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A Serious Question about Reverse Sales

A topic by Atom created 1 year ago Views: 234 Replies: 2
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(Edited 2 times)

So today itch.io added the ability to make reverse sales (or anti-sales) which increases the price of a game rather than decreasing it. With it I have a serious question.

Why?

I mean, I get why people would put on a regular sale - it's a fun thing to do and it helps people get your product at a reduced price, thus opening up new doors so to speak and potentially increasing your userbase. A reverse sale on the other hand provides no real benefits as I can see, in fact if anything I can only see downsides with it so forgive me if I treat this new feature with scepticism.

Basically all I'm asking is "what's the point?" I don't mean that in a negative way, but I'm curious as to why people are willing to do this and interested in the reasons behind it.

Admin(+1)

A surprising number of people have asked for this feature over the past few years. I think it's a novel way to poke fun at the idea of sales. Although I joke around on the itch.io blog post, I think some of the things I say on the bottom are valid points. The culture around indie game development right now has encouraged developers to reduce their prices at low as possible. I think a of of people saw sales (and bundles) as a representation of this this. Alternative creators like to do the opposite of what's the norm, and creating a reverse sale is exactly that.

After the feature has been out for a while I'd love to look at the analytics and write up if it was actually successful for anyone.

(Edited 9 times)

I think I can see what you're getting at.

You brought up that dev culture has encouraged devs to drive down their prices and that's true, but it's done to bring in new customers who would otherwise click away from the page if they saw a game that was at a high price (or a price that they thought was too high for that game.) However one thing I've noticed when it comes to changing the price to boost sales is that in some cases, simply reducing the price isn't enough - you have to make it free.

I have had one sale ever on itch.io (on Project Plasma, or PP as I like it call it in converation) due to me doing a bad job at marketing my games, however Project Plasma Mobile (PPM) has attracted many downloads in comparison. 26 downloads is definitely not much, but it got more than the PC version (PP) of the game (which is far superior but also costs money.) The PC version has weathered many sales but has never surpassed one purchase. However, during Yorkshire Day last year (yes the part of England I live in has its own day lol) I made PP free a single day and it received two downloads. For most people this is nothing but for someone who's game has only been purchased once (I did give out two download keys for the game to friends as well though) I considered this a moderate achievement.

Anyway the point I'm getting at is that lowering the price isn't always good enough - especially considering, as you pointed out, the fact it's what everyone is doing right now and I can understand why, but the tactic I guess is getting old and devs need to resort to other methods of promotion, this often involves the need to get creative in order to attract attention, something for potential buyers to come and say "hey that's new, I'll take a look."

However, I'm still not sure as to whether an anti-sale is the way to go.

While the whole point of an anti-sale would I guess be the fact that it would be a talking point for that game (or product, as itch.io does have other things on here that aren't necessarily games) it could be a tactic that can easily go wrong - both in the long run and the short run.

In the short run, an end user may see the game but see that it's at an increased price and they would wait for it to drop. This would be a hassle for the end user as they'd be forced to wait for the game's price to return to normal before buying it rather than just buying there-and-then. This can get pretty frustrating if this happens regularly to the point where they would either wait for a while and eventually forget that they were going buy that game, or just move onto another game instead. Either way, this would have a negative effect on the developer, particularly if a lot of potential buyer share that mindset.

If it becomes a talking point because of that, that could potentially have a negative effect as well as a potential buyer might think "They hold "sales" that raise the price of a game? Well I guess I'll be avoiding that game then." This would obviously be bad for the dev also as it would've become a talking point for the wrong reasons. That being said, that may not be a bad thing. Just look at Grezzo 2 for example, that game is known for being massively offensive, with some reviewers even going as far as calling it the most offensive game ever made (it's also been universally banned on Twitch,) but it still got a moderate amount of publicity and a sizeable fanbase because of the controversy it attracted. Hatred would be another example that benefitted out of sheer controversy (Hatred would be a better example here as that is a paid game.)

In the long run, everyone might jump onto the anti-sale craze after seeing that it creates a talking point for the games that host such a "sale," however this will cause the anti-sale craze to eventually become diluted just as regular sales have become over the years, and this would probably happen quicker due to the nature of the anti-sale.

Don't get me wrong, it's great that people are getting creative in regards to selling their game, creativity is good and it's needed in a competitive industry such as this in possible areas, but I'm not sure if an anti-sale really is the right way to go. I'd like to see it be a success as that will benefit both the developer and the site itself (more so even than a regular sale as users would be forced to spend more money to buy a certain product.)

I guess that concludes this massive wall of text, I know I went on a tangent there - I was trying to cover as many points as possible, unfortunately it looks like the post got a bit out of control lmao.