It wasn’t surprising that the week from July 12th – July 21st was a very busy week for PC gamers. The Steam summer sale has been responsible for allowing gamers to purchase games for as low as 2 dollars — something that my grandma would gladly give just for saying good morning to her.
This has allowed gamers to get games that they have always wanted, but didn’t have the funds to do so or perhaps didn’t deem it being worth the full asking price. Gamers are cheap, that I understand — I am too.
However, in the skirmish to the Steam summer sale, big time publishers like Electronic Arts (EA) has been very open about saying they will not have “closing-down-business” like sales on their own Origin store. In fact, EA seems to think that such huge discounts devalues games and also their very own IPs. I however think that they simply are afraid of not earning as much as they would want on a title.
But who are the people who play their games? Who are the people who play the games that were $60 in price 8 months ago and now cost $25 during a huge summer sale? The gamers. Do most of us think that paying $30 for Skyrim makes it look cheap? Plenty honestly don’t and in fact on the contrary, it actually helps to boost a game’s overall reputation in that matter.
Runic Game’s CEO Max Schaefer says their nearly 3-year old Torchlight have just enjoyed their second biggest day ever of sales, in terms of overall units. Yet, it still isn’t that well known that Torchlight is made by the original developers of Blizzard’s Diablo. The recent Steam summer sale has increased awareness for Torchlight and many are now looking forward and has also pre-ordered Torchlight 2′s imminent release at the end of the month.
There are developers who argue that such huge sales has a detrimental effect on the games industry as a whole, especially on the mobile games market front. Many would pay a penny for Angry Birds on the iPhone or an Android device, but anything more than that takes a long-deep-cold-thought if it is worth it or not.
These to me, are casual gamers. They are those who hasn’t had the time or previous interest in playing games from the Atari or NES days, or even a more recent PS3 or Xbox 360 generation.
The group of gamers who remain the bulk of the gaming industry’s customers are still willing to pay full price for a game on launch day. These are the gamers who knows their stuff and knows paying $60 for a game that didn’t promise on its hype is downright foolish. If discounts are really that big of a problem in devaluing games, then piracy has always been the bigger issue.
Not just Steam, other online gaming store fronts like GOG, greenman gaming, Gamers Gate, Amazon and for better or worse, even EA’s own Origin has persuaded gamers who has only pirated and never pay a dime for a game to turn their rears around, purchasing their favorite games during a sale.
I don’t know about how much of a devalue is there, when paying 5 dollars for a heavily pirated game like GTA IV or 7 dollars for Total War Shogun 2 is considered a lost deal. 5 dollars is still better than no revenue and an evil grin from a torrent download. True, the publishers and developers could have earned so much more were it not for piracy, but the world isn’t full of saints and that’s reality.
Games are made for gamers, at the same time it is also a grand multi-million dollar industry where a lot of money is involved. Development cost for games are not cheap as well and it is understandable for big time publishers to want to earn as much as they possibly can, they aren’t running a charity here.
Not that I’m saying these developers or publishers who think otherwise should sell their games at a 75% discount on launch day, but to say that games are being devalued because of sales is — dare I say it, unfair. Because if it is, then I could easily argue that charging gamers for DLC just to level up faster in multiplayer is just as blatant of a devalue — and a rip off — of a game as a discount. That is however, a topic for another day.