Hello there, audience. It’s Daav here with a personal post. I haven’t been getting time to update daily for a bit now and so I thought I’d catch up with a more blog-type post, so pardon that. I still want to get you guys some cool stories daily, so I’m trying to do this for thanking you for sticking around, while I try to find writers or something constructive like that.
Today, I saw that Lost Planet 3 was up for sale on Steam at a 50% discount until November 15. That should make anyone happy, but it made me think. This game has been out for just two and a half months and that’s a full release backed by Capcom, one major publisher. Already, so short in its life cycle, is it up for grabs at a fraction of its original, planned cost. More than likely, it’s due to Lost Planet’s poor reception and subsequent slumping sales. It wouldn’t be the first time in the franchise. Still, it’s not an isolated case.
I noticed the same thing befell Alien Rage earlier this month, dropping 33% off its tag after a month or so. One month and a half; that’s all it took for this misfired game to take out a chunk off its already lower €19.99 price. There’s no way this could be anticipated within sales numbers, which circles towards my point: Games now live in a bubble with extremely limited lifespan.
More so than ever, first month projections are going to become vital to a game/studio/company’s success. That can easily come with worries. For one, marketing needs to be a sizable part of the funds pie to get the word out. All that money could have gone to the game instead, in hopes that it finds an audience in time. Secondly, one month isn’t exactly long for any long-term thing to base itself on and that can come with tremendous pressure, certainly as it may run up against certain blockbusters. Games come out nearly every day, so it’s not just possible to time a release in between the big boys; there might be others still.
There is an alternative reason why these immediate larger discounts pop up more frequently: Damage control. Remember when Dead Island came out and was absolutely terrible? Many months later, following a few deep deals, it boasted 5 million in sales. It got to both sell games and give the impression that it does so, because of a competent title, when really all it did was cut its losses for small change. People are suckers for numbers; we all are, so if anyone can send out a press release with huge figures, many won’t stop to think beyond that and just jammer on “success.” It’s something I get into heated arguments with frequently, actually. Sales don’t mean success. I’ll vow unanimous acclaim over it any day. I didn’t use “critical acclaim” there for a reason.
Therefore, be prepared to see a success story for Lost Planet 3 being posted at some time in the near future, based on narrowly chosen statistics. Be prepared to have that followed up by more titles doing the same. Companies rule the sale space. Activision claimed it sold billions in days with Black Ops 2. Rockstar then waltzed over that with $800 million in 24 hours. So, Call of Duty: Ghosts had to pull numbers above that and claim a billion in one day. Statistics matter and anything goes to get there. If the game doesn’t sell, then make it so, at any cost.
My fear here is that dreaded, never-acute phenomena of “games devaluating” their worth. No one wants to pay attention to it, because it both pleases the user for buying cheap and gets the publisher what they want. Personally, I don’t consider it necessarily a completely good event. There is more that needs to be seen there. Why do games like Dead Space sell millions, yet the studio lays off everyone? Those numbers and the full amount of currency accredited towards them don’t match up. Developers need to count on money, not sales figures. That’s where that one month of “do or die” starts to become shaky. If one month of full sale prospects are all that becomes possible, more people are at risk to not be able to produce what they can anymore.
Arguably, more people buying at less of a price could balance things out, but these things would happen in spikes too much to be something that can be planned. Spikes usually don’t get counted for, because they’re a one-off occurrence. It’s not exactly reliable to see how far that mountain goes up, before the well runs dry again.
Should you, as a buyer, listen to my plea? Not really; I get it. Games are cheap and yes, you are helping, so you shouldn’t have to feel bad about it. All I can ask is to perhaps not call for such things to happen. Abide. There are many games. That new, shiny one can wait a long time before you run out of other options of cheaper titles. Once you’re done with those, you can ask for a game to cut its price down. Until then, let it have its moment.
I hope that makes sense. No matter how crappy games are, I want the people behind them to stay employed or sustained in some way. It takes a lot of work to make such a thing; it’s a shame to get thrown to the side so easily.