So I have had my Vive now for almost 4 weeks. I have dropped about $350 on content and a disturbing trend has emerged that needs addressing.
Indie devs are treating VR game pricing like a flea market. Because the market is so starved for good content, it is a free for all for our wallets, and this needs to stop.
I knew the price of admission was high, but we all paid that in out Rifts and Vives. The content here is key to this market succeeding, and bending your customers over a barrel is the fastest way you can drive VR back into the cyber hole it clawed out of.
When I bought one of the first line of commercially available DVD players it was $1500. So not too dissimilar to VR really. My first DVD cost me $25, this was a significant savings over Laserdisc or VHS at the time. And i am sure that movie production companies were not selling a boatload either as there was so few players in the market, they did not gouge the consumer, because they understood the market was growing, a small ember that needed to be nurtured to ignite into the home video market we have today.
But an awful trend is emerging right now. Devs are deciding to chop their games into chapters to get something to market first. Now this is a solid stratagy in a way, you get your product into a market devoid of content in hopes of cashing in. A sound business plan.
This of course means there needs to be a cost per chapter, but if you intend to make a 5 chapter game, then us early adopters are getting screwed to the tune of $100 for an indie game. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. Seriously, for an untested new IP, on a platform we have no idea how long it will last, and you think this is fair?
Don’t get me wrong, indie has come a long way, but when I can buy a AAA title for PSVR this fall for $59.99, why would I spend $100 on a game that will take who knows how long to come out?
This is compounded by the fact that these chapters range in length from 1-2 hours of play, and can cost you $20 on the low end (Fated), or as much as $40 on the high side (Gallery: Call of Starseed)
The price / release model is garbage right now. I would rather wait a year and buy Fated as a complete title for $60, than get nickle and dimed over the next year or so.
I have seen devs crying out on Reddit that this model is because VR is so new, and they cannot even hope to break even, even with this price.
I know this will come off as awful, but tough shit. If Ford cannot afford to pay its workers to make vehicles without charging me $100,000 for a Ford Feista, and I only get the steering wheel and seats right now, then their business plan was poorly thought out and should not have even come to light.
Maybe you needed to kickstart your game then, or seek more funds from the bank, or do whatever is needed to make a name for yourself, but putting out a glorified beta / tech demo, charging $20, then crying it is not enough will not garner any sympathy from me.
I see a lot of devs have drank the VR kool-aid, and they believe that there is a quick buck to be made, and they are right to an extent. But is it not better to sell 1000 games at $5 each, or 100 games at $20? Putting out shitty content for a good price, or good content for a shitty price, is all the same.
A crappy game can sell millions if it is cheap enough, look at flappy bird. Make the right game at the right price and you will be laughing all the way to the bank, but get yourself into social media because fans are crying fowl over your pricing structure is a guaranteed way to ensure your little studio will be gone in a year.
My only hope is that in very short order we will see this sort of thing stop, as more devs enter the market, the first round of get the money and run games are going to have to step up to the plate, as the competition will get stiffer and people will not just throw down money on every game that comes out because they are so starved for content.
A market where we fans of VR are like junkies looking for the next VR fix is a dangerous place for us all, as we are at the mercy of the dealers who have no problem giving you that fix, for the right price. So let your dollars speak folks, let devs know you are not willing to stand for this behavior.
Psssst, hey buddy, wanna buy some episodes?