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August 13, 2020
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Price your game high or you will fail

by Mariusz Kowalczyk on 12/11/19 10:45:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Let's make an experiment.

We have 2 bottles of the same wine.

Bottle 1 costs $5.
Bottle 2 costs $20.

Let's show those bottles to a person, without saying that it is the same wine inside each of them. Let him/her taste the wine and ask which one tastes better.

More people will say the $20 wine tastes better. Why?

Because most people don't know too much about wines and their taste. We also don't have any additional information we can use, the only valuable information here is the price. So we are using it to evaluate the wine: the higher the price, the better must be the wine.

Even if the $5 wine would taste a bit better, still the price would make us think the taste of $20 is better than it is, because it costs more.

Now let's switch from wines to games.

The situation will be similar. If you would show the same game to a person, he/she will tend to think better about the highly priced game.

What will happen on Steam if we would release exactly the same game, but in one universe we would price it $5 and in the other $20:

1) Our game for $5 on Steam:
- People are looking at the trailer/screenshots/description and price, they think: MEDIOCRE, CHEAP game, I will try for fun. I would not buy it, because I think it's MEDIOCRE‹, but it's cheap so I will try.
- I bought the game, so I can review it. Hmm, it's MEDIOCRE‹, 5/10.
- But wait, it was cheap so it's probably worse than that (his subconscious will say to him), so I will give it 4/10.
- I played only 3 hours and I will also don't play it anymore.

2) Our game for $20 on Steam:
- The same person as before is looking at the game: MEDIOCRE, but it's expensive, At that price I buy only games I LIKE that looks GOOD to me. Too bad I will not be able to play it for just 3 hours and give it 4/10.
- Other person: The game is for $20, but I really LIKE IT and it looks GOOD, I will buy it.
- I bought the game and played 10 hours already, I will give it 9/10 and will play next 20 hours!

Which game do you think will have better reviews? 1 or 2?

Steam also promote games that people play more, so just by setting the price higher, you already gain on so many levels:
- Perceived value
- Reviews from customers who liked the game more before buying (higher review score)
- Higher average time spent inside the game

The only problem is, that your game has to be worth that $20. If it's not, the high price will not help you, but it will rather hurt you and generate negative reviews.

So the real advice for you is: Not only set the price of your game high, but also make the game worth that price.

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