Staff Roundtable: The Future of Simulations Part 2 – PC’s versus Consoles Page 4

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20mm: I would love for something really concrete to come out of all of this. A direction, maybe a “voice” for the simulation community to draw its collective will behind and actually make some things happen. We are a niche within the niche, but we’re vocal, and if we just start talking about this amongst ourselves and get some clear, visionary thinking, who knows?

Dreaming? Yeah, could be. But I think we are at a crossroads of sorts, and history is full of strange little sideshows where a rag tag bunch of malcontents got together and changed things.

OK. I want to follow up on Chunx’ last point: money. Money is another prejudice that I see around the community, whether it’s the PC developers or the console makers and developers. People are getting angry that someone is making a decent living, and more, with games. Why is that?

Money is not, in and of itself, evil. If someone has a dream for a sim and pursues that dream, takes the risk of failure, uses his precious resources of time and money and creativity and business connections and labor to pursue that goal, and somehow succeeds, I think it’s only fitting and proper that he reap the rewards. And I ain’t talking grocery store coupons. Wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if that person got rich off it.

Because you know what would happen next, right? Right! Other people that were in the project or the community that heard what happened, or have some venture capital to pony up decide that simulations are worth a try after all. So someone takes a chance, and so on. The console business didn’t leap off the utility room floor, people worked to make it what it is today.

"Are they rich SOB's? I wish I were one of them..."Console makers and developers. Are they a bunch of rich SOB’s? I don’t know, but I’ll tell you truthfully, I wish I were one of them. They’re just doing what free marketers always do. Find a market, identify a need, match it up with a product or service, charge what the market will bear. Take a risk, a business risk. There are no guarantees any of this will succeed, not at first anyway. I simply cannot grumble at what they are doing. It’s legal, no one is forcing anybody to buy the product, people must have the money to pay for the product and the results clearly say they like the product. Who is being harmed here, other than a bunch of kids who really ought to be outside exercising and riding their bikes but that’s a different story for a another time.

Don’t we all wish that the simulation business was making the kind of bucks, attracting the talent and creativity, the resources, that console games do? Yeah, I think so.

Question: Where did the $49.99 price barrier for sims come from Maybe now it’s $39.99? Is it based on some 6 year old or older game market research study? I never have gotten an answer to that, and I am hoping one or more of you knows the answer. I’d really like to know.

Because honestly, I think sims are under-priced. Why should you pay $50 for something that you may very well be playing 5 years from today, albeit a highly modded version, for which the developer gets nada? Where is the real price/value break point, if I have a real point here? Is it $200? My guess is no, that’s too high. But it might be $75, might even be $100.

I’ve heard this talked about a lot, but no one ever prices a sim up, it always falls in the $40 to $50 range. To make the venture, the risk, worthwhile in a small niche market, you have to price the product somewhat higher. You’re sure as hell not going to make a decent enough profit to make anyone else want to come in with the volume of the sim market. The numbers are just not there. Therefore, the only variable left is price. In my mind, it has to go up.

But no one will buy it! Imagine the howls of protest!! Yep, there will be howls, but so what? There’s howling aplenty at 40 bucks. Screech owls howling. And you know what, I think devs get scared off by their screeching and fear the market just won’t bear a higher price. My gut tells me that’s wrong. The impression that leaves is that we all feel that way and I don’t think we do.

Not if the product delivers on it’s vision, on it’s promises. Even mostly delivers, because nothing as complicated as, say a jet flight sim, is ever perfect. Pretty darn close with a dynamic campaign and lots of good stuff would get yours truly to pony up $79.99 in a heart beat.

What is the worst that could happen? You’d find out that, yup, sure enough, no one wants to pay more than $50. So, you drop the price. Is it too late then? No, not if you have a good product to start with.

And then I would like to have a little piece of the developer’s action. Hey, maybe sell stock?


Part 3 of the discussion is Friday.

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