Gaming the system with deals: Switch gamers love bargain bin games and so do developers
Since I bought my Switch, I have to admit that I have spent more money on deeply discounted titles that I have on expensive triple-A games. The Great Deals tab in the eShop is my go-to for most of the games I purchase. If you are patient enough and wait a few weeks, you can score games that usually sell for $13 for $1.99 or less.
It may come as little surprise that I’m not alone in my bargain hunting. Switch owners love picking up games at steep discounts, and the developers are winning because of it. Matt Bitner, the creator of Metroid-style game “A Robot Named Fight,” says he has had great success selling his games at deep discounts.
The system he refers to is the way that the eShop displays games. Once a game falls off the Recent Releases tab, it becomes pretty much lost in the thousands of titles available. Temporarily putting the game on sale increases visibility and results in markedly increased revenue. Bitner has experienced that the lower the price, the more significant overall sales become.
“For developers that didn’t have a breakout success, it’s a nice way to get more eyes on your game,” Bitner said.
Bitner’s publisher Hitcents first tried it on one of its games called “Draw a Stickman: EPIC 2.” The title ordinarily sold for $6.99. It reduced the price to about $4.89 and saw sales increase tenfold. A few months later it discounted the same game even deeper — all the way down to $0.99.
“This one made me a bit nervous,” said Hitcents studio head Jordan Taylor. He was pleasantly surprised when the game moved 1,000 times more copies per day. “We definitely did not expect such a substantial increase.”
Hitcents suggested to Bitner that he try the same thing with A Robot Named Fight.
“I was vaguely worried that it may devalue the game, but it was already out on [the eShop] for a year and a half,” said Bitner. “So I didn’t have a lot of reservations.”
His game normally sold for $12.99. He marked it down to $1.99 and saw a 1,500-percent increase in sales and put it on the Best Sellers page.
“It was night and day,” he said. “During that sale, it performed better than launch. It’s done well enough for me to continue making games.”
The discount had the added effect of free exposure from gaming news outlets who publicized the sale and players who streamed gameplay and tweeted about it.
It may seem like a no-brainer that games that go on sale sell more than when they are first released, but it is not that cut and dry. Many small indy studios do not see the exposure that triple-A publishers do at launch, sometimes even flying entirely under the radar. A sale is an effective way to get that game out there and increase sales significantly.
The math is simple: Would you rather sell 10 games at $10 or 10,000 at $1. That is the real no-brainer.