The Price of Alpha

I think Prison Architect and Kerbal Space Program are taking indie dev & alpha funding to the wrong direction.

The Price of Alpha - or How Much We Should Pay for Indie Games and/or Alpha Versions?

As of 21st of March 2013, Kerbal Space Program costs €22 (~$28) and Prison Architect costs €26 (~$33) via Steam Early Access)

When KPS costs nearly as much as ArmA 3 Alpha and Prison Architect more than (!) ArmA 3, I think the alpha funding and indie developers are taking turn for the worse.

But on the other hand: it's not the fool who asks...

And Introversion made a million with Prison Architect already :/

Steam's ingeniousness with currency conversion $1 = €1 makes things even more expensive for us using Euro; 25 dollar game costs €25 for us = over 32 dollars.

This makes KSP €22 in Steam, which kinda kicks it in the leg when in reality it "only" costs $23 (~€18). Luckily most games are sold directly by the developers too. But still.

Is 23 dollars (or 18 Euros) too much for unfinished (indie) game?

Indie Games Should Be Cheaper?

With the more reasonably priced *finished* Indie titles like Minecraft ($20), Legend of Grimrock ($15) or Driftmoon ($15), FTL ($10, or even $5) - I don't think Kerbal Space Program's or Prison Architect's price is right.

Among the first games in Steam Early Access is also Gnomoria. €7. - Perfect. There's something I could vouch for, even if I knew nothing about it.

Cart Life on Steam? Five euros - Awesome. Almost full version is free from Cart Life website. I love it.

It's Not About the Money

The most interesting thing is that I don't mind paying for something that's good, or something I want to support. I've backed up several projects in Kickstarter for much more than the finished game will cost when it's out.

I've donated over $50 for Dwarf Fortress - and that game is free.

I backed up Factorio's Indiegogo project with $50.

I've bought Cart Life two times for $5 just because I like it so so much and I want to support the developer.

I would've probably been happy to throw $20 or more to FTL if I'd happened to see their Kickstarter.

While I haven't played either title... From what I've seen, I think I'd like KSP and Prison Architect as much as those I mentioned above. I might even be happy to voluntarely back them up with $30 or $50 or more, but when that's the low price point - I don't.

Now I almost feel like boycotting them.

Human mind works in strange ways :)

So yeah, I think Gordon Gecko was wrong - Greed is not good.

What Do You Think?

What do you think? Have you played/payed for KPS or Prison Architect? Worth the money?

What's the right price for an indie game in development, if sold as alpha version?

What's the right price for finished indie game?

Should indie games cost the same as "AAA-titles"?

p.s. Discussion also at my forum: http://w11.zetaboards.com/Zemalf_Forum/topic/8592637/1/


77RaiTh said...

I bought KSP about 2 months ago when it was a bit cheaper...It's a really good game and i think you would really enjoy playing it Zemalf...in my opinion its worth every penny

Chase York said...

I dont think they should cost as much as triple AAA titles. You said it yourself that dwarf fortress is free, and thats an extremely fun (albeit a bit learning curvey) game. I've seen gameplay of both Prison Architect, and KPS or whatever and personally i dont find KPS appealing. I dont have facts to back up my simple opinion but i just think the game has to be extremely fun, as well as not so buggy. Prison Architect seemed a good bit buggy when i saw youtube videos of it (i dont know if its fixed or not) but even if they fix it i wouldnt pay 30 bucks for it. Arma 3 seems like its going to be a huge hit, and im waiting to see more Crusader Kings 2 lets plays because THAT is a game i would put my money into.

Jim Pekarek said...

Kerbal Space Program is frankly better than most AAA titles, even in Alpha. It's an excellent game with very few bugs, almost endless replayability, solid graphics, and real physics. It's totally worth what they're asking and considerably more.

Teo said...

Really interesting post. I agree that alpha releases and the like are too expensive- personally I don't buy into the hype, and have plenty of other games in my steam library waiting to be played, so I'm quite happy to wait for an actual release, or a steam sale. But standalone indie games can definitely be overpriced. I am always more inclined to pick up games like FTL or Binding of Isaac for a great deal, and even go as far to buy the soundtrack and any DLC to support them. My top played game at this point is Team Fortress 2, a free to play, and again I've probably spent around £40 into it now, because I love it and am happy to support it. When games seem overpriced, I too get.. well, stubborn, and make a stand of not buying it! Half the reason we as a community enjoy indie games is because they're different, they're quick, and they SHOULD be affordable. It seems silly to alienate the market you set out to capture!

I don't suppose you would be interested ins haring this over at Glipho? We're a new social blogging site, with an active community of creative bloggers, and we could use some more intelligent gaming blogs like yours on there- I know our users would love to read through your work here. If you get a minute, come over to http://glipho.com and see what you think. You can import all or any posts from this blog over to Glipho too, without affecting anything at all, so it's pretty easy!

Thanks for the great post, and I'm looking forward to reading more from you!

All the best,


Herpy said...

(I'm a tad late but in the hopes that you'll see this)
In all honesty I don't think it fair to put a 2d prison management game anywhere near the same league as KSP. It holds an endless replayability element that I have not seen in any other game. The graphics are like Jim said solid, few bugs, and yes real physics. I've personally put over 260+ hours on it and have not gone further than the mun. 260+ with an earth like planet and its moon, they've got to be doing something right.

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