Everything Wrong With Indie Game Bundles and Steam Sales

Hare Are 3 Tips On How Take Control Over Your Own Promotions

So, does lowering the price of your game actually lead to LESS sales?

It's counter-intuitive to think that low price = lower sales. It's counter-intuitive to think that high price = more sales.

Why would a low price devalue your indie game? Why would gamers buy your game just because the price is higher than other games?

This makes no sense. But, success is counter-intuitive. And sometimes a higher price DOES mean more sales.

Read this article, and you'll learn everything wrong with game bundles and sales -- and how they hurt indie games, and how they keep the price way too low.

You're also going to get 3 step "how to" guide, showing you exactly how to apply all the insights you're about to learn so you can keep the price of your indie game a bit higher WITHOUT loss in profits.

So, if you're an indie game dev, and you have no idea how to price your game... if you have no idea if the price of your game is too high or too low... if you want to sell your game at higher profits... if you want to learn how to do your own promotions and not rely on Steam or Humble Bundle, then here's what you need to know...

Bundles and Sales Put You In The "Price Rut"

Yeah, putting your indie game in a bundle, or doing a Steam Sales, is going to give you a spike in video game sales.

This is an obvious price strategy. When you see your game profits going down, why not put your game in a bundle? Why not do a Steam Sale? If you don't, you're leaving money on the table.

This is why first day, and first week sales, are so important to publishers. They know that majority of the profits they'll make will be in the first week or so. Then when gamers stop buying the game, and money stops flowing in, the publisher has no option, but to drop the price. If they don't, they are leaving money on the table.

But, this is NOT the price strategy I want to show you.

I want to show you a price strategy that is more sustainable.

You see, what's wrong with bundles and sales is that it's a crutch. You get addicted to putting your game in a bundle or a sale whenever you need an injection of money.

You're teaching yourself a strategy that isn't sustainable. In the short-term, you may get an injection of money. But, there's a long-term price strategy that is more sustainable.

I'm not saying to never put your game in a bundle, or be part of a Steam Summer Sale. No. What I'm talking about is, instead of using this as a crutch to inject some cash flow, I want to show you a counterintuitive price strategy that won't hurt you in the long-run.

So, don't get into the "Price Rut". And the Price Rut goes like this...

You get addicted to this strategy whenever profits go down. It's addicting because you get an instant reward whenever you see a spike in sales. But ultimately, you're rewarding bad behavior. And in the end, you're just hurting the long-term value of your video game.

Let me show you what I mean...

Why The "Price Rut" Isn't a Good Price Strategy and Leads to Less Sales

This "Price Rut" gets you stuck in a loop, where you're actually devaluing your game. Every time you complete this loop, the price of your game goes lower and lower. And you get less and less sales.

And that's the biggest reason I want you to stay away from bundles and Steam Sales... it's because devalues your game.

The simple act of putting up your game on sale or in a bundle actually leads to LESS sales.

Yeah, the first time you do this, you may see a spike in sales. And this gets addicting. It's instant gratification.

But as you continue this "Price Rut" strategy, you're going to see less and less sales. This isn't sustainable. By the end of your sales cycle, the value of your game is so low, that it no longer attracts gamers to buy it.

Again, I'm not saying not to put your game in bundles or do sales. I'm saying that this price strategy shouldn't be your first strategy.

The "Price Rut" strategy is addicting. It's a crutch. You keep relying on "low low" prices to help sales. But there will be a point where "low low" price doesn't work anymore.

There is a point where you devalue your game so low, that a low price isn't attractive anymore, and in fact it leads to LESS sales.

How? How does "low low" price lead to LESS sales?

Bundles and Sales Teach The Gamer NOT To Buy

Remember, the Price Rut cycle is...

And this cycle continues, until you've devalued your game to a point where gamers no longer buy.

Why will a gamer no longer buy?

Well, the obvious reason is, you've devalued your game. Seeing a game drop it's price after a few months, is big red flag that nobody wants to play this game.

But there's also a hidden reason why this strategy isn't a good strategy. And that is, bundles and sales teach gamers that indie games belong in a certain price bucket.

Humble Bundle is great for gamers... but not for the indie game dev. Humble Bundle has devalued indie games. Gamers expect that an indie game should be around $10, and they should get 10 games in a pack for that price.

Steam Sales have created a new way of buying behaviour, where a gamer will put a game in their wish list, and sit and wait for it to go on sale.

Again, these strategies are great for short-term spike in sales. And it's great for the consumer, the gamer. And it's also great for Steam and Humble Bundle. Their focus is on selling video games and NOT helping you create a sustainable video game business. Their focus is on short-term sales.

This price strategy is great for retailers. Retailers have thousands of games to pull from when sales taper off. They always have new games they can continue this "Price Rut" strategy with.

But for the indie game dev, having a "low low" price isn't a healthy way to maintain cash flow.

Again, there's nothing wrong with sales and bundles. It's good for gamers. It's good for the retailers. It's good for game devs who need to inject some cash flow.

But as a game dev, this puts you in a tough spot. You get addicted to this Price Rut. You don't come up with a better strategy.

But, what if there was a better, long-term strategy? What if you didn't have to rely on bundles and sales to maintain cash flow? What if you had long-term sales and didn't have to resort to "low low" prices to keep your cash flow steady?

Let me show you a better strategy, next...

3 Simple Steps To Add Value To Your Indie Video Game So You Maintain Long Term Profits

The goal of this article is to help you stay away from relying on "low low" pricing as your go-to strategy. Remember, this strategy is addicting because it gives you instant gratification... Sales going down? Put your game in a bundle or on sale, and watch a spike in sales.

But this strategy is NOT sustainable. In the long-run, you're actually hurting your game sales because you're devaluing your game.

So, to help you with a better price strategy, here's 3 ways to add value to your game so you don't lose sales in the long run...

Step Number 1: Bundle Your Game With Your OWN Content

The reasons why bundles work is because it's hard to resist a deal. It's not the games, per se, that are attracting a gamer to buy the bundle.

The reward of getting a bunch of stuff is what motivates a gamer to buy bundles. And it doesn't matter what "stuff" you get. What matters more is quantity of "stuff".

Sure, a gamer needs to like the games in the bundle. But again, the amount of stuff somebody gets in a bundle is the prime motivator in buying.

So, instead of fighting human behaviour, why not go with it? But, instead of being bundled with OTHER content, why not create your own content bundle?

Let me show you what I mean...

Supergiant's game Bastion was released in 2011. It's $15 bucks here in Canada. And if you go to their Steam Store page, you'll see something hidden going on.

First, you'll see the base game, and its price. Let's pretend that this was the only option a gamer has. A $15 price tag for an old game like this isn't that attractive.

But, if you look closer you'll notice that the store page has its own little bundle. Sure, you can get the basic game for $15. Or you can get the basic game AND the soundtrack for $28.

Or...

You can the entire Supergiant game's library for $70.

Now, all of a sudden the $15 price tag isn't such a sticker shock. What's going on here is, the publisher knows how to present the price in a way that is appealing to the gamer.

How to bundle your own indie game with your own content -- Bastion and their publisher Warner Bros, are masters at promotion
Warner Bros. know exactly how to make a price attrative without resorting to "low low" prices

They're not relying on sales or bundling their game with other games. They've bundled their content with their OWN content.

The publisher, Warner Bros. knows marketing and knows how to sell. They know that bundles sell. And they leverage this by creating their OWN little bundle.

Again, don't go against human nature. Bundles are attractive. But instead of bundling your game with other content, bundle it with your OWN content.

Ok, so what if you don't have a huge game library? That's ok. You can create your own bundle with other content you own, such as...

You see, it's not about the content, per se. It's about using the "bundle mechanism" as a sales technique. By stacking more content with your game, you're adding more value to the base game.

How to bundle your own indie game with your own content -- The Witcher 3 Free DLC is also used bonus content to make their game more valuable
CD Projekt Red are also masters at "stacking value" on top of the base game to make the price attractive

It's a weird consumer behaviour, but people are motivated to buy something when it's stacked with extra content -- no matter how trivial that content is.

Again, it's not the quality of the bundled content... it's the quantity.

But, adding content on top of content, and creating your own bundle isn't enough. You need to also make the gamer feel a sense of urgency.

Let me show you what I mean, next...

Step Number 2: Use The "Grab It Now, Or It's Gone" Technique

On the surface, it seems like discounts and sales work because gamers get to save money. Buying something less than the actual cost feels like you're getting a bargain. And bargains are hard to resist.

But, the real reason sales and discounts work is because they create a sense of urgency. What I mean is, if you set your price to a sale price, and just leave it, it doesn't attract gamers to buy.

The price is NOT what motivates the gamer.

What attracts buyers is, that in order for a sale to work, you need an expiration date. This "grab it now, before it's gone" mentality is what makes sales work. Bargains are hard to resist because you know that you may not ever get this game at this price again.

Adding a sense of urgency is the real reason why gamers pull the trigger, and buy.

And here's the crazy thing...

Even though some gamers know game prices are inflated higher, and the sales price is probably the real price...

Even though gamers know that if they don't buy the game now, that they can wait for the next Summer Steam Sale...

But even though gamers are conscious about all this, they still can't help it. A sense of urgency is what triggers them to buy.

In other words, even though you're conscious about how the publisher is tricking you into a sense of urgency, it still works. Your brain can't help this sense of urgency.

Humble Bundle does this tactic masterfully. Not only do Humble Bundles expire.. but if you don't buy the bundle on the first day, the average cost of each bundle goes up the longer you wait. This causes a sense of urgency for the game to grab the bundle on the fist day before the average cost goes up.

So, how do you incorporate "urgency" when selling your own game?

Well, remember how I showed you how bundle your OWN content... to "value stack" your game?

Well, here's how bundling your own content and adding a sense of urgency works...

Number 3: Now Put Step One and Step Two Together To Create an Offer a Gamer Can't Refuse

You just learned that bundles and sales are irresistible to gamers. And instead of going against human nature, why not go with it by creating your OWN bundle. In other words, don't rely on Steam and Humble Bundle to do your promotions for you.

And a bundle that expires is doubly irresistible. Adding a sense of urgency helps people get motivated to pull the trigger, and buy your game.

In other words, stacking your base game with other content will get a gamer see the value in your game. But adding an expiry date will add in an extra sense of urgency, and get the gamer motivated to BUY your game.

It's sounds obvious, but most game devs don't get this. They assume that a gamer will see how much quality and quantity the game has. Why do this silly setup this way? Why bother adding extra bonus content with your game? Why have an expiry on your bundle?

This is a huge mistake game devs make. Game devs know their game inside and out. They've spent hours and hours on their game. To them, the best parts of the game are self-evident and obvious.

But to a gamer, this is NOT obvious. Game devs need to EXPLAIN what's good about their game. Gamers are NOT going to take the time to discover what's good about the game themselves.

This is why I'm having you do this silly tactique. In a perfect world, you wouldn't have to put your game in a bundle, and put an expiry date on this promotion. And most game devs don't.

But if you look closer, why do retailers use this strategy? It's because it helps them maintain profits in the long run. These retainers like Humble Bundle and Steam know human buying behavior. And bundles and sales that expire work.

That's why it's important that you as a game dev also incorporate this price strategy with your OWN game.

But instead of relying on Steam and Humble Bundle to do this for you, YOU take control of your own promotions.

How? Let me explain...

How The "Indie Game Price Strategy" Works In Helping You Maintain Long-Term Sales

What I just showed you, I call the "Indie Game Price Strategy". Again, how it works is you bundle your own content together. And this bundled content expires.

But how does it exactly work? Isn't this the same thing as if you were to bundle your game with Humble Bundle or put your game on a Steam Sale?

Well, the HUGE difference is that you are NOT lowering the price of your game. And you're the one that takes control over the promotions -- not Steam or Humble Bundle.

This is important. And here's how it works...

What expires is NOT the sale price. What expires is the extra content you're giving away.

For example, let's look at Bastion, again.

How to bundle your own indie game with your own content -- Bastion and their publisher Warner Bros, are masters at promotion
Warner Bros. know exactly how to make a price attrative without resorting to "low low" prices

The price is about $15. For $27, you get extra content that includes the soundtrack.

Now... what I'm going to suggest next is not normal in the video game industry.

What I'm going to show you is counter-intuitive. But in business, if you follow the rules, you'll never get ahead. You need to experiment, you need to take risks. You need to do the counter-intuitive things because that's how you get lucky. Doing what everybody else does won't help you get lucky.

So, here's my idea:

Instead of lowering the price, why not offer the entire $27 bundle for $15 during a sale? You're not devaluing your game. You're not lowering it. You're just padding the base price with extra content, for cheaper. And you are giving a gamer a bargain.

But! It's important that this offer expires. It's important that the gamer knows that at a certain date, they will lose out on getting this extra content at this price.

Now, I know you have very little control over your Steam Store page. I understand having your own Humble Bundle with your own stuff isn't easy to get.

But, this is why I teach you how to setup your own Sales Store. This is why I teach the importance of building an audience. Having an emailing list, twitter following, blog followers, YouTube followers is important because now you can promote your OWN bundles and sales.

YOU control how your game is sold, and how your promotions work. And by offering a gamer a promotion where they get your entire bundle for cheap, is a lot better long-term strategy then having Steam or Humble Bundle do your promotions for you.

In other words, you're controlling your OWN promotions using the "Indie Game Price Strategy". Again, I'm not saying don't use Humble Bundle or Steam Sales. I'm saying to have another price strategy where you promote your own sales and bundles -- and not just let retailers control this for you.

And this works in the long-run because you're not being forced drop the price of your game just in order to sell more.

You're not under the control of Steam or Humble Bundle. You can control your own promotions.

So, if you're an indie game dev and you want to control your own publishing and retail, then using the "Indie Game Price Strategy" is the best way to control your long-term profits.

Again, the "Indie Game Price Strategy" is...

It's important to chunk your content like this, and to include an expiry because it motivates gamers to buy.

Remember, in marketing you need to explain why your stuff is good. Gamers are not going to take the time to discover what's good about your game, themselves.. You need to communicate this to them.

And this is why it's important to set up your promotions and price like this, where you bundle your content on top of your base game to add value. And to have an expiry so that it motivates a gamer to buy because the sense of urgency get's people to act.