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Steam Sales and Devaluation

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Adnoctum 1st August 2012, 10:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by XXAOSICXX
This is where the damage is done. If I were able to produce a list of all the comments that I've read on Bit Tech over the last couple of years where people have said (about almost every single game reviewed on the site) "I'm going to wait until the Steam sales", "This is definitely one for the Steam sales", "I'm going to wait until this comes down in price in the sales" etc, then the list would be, frankly, enormous.

Of course, we're all guilty of it - I've bought games in the Steam sales for a tenner having waited months for it to come down in price only to realise, upon playing it, that the game was worth FAR more than "three pints of beer" and has given me many hours of enjoyment. These are the purchases that are harming the industry. If a game is completely crap then fine, you've wasted your money, it's a lesson learned; don't give that publisher/developer your business in the future. If their products truly are that poor they won't last as a business anyway.

In the UK, certainly, we have a culture of wanting everything cheaper than it is, with little regard to the time and effort that went in to producing and delivering the product we have in our hands, or on our computers.

It's taken a conscious effort to make myself not wait for Steam sales and to buy titles that I want when I want them. I *want* to the developers to make more money, I *want* them to make more games that I'm going to enjoy. If there's a developer (like Activision and Ubisoft) that I won't want to give my money to then I don't give them my money.

By waiting for the sales we ARE devaluing the product - which forces the hands of the developers/publishers to seek additional ways of monetising their product, be it through in game advertising, even-more-DLC, micro-transactions and so on...and nobody wants that.

But that ISN'T "devaluing" games. That is the consumer (us) saying that the release prices are too high and we aren't willing to pay it.
I paid US$44 for Skyrim a month after it launched. It really wasn't much cheaper than on launch, but I was ready to play the game then, and I was willing to pay $44 and I believed I got good value. A friend of mine bought it a few weeks ago for US$32. It had gotten down in price enough for him to feel it worth while. That was his valuation.
I paid something like US$10 for Arkham City during the Steam sales. I wasn't willing to pay more for it earlier. It may be a good game, or a great game, but after a so-so experience with Arkham Asylum it was all I was willing to pay. This was my valuation. This wasn't me "devaluing" the game.

Not purchasing something is not the same as a lost sale. And I'm not talking about piracy. That is $10 that the publishers of Batman would never have gotten otherwise.

Why are GAMES any different than any other product? Games are only licences so we can't resell them, they must be connected to servers at all times, we MUST pay full price for the product at all times...or we're thieves, or pirates, or leaches or whatever the publishers want to call us now.
Wait a few months after release or for sales for the price to drop on CPUs or GPUs or cars or books or DVDs or TVs or any damned thing, and we are normal or even wise consumers.
Wait a few months after release or for sales for the prices to drop on games and we are "devaluing" the product.
It is quite frankly insulting, and it is worse that they think so little of us that they can say it to our faces.
GeorgeStorm 1st August 2012, 10:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spreadie
1. If our local cinema charged £10 a ticket, I and many others wouldn't darken the doorway ever again. It's currently less than £4, and it can't be the only one.

Really?? Ours you're looking at £8 on a non deal night I think :(

Most of my games have been bought during a sale, and most of them I wouldn't have bothered buying if they weren't really cheap (there have been a couple of exceptions)
I've even bought games in steam sales I already own since they have some issues with W7 otherwise, there's no way I would have paid full price again for a game I already own.
Spreadie 1st August 2012, 10:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeStorm
Really?? Ours you're looking at £8 on a non deal night I think :(

Most of my games have been bought during a sale, and most of them I wouldn't have bothered buying if they weren't really cheap (there have been a couple of exceptions)
I've even bought games in steam sales I already own since they have some issues with W7 otherwise, there's no way I would have paid full price again for a game I already own.

Small correction - adults are now £4.70, kids and OAPs £3.80. Mondays and Thursdays, all tickets are £2.80.
impar 1st August 2012, 10:44 Quote
Greetings!

The article:
Quote:
As I also said at the start, I can't pretend to have the answer to this question - I simply don't have the data or the expertise in retail economics to interpret it. The only people who might are the distributors like Steam, all of whom play their cards suspiciously close to their chests.
The author could ask Dear Esther developer what he thinks of Steams game devaluation:
Quote:
Dear Esther's Rob Briscoe revealed that that game sold 118k copies in just one 48 hour Steam sale - more than it had sold previously since launch.
This is a clear sign that the starting asking price was too high.

Also, Steam sales have exposed us more to the danger that is games backlog, the games that we have bought but havent found the time or urge to play and finish them.
Redd13 1st August 2012, 10:47 Quote
personally i cant afford £40 games all the time... so my slightly less anticipated games either get bought on sale or not at all... find me a better payig job.. and im happy to spend more on games!
Yes i feel they are also attempting tp push up prices generally, inflation has risen but production costs have cheapened with digital distribution...

But most importantly... those large companies only interested in sales figures.. have already damaged the market, buying up IP and then only producing the popular games... its why junk like black ops makes it out.. yet im still hoping for a homeworld sequel...

(and tho its been said too much already... Minecraft - nuff said)
Redd13 1st August 2012, 10:51 Quote
oh and ive also consolidated my library buying games again... cos ive lost or have damaged cds... thats extra sales.
Shirty 1st August 2012, 10:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spreadie
Small correction - adults are now £4.70, kids and OAPs £3.80. Mondays and Thursdays, all tickets are £2.80.

Are they even showing talkies yet in the Isle of Wight? Technicolor?
Kastagir 1st August 2012, 10:53 Quote
This rubbish makes my blood boil. Devaluing my ar*e. Like many people have already stated; I cannot count the amount of games I've looked at on the Steam sale and thought 'why not?' Games which I would have never purchased otherwise - some of which have led me to buy the full price sequel/original.

Steam selling a game at a lower price exposes the games IP to a much larger audience. If anything this has the opposite effect.
DeckerdBR 1st August 2012, 10:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by XXAOSICXX


We'd go to the cinema to watch a 2 hour movie for £10 but wouldn't pay £30 for something that might like 10, 20, 30+ hours? We've forgotten the value of what we have.

In the UK, certainly, we have a culture of wanting everything cheaper than it is, with little regard to the time and effort that went in to producing and delivering the product we have in our hands, or on our computers.

By waiting for the sales we ARE devaluing the product - which forces the hands of the developers/publishers to seek additional ways of monetising their product, be it through in game advertising, even-more-DLC, micro-transactions and so on...and nobody wants that.

I'm sorry but I whole heartedly disagree with that.

A. you can't compare cinema prices to game prices, completely different products.
B. Over the past 5 years many PC games have been crap console ports with 6-10 hours gameplay.
C. Intrusive DRM which often prevents paying customers from accessing their product has become the norm.
D. DLC, including the dreaded paid day 1 DLC has also become the norm, with some companies (looking at you Ubisoft) admitting to cutting out content to sell as DLC. Even when new DLC is created, it's often over priced for what it is.
E. The cost of living in the UK is high so what do you expect? But I fail to see how it's relevant though, the fact that so many people aren’t willing to pay full price for a game makes the point itself.
F. Battlefield 3 had 3 million pre-orders and in most places I looked was “full price”. 2 days after it launched EA had shipped over 10 million units worldwide. Yet it’s stilled rammed with DLC, Premium and Micro transaction based unlock packs! Please don’t try and tell me that because we have waited for sales!

It's the publishers and developers who are devaluating their products, for the reasons above but also for another reason. Not all games are created equally but they are often all priced the same.

I earn more now than ever before but I don't place the same value on games I used to because the quality has dipped and the experience has been made worse.

There have been some excellent games of course and the latter half of 2011 to now has seen IMO an improvement in PC games but we are still a long way off having more good quality titles than less.

The funny thing is, I didn't move onto piracy to counter the effects of this, I just stopped buying most games in any notable quantity and at full price. If it's crap, it's not worth my time.
The problem here is that most reviews are gushing with praise of most games, bloating the scores and ignoring glaring flaws so it can be quite hard to tell if many games are actually good.
Thank god for the sales!
Spreadie 1st August 2012, 11:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by shirty
Are they even showing talkies yet in the Isle of Wight? Technicolor?

Cunny funt! ;)

Going to see TDKR there, tomorrow night, hopefully.
azrael- 1st August 2012, 11:18 Quote
I agree with most people here (the ones that say that prices for digital game downloads are too high and/or are kept too high).

I'd even go a bit further. Claiming that people would have otherwise bought a game at full price if it hadn't been for a STEAM sale is almost (but not quite) on par with that age old standby that "a pirated copy equals a lost sale".

Up to a point it's usually a situation of "the cheaper the product, the greater the turnover". What can be hard is finding that sweet spot. Hint: keeping high prices isn't it.
ziza 1st August 2012, 12:07 Quote
I find curious people saying that steam summer prices is killing creativity and developers motivation to develop good products. When you look at games like CoD, Prototype, Need4Speed, Battlefield, Crysis, ...I would like to identify where is the creativity that the author talks... The thing is that authors creativity is upfront limited by sales (does games as Dear Easter, The void have the same sales that CoD?), and business rules, so steam summer sales is not under valuating creativity, the organizations and manager are.

Second Steam is investing in Independent games as no other store, so I would like to understand how this kills creativity? In my opinion it allows that small and innovative organizations are able to develop crazy products and still have some visibility.

Third video games are one of the most expressive industries, however a game is 10X more expensive than a cinema ticket where large technology is also used. I think that organizations are justifying their technical work with unrealistic prices. Second why all the 50/60/70€ games to not get in reviews 10 out of 10? Given their prices the quality should not be a problem, but that is not the reality many poor quality games are sold by this crazy prices. For me the steam summer sales is the opportunity to buy reasonable games at the price they reserve to receive.

Fourth lets do some math I have a game that costs 50€ and I sell in steam at 15€, to achieve the same profit i need to sell (50/15) more, this implies 3.3 games, or 4X more. In steam summer sales and according to the Dear Easter example in this article it sold more than 4 times more...Thus the profits margin was larger.

Continue with the math if I spend 50€ in a game during summer sales I will be able to buy 4 games. Physiologically there are lots of people that during this sales just buy games, even games that they did not planed. So with the same money I am able to provide profits to 3/4 organizations rather than just to one.

Additionally since steam was stated these sales there is data that shows a small decrease in piracy, thus, the best approach to fight game copies is the price and steam proofs that. In addition do organizations prefer to sell 5 copies by 50€ and have 100 pirated copies than sell 20/25 for 15€ copies and 80/85 pirated copies. Has a developer I prefer the second option...

So Steam is finally attacking several problems:
- Fair prices for poor innovative products
- Independent Games have also space in the industry
- Reducing piracy
- Allow organizations to preserve their profits
Landy_Ed 1st August 2012, 12:21 Quote
Using the cinema is a poor example for comparison, as the cinema has a whole load of overheads - admittedly subsidised by insane prices but still..

A dvd/bd is a better example, as they too drop in price over time.

I'm interested to know how the non-sale download of Dirt3 is £30, but the physical media can be bought from Amazon for ~£6, and I saw it in Morrisson's at the weekend for the bank-breaking £7. I don't have the game, don't really want it, but I was still tempted!
V3ctor 1st August 2012, 12:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziza
Physiologically there are lots of people that during this sales just buy games, even games that they did not planed.

This... I bought Dead Island, Orcs Must die, Luxor 3, Portal 2, Trine Bundle, Torchlight 2...

All of these I wasn't going to buy (at least now), I don't have the time to play them all, so normally is a waste of money :/

It's good for the industry these price cuts, at least they earn money and "reduce" piracy. But I don't wait for price cuts if I really like a game I just buy it, of course I can't spend 200eur a year on games, so I buy the ones I like full price, while the rest are bought or thru Steam or Amazon (good discounts too :D)
Dragon7Samurai 1st August 2012, 12:25 Quote
As I see it, it is more convenient to buy older games (>1 year) in a digital online sale than in a store second hand.

Second hand / borrowing of friends / piracy = zero revenue to game developer, cheap in sale = some revenue, that has to be a bonus
FvD 1st August 2012, 12:41 Quote
Regarding Dear Esther:
Quote:
Originally Posted by impar

[...]
This is a clear sign that the starting asking price was too high.
[...]

Yup, I'm one of them. Bought it during the Summer 'Seal'. ;)
I found it hard to reason myself out of the 8EUR (10.50USD or 6.80GPB), for a game with almost zero replayability and only about 2 hours of gameplay, that went into profit 6 hours after release (14th Feb '12).

It's all about my(and your) time and money.
If the publishers get all MBA up in our faces, who the hell are they to complain when a chunk of their customers have the audacity to re-evaluate their time and spending?
Heck we all have better things to do and not go for the 4th or 5th installment of a shooter without significant improvements.

On a sidenote: I'm eagerly awaiting HL(EP?)3 and will pre-order if announced.
Same goes for anything Homeworld related, great IP/storyline/scores, but thats just wishful thinking on my part, nothing new from Relic after that 2011 interview...

Manly tears were shed.

"No one's left. Everything's gone. Kharak is burning."
g2tegsown 1st August 2012, 12:59 Quote
I spent over $250 on the Steam Summer sale and picked up a bunch of really good games. Personally I would NEVER EVER have bought most the games I got at full retail price. Like someone stated in the comments already I would only pay what I think the game is actually worth. Most to all games produced are not worth $60, all new games should be $40 or less.
jimmyjj 1st August 2012, 13:10 Quote
If I really want or am hyped for a game I will pay full price for it on release.

I bought Deus Ex 2, Max Payne 3, Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim at full price. I will buy Command and Conquer Generals 2 for full price (I will pre order).

I also have bought many games in the Steam sales that I would never have bought at full price. In the last Steam sale I bought Fable 3, which is a game I would never buy at full price in a million years.

This seems to be the general consensus here...

As others have said, Steam also does great work in expanding the PC games industry, lowering piracy and supporting indie titles.

Remember a couple of years ago there was talk of PC gaming dying because of no sales compared to consoles? This was because analysts did not look at sales through digital distribution at this time. PC ports either did not happen (Red Dead Redemption) or were crap (GTA4).

Now we are seeing really good ports with PC graphics options and support.

Look at the difference in the port quality of Max Payne 3 compared to GTA4.

GTA4 was a crime against nature. Max Payne 3 has high resolution textures, tessellation, high grade anti aliasing options and advanced lighting effects. This could be down to PC gaming now being more visible and profitable which is pretty much down to Steam.
SDSUMarcus01 1st August 2012, 13:16 Quote
Who decides the prices during Steam sales? Does Steam set it or do publishers set it? I get the feeling it's the latter. The reason I ask is because if publishers have full control over it, they're following simple supply and demand economics.

Anyways, for me personally, I find I'm much more conservative with my discretionary spending than I was ten years ago. Ten years ago, I was buying games, DVDs, music, and computer hardware all the time. Now, I spend a lot more time evaluating whether or not I need a purchase. As an individual, this has had nothing to do with Steam sales (the behavior started before I even got heavily invested in Steam sales), and more to do with simply maturing as a consumer.

That being said, I don't think Steam sales undervalue games. It's given publishers the ability to price in a manner that can capture people who have lower price points for entry, including those who buy used or pirate (I'm not trying to address those issues here). The proceeds of the purchase (at least in part) go to the publishers, which are the companies that are taking all the risk in producing a game.

As mentioned in other posts, Steam's digital versions are not quite the same as a hard copy. Just 10 minutes ago when I turned on my PC, I had to agree to a new Steam agreement. The agreement was very clear that the licenses we purchase do not confer ownership. I'm pretty sure that was true before, but in any event, the product we purchase on steam does not allow for the same uses as a tangible copy.

To be honest, I think the reason we're seeing publishers complain more about piracy, used games, and steam discounts, EA in particular, has to do with the traditional model of video games becoming increasingly difficult for larger publishers. Games have relatively short sales lifespans over which costs can recaptured and require increasingly large development costs. The one-time $50-$60 model may simply not provide enough of a return on investment to larger corporations after all the risks are accounted for.
Sp! 1st August 2012, 13:20 Quote
It's not just digital sales, all games get much cheaper after release. I mostly game on xbox and being very money aware I don't really play up to the minute releases I play things a couple of months old that I pick up from play or amazon etc for £15-£20 or sometimes less.

I spend money in the steam sales and very rarely buy anything at "full price" and what I do is cheaper stuff anyway. Most of the stuff I've bought in the sales I'll probably never get round to playing but it's either stuff I've played before and don't own a copy of or something I'd like to play should I ever get the chance and buy it on a whim for a couple of quid.

I think the trend is for lower price shorter games with the advent of DLC and season passes for games the publishers will find a sweet spot where the base game doesn't cost a lot (or can be heavily discounted to get people through the door) and then the additional content (maps levels etc) will be to you bit by bit so you'll end up paying much closer to the £50+ of top retail games just spread out of months or a year.
Instagib 1st August 2012, 13:24 Quote
I have to say that i actually stay away from the steam sales now. Not because of any objection to them devaluing games or such like, but because i actually waste my money as a direct result of these sales; "Ooh, that game is only £3!?! I'll have that!" *then doesn't even bother to download it*

I have a library of over 100 games, only 15 of which i have bothered to download, and of that 15, i play maybe 4 regularly. I will probably never play most of them.
Ciber 1st August 2012, 13:26 Quote
In the steam sales though I buy games I might not ever play or might play only for an hour to get the flavour. Games I would never have bought otherwise. So that's a big boost to sales for more niche or innovative games.
Sp! 1st August 2012, 13:31 Quote
The people who only buy games in the sales, are these not (at least some of) the same people who whould never have bought it anyway and possibly just gone on to pirate it??

Isn't "I'll buy that for £5" much better for everyone than "I'll steal it for free!"
AlphaAngel 1st August 2012, 13:36 Quote
My thoughts echo many of those already voiced here.

1.

It is hard to feel pity and understand why companies feel hard done by when an physical copy of a game is x amount and then the digital copy is the same.

Digital only copies remove the price of materials, manufacturing and logistics from the cost line.
Also steam does need a large warehouse or shop to store these physical copies in many locations so again this should reduce costs (although I understand that server maintenance costs are added but on the whole I think maintaining a large server is cheaper than maintaining 100 nationwide stores and the staff required to man them.)

2.

Some games are far too expensive £50, £60 and I have even seen £70 for a generic title like MW3!!! I use this as an example as it is quite obvious that no real effort has been put into it. They have taken an old game, old engine and tweaked it. Hardly a' 'from scratch build'.

So I feel more than a bit annoyed at these companies saying consumers are devaluing their games when in reality it is they, through their lack of innovation, imagination and effort who are devaluing their product.

A lot of companies motivation (EA cough cough) is how much can we charge and how little can we spend on development. Now many will say that this is capitalism and I would agree, but it is short term capitalism. Make a quick profit now whilst sacrificing the longevity of the genre.

It is that culture that has also normalized the devaluation of games more than discounts.

3.

I have a family and my own business to run. I cannot afford £30 -50 for a game (wife would go mental too) So I am definitely in the category of people who wouldn't buy games at their normal price.

Maybe I can understand companies being annoyed if a new AAA title was reduced massively 1 month after release but this never happens. After about a year I think 90% of those who would buy the game at full price have done so. Therfore the choice for the company is less money for a no cost to them download or no money at all.

4.

I think that companies should be careful not to bite the hand that feeds them. Without a company like steam I think they would see their bottom line collapse, mostly due to reasons outlined above. Due to companies like steam I don't think that PC gaming has ever been so popular or viable for game production.
runadumb 1st August 2012, 13:45 Quote
Looks like I'm with the majority here. I don't see these sales as devaluing the games simply because I already feel them overpriced. Before steam (and years into its life) I was paying £18 for almost every new game I wanted on day of release from Play or Amazon. I choked when I seen new releases on steam for £30, so I continued (when it was cheaper) buying retail, even if only to get the code to link it with my steam account.

The steam sales solved that problem, although Origin has brought it back as I bought both BF3 and Mass Effect 3 retail. The first time I've done that since 2009 or so, well done EA. I don't even have a disk drive anymore so again I just used the codes to download over Origin.

While saying this I am waiting for Orcs must die 2 and Max Payne 3 to go on sale before buying them so in a way they are holding me back from buying games I would otherwise have bought. Well, bad example as one is a third the price of the other. I didn't buy Max Payne 3 during this sale as I have plenty to play until it goes on sale again at Christmas.
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