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PC Game Prices — Valve Starts the Race To Zero 212

Posted by Soulskill
from the year-of-micro-transactions-on-the-desktop dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Last week Valve made an interesting but seemingly innocuous announcement: they're giving game developers control of their own pricing on Steam. Nicholas Lovell now claims that this has effectively kicked off a race to zero for PC game pricing. He says what's starting to happen now will mirror what's happened to mobile gaming over the past several years. Quoting: 'Free is the dominant price point on mobile platforms. Why? Because the two main players don't care much about making money from the sale of software, or even In-App Purchases. The AppStore is less than 1% of Apple's revenue. Apple has become one of the most valuable companies in the world on the strength of making high-margin, well-designed, highly-desirable hardware. ... Google didn't create Android to sell software. It built Android to create an economic moat. ... In the case of both iOS and Android, keeping prices high for software would have been in direct opposition to the core businesses of Apple (hardware) and Google (search-related advertising). The only reason that ebooks are not yet free is that Amazon's core business is retail, not hardware. ... Which brings me to Steam. The Steambox is a competitor to consoles, created by Valve. It is supposed to provide an out-of-the-box PC gaming experience, although it struggles to compete on either price or on marketing with the consoles. It doesn't seem as if Steam is keen to subsidize the costs of the box, not to the level that Microsoft and Sony are. But what if Steam's [unique selling point] was thousands or tens of thousands of games for free?'"
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PC Game Prices — Valve Starts the Race To Zero

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  • It's not free (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scutter (18425) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @07:42AM (#46406671) Journal

    The "race to zero" has done nothing but create a wasteland of crappy "freemium" games. Dungeon Keeper [slashdot.org] is the culmination of developers' efforts to move the pricing model away from initial purchase and into in-app purchases. The practice has absolutely decimated gaming. I don't necessarily see Steam's move as a good thing.

    • Re:It's not free (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @08:18AM (#46406823)

      It's simply not going to happen. In casual mobile gaming, yes, because the product is essentially interchangable and there's not a lot of specialist interest, but that's a much weaker phenomenon in console gaming and practically nonexistent in the sort of games Steam users tend to play.

      • Re:It's not free (Score:4, Interesting)

        by N1AK (864906) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @08:32AM (#46406891) Homepage

        It's simply not going to happen. In casual mobile gaming, yes, because the product is essentially interchangable and there's not a lot of specialist interest, but that's a much weaker phenomenon in console gaming and practically nonexistent in the sort of games Steam users tend to play.

        It's already happening on PC and console. There are a crazy number of freemium PC games and they are increasingly popular with younger demographics. Free games on consoles (Xbox at least) exist and even the default for games we buy is that the retail price is subsidised by an endless stream of expansions.

        As a generation who got into gaming without paying for games reaches the age where they would become the typical console market they aren't going to swallow $80 price tags, even if the games charging that are providing excellent value for money.

        • by Immerman (2627577) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @11:10AM (#46408171)

          The question is not how many freemium games there are, it's whether their existence is impacting the market for purchased games. In ages past shareware and freeware had the lions share of the PC gaming market (at least among every gamer I knew in middle and high school, and most of my older friends as well), for the simple reason that nobody had $30 to throw away on a game that *might* be good. Consoles were the only place that purchased games dominated, for the simple reason that there were no free games available - but everyone I knew who had a console also had a huge library of free PC games.

          And frankly these days the odds of a given pay-up-front game actually being good seems to have fallen dramatically. High production value != a game worth playing, to say nothing of the vast oceans of shovelware. Of course freemium games are also far more expensive and annoying than shareware ever was, but at least you get to see if the game is any good before you pay anything.

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            The question is not how many freemium games there are, it's whether their existence is impacting the market for purchased games. In ages past shareware and freeware had the lions share of the PC gaming market (at least among every gamer I knew in middle and high school, and most of my older friends as well), for the simple reason that nobody had $30 to throw away on a game that *might* be good. Consoles were the only place that purchased games dominated, for the simple reason that there were no free games a

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          Where we differ seems to be that I don't think there's a lot of overlap there; that younger demographic playing free games is, to my eyes, a new gaming audience, not a conversion of the existing audience. I get your point though.

    • Re:It's not free (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @08:22AM (#46406849)

      Pick one instance of a category and declare that every member of that category is identical to that instance: Easy way to win rhetorical points, not actually a sound logical point.

      Picking the worst free to play game and saying that therefore free to play can never work is bullshit of the highest order. Especially when talking in an article about FUCKING VALVE. Consider the following games:

      DotA 2
      Portal 1
      Team Fortress 2

      You know what they all have in common? They are either currently free to play, or they have had times when they were free to get and keep permanently. You know what else they have in common? Fucking incredible gameplay and production value that have made them some of the most popular and most played games for PC.

      So take your fucking "Free to play games can never be good because there was this one example where it wasn't" bullshit and shove it.

      • Re:It's not free (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @09:16AM (#46407123) Homepage Journal

        Hawken & Path of Exile are pretty damn good too.

      • by brit74 (831798)
        Team Fortress 2 and Portal 1 didn't *used* to be free-to-play. You used to have to buy them. At this point, they're so old that they've reach "bargain bin" prices (in this case, free). There's a huge difference between "used to cost money, but are now free to play" and "has always been free to play" - that difference being the fact that the pay model is what paid for their development, so it's kind of irrelevant to say "they're great games and they're freemium games" (as if freemium payments actually pai
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. What we get with most free-to-play games are empty shells that require players to pay more than the price of a normal game title to be able to play without spending countless of hours grinding.

      Damn how I miss games with endless of hours of content, like Jagged Alliance 2 or X-Com Apocalypse. Wasteland 2 seems like a promising title, but even that had to be crowd funded, which is really sad.

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        I suppose it's sad in the sense that the big production houses mostly just want to stick to rehashes of last years blockbusters, but I think that's the unavoidable price to be paid for gaming going mainstream - I give you Hollywood as another example. Personally I find it rather uplifting that a bunch of enthusiastic developers can actually fund the creation of a semi-niche game with high production values. The days when a sophisticated game could be made by two guys in a garage seems to have mostly passe

        • by tepples (727027)
          So what are two guys in a garage supposed to make instead in order to get into the industry?
      • by wiggles (30088)

        > Damn how I miss games with endless of hours of content

        Endless hours of content means that gamers spend too much time playing the game, rather than purchasing more games because the old ones got boring.

        The trick in the game development industry is to make a game interesting for just long enough to switch gamers to the next thing. If they offer endless content, they move to subscription models, like WOW.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      I don't think it is a problem. What I see actually happening is that the dross of the developers creates free stuff of low quality for the huge masses that do not want to pay. The good developers still charge a fair price and get revenue and/or move to alternate financing models like crowd-sourcing. I think we have one instance of capitalism actually working for a change here: Games are priced in relation to value provided.

    • The "race to zero" has done nothing but create a wasteland of crappy "freemium" games. Dungeon Keeper [slashdot.org] is the culmination of developers' efforts to move the pricing model away from initial purchase and into in-app purchases. The practice has absolutely decimated gaming. I don't necessarily see Steam's move as a good thing.

      Speaking of Dungeon Keeper and the flood of "freemium" games I'd like to see less and less of, here's a much a more sane (as in opposite) take on the subject: How In-app Purchases Have Destroyed The Industry [baekdal.com]

      And now, I don't think that what's good good for Apple or Valve is going to be necessarily good for gamers and game developers.

      RT.

      • There's a right and wrong way to implement in-app payment in a video game. The wrong way is the mobile version of Dungeon Keeper. One of the right ways is to provide one free-to-play episode that ends on a cliffhanger, and then a one-time payment to unlock the rest of the game. This model is called "shareware", and it was a big success for Doom.
    • It isn't free to make these games, especially if the games are of any particular quality.
      So if they are going to offer them to users for free, they will need to find an alternative method of getting compensated for their work.
      They will have adds in their games, they will put product placements in their games, they will have paid add ins, they will partner with an other company to make their product a promotional item...
      It isn't free gaming, it comes at a cost. And I don't care for the idea that Gaming shou

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by tpstigers (1075021)

      The practice has absolutely decimated gaming.

      The "race to zero" has removed one tenth of games?

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      The problem is that hardcore gamers are a niche, these freemium games attract a much large audience and are therefore far more profitable.
      Also consider multiplayer games, the more players you have the more attractive the game looks, having the game available for free will bring in a lot more players.

    • The problem is that making AAA games where you charge 60 dollars after 2 years of development is dangerous. Great companies have died repeatedly when they've gone to market only to not have the game sell as well as they need it to sell.

      Freemium and microtransaction are a different business model that has shown itself to be successful.

      I don't like it either.

      I prefer a preorder/kickstarter system where the games are funded not with big bank loans but fan/customer contributions/purchases prior to release.

      OR

      The

      • Hrs of development does not scale linearly with hrs of play.

        A game with double the content will typically take marginaly more dev time to create.

        • You are correct to the extent that the initial episode in an episodic game will require more work then the second episode. However, that is true in television as well. And yet, television is a much more stable business model then say movies. With television, you produce a pilot episode and release it. Often by the time of release additional episodes are either in development or completed. Through the first year of release especially the production company gets a firm idea of what kind of return and what the

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        AAA titles are safer bets than an equal amount of dollars in lesser productions. You know why? When you have one title, as opposed to say 10 titles, you're spending X money marketing one game rather than X/10 money marketing each of the individual games. Success of a title does not grow linearly with marketing dollars and more dollars often yields a far larger ratio of value than a small amount of dollars. Your marketing dollars are also not being spent competing against your own titles by having a single A

        • Actually putting all your eggs in one basket and waiting 2 years before you know whether it will sell any copies is a much greater risk.

          That isn't an opinion. That's math.

          Please don't argue 2+2=5... it annoys people that can do basic math. No offense.

      • by tompaulco (629533)

        Freemium and microtransaction are a different business model that has shown itself to be successful.

        This is just an extension of the retail system and it is brought about by the desires of the consumer. We have $50 products out there that might last for 10 or 15 years, but instead, the consumer opts for the $40 one that they have to buy a new one every year due to failures.

    • >The practice has absolutely decimated gaming

      Well, that still leaves us with 9 out of 10 games. That doesn't sound so bad.
    • by Kelbear (870538)

      Steam's move is just the natural extension of what they have already been doing to the games industry. Publishers had set pricing at the console manufacturer's stated standard of $60 and refused(or were discouraged) to let their pricing float with the market for their games. This led to games being strongly reliant on a big marketing push and collecting nearly all of the game's lifetime revenues within the first few months after release.

      Steam steps in and aggressively pushes discount offers, creating sales

    • by ildon (413912)

      Dungeon Keeper is the culmination of nothing. Just because they finally slapped a name you recognize on one of these pieces of shit doesn't mean they've reached some apex. Dungeon Keeper isn't even one of the worst offenders. This is the Facebook/mobile game model that's been popular for like 6 years.

  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @07:42AM (#46406673)

    The end of innovation kills capitalism.

    If technological innovation slows down, we'll have to promote marketing innovation.

    The point is to make people happier with "the new", it doesn't matter how.

    • Re:The future (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @08:46AM (#46406963)

      Well, it seems quite a few people actually do not want "new", but good. Just look at what games get financed on Kickstarter. These people are not the majority, but it does not matter. What matters is that enough people are willing to pay (and paying a reduced fee in advance with a higher risk is entirely fine by me) to keep good game developers able to practice their craft. What has been forgotten by many with the whole "publisher" mess, is that in order for a good game to be created, providing a reasonable salary and reasonable infrastructure funding for a relatively small team for a few years is quite enough. That is why 3 Million provided by 60'000 people gets us Wasteland 2, while no publisher would touch it at these numbers. This new model cuts out the greed. Don't forget that game designers _want_ to create games. Getting rich is not on their agenda. It is very much for publishers that today add nothing of value, but huge overhead.

      Capitalism can actually work if greed is kept under control and monopolies are prevented.

      • by zlives (2009072)

        wonder what they think about StarCitizen +400K subscribers at nearly 40mil

  • by MRe_nl (306212) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @07:48AM (#46406703)

    "Hear the Salvation Army Band
    Down by the riverside
    It's bound to be a better ride
    Than what you've got planned
    Carry a cup in your hand".

    - Less than Zero

  • But what if Steam's [unique selling point] was thousands or tens of thousands of games for free?

    Nice as it would be, that will hardly help Bethesda make the painstakingly crafted content for the next TES installment, now will it?

    Also, Apple is trying to defy the laws of nature. They're just unwilling to accept that computers have been able to do pretty much anything for decades now, and whatever the cost is will inevitably decrease to the point that the software will be more expensive (at least in terms of human labor investment, if not in monetary cost). It has already happened in the desktop area. O

    • by Talderas (1212466)

      Painstakingly crafted? You are talking about The Elder Bugs, right? Er I mean The Elder Scrolls.

    • Well at least it's too late for them to muck up my Skyrim with in-app purchases. Imagine: Want that grand soul gem? $1. How about that Dwemer battle axe with a 60% stamina poison enchantment? $2. Hey, 25 cents everytime you want to fast travel... etc..

      That crap nickel and dimes you to death and you wind up spending vastly more amounts than you would have if the game was just paid for up front.
  • We pay same price for digital downloads as we do physical copies. Its a lot of BS cause digital ones are cheaper since they don't need to give you a box and dvd.
    • ...as long as the thing you're downloading is utter crap, of course the value of the disk and the paper packaging will be considerable in comparison.
      • Bandwidth is way, way cheaper than packaging and retail distribution (especially if they distribute via torrent. where's my distribution discount?), so the costs should be less. that, and the fact that most physical goods can be easily borrowed, resold, whatever. taking away that should also lower the cost. I do realize this is about pc software, most of which is p.i.t.a. to resell, as cd-keys are now generally tied to an account, but hey, the account can be sold; license terms be damned. I also realize tha
        • but what about when it's 100% download-only?

          We'll handle that when it happens decades from now. Customers who live too far from the CMTS or DSLAM to get DOCSIS or DSL are on satellite or microwave Internet plans, which are usually limited to 5 to 10 gigabytes of transfer per month, and a single AAA game can be bigger than that nowadays.

    • Re:problem is (Score:5, Insightful)

      by blackicye (760472) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @08:15AM (#46406811)

      We pay same price for digital downloads as we do physical copies. Its a lot of BS cause digital ones are cheaper since they don't need to give you a box and dvd.

      They don't need to pay any distributors, middlemen or retailers a cut either.

      • Which I never understood. Steam supposedly takes some generous, fixed cut.
        But many many games on Steam have a publisher. So does Steam take 60 percent off the top, and then teh publisher takes 60% off the top, and the developer gets what left?

      • I imagine though that if companies want their games in a physical store (and for some reason they still do), they have to keep the prices the same. Why would I as a retailer be willing to make room for your products when you're selling them for less elsewhere and ensuring I can't get a sale?
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Have you been on Steam lately? Even when there's not a sale on, the prices are pretty impressive.

      • by jma05 (897351)

        I have. Between Amazon, Gamersgate and Steam... I did not find anybody to specially distinguish themselves on price. Sure, Steam may have a sale when others don't and vice versa. But the base prices of digital downloads seem to often (with a few exceptions, understandably) be standard across all vendors. Until someone does a proper statistical analysis and shows otherwise, I will remain unconvinced at this argument.

        • Price seems to be about the same. For me, the big differentiator is the level of DRM. I avoid Steam as much as possible because it's a pain to let my kid play a game that I'm finished with. GOG is always my first choice.

          • by jma05 (897351)

            I agree. I have the same DRM concerns. If I can't get DRM free sales, I at least want DRM at install time only, without any mandatory account creation/association - which Steam does not offer. The only place I have tolerated Steam so far is for a few charity sales.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @07:57AM (#46406743)

    Even now, the mobile faithful still cling to their hopes that someday mobile gaming will be as revered as console games, but their insistence? Nay, their obsession that games must be free, or at the very least cannot cost more than $1, has absolutely destroyed and incentive for companies to build better games. Why bother making an epic RPG or sprawling adventure game when you can pump out some random one-gimmick game or straight up clone in a few days and rake in the advertising money for little to no effort?

    • All hope is not lost! Let's not forget that mobile gaming also means dedicated handhelds such as 3DS and Vita. The quality is good over there, and there are not many $1 gimmick games.
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      I think you'll find that the people hoping for a future for mobile gaming and the people paying zero dollars for it are different groups entirely. A quick perusal of Touch Arcade suggests they favour those $5-10 console ports and things like Year Walk.

  • Now the "for sale" list will be an utterly useless way of finding a good deal because it will be filled with spam and god awful "freemium" games from the publishers. Every game will be continuously "on sale" and if Valve has any rules against this, the publishers will use the same tricks high street retailers use to always advertise a sale even in countries with marketing laws regarding sales (i.e. introduce a product at a ridiculously high price so that they can then advertise it at 50% sale the next week)

  • by RogueyWon (735973) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @08:14AM (#46406807) Journal

    TFA is, I'm sorry to say, complete drivel. It ignores two key considerations.

    First, Valve's platforms - Steam-on-PC/Mac and the forthcoming Steambox console - are home platforms. Where the pay-to-win model has achieved some success (and even there, the successes are outweighed 100-to-1 by the failures) is on the mobile platforms, where people play for snatches of a few minutes here and there. PC and home-console gaming remains dominated by more substantial offerings, with more significant development budgets and (frankly) a more discerning audience.

    And the second point is just that; games cost money to develop. Quite a lot of money, these days. We're already seeing an increase in the RRP for games on the new consoles, which, irritating though it is on one level, is probably something the industry has needed to do for a while now. Long story short - nobody is going to be rushing to give these games away for free. If Valve wants a console, retailing at a per-unit profit, whose selling point is a mass of free titles (and I don't believe for a second that it does) then it will need to throw a massive, unprecedented subsidy at game developers. And that's just not going to happen. We've seen what happens when you try to launch a console whose selling point is the kind of games you actually can give away for free or near-free. It's called the Ouya.

    Which, as we all know, is doing just splendidly. Or not.

    What Valve's move does unlock the possibility of is smarter and more responsive pricing for games. And this is where there's real potential for the industry to do better.

    Historically, we've sold games as though they were movies. There's basically one price point when they're new and another for when they get a budget re-release. Ok, indies and the like have always played around outside that system, but the actually relevant commercial developers have had very fixed price structures. What Steam has moved towards - and seems set to move further towards - is pricing that can price games more accurately reflecting the value they offer, their review scores and their week 1 sales.

    Bricks and mortar retail stores sometimes try this, but the way in which they purchase stock and are insured on those purchases makes it a last resort for them. The ability to flex prices rapidly at the publisher level is much more useful. If you have an Elder Scrolls style RPG with a huge development budget and hundreds of hours of game-time, then go at $80. If you have an average sized shooter, perhaps in the $60-70 range. If you have a 2d platformer or sh'mup, then perhaps you should be thinking more about $20-30 for your first release.

    Nintendo, in particular, desperately need to learn this lesson. My theory on the unnoticed reason behind the Wii-U's continuing disaster is that it's just too obvious that Nintendo's pricing is vastly out of whack with the value their games offers. Ok, the $60 price-point might be ok for something like Super Mario 3d World, but is it really appropriate for 2d platfomers (Donkey Kong, New Super Mario) or HD remakes which sell for $30 on other platforms (Zelda: Wind Waker).

    No long slashdot post would be complete without a car analogy, so I'll say that game pricing needs to be less like movie pricing and more like car pricing. It should have a much wider range and be more responsive to features like production costs, quality, features, brand and image.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not to mention devs have always been able to set their own pricing, or chose to participate or not in sales. This is just a change to make it possible for devs to run sales, within limits, without having to interact with Valve 'manually' ("Hey valve handler, we would like to run a sale between...") in any way.

    • Even these items are a little high, and only for the first few weeks. Steam has also become very aggressive are deep discounts relatively shortly after release. Skyrim is probably one of the least effected games I have seen so far, and it had OK discounts the year is was released and gets down to 66% off.

      So even AAAA games can be had for under 15 bucks a month after release, and the price or a generic steam key, from PWYW sales is only like 50 cents. Steam simply offers a wider range of games, for pretty mu

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)

      No long slashdot post would be complete without a car analogy, so I'll say that game pricing needs to be less like movie pricing and more like car pricing. It should have a much wider range and be more responsive to features like production costs, quality, features, brand and image.

      So what you're saying is that Ubisoft titles should retail for fifty bucks while multiplayer-capable Ubisoft titles should go for five bucks. Gotcha.

  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @08:27AM (#46406873)
    I don't think that the iPhone and Android are the best model for comparison here. iPhone and Android games more or less filled the same niche as Flash games, which were already dominated by free.
  • Some good games can collect a lot of money with ...

    - "Pay what you want" as in Humble Bundle (however there's a lot of games previously sold at a classic price)

    - Ethical microtransactions, which mean not needed at all to succeed in game, like cosmetic purchases in Path Of Exile.

    • by addie (470476)

      I agree with the spirit of your comment. I've bought plenty of Humble Bundle games, and have no issue with making in-game purchases available if it has no effect on gameplay.

      However I take issue with labeling a subsection of microtransactions unethical. It may be annoying, and insulting, and even borderline illegal as regards false advertising, but there's nothing inherently or fundamentally wrong from a philosophical standpoint about charging extra for gameplay elements.

      Now that doesn't mean that such publ

      • by advid.net (595837)

        [...] I have no issue with making in-game purchases available if it has no effect on gameplay.

        Many people are like us.

        I would say that I'm rather tight when it comes to buy any software, games included.

        But when the game is really free, with hours of entertainment and good support, I'm happy to buy those silly cosmetic stuff for fun and to support its development.
        I paid Path Of Exile some $35 the month I started to play. I think I've never spent that much for a game !

        I've read that I lot of people do so. When those purchases are rendered in game as cosmetics we see the support of the players for th

  • This seems to be the opposite of the argument in the real world. Here we say that supermarkets are bad as they force farm prices to be artificially low to get business. On the other hand farmer's markets, where people pay a small fee then sell their produce at a price they choose - we see as good. People say that this lets farmers trade based on quality.

    Why should it be the opposite on Valve - surely people with quality games will ask for what they see as a fair price?

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @08:32AM (#46406889)

    99% of those 99 cent games are "tap the screen at the right time to watch a cute animation" one-trick ponies. While all right to waste a bit of time while you're waiting in line somewhere, it certainly isn't something I'd willingly pick up when I sit down to play a game.

    Also, TANSTAAFL applies universally, and hence also to gaming. "Free" games are rarely free. One of three things is almost certainly part of the deal:

    1. Handing over your privacy.
    2. Enduring endless streams of ads.
    3. Micropayments to keep playing.

    And usually it's more than one of them. Somehow I doubt I'll be the only one who will not enjoy this kind of gaming on a PC. When you sit down to play at a PC (or console for that matter), you don't want to play a one-trick pony game. You want to be involved, challenged, entertained. It's not just something you do to kill some time waiting, i.e. what mobile games are very often used as.

    What I could see is that we're going to see a lot more low budget games from independent programming teams that want to cut out the studios, either to avoid dependency or to avoid being told what to do (or both), people who want to make the game they make because they themselves want to see it come to life (let's be honest here, does anyone think those "freemium" games are something any developer WANTS to develop? Then whey should they be free?). They might even be inclined to sell it for a low price, somewhere in the vicinity of 10-30 bucks rather than 60+, while not offering any less gaming value and neither suffering from one of the three problems lined out above that "free" games usually have.

    But free, I doubt. Games are not like apples, they're not identical and only differ in price. You can't simply say "Oh, Game A costs 20 bucks and Game B costs 10, so I buy Game B". What if Game A is more what I'm looking for and Game B is nothing but a cheap knockoff of a game idea that has been trampled to death ages ago? Why should I buy Game B in that case?

    Games might get cheaper, and studios will maybe lose their position as kingmakers, but I highly doubt that PC gaming will go the way of mobile gaming. It's a very different market with a very different audience (or, rather, with an audience that has a different "taste" on PC compared to mobile devices, it might even be the same audience).

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Sure a lot of the cheap games are terrible, but there's some pretty good stuff out there for cheap. $2.99 for Rayman Jungle (MS Surface 2) run was one of my recent purchases I'm pretty happy with. There's way more playability to that game than a lot of recent console games which cost upwards of $60. It's kind of a repetitive game, but each level is unique, and there's not point where they ask you to spend more money.
  • ... the reality is most games today are clones or don't have enough development money/time behind them to be particularly interesting or deep. 9/10 games released today are crap or released way before they are even ready (battlefield 4, etc) and these are supposed to be major fucking releases. The whole game industry is run by incompetents, conmen and morons.

    The reality is developers/publishers themselves are flooding the market with low quality games and putting all sorts of shit in their games that lowe

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      I've had much more luck with the sub-$20 market on steam than I have with the AAA titles. They tend to be a lot more innovative and creative and it's no big deal if I drop a couple bucks on a game and don't care for it. I've put about 7 times the hours into Rogue Legacy that I played AC3 for before getting bored with it. Minecraft started the whole trend for me, and I've probably played that more than all the AAA titles in my library combined.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @08:41AM (#46406939) Journal

    Steam has for me drastically lowered the value of a game, because while it is ONE thing to see game slowly decrease in price over a number of years, it is another to find prices slashed to 1/4 of the price seemingly at random.

    Well okay then, I won't buy unless there is a deal going on... but I want to play right now, thepiratebay! Always the best deals!

    I kinda like to know that if I pay a premium for a newly released game, that it is "worth" it and that it is not going to be on a sale for the fraction of the price a week later. It ruins the value of a product because it shows the product has no inherit price but is rather just a charge put on the product for the sake of it.

    Same as say a public toilet at a station, they can charge 1 cent, a 100 cent or a 1000 cent and it has nothing to do with the cost of providing the service, it is just an amount someone thought up. If a product can be sold for 1/4 of the price on week, it never had full price value to begin with, that was just a sucker price.

    I don't want to be a sucker. I am one but I don't like my webshop telling me that I am one.

    Because I can tell the game producer they are suckers too by downloading the game for free.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @09:46AM (#46407303) Homepage Journal

      Well okay then, I won't buy unless there is a deal going on... but I want to play right now, thepiratebay! Always the best deals!

      Those sales have changed nothing, because you have not changed. You're still willing to violate copyright in order to get the game for free. As long as that is true, pay-to-win games are going to continue to proliferate.

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      Steam has for me drastically lowered the value of a game, because while it is ONE thing to see game slowly decrease in price over a number of years, it is another to find prices slashed to 1/4 of the price seemingly at random.

      What difference does it make what the price of the game is? The re-sale value of the game is zero because (as far as I know?) one cannot sell or even give away Steam games after purchase.

      As an owner of a bunch of used games (both PC and console), I think that's too bad.

  • apple hardware sucks for gameing and the price is a joke next to other pc systems that are better off for the same price or less.

    Valve better not go that way.

    Most Imacs have weak video cards for there screen size.

    mini only has intel on board video.

    mac pro very high price and workstation video cards that are not really the best choice for gameing also that 256GB storage can go fast with a lot of games.

  • Just because it would help Valve out.

    Yes games are getting cheaper, but even if it is 50 cents, they will always cost something.

    • by wed128 (722152)

      It's not about helping valve out, it's about the market forcing prices to be low. it's capitalism working. The games will cost what they have to, and not more (this is the idea anyway)

      The fear is that the presence of free games will cause an overall drop in quality; mobile gaming is used as evidence of this.

  • No DRM for me. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @09:36AM (#46407231) Homepage Journal

    I'll pay on GOG.com [gog.com] rather than free with DRM.
  • lies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @09:49AM (#46407311) Homepage Journal

    Free is the dominant price point on mobile platforms

    No, it isn't. free-to-play is, which is something else entirely. Most F2P games are considerably more expensive then traditional games if you buy the equivalent of what would've been in a box. It's the razor-blades business all over again. It is full of lies and deceit and psychological warfare on the customer who is lured in with "free" and then shaken down for every penny with addictive (instead of fun) gameplay, click-bait and carrot-and-stick tactics.

    It is, in two words, distasteful and dishonest.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Depends there are some F2P games which are real bargains and which don't shake you down. Some MMOs even. And those get tarnished because of people who think that every possible version of F2P follows the same model.

  • At some point, developers will realize that there are people like me who will gladly pay full-price for a great game that gives good value.

    I do not play F2P games because I find them creepy. Even the best, like Planetside 2, leave a bad taste in my mouth.

    • I just love how these stories ignore games like GTA 5. Massive investment cost followed by massive profits. All with a simple box priced product.

      But hey, what is a billion in sales these days eh?

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

        The problem is, GTA 5 requires investment, vision, creativity and work. Those things aren't part of the corporate model any more.

        Just put up a game engine and call it an "early access", "MMO", "co-op", F2P and charge people for breathing.

  • by rebelwarlock (1319465) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:09AM (#46407471)
    "I'm putting my game on sale for a couple weeks" is not even close to "I'm moving to a freemium model". Lovell is an idiot, and shouldn't be taken seriously.
  • by YoungManKlaus (2773165) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:20AM (#46407567)

    Because as a game developer I see two main motivations that are essentially the same as every other artist:
    1) making enough money to live
    2) bring your stuff to as many people as possible

    so if I have the choice of selling 10Mio copies at 5€ or 1Mio copies at 50€ for me the first option would clearly win.

  • by seebs (15766) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:52AM (#46407939) Homepage

    Apple makes a ton of money off app store licenses, and Valve makes their money selling software. The steam box is a device for getting people to buy games; it's never going to be even close to the profitability of selling games.

    Selling software is a great deal for the vendor because the per-unit cost to them is effectively zero. Any theory that the vendor is going to try to eliminate the cost of software so they can make all that money on hardware is a stupid theory. And I don't mean "after sufficient research you can disprove it", I just mean stupid straight up.

  • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:55PM (#46410275)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org]

    The free-to-play model originated in the late 1990s and early 2000s, coming from a series of highly successful MMOs targeted towards children and casual gamers, including Furcadia, Neopets, RuneScape, MapleStory, and text-based dungeons such as Achaea, Dreams of Divine Lands.

    But even that's wrong. MUDs date back to 1987.

    Free to play games have been around for 27 years and they haven't destroyed the market for premium games. Valve letting game developers set their own prices is not going to suddenly make the people who have been willing to pay for premium games stop paying for them.

  • by sstamps (39313) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @03:13PM (#46411353) Homepage

    Maybe I am just old-school, but I don't see the attraction to F2P games (in terms of alternate monetization methods -- not totally free games). I would much rather pay a fair (but not exorbitantly high) price up-front for a game I think I would like, or have heard about, or even played the trial version of, rather than downloading for free, and dealing with micropayments, in-game advertising, or other bullshit when I just want to relax and get a little entertainment, an escape from all that crap.

    This is the model I plan to use for all my games as well, and I have no plans to use Steam in their distribution, either.

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