Money March 27, 2020

Indie solo gamedev increasing the price of my 5 years in-development game from $4.99 to $6.99

NoRagrets

Hi all,

My name is Huw and I'm the developer of a game called Warsim: The Realm of Aslona on steam.
To date I have distributed just over 18000 copies since June 2017 (the game was in-dev for two years pre steam release), the game has been priced at $4.99 the whole time but some of those activated copies were from givaways, review copies, or sold at a discount during steam sales, and Steam takes their 30% etc.

I have relatively low costs and don't spend much outside of bills so I'm able to roughly support myself soley on this income.

I am planning on increasing the price of the game from $4.99 to $6.99 in the next month or so, this follows 3 years of regular steam development with over 100 sizeable public content updates released in that time, I've replied to all reviews left in the last few months and have been replying to basically all comments left on the games communities since 2017. I have a 1600+ subscriber subbreddit and a small patreon with 12 patrons set up a few weeks back.

The game is still in early access which is a means of people buying a game that is not yet fully released and complete. The game is basically finished but is just missing some promised features. I plan on announcing the price increase a month in advance and openly explaining my rationale, to ensure I can support myself and development. I will not abandon the project regardless but if income dried up it would definitely become developed a little more part time as I would need to find a new income source eventually.

I feel like the price increase is justified given the amount of work put into the game, it currently has a 96% positive rating on steam from over 200 reviews which is pretty unusual for a steam video game and I genuinely think it worth the price at $6.99.

My fear is that the game is quite niche and I wouldn't want to scare any potential buyers off but I hope potentially going forward as I further improve and promote the game it could continue to sell well but at a price point that would allow much more security and extra income.

Would love to hear what you guys think! :)

Cheers

  1. 4

    I was paying £9.99 (GBP) for games in 1983 (Knight Lore on the ZX Spectrum). Just double your price and see what happens. It also gives you more wiggle room for discounting.

    I think your only regret will be not doing it sooner. Best of luck!

    1. 1

      Thanks Paul,

      Appreciate the feedback and perspective.

  2. 3

    I honestly might try raising it to $9.99. In terms of pricing psychology there isn't a big difference between the way $6.99 looks and the way $9.99 looks, and it sounds like you've put in a lot of work and are giving a lot to the community, which I think would warrant the higher price. This also gives you a bit of buffer to work with if you are planning on having discounts on the game in the future.

    And like someone else mentioned earlier, you can always lower the price again if you see that revenue is going down, so it's worth a shot.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the feedback,

      I think I might jump it to $6.99 for the time being and maybe push it higher on release from early access after talking to some members of the games community but as you say it can always be increased or reduced based on how it goes

      Thanks again :)

  3. 2

    Hey Huw,

    As an indie game dev myself I want to congratulate you on the success you've had so far! I made about $700 on my first steam game and the sales fizzled out after a few months so I ended up making it free. Granted it also was a pretty simple game so I wasn't expecting to make lots of money. People were paying $4 for my game when it came out and it literally only took me a month to build so I am 100% certain raising your price is the right move, especially considering you have added a lot more features. You deserve it, especially since you have been extremely engaged with your community and that takes so much time and effort. Seriously, that is amazing. If people like you and engage with you a couple dollars in price change should really not change anything.

    1. 1

      Hey Nprimak,

      Thanks for the kind words, for a months work that's very impressive congrats! Warsim so far has taken me years and years mostly as a hobby project, I suspect my overall hourly wage if broken down wouldn't be pretty haha.

      I've since done the price change and it's gone great so far, definitely can't thank everyone here enough for their help and advice!

      I also asked the games community across a number of platforms and the responses were excellent - https://i.imgur.com/oCuyUEx.png

      Hopefully it continues as well as it's been so far! :)

  4. 2

    Seems you have already won as an indie dev :)

    1. 1

      Hey MrHyde,

      Yeah it's definitely not going bad so far :)

  5. 2

    There were many studies done on Steam game pricing and the conclusion was simple: higher priced games = more dev revenue. Just Google for "Indie games too cheap". Most of the users only decide to buy a game or not based on the game itself, not on the pricing (if it's not very cheap like $1 or too expensive like $40+).

    Also from my own experience of selling products, increasing the price was always a good decision.

    1. 2

      Just one warning: if you increase the price and previously people bought keys for the game in bulk during sales, some customers might get the old, cheaper keys now.

      1. 1

        Great point. Luckily I haven't done anything with a key distributor for a long time and already felt that initial hit from all the extra keys floating about the first year my game was live.

    2. 1

      Thank you for the feedback, I've been reading some of the stuff that came up on google from 'Indie games too cheap' and it's very interesting, cheers for the tip.

      I think thanks to this and many of the other things in this thread I am going to be upping the price to $6.99 or $7.99.

      With perhaps a further increase/decrease in the future depending on how things go down.

  6. 2

    Just do it. I know raising price feels scary and momentous, but for a one-time purchase that is such a small dollar amount, it really doesn't matter. All that matters is whether the price increase is good for your business.

    What will likely happen is that the number of downloads will probably go down, but revenue per download will go up. If the net effect is that total revenue goes up, then keep the price increase. If revenue goes down, then you can always revert the price back to $4.99. If revenue stays about the same, then you probably want to also revert the price because in general it's better for word-of-mouth and reviews for more people to play your game than fewer.

    If you revert the price, in all likelihood no one will notice. I've raised and lowered prices for similarly priced mobile apps several times and I've never had any customer even mention it.

    1. 1

      Thanks a ton for the advice!

      After yours and many other comments in the thread I've come to realise it's definitely a worthwhile endevour and will be making the announcement tomorrow! :)

  7. 2

    Are your sales pretty steady when it's priced at $4.99? Do your sales numbers increase enough when you discount the game to make up for the lower price per sale (I noticed it's $3.24 now)?

    1. 1

      Hi jjung,

      Very unsteady, from what I've seen of other developers game sales on steam definitely peak during major events surrounding the game than a general constant and regular stream of sales though maybe that's just for indies.

      It balanced out well enough during the total year but I've had periods of single digit sales per day and then suddenly a video has gone up or an article and there are large several day spanning spikes that can be 10-100 fold bigger than previous day periods.

      They could be anything, A steam sale, A youtube video letsplay, An article gone up live, a reddit post even.

      Haven't had any lifechanging spikes yet but I've seen some really interesting ones in the last few years and they're always welcome.

      I find sales during discounts to almost always result in a big sales jump. Steam is really great with it's wishlisting system. Whenever you promote your game or people find it through either word of mouth or by stumbling onto it while browsing steam/the internet, even if they don't buy it there's a chance they will wishlist it for later.

      For at lot of people that sometimes means, it looks interesting but not interesting enough for x price, or not super interested but if it was a lot cheaper I might go for it. Whenever a wishlisted game goes on sale steam sends all of the wishlisters an email with a link to the game and I can personally attest I've bought 10+ games this way myself where I've been like, no way reduced from $8 to $1.50, instant buy. So whenever your game goes on sale those hopefully pretty big wishlist figures get converted and definitely have for myself.

      1. 2

        Thanks for sharing your experience. That wishlist notification makes a lot of sense. 18K copies sold with very positive feedback is great! Congratulations on taking the game this far and continuing to support it.

        Increasing the price makes sense to me since you've been continuing to add content. Even if sales go down a little bit the results might still be neutral or positive. Indie games are unique because I think the economics are really different than the SaaS businesses many people are working on here. I think most projects here are asking for at least $5-10 a month rather than a $5 one time payment.

        I would also consider spending some time thinking about more ways to promote the game. Maybe give the Indie Game Business podcast a listen for some ideas. Here's an example of a GDC talk you might find interesting too: Empathizing with Steam: How people shop for your game

        Good luck with the game!

        1. 1

          Hey thanks for the feedback and the tips, I'll check out the podcast and GDC talk!

          I think I'll be going ahead with the price increase :)

  8. 2

    Seems to me like you put a lot of effort into your game and people like it. Increasing the price looks reasonable to me :). Good luck!

    1. 1

      Thank you,

      I'm hoping it doesn't scare anyone off but If it works out similar to how much it's selling now it could definitely make a really nice difference in quality of life :)

      Thanks for the kind words!

  9. 2

    This comment was deleted 4 months ago.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the feedback, It's still going to be in early access for possibly a year plus so this isn't the jumping out of early access price increase but should be fine.