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anothername: I always loved those retail boxes with all the stuff, and if handled with at least basic care these games lasts for a long time. The disks I do can check (all but the 5 1/4" disks; drive is in the basement) still work.

And when I say "digital drove me away from retail" I mean "I don't see any value in a retail box that does contain nothing but a printed Serial and a launcher to a digital platform on the disk".

If publishers want to go back to the "golden age" of retail they should make sure that the core of a retail game release, the gamedisk inside, is of value all on its own; without requiring outside sources like Origin, Steam or Uplay?... whatever UBI Soft calls their store.

All the other stuff in the luxury editions like maps, dice, cards, fancy manuals, etc where to enhance the value of the core of the gamebox. And if that is next zero its not a good foundation to enhance. It is just a pointer to somewhere else; where one might even see the very same game for 50% less than what one paid 30 min ago in the store; there is a good chance that every time one looks at the box it feels like mockery. People do not like being mocked.
Certainly true for the PC, which is why the PC has seen pretty sharp declines in previous PC gaming strongholds like France and Germany.
Mobile phone gaming was a mess from the very beginning but when it's about mobile gaming I'm thinking about 3DS, PS Vita and OpenPandora.
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Klumpen0815: Mobile phone gaming was a mess from the very beginning but when it's about mobile gaming I'm thinking about 3DS, PS Vita and OpenPandora.
I think people refer to that more as handheld gaming.
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Klumpen0815: Mobile phone gaming was a mess from the very beginning but when it's about mobile gaming I'm thinking about 3DS, PS Vita and OpenPandora.
I don't know what you're talking about. If you ignore all these Candy Crushes, the quality of mobile gaming is quite good. Basically I'm enjoying it, and no, its not all about short gaming sessions while on the road; that's just a part of it.
Post edited October 22, 2015 by PookaMustard
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jamyskis: ...because supply is infinite, the actual value of a game is zero ...
Hmm, I wonder how then ever anyone can make profit with games, music, books, movies, information? For all of them the supply is infinite. Why should the value then be zero and not higher??

Just because I need to cut a tree to print the manual for a retail game doesn't improve the profit I make with a retail game a single cent.

I think the value is like always exactly what the customer is willing to pay. This can be kind of arbitrary. For example, for Apple products customers pay way too much while for good (important!) mobile games maybe currently they are not paying enough.

Shit happens.
Post edited October 22, 2015 by Trilarion
I think this is why big publishers engage in the graphics arms race and ballooning budgets that they are killing themselves and the industry's soul and creativity and long-term sustainability with. they're trying to create big enough to punch through all the other draws on money and this is the only way that the people running the show really believe in. Hollywood is doing the same thing with their summer blockbuster movies but movies are still much simpler, tighter, constructs than a game, though.

also, people didn't fork over $40 for zelda and pokemon on gameboy. their parents did.

ultimately it was market research and exploitation that made the mobile market this way and created the culture I guess. now it is that way.
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Trilarion: <snip>
You're missing the point. It's not how much it sells for, or even how much is invested in it. It's the very fact that no matter how many copies are sold, an infinite number still remain. In a working economy, people pay money to overcome competition - essentially the highest bidder mechanism.

With digital products, it isn't competition for the product that drives prices up, but conscience and/or fear of legal recourse, neither of which are really healthy bases on which to establish a market.

Disregarding my later point about value perception (which still applies on the whole, but I'm reducing the concept to simple supply and demand here), you could for example compare a game to a concert performance. With digital, your concert hall is basically of infinite size with infinite performances. The fewer the number of performances, the smaller the audience capacity, the higher the value of a seat ticket.

I've had this argument countered before with the argument that normal market rules don't apply to the digital realm, but those people have never been able to explain why. You can see supply and demand in action when a game is pulled from the Steam storefront and keys are still in free float.

The price that you pay for games is essentially legally-enforced or conscience-based patronage - you pay for games either because you believe that the developer has earned it, or you're worried about breaking the law and the consequences of doing so (there is a third subset out there that argues that you're paying for the ongoing service, which is limited, but that's a difficult one to analyse really). The point is that many people out there don't see value in appeasing their conscience or adhering to the law. This means that for them, the value of a digital product is zero.

My point is not that a game should automatically be priced zero. Not at all. Games cost money to make. My point is that because supply far outstrips demand by a substantial share, all the industry can rely on really is on goodwill and legal compulsion, and that can only go so far until things go really pear-shaped.
Post edited October 22, 2015 by jamyskis
If a game has enough content to be worth paying the asking price, people should be willing to pay that no matter what platform its on.

The problem is, companies like King, Zynga and Supercell have ruined the market by convincing people that games on mobile should be free to get into with the option to pay real-world money if you want to get ahead faster.

So a gamer will look at a game that might be on iOS or Android for $10 or $20 and say "that's too expensive" when if the exact same game (same graphics, same gameplay, same everything) was on Xbox Marketplace, PlayStation Store, Steam or some other store at the same $10 or $20 price, people would quite happily pay that much.

I for one will NEVER play, download, purchase or support any game that involves microtransactions or any other kind of open-ended spending.
Yeah, it's all my fault just because I neither have a mobile nor do play on one...
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jamyskis: You're missing the point. It's not how much it sells for, or even how much is invested in it. It's the very fact that no matter how many copies are sold, an infinite number still remain. In a working economy, people pay money to overcome competition - essentially the highest bidder mechanism.

With digital products, it isn't competition for the product that drives prices up, but conscience and/or fear of legal recourse, neither of which are really healthy bases on which to establish a market.

Disregarding my later point about value perception (which still applies on the whole, but I'm reducing the concept to simple supply and demand here), you could for example compare a game to a concert performance. With digital, your concert hall is basically of infinite size with infinite performances. The fewer the number of performances, the smaller the audience capacity, the higher the value of a seat ticket.

I've had this argument countered before with the argument that normal market rules don't apply to the digital realm, but those people have never been able to explain why. You can see supply and demand in action when a game is pulled from the Steam storefront and keys are still in free float.

The price that you pay for games is essentially legally-enforced or conscience-based patronage - you pay for games either because you believe that the developer has earned it, or you're worried about breaking the law and the consequences of doing so (there is a third subset out there that argues that you're paying for the ongoing service, which is limited, but that's a difficult one to analyse really). The point is that many people out there don't see value in appeasing their conscience or adhering to the law. This means that for them, the value of a digital product is zero.

My point is not that a game should automatically be priced zero. Not at all. Games cost money to make. My point is that because supply far outstrips demand by a substantial share, all the industry can rely on really is on goodwill and legal compulsion, and that can only go so far until things go really pear-shaped.
Hmm, I can honestly say that I probably still don't get the point.

What is the difference between a manual in printed form and a manual in non-printed form? Both require work to produce and both can be produced in almost infinite amounts (since trees regrow).

To make the story short: I see no differences between retail games and digital games except for the legal status of resellability (which is also completely arbitrary in my eyes). Even a box and a disc - I can produce more of them than there are people on earth, easily, but still the selling price will be much more than just the production costs.

So where comes the premium from? How can people make profit with selling music, movies, books, games, news, ... if in principle the supply is endless and you can copy it over and over.

Of course I never do something illegal, so dragging piracy into the game is just unfair. Piracy is surely putting pressure on prices but that might even be bad in the end and kills devs.

People pay for the value they get, that is entertainment and fun in this case. Producers have to calculate with the costs they have, that is creating the content and a bit for distribution.

Forget about digital or not digital. Forget about infinite supply or not infinite supply. For all practical purposes even the supply of milk is infinite because there are times when there is produced more milk than is consumed still the price does not drop to zero, they rather throw the surplus away (which makes some sense economically).

If people don't want to pay for at least the price it needs to produce something they won't get it and nobody can make it. Maybe this is good, maybe bad. But in the end this is just the free market and it works almost exactly the same for digital goods as for non-digital goods.

So far the free market has ensured that wealth grows and prosperity spreads. But maybe we just make the biggest mistake of our lifes not to pay more for computer games on mobile plattforms - who knows. Shit happens.


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johnnygoging: I think this is why big publishers engage in the graphics arms race and ballooning budgets that they are killing themselves and the industry's soul and creativity and long-term sustainability with. they're trying to create big enough to punch through all the other draws on money and this is the only way that the people running the show really believe in. Hollywood is doing the same thing with their summer blockbuster movies but movies are still much simpler, tighter, constructs than a game, though.

also, people didn't fork over $40 for zelda and pokemon on gameboy. their parents did.

ultimately it was market research and exploitation that made the mobile market this way and created the culture I guess. now it is that way.
But what will be the future development? As you describe it, it looks like a typical bubble development. It will burst at some point (or has already or will go on quite long without bursting for Hollywood maybe) and then some producers (the best maybe?) will survive and people will start forking over more money again because people will never lose the interest to play computer games.

So it will go on. Bubble, burst, bubble, burst, ...
Post edited October 22, 2015 by Trilarion
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jonwil: ... The problem is, companies like King, Zynga and Supercell have ruined the market by convincing people that games on mobile should be free to get into with the option to pay real-world money if you want to get ahead faster. ...
This would mean that this guy in the OP is actually right? It's the fault of the consumers that they let themselves get convinced easily of something that is not true. Games on mobiles should not be free, and this is especially true for good games. How can anyone assume that products can be produced for free? There is no free lunch. Everyone should know that. :)
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Trilarion: Hmm, I can honestly say that I probably still don't get the point.
Well, you've just said more or less what I said, so I think you do get it. You pay the money because you feel morally obliged to do so. But the free market is amoral - it doesn't understand the concepts of patronage or charity.

As for there being no supply if there are no buyers, that's not exactly true. People do create games without expectation of commercial benefit. The Battle of Wesnoth for example. If the commercial market disappeared, the volunteer market would step up to fill that void. But even so, people pay not because the product is worth something, not because it is desirable, but because they fear legal repercussions, feel guilty, and fear that there may not be other products forthcoming.

In the mobile market, this fear does not exist. The market is oversaturated - gamers can expect games to cost next to nothing simply because, if one supplier doesn't meet price expectations, another one will step up to do so.

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Trilarion: But what will be the future development? As you describe it, it looks like a typical bubble development. It will burst at some point (or has already or will go on quite long without bursting for Hollywood maybe) and then some producers (the best maybe?) will survive and people will start forking over more money again because people will never lose the interest to play computer games.
The market may never lose interest in games as a whole, but I'm pretty sure that if the mobile gaming bubble burst, there wouldn't be many tears shed. Everyone would simply go back to the alternatives - which for many people is consoles like the 3DS.
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Trilarion: This would mean that this guy in the OP is actually right? It's the fault of the consumers that they let themselves get convinced easily of something that is not true. Games on mobiles should not be free, and this is especially true for good games. How can anyone assume that products can be produced for free? There is no free lunch. Everyone should know that. :)
Actually, that's wrong. F2P/freemium wasn't a thing on mobile until much later. Mobile gaming started out as simple 69 cent games and that's been established as the baseline ever since. You can turn a profit on mobile if you make your game cheaply, sell it cheaply and market it properly (the latter is a huge problem in the face of all the competition). It just won't make you a millionaire, unless you act like an utter manipuative bastard à la King and Zynga.

The problem lies in assuming that there is a huge market for an in-depth mobile gaming experience. There isn't. It's a very niche market, because most people interested in such games have laptops, 3DS and Vitas.
Post edited October 22, 2015 by jamyskis
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jamyskis: ...As for there being no supply if there are no buyers, that's not exactly true. People do create games without expectation of commercial benefit. The Battle of Wesnoth for example. If the commercial market disappeared, the volunteer market would step up to fill that void. But even so, people pay not because the product is worth something, not because it is desirable, but because they fear legal repercussions, feel guilty, and fear that there may not be other products forthcoming. ...
If you compare the number and quality of voluntarily made games to commercially made games I would rather hope that commercial products do not die out.

On the other hand I want to add that I don't pay for games because I fear legal persecution but because I actually think the law is right. I would like to have my rights respected, so I respect the rights of others and I would never take what is not mine. So paying for a game instead of pirating it is self-evident to me.

Fear is not the reason why I pay for something but it is rather that this is the way the economy works. I simply pay for the value I get and if by chance I can get it cheaper I take that chance. It's the responsibility of the sellers to ask for a price they can live with.

Now the only question for me is how much value there can be in mobile gaming, i.e. how much fun it really is playing complex games on a tablet. Hopefully the fun can still be increased in the coming years.
I'd rather have a 5 dollar pizza (or hell even a latte) than most mobile games. Literally the only one I've ever gone out of my way to buy was the android port of FF6 cause my gba took a shit.
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jamyskis: I'm sure Starmaker or Redfern can corroberate what I say when I say that people who pay for their games in Russia are looked upon a bit strangely, as if they had too much money to spend.
Both reasonable people and I Always Pay For Everything (It Was So Good I Bought It Twice) fanatics exist. The inclination to pirate also varies by media. PC games attract the always-paying crowd, while mobile users pay the I-Can't-Jailbreak tax out of convenience. And some people (like me) are in-between: I always pay for my games (DRM-free only), pirate non-interactive DRM-infected media, and will never use any device which requires an online master account. And even then, people still roll eyes at me.

Just last week, I spoke to a guy who used to be a system administrator, getting $5k per month and raking in various undocumented benefits (e.g. he managed to get the company pay for his pro cycling gear as if it was a job uniform).
"Wait, you paid for software? Why would you?!! Are you a vegan, too?"
Turns out he played WoW and quit after the subscription payment he made with a found credit card was reversed and the accounts were subsequently banned. Srsly.

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jamyskis: it's certainly true in places like Russia that prices are set at rock bottom to compete against an ingrained piracy culture.
Nope. It's not possible to complete against the piracy culture. Prices are set at rock bottom because otherwise the games wouldn't be affordable to the general populace. Set the price too high, and the target audience will go buy another game which is regionally priced instead. Set the price just enough, and they'll buy yours. But pirates gonna pirate.