Humble Origin Bundle

edited in General
So this is pretty cool - EA and Origin are getting in on the Humble Bundle vibe by providing a number of their AAA titles in the latest bundle, with all proceeds going to charities of choice

The cynic in me notes that some of those games (e.g. Dead Space 3, Battlefield, Sims) will still make EA money as they have micro-transactions or essential DLC, and this might also be a response to the current internet hate of EA as 'the most evil company ever' (which seems more than a little ridiculous, particularly as those people will still buy their games anyway)

Overall though it's great to see them doing this, just a pity that all the charities are American-focused


  • All the EA hate is very unnecessary (I feel). I know this statement might make me very unpopular on this site, but I work in gaming retail and I think it is very sad that EA South Africa had to close their doors recently (leaving a lot of South Africans without work). Their games are now being distributed by Apex in South Africa. Really don't feel that they need to be called the most evil company ever. So i say support the American charities and then support EA with the micro transactions if you can/want. The money is feeding some family, somewhere in the world - and that's a GOOD thing.
  • Hang on, you do realise that EA SA closed because EA as an entity decided to close it, right? It wasn't a situation of "had to", it was a choice. It's those sorts of choices, motivated by pursuit of profit above all else, that result in studios being closed and games being rushed out in unfinished states or awesome IP languishing with no follow-ups. Those decisions are why people dislike EA.

    The cynic in me points out that this latest bundle will probably get Origin installed on more machines. Then it notes that Origin used to be a game studio name, not a DRM platform...
  • I bought it and donated all of the money to the least geographically-biased charity, which seemed to be the one starting with a "w" whose name I can't remember.

  • @FanieG I'm guessing that the hate isn't towards the employees who need to feed their families, but rather the higher-ups who exploit them.
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  • Who would have ever thought we'd see a humble EA bundle?
  • I completely agree that it was EA's choice to close the local branch. But the "Evil higher-ups" must have had a reason to do that. Something had to make them change their focus. And it is probably money (i.e. decline in sales due to poor performing titles/ competition from non-traditional competitors/ choices made by the high-ups that did not sit well with consumers etc). But that is why a company like EA exists - to make money. I just feel bad for the people that get affected by this. And it is not only EA employees. There are packers in warehouses, couriers and delivery drivers, retail outlet employees etc. When something like this happens it snowballs in a nasty way. Maybe if EA showed more profit in this region (and less hate from consumers) it would not have been necessary to cut jobs. Again, I agree that they are not angels and have made questionable decisions in the past, I just think people need to realize that a company like EA is not just made up of the "evil higher-ups" there are real "average joe" people involved as well.

    Then again - I knew that I was putting my head on a chopping block when I made the original statement. Sue me for caring.
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    @FanieG I don't think anyone's singling you out for anything, nor are people disagreeing with you in harsh ways. Careful about getting too defensive in that last sentence there ;)

    Having been to EA Redwood Shores and seen first hand the sorts of staggering inefficiencies that seem to happen there every day, my evaluation of the sorts of decisions you're talking about is put in a different context. I don't ascribe any sort of value to the idea that the financial reasoning was sound, because it often simply isn't. EA SA could have been shut down for a number of reasons, including inherently stupid crap like internal politics, a casualty of someone leaving their job higher up in the chain, misunderstandings in the chain of responsibility, etc. Only one of those reasons is primarily financial, and the larger an organisation gets, the more internal processes it develops that obfuscate and obscure solid financial reasoning. You can see this in beurocracies everywhere.

    I'm just not convinced that EA's decision making is sound. That's all. The rest of the impact of stuff shutting down is terrible. I'm questioning the source of that kak, instead of accepting that it's "just business". Empathy for the people whose jobs were impacted, with no false excusability for those that made the call.
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    @dislekcia - I get that - money may or may not have been the reason. Sorry if I seemed over defensive - sometimes hard to get one's tone over correctly in text. Especially if English is not your mother tongue :) . I just get passionate about it because it affects me, my work place, as well as people I know. I just feel it is important to support local branches of companies like this because a lot of people are dependent on these companies doing well. e.g. I know that ALL of the devs on this forum are fans of purchasing games online, but every now and then it's not a bad idea to go into a store to buy (this is in no way a sales pitch - just saying). There are retailers out there that do try really hard (usually the ones that enjoy their work) and could use some support.

    Also, how AWESOME would it be to see a boxed copy of DD in stores. :)
  • @FanieG: No worries :) EA SA was awesome, they worked really hard to keep prices low. Was annoyed about them not bringing in Rockband ages ago, but I got over that eventually.

    As for DD on shelves, definitely not happening locally, sorry :(
  • This is me trying not to get too worked up about this. If I fail then I apologise in advance and I really didn't mean to spit and froth all over the upholstery and you're all lovely people. <3

    *deep breath*

    It's a shame that Humble have gradually strayed from their original practice of delivering DRM-free cross-platform games in their bundles. Finding a Linux game in the new Humble deals gets increasingly difficult, and while it was perhaps just a small irk that they were changing ways when we saw the Deep Silver bundle and a little moreso with the THQ bundle, I feel much disappointment that they've now partnered with EA and are offering a selection of games that support two DRM platforms. I'm also disappointed that gamers who rally for less DRM abandon these principles in favour of saving a few bucks, and that the people who were quick to throw mud at EA for their myriad mishaps in the past year (Sim City, the server failures, the lies about the game mechanics and so on, for example) have forgotten these grievances when presented with an opportunity to get a few cheap games.

    To perhaps help drive the point home -


    'DRM is the polar opposite of what the Humble Bundle is about!'

    My, how things change.

    I also hasten to add that I'm an avid Steam user with over 200 games there. My issue is that an entity that formed itself and gained many loyal fans on one core principle - 'DRM-free, cross-platform' - is now abandoning that principle.

    It's also irking me that 'but it's for charity!' is being thrown around as if to justify getting the bundle. It's easy to donate to charity, at any time, without waiting for a reward incentive like videogames. Bad things do not somehow redeem themselves when done in the name of charity. If you want to help out, and indeed since so many people are noting how unfortunate it is that the charities are all American, then ignore the bundle and give what you would have paid to a local charity instead.
    Thanked by 2Tuism EvanGreenwood
  • As for DD on shelves, definitely not happening locally, sorry :(
    That's sad :(. Is it a logistical issue or purely based on some business/personal choice you guys made? I truly believe that you guys would do well and it would be cool to see a locally developed game on store Top 20 charts...know I would have punted the crap out of your game (and bought a copy myself).
  • @WelshPixie: Agreed. It's a shame that they're not using their position to push for change. It's kinda funny that the message to indies that want to bundle is "Linux versions and no DRM plskthx" and then, well, Origin. Don't get me wrong, if we got the chance I'd HiB like crazy, but you definitely have a point. You do realise that Humble were bought out though, right?

    @FanieG: Couple of reasons. Mostly that, while I'm sure you'd punt the game personally, many local stores wouldn't. In fact, the game would never be on any top 20 shelves anywhere because it simply wouldn't sell that well. Very few shops bother to stock indie games. People keep thinking that it would be great to have local games on shelves, but it's been tried before and it doesn't work: People tend to associate local with kakness... That's down to reason 2: The market is pretty tiny locally, so niche titles aren't going to do well. Case in point, local media coverage gets us very few hits and even less pre-orders. If we'd had been relying on local buyers to fund the game, we'd have starved by now ;)
  • disleckckargcantspellit said:
    You do realise that Humble were bought out though, right?
    I knew there were different people involved with running it but didn't realise it had been entirely bought out? That's sad. And yes, sad too that they're not listening to the wise words of Spiderman's uncle and exercising some responsibility with all that power they have.
    Very few shops bother to stock indie games
    I was reeeeeally surprised to see Trine for sale in BT Games. I'd love to know how well that's selling here.
    People tend to associate local with kakness...
    Since attending the last CPT meet and having experienced writing for a local game site and seeing what articles do well and what kind of comments they get - I'm having a seriously hard time consolidating both groups of people, heh. Local developers that make interesting, fun, quirky, and downright awesome games that are good enough to merit worldwide attention on platforms like Steam - and people who only care about a game if it's a Triple-A franchise that involves shooting. I guess you have that everywhere, and maybe it's just more noticeable down here because the population is organised differently; smaller pockets of civilization, more isolated groups? Sorry - entirely derailing the thread >.<
  • @WelshPixie: Well, less "bought" and more "VC funded to the tune of several zeros beyond sanity" but yeah, that's bound to have some impact on your business practices.

    Certain sections of the SA population tend to evaluate locally produced content as poor due to the sanctions that apartheid earned. Lack of access to internationally produced stuff meant that local shows/music/blah didn't have to be as good to compete AND that budgets were low, so quality was skimped. Then, when sanctions lifted, there still wasn't a major influx of international content a lot of the time, but enough came in to give "international" stuff a serious lustre.

    It's become a cultural staple here to idolise stuff from overseas - just look at how crazy people are going over Burger King, for crying out loud! So for local content to be taken seriously, it first has to do well overseas and come back into SA through that angle before it's able to get over the stigma of being produced here... I mean, just compare how people see artists like Steve Hofmeyer with how they perceive Charlize Theron, Niel Blomkamp or Die Antwoord. Gotta do well overseas, otherwise we're not proud you're from here ;)
  • I'm not sure that I agree with the argument that a company should be supported for providing jobs, despite untoward practices: at what point do we say "no, jobs are not worth supporting a company like this"?

    I do feel for those who might lose jobs as a result of a company employing practices that consumers find objectionable, but why not ask that the company change its practices, rather than ask that people buy from them anyway?

    As for whether EA, specifically, should be supported, I don't know, and don't mean to tell others whether they should or should not do so. For myself, Origin and their seeming insistence on "call-home" DRM (or indeed any significant DRM) is a significant point against my buying from them, but I am inclined to evaluate that on a game-by-game basis.

    With regards to "brick-and-mortar" stores, I'll admit that I like physical copies of games: I like having a game box to hold, with pretty cover art to look at. While I do buy digital copies of games (especially indie games, which I think tend to be easier to come by in digital form), I'm not likely to give up on physical media entirely for now. That said... I'll confess that I seem to be becoming less and less likely to buy AAA games these days. Between seeming to find all too few titles to my interest, heavy DRM and other issues, indie games and older games from Good Old Games seem to appeal better to my tastes these days.
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    Gotta do well overseas, otherwise we're not proud you're from here ;)
    Hope this has been worked into your Amaze discussion :)
    Very few shops bother to stock indie games.
    I personally hope this changes soon. I think a greater push for this is needed from both the Indie developers, trade publications and the big distributors like Megarom and the like.

    Also, we should maybe try a different approach, where we push the idea as Indie and not Local. People are becoming more and more acceptable to the idea of Indie is cool (just look at any issue of NAG in the last 2-3 years).
  • We can *try* to focus on local as much as we want, but at the end of the day, the time/effort/resource investment and the payout is just so dismally small on the local front, due to many different factors, that any indie dev not focusing on international first will easily find themselves financially gutted first. And it's hard enough to be financially viable being indie.

    First, the cost of producing physical copies is non-trivial.
    Then storage.
    Then logistics of getting them to retail is absolutely insane - if you've never dealt with it you really don't know.
    If you use a distributor to do that that's another (quite big) percentage added onto the price, and no guarantee that they can get the stock moving.
    Then marketing in local spheres largely mean in-store, which you have to provide. That's production, printing and logistics again.
    Then there's the danger if physical units not selling, which becomes a dead financial drain on an indie dev's pocket as they try to move those units instead of doing what they do - make games.

    There's a reason digital distribution fits the indie so much better than the traditional distribution model. It just makes so much sense. Large companies are able to pad the prices and absorb one sale's failure into another's bloated success. Indies need to be much more efficient.

    I have really no faith in the physical distribution model for the future. The only real advantage it has in South Africa is that our Internet bandwidth is bad on average, which limits Internet literacy as well as file size of indie games, which is increasingly getting bigger. Though local bandwidth is picking up significantly in speed and in accessibility of price.

    A lot of people will remain "loyal" to the physical product, and that's just a function of nostalgia. The same argument will be made for physical books and physical CDs, until one day you realize how much space is taken up by things you'll likely never ever use again. And look at the way the music industry went. Look at where Musica is going. The dominance of Digital distribution is inevitable, it's just a matter of when.
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  • @Tuism - i'm not saying abandon or even focus less on digital distribution. I agree that, that is where Indies are and should be. I'm just saying have some presentation as a physical product in retail stores. And to do that you will need the big distributors to get on-board and have realistic expectations with regards to cost, number of units, cut of profits etc. Which will make it easier (and viable) for Indies to get their games in retail outlets. I'm just thinking how retailers can get around the "local is kak" image and that is why I stated that their should be a bigger focus on "Independently produced" rather than "Locally produced" - to improve sales of these titles. There is no reason why an indie game cannot enjoy success both in the digital and physical retail zones. From experience I can tell you that it is shocking how many copies of Bad Piggies moved through South African tills. Who knows it might even lead to some AAA studios popping up in Africa.
  • I agree that "it would be nice" to get physical copies into retail. I agree that "it would be nice" to get indie stuff popular.
    There is no reason why an indie game cannot enjoy success both in the digital and physical retail zones.
    That reason is simply cost and resource. Ask any indie here whether they have the money or the confidence to take out a loan to pay for any of the stuff I mentioned above - which are the things that makes retail success.

    I know I'm sounding "negative", but I'm only looking at realities. To be successful, we need to follow successful examples. If we really want to make indies successful in retail, we have to ask: Are there successful parallels with indies in retail overseas that we can learn from?
  • For perspective, in Ausland the indie situation is very much the same as in SA. Most indies are attempting the same channels as you guys - Steam, App Store, etc. While I have seen a good number of downloadable games available as physical box copies in brick 'n' mortar media stores, they tend to be ones that had huge online success or large pubs behind them (Angry Birds, Frozen Synapse, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon, just off the top of my head). With this in mind, note that the large middle-class and huge penetration of game consoles here makes them far more likely to move copies.
  • Hells yes, BF3 and DS 3 for 5 bucks.

    And yes, it's a tactic to try to get people to use Origin. That's fine. If EA want to run this kind of "here, have a Ferrarri for trying out our restaurant once" marketing campaign, more power to them. Much, much better (for the consumer) than most of the marketing tactics they use.

    Will be good if they can grow their market share a bit. Steam is too dominant, in the long run it's a bad thing if they don't have serious competition. EA needs to pull their fingers out and try ballsy tactics like this more often if they hope to challenge.
  • For indie games, at least, I think that I'd prefer to see Good Old Games grow further: I really like the way that they treat their customers, and the principles that they seem, thus far, to be sticking to. Since my interest in AAA games as decreased and my interest in indie games has increased, Good Old Games has served me rather well, I feel.
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    garethf said:
    Will be good if they can grow their market share a bit. Steam is too dominant, in the long run it's a bad thing if they don't have serious competition. EA needs to pull their fingers out and try ballsy tactics like this more often if they hope to challenge.
    I'm not certain that Origin growing in market share could conceivably be good for anyone outside of EA. It's not like they're competing to sell the same games as Steam or Humble or Good Old Games and create more avenues for developers and consumers, they're competing to capture an audience for themselves that exclusively benefits their stable of franchises.

    Steam and GOG and Humble (and others) help distribute indie games and have helped the independent game development become more viable over the last 5 years.

    Origin exists as a means to discourage piracy and keep as many people as they can only playing EA games, or the Ubisoft games they sell (unless they've opened the platform up and I haven't heard about it?) and to monetize them as much as is possible.

    I don't think it's contentious to say that Origin is designed to contain players and maximize the cross-pollination other EA games, and if that's so, then Origin is designed to be indirectly harmful to independent game development (who are almost all excluded from Origin).

    The bigger Origin gets, and the more people spend time using it instead of Steam or GOG or Humble, the worse it is for Free Lives and companies like us. If they successfully fracture the marketplace, and dissuade many gamers from encountering games outside of Origin, it won't be good for anyone except EA. While I'm not predicting they're going to be successful, I am predicting that fracturing the marketplace for their exclusive benefit is their aim.

    Unless I've got the facts wrong? I don't use Origin so there may be things they're doing that I'm not aware of that could benefit independent game development.

    For a consumer though it's still a great price to pay for those games, and it's certainly a financially advantageous move on Humble's part (they're also getting signups into their system), even though it disappoints me greatly that they've left behind some of their ideals.

    I do want to stress that Humble do do a lot of great things for independent gaming. As much as it disappoints me, Humble helping Origin doesn't really change my opinion of them (we've been joking in the office for the last couple months that a Humble EA bundle was next). Free Lives has been the beneficiary of some of their programs, and whenever I chat with them I'm reminded of what lovely human beings they are.
  • You start off by saying this :
    I'm not certain that Origin growing in market share could conceivably be good for anyone outside of EA.
    Then move on to an argument about how Origin isn't good for indies.

    That's not really the same thing.

    EA is not simply a DRM platform for EA titles. They've stated publicly that they want to compete with Steam in general, and that they are distributing other publishers (who, if you think about it, are technically their competitors, the only reason to "help" them is if they are trying to expand into the digital distribution market in general.)
    At Origin, we strive to be your primary gaming service. Not only do we sell EA games, but we also offer titles from more than 70 top publishing partners around the globe. I'm proud to announce that we're adding Ubisoft to our list of publishing partners starting today in North America, and on February 22nd in Europe and Asia.
    So no, it's not intended to just be an EA walled garden. It's a serious stab at launching a Steam rival. And Steam having strong competition will be good for the consumer, in the long run. Stiff competition forces both sides to compete on offering the greatest value.

    I've little doubt that, should indie games prove profitable for Steam, EA will eventually add support into Origin for them. Dinosaurs move slowly, but they do move.
  • Hmm a heated topic to be sure.

    One platform I have hopes will give steam a run for its money is Desura. With the buy out by Linden Labs it might get the boost it needs to grow into another steam.

    On the topic of digital versus physical I think taking a rigid stance on either doesn't make sense. Does the sale of a physical product diminish the sale of a digital one? I think the issue is that right now from here its easier to pursue a digital sales channel, additionally physical is hard to close and can be risky.

    I draw your attention to the industry stats from last year digital sales still do not account for 1/2 the money yet. Its growing fast each year though. Essentially only counts towards 30% or so right now. This means without a physical opportunity we are simply ignoring 70% of the market. I will continue to pursue both distribution opportunities, that having been said since digital is more accessible we are focused on titles that have a good chance in the digital domain since its more probably to pay off in the short term.

    Ofc each developer here should pursue the channels that they believe suit there product best I don't think this is a one glove fits all scenario, I do however recommend that people consider physical if the opportunity presents itself.
    Thanked by 2Tuism EvanGreenwood
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    The actual Origin store: (I only see EA games, and a couple major Ubisoft titles e.g. they stock Far Cry 3, but not the more recent Blood Dragon, am I missing something?)

    I'm sort of glad that EA says they're going to open the platform up (in a significant way)... but I'll believe it when I see it. As @Dislekcia mentioned above, EA is so big that it's structures make it hard for EA to make good decisions. And EA have lied publicly around the same time they made that promise.
    Garethf said:
    Then move on to an argument about how Origin isn't good for indies.
    Well sure, so maybe Origin is good for a couple other major publishers who aren't indies. Still if Origin is bad for me (and you) and other indies that's still a problem right? That's not a non issue because some people who aren't us also benefit... surely?

    I don't think distributing a few of Ubisoft's most prized games signify much. Getting a cut from selling Far Cry 3 can really just be an end in of itself. And if Ubisoft (and it's like) do get a few more games on Origin, that doesn't exactly provide you or me or developers like us with any new opportunities, and all the problems I listed before still stand.

    And I don't think EA has historically been about giving good value to consumers. Even if Origin gets big enough to worry Steam I can't imagine they'd put pressure on Steam to do better.

    But as I've said, I don't think they're going to be a Steam-style distribution platform, I don't think distributing a few prize Ubisoft games signifies that (if Blood Dragon doesn't make the cut to get onto Origin then that's going to be a pretty exclusive roster), in which case they'll just be continuing to fracture the marketplace for consumers (which isn't good for consumers).

    In any case, it seems to me that you agree that Origin is bad right now for yourself and for me (both being independent game developers), but you think that maybe in the future that won't be the case? Seems to me to be a lot of hopeful thinking to base cheering for their success on. If they're bad now for us (and for consumers) then surely we should be critical of their practices, not cheer them on anyway in the hope that they will someday change their practices or that their success will cause Steam to do something.

    @tbulford Yeah, I hope Desura grows as well : ) Gamer's Gate isn't doing badly and GOG seems to be growing fast. (And Humble is sitting on a ton of potential it's only now starting to tap into)
  • @tbulford said:
    I draw your attention to the industry stats from last year digital sales still do not account for 1/2 the money yet. Its growing fast each year though. Essentially only counts towards 30% or so right now. This means without a physical opportunity we are simply ignoring 70% of the market. I will continue to pursue both distribution opportunities, that having been said since digital is more accessible we are focused on titles that have a good chance in the digital domain since its more probably to pay off in the short term.
    I think the key thing here is "digital is more accessible" - how many indies are making sustainable incomes through physical retail? I'd hazard that's a pretty tiny number... Also, saying digital-centric strategies are ignoring 70% of the market isn't really logical - that's only a valid percentage "you're missing out on" if you were guaranteed those sales.

    But my main point was to echo your other statement: How you sell your game depends on your game and the opportunities you have available, not on per-conceived notions of what might be "cool" to have happen. There are loads of methods to make a living making games - tournaments, public funding, grants, arts programmes, etc. Yet people keep fixating on store shelves because that's how they saw games when they were kids.

    We have to prototype earning a living, purposefully doing things differently to what we might have originally expected, just like we need to prototype game concepts. Instead of finding the fun, we're finding the sustainability ;)
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    I was very surprised to hear Frozen Synapse was sold in physical stores.

    I think there's also a niche factor for *most* indies. I'd expect the broadest appealing independent games could work in stores (to some extent), but for most of us we're only appealing to a tiny tiny fraction of the gaming community, and so producing physical copies at our expense that will be put in distant places where they might not reach those very specific people is hella risky.

    I'm not exactly trying to trailblaze financial strategies myself though, I'm happy to follow what works and try make a product that suits the options that I am aware of.
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    @BlackShipsFilltheSky: Once a game sells well enough or gets enough exposure for being good in other ways, specialised retail producers approach you to see if you'd be okay with your game being sold on shelves in their specific areas. Desktop Dungeons has been approached for deals to do retail in Germany, Japan and China.

    Sometimes these deals are terribly predatory, sometimes they're not. So far I haven't seen terms that are even remotely close to what we'd earn per sale via our own site, despite all the retail prices being higher than our digital prices. That said, it's a matter of judging the potential of the deal against what you suspect might happen with digital sales in that region. Some devs I know say that retail runs in areas with poor internet coverage are great, others say they're a waste of time. It always depends on the game and the situation it's in, but deals for X copies of your game for $Y up front are very rarely made before the game in question has sold well online already.

    Bottom line: That stuff is being run and managed by people who do things like create physical copies and maintain sales networks full time. That's not shit you should be spending thinking time on as a dev.
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    @dislekcia your two statements sounds kinda contradictory:

    You say that you haven't seen terms that are even remotely close to what you'd earn per sale via your own site, as if you expect/would like/think that you would only get into it if your earnings were comparable between your digital and physical sales...

    Then you say that that stuff is being run and managed by people who do what they do - ie they're professionals at it. And of course they'll be taking a cut, which obviously your sale-from-site doesn't have to cater for.

    The two points doesn't reconcile to me... Retail in physical space costs more and thus is lower profit margin, and doubly so because you have to share profit with a third party. But the benefit from that is getting access to the market that buys from that channel. Whether that access is something you wouldn't have had otherwise and what your expected increase in volume despite the decrease in profit per unit are the determining factors on whether such a deal is profitable or not.

    But I'm sure you *know* that already, just saying because your two points seemed counter to this understanding :)
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    @Tuism: I was trying to point out that getting a game to retail has very little to do with "making it". People think that that's when you've "arrived" or whatever, but you actually have to succeed first before you even have a sniff at the option to sell physical copies.

    And just because those people are professionals at making boxed copies of games and getting those to shops doesn't mean they're experts at selling your game. Most of these companies run on sheer volume, supplying thousands of misc copies of games to low-rent shelves that have no extra marketing attached to them in thousands of shops across a country. Their expertise is all around the logistics and relationships required to eke a living out of doing that. You have to negotiate pretty damn hard, and be sitting on a surefire sales bombshell to get a marketing budget included in a retail deal.

    All of those skills you have to eat percentages for, and still no actual support selling your game...
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    I guess that, in a situation where more players get a game (DD for example) through physical copies and the dev doesn't pay for the production of the physical copies and the physical copies get marketed (at least a little bit) by the distributor and the cut the dev gets is more than the cost of support for those extra players and the sales are likely to amount to more than worth the possible pain of engaging in protracted negotiations... then it's probably worth it...

    Though that sounds like a deal that'd only come about for the top selling 1% of indie games who cater to predictable target audiences. I'd think that's the kind of problem you want to have (and certainly not a problem I expect to have any time soon).

    I don't even like physical copies of anything though... so I'd only likely be keen to make physical copies of a game I develop if there was some specific novel value to do it (like a special collector's edition with a custom Rambro headband and a bullet casing with your name on it).
  • The one thing I do miss about physical copies was when it came with really cool extras: posters you could put up on your wall, maps of different areas... GTAIV (I think it was) came with a manual that was styled like a tourist map that was super duper awesome, that the 30 minutes that it took to wait for the game to install much more bearable. :)

    If all I'm getting in the physical copy is that I have to put a disc in my drive (and I pretty much don't use mine anyway, replacing it with an SSD scratch disk), all it's doing for me is taking up physical space and making my life less convenient... Unless the game is so massive that I couldn't easily download it, and I can't think of any indie games that've been that size.
  • @Tuism

    Ooh, that's good to hear, it looks like GOG has come a long way from their origins! (unintentional pun)
  • @BlackShipsFilltheSky
    And I don't think EA has historically been about giving good value to consumers. Even if Origin gets big enough to worry Steam I can't imagine they'd put pressure on Steam to do better.
    On that note, they've just announced they're offering a full refund policy for digital game purchases on their store.

    The proof will of course be in the pudding, but this is what I'm talking about. Steam doesn't offer refunds, if Origin becomes a strong enough competitor it will put pressure on Steam to do the same. And likewise, the pressure of trying to compete with Steam will drive EA to be better, to offer more value. Which is a positive for the consumer. For all the worry about fracturing the market, Steam achieving long-term dominance in digital distribution is a bad thing. That's the road to becoming a Telkom.

    Which is the argument I'm making. It's better for the *consumer* if Steam has serious competition, preferably multiple strong competitors. As a consumer, I'm happy to see them making bold moves like this. I like GoG and Desura, but I don't see them being a real competitor for Steam in the near future.
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    Yeah. Refunds are a pretty pro consumer policy. I have to give Origin credit for that. Definitely a clever move by EA.

    Steam cannot offer refunds of course, because it's an anti-developer policy (and particularly anti short-form games, most of which are independent games). Of course Origin cannot offer refunds for the non-EA games it has.

    (although I'm not too sure how anti-developer it is... it is certainly an anti-mediocre-game policy... I certainly can't see Activision agreeing to that policy on Steam)

    I'm not sure that I'm worried about Steam's long term dominance. When they talk long term they are consistently concerned with competing against consoles and elevating the PC platform, not competing with other PC distributors or monopolizing PC gaming.

    That might change of course, particularly if Steam has no competition. I don't see it changing any time soon, not with the way that Valve is structured and the reputation it has at stake. But weirder about-turns have happened. (Ahem, Humble EA Bundle)

    I'd prefer Desura to become a serious competitor than Origin. I'm not sure if I see that happening though. I think Steam's curatorships makes it more consumer friendly than Desura, and of course Origin has even heavier curatorship.

    Obviously I'd love Good Old Games to get as big as Steam, but in some ways that'd be a fracture in the PC marketplace in favour of independent game development (which suits me, but not everybody else). But of course while it might become a more serious contender for the hearts and time of indie gamers, it's never going to capture many mainstream gamers.

    What is good of course is that in order to compete with Steam, Origin are having to try be very consumer friendly, so if nothing else, in order for EA to succeed on PC they may have to become more like Valve (in terms of consumer friendliness).

    I'm still not keen on a possible fracture in the PC market in favour of EA and friends (assuming it has a negative effect independent game viability), but I have to concede that it might still be good for AAA consumers on PC.
  • Anti-developer? I disagree.

    In the simple analysis, it may seem so. People can play a game, get the experience, then give it back and keep their money and that experience of playing the game! Consumers get to have their cake and eat it, dev gets little.

    But what do people do with that money? They generally just spend it buying more games. Same amount of games overall are owned, but people play more games for the same money. The key point is, there's around about the same amount of money overall circulating through the marketplace as before.

    In fact, it may actually increase consumer spending. Having a guarantee that if you don't like it you can get your money back decreases friction when it comes to buying something. People will be less hesitant to spend, they will take chances on unknown games more often.

    I know it seems, on the surface, like devs will be screwed. But the constant Steam sales also seem, on the surface, like devs should be getting screwed. After all, it seems like gamers would just wait a few months, buy titles when they're going for a couple of bucks, and devs will lose huge chunks of revenue.

    But the actual statistics show the opposite. People end up buying more, and continue to buy more even after the sale ends. Often, intuition is wrong.

    I see no strong indicators that trade-ins and refunds have taken any real chunk out of the market, despite all the hullabaloo.

    Spiderweb Software, an indie going for 15 years, longer than most mainstream companies, offers a one-year money back guarantee. They're doing just fine.
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    I see no strong indicators that trade-ins and refunds have taken any real chunk out of the market, despite all the hullabaloo.
    Here's a factoid curtesy of Jesse Schnell:

    Demos have been proven to harm the sales of games unless both the demo and the game are brilliant.

    So with trade-ins, I think it's safe to assume mediocre games would get screwed. In the same way demos decrease sales of all but the best games. It might not be the same effect as a demo, particularly because money is already spent, but there'd be an effect.

    It'd certainly bankrupt a project like Colonial Marines (more than it already failed).

    Which makes it harder to invest in development for some companies (albeit not the companies with the best games).

    So yeah, it might not decrease the overall spending on games. But it will make the market more top heavy (I mean the best selling games sell more, the poorly selling games sell less). This is what forcing demos has been shown to do.

    I'm not sure that's a bad thing though? We develop our games openly so I'm sure it could only benefit us, but I think many developers would do worse as a result. But maybe forcing the not so great games, and particularly the short and not so great games, to fail harder would be good?

    (I mean, for consumers it's a win obviously. I'm not convinced it's good for all developers, or developers in general).
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    If it _does_ make the market more top-heavy, I am not sure it would necessary be a good thing for anyone. It will make it even more risky to invest in games; the less middle ground there is to do poorly rather than to go to ruin, the fewer will take that risk, and those who do would be more constrained, leading to less variety - just more giant houses. It would be different I think if there was more objective measures of quality; but we do not always know up front whether something _will_ be good. Maybe that forces more open development?

    But I must say, I dislike the idea of _not_ giving customers their money back if they want it... basically "tricking" them into buying your game, and if they dislike it... stuff them :--/
    Thanked by 2EvanGreenwood Tuism
  • hermantulleken said:
    completely off topic... What's with the long nose? :P
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    What's with the long nose? :P
    I think that is Herman's programmer art for AAA executives with sneaky tactics. They need the long noses to look down from.
    Thanked by 2Tuism hermantulleken
  • So, is the Google Play marketplace improved by their money-back policies?

    Because I understand it's a really bad place to try and sell things - many devs blame the return policies for the massive piracy. Which is something that the freedom to return your games is supposed to prevent, isn't it?
  • I don't think that the return policy has (very) much to do with piracy on Android. The main reasons from my experience are:

    1) It is super easy to root any Android device, meaning that getting a pirated copy of any game installed and playable is a fairly painless process.

    2) Android APK files are just renamed ZIP files, with no security that needs cracking before you can transfer that same APK to someone else to play on their rooted Android

    3) The majority of piracy on Android is in Asia (China and Russia are the main problem areas), where there are dozens and dozen of super cheap Android devices flooding the markets (unlike the rest of the world, where there are dozens and dozens of super cheap... hey wait a minute!), making Android devices the major players in those markets, which will just due to sheer numbers mean that it looks like your game is being pirated massively in those territories... just ask @mattbenic to recall the Flurry Install Location map on Racer for evidence of this :)
  • Android pirating is so easy that all you need to do is google the relevant name and apk download and you'll find it. That's the reason for piracy there.

    Though I've heard that the return policy gives pirates a way to get the initial seed for free even :P
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    Of course in-app-purchases have no money back guarantee... (and free to play games are the only success stories I've heard of on Android).

    Though I couldn't guess if the money-back policy on Google Play has an effect with all of Google's other anti-developer policies. I just don't know the platform well enough, and the games I've worked on have only ever failed to sell there (though those games had only a small percentage of money-back customers).

    It doesn't really matter so much on Origin though because the money is likely eventually going to go to another EA game (with the store being 90% EA). Once the money is in the system it's still going to benefit EA, and making it easier for players to try games, even if they ask for their money back, is still a definite positive for Origin.

    Unless I'm misunderstanding? Would Origin actually give money back, or just give credit?
  • Yeah, the credit question is a big thing actually. I'd argue that the devs that made the games on Origin aren't invested in each individual sale the same way that many Steam devs are. An indie gets their cash directly from steam, so a returned sale is a big deal, compared to a dev that doesn't earn royalties off their big-publisher-funded game anyway, they care more about the eventual metacritic scores.
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