretend these examples are exceptional”. The hard reality is simple : the top 4 best sellers are 4 minecraft-lookalikes (I understand that they are not clones, Castle Miner Z in particular is not based on minecraft, but on COD-zombie-mode). These 4 games prove 2 things : first, that the 3$ price tag works, secondly, that many many people found them, and bought them. The fact that they’re based on another concept is not the point.”

      This is an odd argument to make when, as you point out yourself, those 4 games at the top 4 positions are all variations of the same gameplay concept, all based on a specific, single progenitor. If that doesn’t make the case for an “exceptional situation”, I can’t think what we’ve got the phrase hanging around for.
      Now, if there were a healthy mix of 240 MSP games from very different genres residing in the top sellers, then we could conclude that it is a generally viable price point – one that doesn’t necessarily play a role in gamers’ decisions to download a title or not. But the fact that these top selling $3 games are all riding the coattails of one specific tuxedo should give us reason to consider extenuating factors in their success.
      Given how unusual it is to see a $3 game in the top sellers, you can’t just assume that any reasonably well-produced title has a shot at success. The question you first have to ask when you encounter a $3 top seller is “what considerations, other than sheer gaming quality, might account for this?”
      What the list shows us right now is that, unless you’re hitching your wagon to the Minecraft craze, offering an Avatar party game, or selling pure sex appeal, a $3 price point is going to be a difficult battle.

      • Kairi Vice says:

        As I pointed out in the editorial that touched this off, the Minecraft games really are unfair for this discussion. We’re talking about the single biggest gaming fad going right now, where people are being informed of the games outside of conventional channels.

  6. I’m a little late to this recent pricing discussion – I guess there are downsides to Captian Dubstep week.

    While there is truth to the harmful effect of MS points all sales on the Xbox including XBLA use points. There are also zero cost trials available – you didn’t post the trial downloads and conversion rates for DLC Quest and Goat Escape but I think it’s okay to assume DLC Quest also had 1000% or more trials.

    I’m surprised there is no mention of the Top Downloads and Top Sales lists. It is well documented that being on these lists is key for sales (mostly because there is no exposure otherwise). I’ve even read from developers that being these lists was worth more in sales than being on Kotaku.

    The lists are calculated by units, not revenue. If we both sell 10 games, it doesn’t matter that yours made 3x or 5x the revenue of mine, we are tied on the top lists. When Ben was on GameMarx talking about DLC Quest, he mention releasing Wed worked out great because he was on the top lists heading into the weekend when sales spiked. After that it just kinda feeds itself – more sales come in because of placement on the top lists.

    There are many factors at play. I know my quarter/tokens went to Dig Dug and I only ever spent them on 2x and 3x arcade machines if they were the racing cabinets you sat inside or the mech cabinets you could stand in. But I think the way the top list work have the greatest influence on successful pricing of an XBLIG.

    Will the new dash be better or worse? There are less lists now, no more Top RPG Downloads for XBLIG, so there are fewer spots to occupy. Will the recommendation system compensate for the lack of genre based lists or will the lists become more cut throat as the only visible exposure to the trickle of traffic that stumbles into the section?

  7. Chounard says:

    I disagree with your conclusion. The game didn’t just fail to sell just because it’s at 240 MSP. Compare screenshots of Escape Goat with Dead Pixels or DLC Quest.

    Escape Goat is dark, and lacks contrast. All of the elements are tiny, and it’s difficult to make out exactly what’s going on. It also looks fairly complicated, and when I’m looking for a 30 minute diversion, I don’t want to go through a lengthy learning process before I can play. (That’s my assumption from the screenshots.)

    On the other hand, DLC Quest and Dead Pixels both look like games I’ll immediately know how to play, and the screenshots are bright, have lots of contrast, and are very inviting to me.

    In addition to the screenshots, there’s two other things going on. Dead Pixels is taking advantage of the current popularity of zombies, and would likely have sold well (though not to the same level) even if it were an inferior game. DLC Quest is a satire game, and pressing on a very hot button issue. People are talking about it all over because it’s funny and very relevant in games news.

    Of course, it can always be argued that 240 point games would make more money at 80 points, but the conclusion here seems to be that Escape Goat failed to sell because of its price. I think it’s more likely that people just aren’t very interested in goat based puzzle games with 8-bit graphics.

    Please don’t take this as a personal attack, Ian. I’m a fan of your work, and I wish you had experienced much better sales with Escape Goat.

    • Adman says:

      Certainly, when comparing two games, you’re ALWAYS going to be comparing apples to oranges. DLC Quest and EG are pretty different games, sure. But Ian touched on this in the article:

      “Maybe DLC Quest just has broader appeal. I could buy, say, double or triple the audience, sure. But no, we’re looking at a 1,000% difference in revenue.”

      So, EG being a different game is certainly part of the story. But I agree with Ian (and disagree with you) that it’s the sole reason to account for the difference in performance.

    • Dcon6393 says:

      I do agree with your points about the screenshots. If I wasn’t constantly trying to see what great indie games were coming out, I probably would have passed on Escape Goat because of the price and the screenshots. Both are factors in whether or not someone downloads a trial.

    • That’s a great point about the screenshots. They look very retro and that could be alienating. What type of shot would be more appealing to a newcomer? Or is the game just not that photogenic? As you might have guessed, this project didn’t have a lot of market research put in when it was designed.

      Professor Fessor mentioned below that the editor shot might be alienating. I never considered this, but it’s a great point. It might just be rotated to be the first screen, as well, and it makes the game look like some sort of ill-conceived DOS-era spreadsheet program.

      When I post an update I’ll see what I can do to improve the shots. Thanks for your advice!

      • Kairi Vice says:

        I personally never use editors anyway and I would very much highly advise people to not include them. I think maybe 1 in 20 actually will ever play around with them.

      • Professor Fessor says:

        I’m not sure what shot you should use from the game, but I wouldn’t worry too much about the retro look, dead pixels and DLC quest both looked retro. Try to get shots that summarize the game, add text if needed.

        • Starglider says:

          I realise saying this is heresy in the indie games scene, but is it possible that XBLIG is oversaturated with retro? Platformers/JRPGs/scrolling SHMUPs in particular? It has a higher fraction of games with pixel art and chip tunes than any other games marketplace I visit.

  8. Adman says:

    I don’t think kids these days understand that a quarter is worth so much more than two dimes and a nickel… amirite?

  9. Professor Fessor says:

    Something else to consider is getting your name recognized. I am a fan of soulcaster and had I known escape goat was made by the same developer I would have bought it without playing the trial. I also agree with the comments made about the game seeming complex, I wouldn’t have included the screenshot of the editor, at a glance it isn’t obvious that it isn’t a required part of the game and I don’t want that much complexity when I’m looking for something to play when I forgot when I last saved my game in skyrim, died, and am putting off making the same trip twice.

  10. Dcon6393 says:

    Awesome article. It is a shame on Escape Goat’s sales, because it is one of the best indie games I have played. Hopefully the related games tab, along with the price drop, will show significant results with Soulcaster I and II. I know I just bought them. Originally when I was looking at XBLIGs a long time ago, I skipped over Soulcaster because I only had like 400 msp and wanted as many game as possible. I very much enjoyed the trial I played though

  11. On one side I think that the broad appeal of Dead Pixel and DLC Quests is a downplayed factor, but then again I completely agree with the different perception a consumer has when looking at real currency and Microsoft Points. I guess the definitive answer is that without a doubt, it is more profitable to price your game at 80 MSP than 240.

    That’s not always an option though. For any game that weighs more than 50 MB, 240 is the lowest price available, and I would never dare to price my game own game at 400 MSP, so there’s not much of a choice.

    I know that discussing any change that would require an implication from Microsoft is preposterous, but if there was a way to sort games by price, I think the sales for titles in the 240 and 400 price range would go up as well. Making the conscious choice of looking for higher priced game would certainly make it easier to swallow the pill. Not that this will happen any time soon.

  12. First off, great article. Kairi does an ok job (sarcasm) on her own, but I think this ‘Tales…’ feature is a hit, and I definitely look forward to seeing more of it.

    Escape Goat has been on my to-do list since its release, but thanks be to Mr. Nate Graves, who made me bump it up the list. I actually bought the game and played through it last night, so I’m coming off it fresh when I say it’s an incredible value at $3, but I agree with the points made here. It’s a combination of factors, what’s plaguing the Indie channel, and the argument could be made on any of the stances above, from the pure stockpile of crap games consumers now have to wade through, to the simple visual presentation, whether screenshots (and your choice of colors used) determine if you sink or swim. Of course, logic would tell you never to judge a book by its cover, and to actually download and trial a game before passing judgement, but so it goes. Zombies and Funny Ideas work, apparently to great effect, but any one of you on here knows Dead Pixels is excellent for reasons other than the Zombie quotient.

    Sadly, it’s excellence to some was probably discovered ‘accidentally’, either from the promise of zombies, or the dollar price tag. Same for DLC Quest. Ripping on ubiquitous retail DLC is vogue, building a comedic, worthwhile game around it is the icing. And for a buck? I can’t get actual DLC for that. Sign me up. Mass market appeal / timing is one thing (yes, really two things), and that helps, but the ‘token’ theory is not only sound, it’s probably truth. Even with your own advertising, and XBLIG reviewers (ahem) singing the praises of your game, its seems the number 80 is the magic hat that gets you to the exit door. <— Forgive that joke.

  13. Kairi Vice says:

    Since people are talking about “sex sells”, I just want to pull back the curtain a little bit and show you what are the top search-engine results that have brought people to Indie Gamer Chick. No jokes, here, no exaggerations. These are honest examples, taken since Indie Gamer Chick started on July 1, in the order they appear on the list. I think you guys might be a bit shocked by the results.

    trailer park king 1,732
    temple of dogolrak 994
    indie gamer chick 726
    indiegamerchick 302
    trailer park king game 225
    trailer park king review 225

    wizorb 171
    blocks that matter controls 142
    train frontier express 129
    kairi vice 107
    wizorb review 90
    king of the trailer park 88
    dead pixels indie game 87
    trailer park king indie game 87
    trailer park king nudity 84

    flight adventure 2 78
    trailer park king porn 75
    trailer park king xbox 70

    zombies ruined my day 67
    trailer park king guide 63
    dead pixels game 60
    dark delve 56
    the $1 zombie game 54
    i made a game with zombies in it 50
    cute things dying violently 47
    dlc quest 45
    doom and destiny 44
    doom & destiny 44
    silver dollar games 40
    torque quest 38
    doc logic 31
    xbox indie chick 31
    escape the car 31
    glow arcade racer 31
    temple of dogolrak review 28
    “flight adventure 2” xbox 28
    dead pixel indie game 28
    speedrunner hd 27
    unbound indie game 25
    parasitus ninja zero 25
    indie gamer 25
    indie game chick 24
    train frontier express review 24
    bird assassin 24
    how to beat trailer park king 24
    doom and destiny review 23
    trailerpark king 23
    xbox trailer park king 22
    trailer park king indie 21

    platformance 21
    doom & destiny review 20
    trailer park king gameplay 20
    blockt 19
    “flight adventure 2” 19
    sequence indie game review 19
    angry zombie ninja cats 19
    milie and telly 18
    dogolrak 18
    lootfest 18
    indiegamer 17
    all the bad parts 17
    crazy balloon 17
    doom and destiny game 17
    trailer park king big mart 16
    $1 zombie game 16
    raventhorne 16
    flight adventure 2 review 16
    wizorb crown 16
    speedrunner hd review 16
    xbox live indie games reviews 16
    dead pixels indie 15
    random the dungeon 15
    trailer park king walkthrough 15
    “trailer park king” 15

    oto indie game review 15
    trailor park king 15
    tourist trap indie game walkthrough 14
    gamer chick 14
    escape goat game 14
    i made a game with zombies in it review 14
    sequence indie review 14
    dead pixels review 14
    tourist trap indie game 13
    tec 3001 review 13
    king of the trailer park game 13
    trailer park king wiki 13

    dragons vs spaceships 13
    indie game trailer park king 12
    lootfest 2 12
    dead pixel game 12
    take arms review 12
    dead pixels game review 12
    wizorb download 12
    castle of pixel skulls 12
    trailer park king game review 12
    a hard game without zombies 12
    temple of dogolrak gameplay 12
    trailer park king indie games 11
    train frontier 11
    escape the car xbox 11
    trailer park king ending 11
    indie gamer girl 11
    king of the trailer park indie game 11
    volchaos 11
    “zombie slaughter is fun” 11
    t.e.c. 3001 11
    torque quest review 11
    is there nudity in trailer park king 10
    trailer park king nudity? 10

    blocks that matter music 10
    lasercat 10
    indie game oto review 10
    president john america saves america 10
    escape the car indie game 10
    parasitus: ninja zero 10
    indie zombie game 10
    pixel blocked 10
    zombies ruined my day review 10
    repixland 10
    grand theft froot 10
    puzzled rabbit 10
    does trailer park king have nudity 10
    tic:part 1 9
    oozi earth adventure 9
    xbox indie games best platformers 9
    trailer park king help 9
    sequence indie game 9
    train frontier express controls 9
    win microsoft points 9
    trailer+park+king 9
    “oozi earth adventure” 9
    lootfest boss 9
    dlc quest review 9
    take arms indie game 9
    hells house indie game 9
    trailer park king game nudity 9
    dead pixels indie game review 9
    lightfish game 9
    xbox live indie game reviews 9
    train frontier express update 9
    fatal seduction 9
    lightfish 9
    xblig oto 8
    doom and destiny indie game 8
    train frontier express games 8
    controls for blocks that matter 8
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    hell’s house xbox 8
    xbox indie games reviews 8
    trailer park king xbox 360 8
    “escape goat” 8
    asphalt 2 8
    all the bad parts endings 8
    take arms 8
    convict minigames 7
    angry fish ryo 7
    “star ninja” 7
    steamsunk 7
    redd the lost temple 7
    indie game review oto 7
    sequence review indie 7
    cute things die violently 7
    lightfish review 7
    pixel blocked review 7
    download train frontier express 7
    progenitor moba 7
    dark delve review 7
    indie+game+top10 7
    trailer park king boobs 7
    tec 3001 7
    temple of dogolrak sex 7
    redd the lost temple review 7
    indiegamechick 7
    flight 2 7
    dungeon defenders good student 7
    block that matter like 7
    redd: the lost temple review 7
    john america saves america 7
    what is trailer park king 7
    xbox indie game trailer park king 7

    speed runner hd 7
    trailer park king nude 7
    hell’s house game 6
    sherbet thieves 6
    cute things dying violently review 6
    lootfest bosses 6
    “kairi vice” 6
    dead pixels xbox indie 6
    doom and destiny biforce 6
    dungeon defenders xbox 360 items 6
    johnny platform saves christmas 6
    wizorb game 6
    casper van est 6
    the trailer park king 6
    chain crusher 6
    oozi 6
    indie zombie games 6
    https://indiegamerchick.com/ 6
    indiegamer chick 6
    flight adventure 2 xbox 6
    how to invite people in i made a gamr with zombies in it xbox 6
    “a hard game without zombies” 6
    the indie gamer chick 6
    house of 1000 demons 6
    trailer park king pc 6
    millenium man xbox 6
    doclogic 6
    “bird assassin” 6
    king of trailer park 6
    xbox indie game reviews 6
    xbox live indie games review 6
    akane the kunoichi 6
    oto is absolutely incomprehensible 6
    don’t feed the trolls 6
    indie chick 6
    dead pixel zombies 6
    trailer park king xbox live 6
    sequence rpg review 6
    raventhorne review 6
    indie gamer chick antipole 6
    sequence rpg game review 6
    raventhrone game 5
    nuclear wasteland 2030 5
    dungeon defenders blood rage 5
    dead pixels the game 5
    blocks that matter control 5
    tic part 1 5
    trailer park king reviews 5
    dungeon defenders leaderboards 5
    afro ninja escape the car 5
    indie moba game 5
    blocks+that+matter+controls 5
    fire aliens 5
    blocks that matter 5
    speed runner multiplayer 5
    2011 xbox live indie game reviews 5
    indie game escape the car 5
    president john america 5
    does trailer park king have nudity in it 5
    play trailer park king 5

    raventhorne indie 5
    indie games trailer park king 5
    oto indie game 5
    flight adventure 2 update 5
    redd lost temple 5
    trailer park king video 5
    trailer park king the game 5

    motorbike stunt agent julie 5
    hells house xbox 5
    xbox blow me up 5
    “blossom tales” 5
    speedrunner hd free 5
    meep 2 jumping evolved 5
    retrocade game 5
    trailer park king xbox porn 5
    trailer park king xbox 360 porn 5

    xbox indie games review 5
    motorheat 5
    how to watch porn in trailer park king 5
    temple of dogolrak walkthrough 5

    gamer chicks 5
    xbox indie reviews 5
    “cute things dying violently” 5
    sequence indie 5
    indie dev 5
    xbox live indie games unbound 5
    blow me up 4
    redd: the lost temple 4
    millenium man game 4
    king of the trailer park xbox 4
    “turtle casino” xbox 4
    crazy balloon arcade game 4
    xbox hell’s house 4
    millennium man xbox 4
    high gravity wells 4
    hell’s house indie game 4
    xbox 360 trailer park king 4
    indie sequence review 4
    xbox indie game dead pixels 4
    torques quest 4
    devils blood indie game 4
    indie games chick 4
    “random the dungeon” 4
    i have no time to customize my video game 4
    take arms game 4
    point and click abduction porn games 4
    1600 microsoft points 4
    cute things dying violently indie 4
    xbox live trailer park king 4
    arp halloween edition 4
    temple of dolgorak 4
    redd: the lost temple reviews 4
    all the bad parts review 4
    xna peer review 4
    dlc quest indie 4
    millennium man game 4
    dead pixels zombie game 4
    trailor park king game 4
    devil blood indie game 4
    indie game the 1$ zombie game 4
    dead pixels zombie 4
    indie+games+escape+the+car 4
    wiki read: wikipedia for xbox 4
    lightfish game review 4
    avatar chess 4
    wizorb+review 4
    trailer park king indie review 4
    trailer park king video game 4

    gamerchick.com 4
    indie game sequence review 4
    dead pixel review 4
    indie game dead pixels 4
    indie chick gamer 4
    hell house indie game 4
    how to find all the stuf on escape the car on xbox inie game 4
    dead pixels xbox 4
    blocks that matter treasure chest 4
    angry fish game 4
    tralier park king 4
    dead pixels xbox review 4
    dead pixel indie games 4
    buy wizorb 4
    trailers park king 4
    xbox indie game escape the car 4
    indie gamer chick train frontier express 4
    where can i play lootfest 4
    jump physics 4
    flight adventures 2 developer 4
    trailer park king watch porn 4
    indie fighting games 4
    retrocade 4
    indie game 4
    trailer park king naked 4
    andromium review 4
    trailer park king full game 4
    take arms indie games 4
    trailer park king indie game walkthrough 4
    doom & destiny guide 4
    redd indie 4
    trailer king park 4
    www train frontier express game download 4
    indie chick xbox 4
    unbound indie game review 4
    all the bad parts indie game 4
    “all the bad parts” 4
    k-dog kick’n it indie 4
    temple of dogoirak 4
    johnny platform saves christmas review 4
    frogger 4
    silver dollar games 3 4
    lotto hack 4
    speedrunner hd play for free 4
    robot platformer 4
    indie game trailer park king walkthrough 4
    indie+gamer+chick 4
    the cannon indie game 4
    trailer park king online 4
    lootfest indie game 4
    indie games unbound 4
    pigs can’t fly game 4
    train frontier express manual 4
    apple jacks car games 4
    train+frontier+express+download 4
    president john america review 4
    indie games like final fantasy 4
    zombie games “leave a comment” site:.com 4
    pixelosity 4
    game angry zombie 4
    unbound xbox indie 4
    temple of dogolrak hentai 4
    indie games escape the car 4
    indie game dark delve walk through 4
    speedruner 4
    xbox escape the car 4
    “temple of dogolrak” 4
    top 10 august 3
    hell’s house indie games 3
    “escape from robot doom” 3
    train fronteir 3
    xbox live indie reviews 3
    elemental revolt 3
    hell’s house 3
    trailer park king 2 3
    the+$1+zombie+game 3
    chick.com/games 3
    temple of dogolrak pics 3
    x box live indie hell’s house review 3
    unbound xbox live 3
    when is xbox getting dungeon defenders content 3
    how long is trailer park king 3
    “trailer park king” nudity 3
    “blocks that matter” controls 3
    pess ,me king porn 3
    doom & destiny reviews 3
    games block the laser 3
    redd lost temple review 3
    tempel of dogolrak 3
    play cute things dying violently online 3
    “doom & destiny” 3
    xbox live indie games trailer park king 3
    indiegamergirl 3
    dead pixel xbox indie 3
    king of trailer park indie game walkthrough 3
    laser cat review 3
    gamer chicks getting fucked 3
    escapegoat 3
    hells house game 3
    trailer park king xbox indie 3
    videowars the indie game 3
    “kairi vice” games 3
    silver dollar game 3
    raventhrone indie 3
    dungeon defenders ninja outfit 3
    in trailer park king how do i get to mart 3
    indie dead pixels sales 3
    trailer park king game naked 3
    unbound indie 3
    defy gravity game reviews 3
    xbox 360 indie game trailer park king 3
    blocks that matter chest 3
    aban hawkins and the 1000 spikes 3
    gamer chick volchaos review 3
    dungeon defenders cant talk to people 3
    free microsoft points 3
    how do you beat the indie game of tourist trap 3
    escape the car xbox indie 3
    dungeon defender best platform? 3
    progenitor xna 3
    is there a game called neulear wasteland 3
    trailer park king xbox review 3
    trailerpark king porn 3

    giant fucking yeti 3
    gameoto 3
    falling blocks indie game 3
    win ms points 3
    what does a calico kitten look like 3
    crazy ballon game 3
    how many hours of gameplay should an xbox indie game have 3
    temple of dogolrak indie game 3
    who is god game 3
    wizorb reviews 3
    cthulu vs. doom and destiny 3
    trailer park kings indie game nudity 3
    flight adventure 2 controls 3
    indiegamerchick silver dollar 3
    wizorb indie 3
    i made a game with zombies 3
    “glow arcade racer” 3
    bird assasin 3
    trailer park chick 3
    gaming chick intervies 3
    lootfest first boss 3
    sprite sheet canabalt 3
    aban hawkins & the 1000 spikes 3
    growing pains indie 3
    trailer park king how to get to the big mart 3
    parkking 3
    platformance castle pain 3
    trailer park king girls 3
    blow me up xbox 3
    indie games chicks 3
    play trailer park king online 3
    who is god magiko 3
    xna sencounter 3
    trailer park king indie game nudity 3
    take arms indie 3
    trailer park king indie game review 3
    indie king of the trailer park 3

    doc logic game 3
    flight adventure xbox 3
    trailer park king xbox nudity 3
    zombies ruined my day weapons 3
    xbox live review 3
    xbox indie games blue 3
    does trailer park king have nudity? 3
    how to change planes in flight advencher 2 3
    dungeon defenders survival rewards 3
    “dlc quest” 3
    growing pains smudged 3
    shield the beat 3
    play escape the car 3
    xbox wikipedia 3
    wizorb error 3
    does trailer park king contain nudity 3
    “doc logic” 3
    bird assassin game 3
    lasercat xbox 3
    hacotama 3
    escape goat game stuck 3
    block the laser 3
    brad | trailer park king 3
    frontier express 3
    john american xbox indie 3
    unbound xblig 3
    inspired super meat boy 3

    • Kairi Vice says:

      And, just to give you an idea of how fucked up the searches can be, here’s the 1 and 2 hit Google searches over the last 30 days (as far back as I can go on those). Warning: bad for the soul.

      how do u seduce the bosses in demon girl 2
      torque quest review 2
      trailer park king game review 2
      “angry zombie ninja cats” student 2
      xbox live leaderboard 2
      portal defenders hacked 2
      3d dot heroes terrain 2
      unbound xblig 2
      temple of dogolrak 2
      unbound xbox indie 2
      indiegamer chick 2
      mover game 2
      doom & destiny review 2
      pingvinas 2
      indie zombie game 2
      xbox indies lasercat 2
      all the bad parts endings 2
      escape goat level 7 2
      are there any xbox indie games with nudity? 2
      the $1 zombie game review 2
      block that matter controls 2
      chess avatars 2
      growing pains xbox indie 2
      unbound xna 2
      point and click abduction porn games 2
      gamer chick fuck 2
      game shoo away cat from cereal 2
      cartoon character on ride 2
      dragons vs spaceships review 2
      “the hard game” morse code 2
      avatar chess 2
      i made a game with zombies 2
      indie gamer chick kairi 2
      trailer park king ending 2
      temple of dogolrak reviews 2
      trailer park king pc 2
      seduction of a games developer 2
      video game parody 2
      trailor park king game 2
      what ps3 video game to play that aren’t horribly hard but still fun 2
      aban hawkins and the 1000 spikes 2
      “red candy games” office location 2
      king porn 2
      dogolrak review 2
      oozi earth adventure 2 2
      temple of dogolrak xbox indie games review 2
      getting through to guys with a thick skull 2
      artwork games scenery 2d perspective platform 2
      indie games xbox bird assassins 2
      movable platformers in platformer starter kit 2
      trailer park king gameplay 2
      play lasercat 2
      the $1.00 zombie game 1 zombie left 2
      flight adventure 2 planes 2
      Нолан Бушнелл computer space 2
      temple of dogolrak indie games 2
      speedrunner hd wii 2
      monkey throws darts 2
      avatar chick 2
      dungeon defenders wiki how to changed d-pad 2
      gravarena 2
      xbox indie shitty games 2
      trailer park king walkthrough xbox 2
      lightfish 2
      xna reviewers 2
      xbox indie game upcoming 2
      milie and telly 2
      escape goat review 2
      indie games 2011 2
      trailer king game 2
      temple if dogolrak 2
      indie hack this game codes 2
      escape the car xbox indie 2
      pingvinas game 2
      progenitor dream build play 2
      xbla chick 2
      nuclear wasteland 2030 2
      oto xbox live indie review 2
      the dead pixel army 2
      train frontier express manuale 2
      trailer park king 2 2
      gamer girl porn gamestop bathroom 2
      escape goat indie 2
      xbox kings trailer park how to get to big mart 2
      chick.com/game 2
      perkunas dragon kotaku 2
      platform hack 2
      xbox indie games porn 2
      indie fighting games 2
      angryzombie 2
      mep mep can oyunu 2
      2d indie games 2
      temple of xbox indie games 2
      mess with me and you mess with the whole trailer park 2
      temple of dogolrak gameplay indie games 2
      new xbox live indy temple 2
      gaming humor 2
      temple of dogolrak ending 2
      indie moba game 2
      trailer park king naked girls 2
      unbound indie game reviews 2
      xbox live indie games review 2
      trailer park xbox indie 2
      arkanoid town 2
      dead pixels sales 2
      shoot 1up 2
      blockt 2
      gamer girl having sex on xbox 2
      temple of dogolrak all pictures 2
      csr studios dead pixels secrets 2
      lootfest 2 2
      top-down shooter 2
      stroke avatar game online 2
      beauty and the beast feather duster 2
      i made a game with zombies in it 2
      flight adventure 2 doesnt load 2
      xbox indie arcade inferno! 2
      “flight adventure 2” xbox 2
      the temple of dogolrak walk thru 2
      what to do in trailer park 2
      nudity in trailer park king? 2
      final fantasy 6 rom hack 2
      puzzled rabbit 2
      indie chick 2
      trailer park king nude 2
      battle high : elemental revolt 2
      dungeon defenders griefing 2
      chicken 60 upgrades dungeon defenders 2
      meatboy 2
      escape the car guia xbox indie games 2
      i’m giving away microsoft points 2
      gameoto 2
      gamer girl review site 2
      show me that smile again…don’t waste another minute on you’re cryin…were no where near the end..the best is ready to begin 2
      game design interviews for vibrating controllers 2
      doc logic 2
      games like dragon’s lair 2
      satellite stick figure 2
      dead pixel indie game 2
      sonic the hedgehog 2
      indie gmer chick 2
      platform game level layout 2
      temple of dogolrok 2
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      train fronteir express 2
      xbox live indie review 2
      hack logic game morse code 2
      dungeon defenders can’t change controls 2
      temple of dogolrack 2
      temple of dogolrak xbox 2
      indiegamechick 2
      flight adventure 2 update 2
      temple of dogolrak trailer 2
      gravity well game 2
      elfsquad7 review 2
      you can die from the cute 1
      best score survival dungeon defenders 1
      best chick on xbox 1
      bomberman gas oyunu 1
      what does pilgrim look like 1
      lootfest boss 1
      platformance castle of pixel skulls 1
      niji high scores 1
      where+can+i+find+the+1000+spikes+theme? 1
      sequence indie game 1
      goat puzzle mouse game 1
      “in no particular order” indie script 1
      i can’t come in dungeon defenders 1
      starzzle help world 3 1
      bird assassins kids game to play 1
      reviewer about all the bad things game 1
      what is pixel blocking 1
      whats the game where you shoot bouncing balls with a harpoon and they multiply and get smaller 1
      flowrider xbox review 1
      send someone crazy balloons 1
      dungeon defenders d-pad bind keys 1
      xbox 360 live unbound indie video 1
      silver dollar games crap 1
      alex chance 1600 – taking a chance for big 1
      indie games that cost 40 microsoft points 1
      best indie october 2011 1
      dead pixels indie game update 1
      “angry hand of god” game 1
      review about xna 1
      blocks that matter xbox controls 1
      blocks that matter chest 1
      “red candy games” company info 1
      indie game oto review 1
      block+that+matter+how+to+play 1
      dlc+quest 1
      doom & destiny indie 1
      died hundreds of times 1
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      falling blocs game good one 1
      truck par gamesking 1
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      asphalt 1
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      xbox live indie other 1
      escape goats 1
      game aliens mother indie 1
      “blocks that matter” star 1
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      wizzorb 1
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  14. Kairi Vice says:

    My last thoughts on the big pricing debate.

    There’s this great scene in the movie Casino with Robert De Niro. A Japanese high roller has cleaned out his casino and is about to leave, but De Niro’s character fixes it so the guy’s private plane won’t work and he has to stay at the Casino.

    The guy doesn’t want to stay at his room, so he goes to the tables and decides to play it safe, betting small. He bets $1,000 a hand instead of his usual $3,000 a hand.

    When he wins, the guy doesn’t see it as winning $1,000. He sees it as losing $3,000. So he ups his bets and he ultimate loses all the money he took from the Casino, plus another couple million of his own cash.

    It’s the perfect analogy for this conversation. Yes, there are successful 240MSP XBLIGs.

    But did those games MAKE 3 times as much as the $1 games? Or did they lose a higher multiple of money because the amount of people interested in buying it didn’t make the plunge because of the price?

    You never know. My guess? In most cases, the $3 games that were successful only made a fraction of what they potentially could have.

    Food for thought.

    • Chounard says:

      My guess? Games that target solely XBLIG make only a fraction of what they might otherwise. Debating $1 vs. $3 on an inferior platform is mostly a waste of time.

      She’s not my special lady, she’s my fucking lady friend. I’m just helping her conceive, man!

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  16. thebaldavenger says:

    Excellent article and really great site. I have nothing to do with making games so speaking as a customer? I completely agree with Ians points. I’ve actually bought over a hundred Indie games, I love the whole scene, and I did pay the higher prices at the start, before the race to the bottom.

    But now when I see a game at 240 points it does actually put me off. It’s crazy! 240 points is not a lot of money but when it is surrounded by so many cheaper games, some of which are excellent, you just think “well that’s a bit arrogant.”

    And I haven’t actually played Escape Goat but I will be downloading the trial now. Might have bought it too but since Ian mentioned lowering the price I might leave it a week or 2.

    Sorry!

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  19. Alan C says:

    I strongly encourage people to check out Ian Stocker’s blog post on his site, reporting the difference he’s seen in his sales since dropping the price of Soulcaster I and II to 80 MSP. The short version: enormous increase in both number of sales and financial return. The results, as they say, speak for themselves.

    I consider the pricing debate settled. :p

    • Drew says:

      I feel like I should chime in here.

      I’m not a developer of anything. I had some leftover Magic Seal Pelts after purchasing an Xbox Arcade title, so I started looking through the Indy games. There is simply no way to make the numbers add up right anyway.

      I picked up both Soulcaster games. They really look like a steal at that price- and I had no idea that they had been recently dropped in price.

      The Arcade Token analogy is absolutely right. At this point, I’ve already spent the money, so comparing it to a cheeseburger isn’t sensible. The money is already converted into games, I just need to pick which ones.

      Also, the pricing system Microsoft uses is funky, but I think in the end it favors the small $1 purchases big time. I wouldn’t have any problem buying a $3 game, but I have to spend $5 to do it, so I always end up buying twice as many $1 games in the end.

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