About pricing of the game

We had a poll on the community forums a while ago:

where I asked the community how much Thrive should cost. 9.99 was the most popular option, followed by 4.99. And third place was, at the time my favourite, 7.99.

Now that the release is drawing nearer, I’m having second thoughts about that. Mainly due to considering the value proposition of the game. In the end we don’t have that many hours of gameplay in the game currently (unless someone plays a full playthrough with all different energy sources).

So now I’m thinking that maybe 4.99 would be a much better price to start off with (especially on itch where there is a category for 5$ and under and the next category is 15$ and under). But we could then up the price in a year or two first to 7.99 and maybe at the end putting the price at 9.99. But I think that’s about as high as the price should ever go as anyone with a little bit of time can compile the game from source, or someone can start a community for free distribution of the game (well I guess we already do that on Github, but when we hit the 1 GB file size limit there we need to stop that. Also I’m not saying that we shouldn’t look for alternatives to still make free downloads available at that time). This leads to my point that even the final price (when the value proposition will be super good, if the free version alternative is not taken into account) can’t be that high. It needs to be optimised based on how lazy people are to compile the game themselves, as I assume people thinking like that will outnumber the hardcore fans that would buy the game just to support future development anyway.

Thoughts on this?

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Im thinking of the store price more of a donation than anything. and 4.99 sounds pretty much what the game offers in line with other indie games.

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Yes, that’s probably what people already in the community consider.

However, I think we need to also consider the wider gameplaying audience we may get on steam whose first impression of Thrive may be seeing the store page or getting linked to the store page from some piece of content.

I have personally been conflicted about setting a hard price on Thrive on these platforms, especially if we can no longer host it’s downloads on github once it hits that limit.

I am willing to go through with it, but I’ve also been considering alternatives.

On Itch.io you can offer your game for free but still ask for payment. Basically you suggest an amount and players can choose if they want to pay it. Steam does not have such a feature however, and if we are to offer Thrive for free we have to do it on both platforms. So I suppose in order to work with that we would have to make a paid “dlc” maybe containing a library of concept art and music or something. It’s definitely not a perfect alternative

Illegal in Finland. That would be a donation, and unless we have an ongoing donation campaign, donations cannot be collected.

That’s more doable. But what do we put there? How will artists and musicians feel if we ask them specifically for art that will be used to make money? Shouldn’t we pay them something? And what about all the work of others. In effect we would be making this content outside Thrive and trying to fund Thrive itself through that. In theory we could use the existing music / art as that extra content, but then in effect we’d be asking people to pay for freely distributable content (as it would be under our current assets license). I find that also not very good option. If the DLC is also literally freely available content that floated around anyway either in the game files or community, it could be argued that that is also a donation, though this is much less clear if giving a bundle of free stuff from elsewhere would be considered to be something given back in exchange for the money.

I’m personally unable to make these, so I would like maintain the game version on steam, that is free, but then rely on the work of others to make money through the channel…

I guess we are a bit in a different situation as many open source games on steam that have a price, have non-free assets. But I don’t think the players would truly care what about the difference of open source project on steam with proprietary assets or a fully open source and creative commons game on Steam.

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Well we could link our main page, then they will see the git/free distributions of the game.

Why would it be illegal?Is it name your price thing illegal in finland?

Check the link to the wiki on discord, I added exactly that, a line saying that you can play the game for free from our website (I used very similar wording to another game that is paid on steam but available for free on their website).

Accepting money without giving anything in return (“vastikeeton rahankeräys”) is legally classified as a donation. I’ve said this many times, but accepting donations without a permit is illegal in Finland.

People get around this for example by saying that they are selling a picture of their cat for 5$, and then email that picture to anyone who “bought” it.

But we are giving something in return, its the game right? Its just a name your price thing. Buy the game on whatever price you want.

This is specifically case that has been determined illegal. If you can put in a 0$ to download the game, then any amount above that is considered a donation. Meaning that using the pay what you want feature on itch is illegal in Finland.

Well then the only case i see this happening is if the minum price is something like 0.1 Euros or something then this might fall.
Btw wouldnt this also apply if you can get teh game for free from git or some other platform but you make people pay on the store?

Any extra amount given above the minimum, is also questionable. So we can’t like put 0.1$ as the minimum amount with the kind of implicit expectation that people pay a reasonable price that they want. I think. I’m not a lawyer and the advice online I found for this is basically do not use pay what you want schemes in Finland. I’m also not about to spend 200$ consulting a lawyer about this.

It’s not exactly the same. And it’s from completely different thing. It’s not equivalent if you can pop over to github to download the game, whereas if you have a digital license for the game in your steam library and get it through there. Also there will be slight file difference even on the itch.io version compared to what’s going to be on Github (basically a thank you box with one extra option the normal launcher doesn’t have). The steam version will be a much different as I’m planning on adding the steam cloud saves and steam workshop features, so the user actually gets more stuff for having the steam version than just compiling from the source code.

Regharding DLCs: I love the way how the open-source game shapez.io did it:
They have a DLC which allows you to publish challanges for other players and people who paid for the DLC can download those. The server validates that you have actually paid for the DLC by providing it a license key. In theory you could compile the game yourself and work around all the local DLC checks, but that wouldn’t help you much because you still can’t download challanges of other players, which is the main reason of the DLC.
shapez.io is more tailored for a challange-sharing feature, but maybe we could do something like that if we really want DLCs?

That does sound like an interesting point, and I guess it would also be possible for us to implement. Though, I don’t like the idea of locking something like creature or scenario sharing behind an extra paid DLC. I’d expect that people would wonder why we have a paid DLC instead of having steam workshop up so that anyone can upload their creations there.

Indeed, I believe that content itself probably shouldn’t be locked behind a DLC. Perhaps we can find cosmetic stuff, like specific cell colors (like gold ?) or a new visual setting (a bit like colorblind-friendly color changes, but with things like infrared or whatever – of course, colorblind settings should still be in the base game for accessibility).

4.99 has my support as it is a good introduction price we can increase later, but I feel we should only increase it after we get the multi-cell phase introduced into the public builds. As for DLC I see it as too early to consider that route as the main game is still being built.