I just read this piece on sustainable software pricing in the Mac App Store by one of the developers at Realmac Software.
I agree with it a heck of a lot.
One of the things I’ve felt I did wrong with Pocket Dogfights was to fiddle with the pricing quite a bit during it’s active period. I originally priced the game at $1.99 USD as I felt for the effort I’ve put in (over a year of development), and being in the situation I am in now - I pretty much solely rely on its income to avoid burning an even deeper hole in my savings.
During the launch window, I’d initially started it off at at $0.99 USD, as it’s what a lot of other games have done during their respective launch windows. With that first week down, I raised it back up, and watched the sales fall.
So, I dropped it a few more times - once to celebrate my birthday (hey, it was an idea at the time), and when I launched the v1.1.0 update prior to PAX Australia - as I thought I could get it in the hands of more people during that weekend :)
As I’m starting to work on the next game (to which I hope to have details soon), I’m now convinced that the best move will be to avoid this bottom of the barrel pricing. Whilst there’s the need for potential players to try the game out - I think the best way is to provide a version using the web player on the site, and to give people the chance to try it out.
Beyond that, I’m planning to keep the same model in place that I’ve used for the DRM free releases of Pocket Dogfights - setting a minimum price (which I think is a fair price for the game), and allowing individuals to contribute more if they think it’s worthwhile.
I’m undecided about bringing it over to iOS or Android at the moment - but if I do, I certainly won’t be aiming for the $0.99 barrier. Why? At those prices, you need to rely on sales volume, and based on the sales numbers of Pocket Dogfights, along with my successes (or lack thereof) in reaching the press, means that wide exposure isn’t likely at all.
I’d like to be proven wrong there, but it’s going to be an interesting ride to get this little game out there, and hopefully keep me afloat a little while longer ;)