Jimquisition: Don't Charge Retail Prices For Digital Games

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Qitz:
For dual release, digital and retail, the price difference between the two will never happen since the retailer will complain about it and just not stock the game which will result in huge profit drops for them.

For pure digital distribution? Yeah, it should be lower and there are a few that have priced themselves lower and have no physical disks to sell. Minecraft, Torchlight, Terraria, Etc. Granted there's companies like Nintendo and their eShop who are DETERMINED to sell their old games for ridiculous prices, granted they've gotten better on the 3DS one but still.

But if they release both they'll never have a huge price disparity because it'll cost them a lot of money. Be it from GameStop or Target.

And if they don't release both, you can't really tell if the game is just cheaper than others or if it actually is caused by digital distribution.

Mass Effect 3 PS3
Amazon: $48.41
PSN: $59.99

Personally, I bought it at Best Buy, on sale for $39.99

Aardvaarkman:

Jimothy Sterling:
It was a turn of phrase that was easier than saying, "A game distributed through an online storefront such as Origin or a similar virtual goods purveyor" and worked within the context of the video. Everybody knew what was meant because it was established in the parameters of the video. You're getting very hung up on a turn of phrase that really didn't matter.

It does matter. The accurate use of words is one of the most important things modern humanity has. Using words poorly leads to poor thinking - it muddies waters where they need not be muddied.

The abuse of words means that the actual issues become confused. "Digital" has nothing to do with this issue. By inserting "digital" so frequently into this commentary, he misses what the actual issues are, which has nothing to do with digital or non-digital nature of media or distribution. The same issues would exist if we were talking about direct distribution of an analog medium in physical format from publisher to customer via trucks. The digital format and technology involved are irrelevant.

Jim could have made some solid points here, but his misuse of words ruins it.

The importance of Language is in Understanding. Did you misunderstand?

I picture monocles popping off in utter confusion at such lowbrow usage of the word digital.

Also, Not Sure if Real or Troll

Hope troll.

Also Aardvark only has 3 A's. I feel that this misuse of the word Aardvark is leading to the downfall of society.

Thank you Jim, mentioning Persona 1 on the psp was a issue I had with DD software. Why would I buy a digital version when I could get it on the physical medium with the two disc soundtrack (which is good), and this was the thinking I went through when I bought the game.

Altorin:
The importance of Language is in Understanding. Did you misunderstand?.

No, the purpose of language is communication. This video did not communicate well.

It seems that Jim is upset that publishers are charging too much for games that are "digital." The relationship between the digital nature of the games and their retail price is not clearly explained. Since the games bought at "retail" are exactly the same as games bought "digitally," this is a significant omission. If you're buying the same thing, then why should the price be different?

Of course, that brings up another issue of language abuse: that "digital" games are somehow not sold at "retail." The digital distributors are retailers. Do you think that Steam and other digital distributors are selling you games wholesale? No. You are an individual customer buying from them - that is a retail sale. The digital distribution channels are retail channels.

So, overall, this is an apples-to-oranges situation. Retail is not the opposite of digital. Almost all digital games are sold in a retail fashion, even if it's sold online. The only people who buy games in a non-retail fashion are retailers buying in bulk from a publisher, or studios/publishers buying the rights to the IP of a game.

Is Amazon.com not a retailer just because they don't have storefronts, and conduct their business online?

Any origin games I buy from CD key house at prices I consider reasonable. But is buying games for the price of a physical DVD also too high. The money going into movies is often higher than that of video games and the profits almost completely ignored next to whether it got a good place in the box office.

It's always been obvious though that what publishers keep on touting, that they are poor so we NEED to enforce increasingly stupid DRM and nickle an dimming you left right and center, is bullshit. If they were really telling the truth they would have the figures to back them up and would be throwing them everywhere instead.

Maxtro:
Mass Effect 3 PS3
Amazon: $48.41
PSN: $59.99

Personally, I bought it at Best Buy, on sale for $39.99

Screw PSN, Origin is still selling it at $60. Their own platform! And they wonder why people think they're retarded. Were it on Steam, it would have already seen a sale for like $20-30, and the price would have dropped to $40-49, and maybe ME3 would have actually sold more than 3 and a quarter million units by now, regardless of the whole ending controversy.

Jim fails to understand (or maybe never took) the first rule of economics.

Everything is worth what the buyer is willing to pay.

He has valid points, but I can promise you that a company does not continue with a bad practice that loses them money. If digitally priced games are put at that level, its because enough people buy them at release to make it profitable.

Personally, I think eventually people will wake up and stop paying these prices. There are so many games to chose from that many people will wait for a sale. Look at the crazy deals that pop up on steam. I see fairly big releases going for $20 less within a few months of release. It is a pretty rare game for me to buy on release now (last one was Arkham city). I wait for a sale on steam, or at bestbuy for a console game. If publishers want to cut out the middle man they need to price accordingly if they want to see their sales increase.

Aardvaarkman:

Jimothy Sterling:

Sir, digital distribution is a game industry term for the sale of non-physical product. Come on sir, you know that. I did not think I had to spell it out, especially since everyone else seemed to get it. Sir. Sir?

Yes, I know, but as I said, that doesn't make it any less stupid. If a company works in the business of "refrigerator distribution" it means they distribute refrigerators, not that they transport products via refrigeration.

In any case, Jim didn't just say "digital distribution" - he said "digital games." Which is at least 10x as stupid as the "digital distribution" term.

There's pedantry and then there's pedantry.

A) digital distribution is a widely accepted term.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_distribution

And B) Seriously Aardvaarkman, everybody apart from you understood that Jim was commenting on the differences between digital distribution and retail but for some reason you want to turn this into semantics debate.

Should be different prices, as digital has low to zero cost for distribution, manuals and disk production and pressing as well as cutting out the middle man, namely...computer shops. Digital distribution saves them a fortune in $/.

If anything digital should be atleast 30-50% cheaper than retail.

ACman:
A) digital distribution is a widely accepted term.

But he wasn't saying "digital distribution," he was saying "digital games"!

Just look at the title of the video: "Don't Pay Retail Prices for Digital Games" - that makes absolutely zero sense, because digital games are retail products. It also doesn't make sense, because even if the studios cut the cost of downloadable games by 90%, those would still be retail prices, because downloadable games are retail sales! Whatever they are charging is the retail price.

And B) Seriously Aardvaarkman, everybody apart from you understood that Jim was commenting on the differences between digital distribution and retail but for some reason you want to turn this into semantics debate.

But semantics are very important. Why would you dismiss semantics as irrelevant?

OK, to put it in terms that this audience might be able to understand, it's like saying that 'Star Wars" and "Star Trek" are the same thing because they both have the word "star" in their title.

And again, what is the difference between digital distribution and retail? Digital distribution sales are retail sales. Just because something is sold online doesn't make it something other than a retail sale. It's difficult to make a good argument when you can't get basic terms straight.

He could have easily used "bricks and mortar" and "online" to distinguish the two methods of selling. But instead, he chose to use irrelevant terms that don't actually define the differences. therefore, he undermined his own argument. And I largely agree with his argument, and The Jimquisition in general. I just don't see why he weakened his position as Good Hitler by being lazy about his terms of reference.

eh, i think nintendo offers roughly the same kind of pricing for their old games as they would appear on retro game sites like GoG so i can't really complain too much besides lacking the proper controllers for a lot of them

now, the shovelware apps, they are being overpriced, i think it's mostly because nintendo maintains a certain price level for the entire store so they refuse to go any lower, but honestly we would be better off without some of those games altogether

either way nintendo is really taking it slow technologically in the first place so they are really dragging right now anyway, and given their current stance it is unlikely to change...their online platform is not going to expand until the wii u arrives

3ds shop has a pretty good spread (and not an inch better) to work with though, so at least they're not fumbling like vita right now

i think the current biggest idiot on the market is sony, followed closely by origin

And now for a more substantial nitpick: making retail games isn't that more expensive Jim, since printing discs is so cheap in numbers.
Roughly 50% of the price goes in the retail distribution chain though, where the sellers takes their own shares. That's where the big cuts can be made going digital distribution.

The future of digital distribution isn't to cut retailers out of the equation, it's to cut publishers out of the equation.
Who publishes League of Legends? Minecraft? Tribes: Ascend?
What about all those indy games recently?

Ok granted you're not likely to get a really big budget title this way, not right now, but we're getting there.
Even a half-baked system like kickstarter can generate respectable amounts of funding. I mean, those projects don't even have to deliver a product and people are throwing their money in.

So dear publishers:
People want to buy your products, but consistently making things hard for your customers is fucking idiotic.

Dastardly:
As always, they will do it until it stops working for them. And for all our talk, all our articles and videos and e-mails and forum posts, every word we write about ignores the simple fact that these guys only ever read the bottom line.

----

As an aside, the issue with releasing two versions at the same time at different prices is that this model favors the lower-priced version. Retailers won't spend the money to stock a title if they feel that folks are just going to buy the digital version and leave them with unmovable product.

The answer, then, is to lower the price across the board. (Or, of course, raise the price of the lower-cost version to match, which is what they're doing.)

The could also, I don't know, include a digital copy with the box copy of the game to make the transition easier. Sure, it lowers the digital price to "free" in a way, but it increases the value of the box copy, justifying the price.

I wonder how Portal 2 did with that model - to bring PS owners into steam.

Aardvaarkman:
Jim could have made some solid points here, but his misuse of words ruins it.

But the points were still made. Literally everybody except you got them, whether they agreed or not.

FelixG:

ZeZZZZevy:

FelixG:

The real big issue is for multi platform games

Say Activision wants to sell MW:whatever for 45 dollars on steam, but Gamestop doesnt want to be undercut, they wont just say "Fine we arent carrying your PC version!" they will say "You are undercutting us with another retailer, we are not stocking PC, Xbox, or PS3 versions."

That is why pure PC games do release more often than not with much smaller price points than games with console players in mind.

It is very important to note that they can try to drive all they want, but not everyone is capable of getting a PC to take advantage of digital distribution, as far as I know it is impossible to buy Gears of War, Modern Warfare, Skyrim, and Uncharted for the Xbox or PS 3 respectively through digital distribution.

When the next generation of DD game consoles are released we will likely see a heavier push. Because then if Gamestop whines and says they wont stock the game in their stores they can go "lol fuck you" and get people to buy it on their boxes.

You can actually buy games from Xbox Live (it was implemented a while ago, but I'm not sure if it's available at the same time as retail) and I'd assume the PSN works the same way. The whole system is still fairly rudimentary, but it is there.

Ah I see! I was unaware of this development!

Thank you for informing me!

Its actually more complicated and not quite that straightforward. There are only about 200 titles available (called Games on Demand) for the 360 through Xbox LIVE. And they are released about 6 months after retail release... and they sell for day 1 prices even though retailers will have already discounted them. Apparently Microsoft is happy with that model because it's successful. However, for the savvy shopper the retail version will always be better because down the line the digitally distributed is still more expensive.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-04-26-microsoft-defends-staggered-full-price-games-on-demand-release-model

Unfortunately, I will come to the rescue of the publishers on this issue. The hybrid model where the game is available through both methods of distribution is a no win situation. I'm not going to go into all the details (again) of this but essentially the economics will dictate that the digital version cost as much as the retail version.

All problems are solved by applying steam.

Jimothy Sterling:

Aardvaarkman:
Jim could have made some solid points here, but his misuse of words ruins it.

But the points were still made. Literally everybody except you got them, whether they agreed or not.

I got what he was going for, but he failed to deliver it properly. I'm not sure why you think I don't understand what he was trying to say.

Normally this would not be such a big problem, but the parameters for debate have already been crippled. Since the discussion has been started on false terms of art, it is doomed. It could have been possible for this to be a fertile ground for a meaningful dialog, but being based on factual inaccuracies means it won't go anywhere.

It doesn't matter if people "get it" - being accurate actually matters in the bigger picture. I'm not sure if Jim cares about being taken seriously, or if the people who comment do. But if you actually want change, then it's important to be accurate. I would assume people are debating these things because they want things to change, but I could be wrong. It might just be pointless pontification. But if you don't care, then why comment in the first place?

This video ties well with a recent blog post I made that the prices of these games need to change. Personally I think the prices of hard copies and digital versions need to change, but there is some good evidence that digital could compete against used/pirated games: GOG.com, Steam, and pre-order bonuses (if done well, like "Legend of Grimrock") do very well in distributing their games at a service that is appealing to the consumers.

And that is what these publishers are at the end of the day: Business people. Their job is to convince us to buy their product and make it as appealing as possible. In the past they had a limited stock due to retail versions, but now they can distribute an infinite supply. If they can't make the product appealing to us based upon price or service, then they are not a good business person.

I think Jim's dead on the money on this one. And what's more, I think there's great examples out there of how much cheaper it is to produce something digitally then it is to print off CDs/DVDs/Blue Ray games.

My friend got an electronic book thingamabob some time back - you know dem tings ya read from that are electronic - and he had the option to buy books, but didn't take it because there's tones of classic literature, all of it no longer covered by copy right protection, that's available through it for free. Alright fine, what does that have to do with making a game? Well its simple, you want to read War & Peace you can run out and fork over however much to Penguin - whom in theory your paying so they give you papers with War and Peace written on them - or get the free version on his reader. Now I'm not saying that games should be free but it seems to me if a University/group can go through the trouble of transcribing this stuff and hand it out for free, when they could never have done that on paper, there's got to be a drastic difference between putting a game on cd and selling it digitally. That cost savings - in part at least - should be passed onto the consumer. The difference isn't going to be huge probably because game storage mediums aren't terribly expensive in and of themselves as it stands. But cutting out the cost of packaging, the cost of material goods you will not receive with the game - including a printed out manual - ought to lower the price somewhat.

Oh and nothing is more fun then seeing digital distributors advertise the comic book the special edition of whatever game their selling comes with. That shits so funny its tragic.

Thank Gozer for Jim. I guess I was right, the Jim can be anything and today its Game Hitler. I wonder what form the destroyer will take tomorrow?

Aardvaarkman:

ACman:
A) digital distribution is a widely accepted term.

But he wasn't saying "digital distribution," he was saying "digital games"!

Just look at the title of the video: "Don't Pay Retail Prices for Digital Games" - that makes absolutely zero sense, because digital games are retail products. It also doesn't make sense, because even if the studios cut the cost of downloadable games by 90%, those would still be retail prices, because downloadable games are retail sales! Whatever they are charging is the retail price.

And B) Seriously Aardvaarkman, everybody apart from you understood that Jim was commenting on the differences between digital distribution and retail but for some reason you want to turn this into semantics debate.

"But semantics are very important."

But semantics are very important. Why would you dismiss semantics as irrelevant?

OK, to put it in terms that this audience might be able to understand, it's like saying that 'Star Wars" and "Star Trek" are the same thing because they both have the word "star" in their title.

And again, what is the difference between digital distribution and retail? Digital distribution sales are retail sales. Just because something is sold online doesn't make it something other than a retail sale. It's difficult to make a good argument when you can't get basic terms straight.

He could have easily used "bricks and mortar" and "online" to distinguish the two methods of selling. But instead, he chose to use irrelevant terms that don't actually define the differences. therefore, he undermined his own argument. And I largely agree with his argument, and The Jimquisition in general. I just don't see why he weakened his position as Good Hitler by being lazy about his terms of reference.

"But semantics are very important. Why would you dismiss semantics as irrelevant?

Semantics is a study of language and MEANING. Jim made his MEANING abundantly clear for the get go:

****Don't Charge Retail Prices For Digital Games****

What is the meaning of that sentence?

A) Retail prices: it's CLEAR IN THIS CONTEXT that he means "physical media" because retailers generally sell games as physical copies.

A) I don't think anybody calls "videogames" "digital games" unless they are a 1960s computer science lecturer. Digital games is quite clearly used in comparison to retail prices.

Now if we change the headline because "you" demand 100% technical accuracy because "words must mean what they are in the dictionary" then we end up with the headline:

*****Don't Charge Physical Media Prices for Downloadable Videogames*****

Nice.

Due to your presciptivism you have destroyed what was a pithy, functional AND CLEAR headline and replaced it for a clunky mess.

Aardvaarkman:
snip

I'll introduce you to another concept PRAGMATICS.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pragmatics

"It studies how the transmission of meaning depends not only on the linguistic knowledge (e.g. grammar, lexicon etc.) of the speaker and listener, but also on the context of the utterance, knowledge about the status of those involved, the inferred intent of the speaker, and so on. In this respect, pragmatics explains how language users are able to overcome APPARENT AMBIGUITIY"

Something you have clearly failed to master.

jmarquiso:
The could also, I don't know, include a digital copy with the box copy of the game to make the transition easier. Sure, it lowers the digital price to "free" in a way, but it increases the value of the box copy, justifying the price.

I wonder how Portal 2 did with that model - to bring PS owners into steam.

I'd be curious about those numbers, too. There are plenty of people to whom "free digital copy" doesn't hold much weight... unless they're planning on giving it to a friend. That kind of thing goes a long way toward advertising the game, but I'm not sure it does a whole lot to promote digital sales per se.

Is this 2007? Nice of you to weigh in on an issue that's been around for some five years.

This just in: retail is dying. About time.

Strazdas:
All problems are solved by applying steam.

Steam is great, but their new game prices don't compete with the likes of amazon. Skyrim is still 35 on steam, 25 on amazon.

That is influential in my decision making, especially considering that Skyrim has steamworks so ends up tied to the platform either way you buy it. I would much rather buy the download and not have yet another dvd case littering my home, the 10 difference is plenty enough to stop me doing so.

thejackyl:
About the price point: I don't have an issue with both retail and digital copies both costing $60.

Why?
Games cost a lot, not just because of the profit margin, but because of the cost of the disc, the cost of printing the cover, the case, the shipping, overhead, etc.
With digital distribution, you only need to cover the hosting fees, which is far, FAR less that the cost of selling physical copies, and also less risky, because it's impossible to ship too many or too few copies.
Charging the same price for digital copies is charging you more money for no good reason.
Basically, it's ripping you off just because they can.

Jesus Christ, Jim, I'm trying to listen to what you're saying while I'm eating a fucking sandwich and all I see is dildo Photoshop action that distracts me from your message, nearly choke on my food and have to go back so I can actually pay attention to what you were saying. Which was probably your entire aim from the beginning. Well played, sir, well played.

Denamic:

Basically, it's ripping you off just because they can.

It's not ripping you off if you willingly pay.

Aardvaarkman:

Jimothy Sterling:

Aardvaarkman:
Jim could have made some solid points here, but his misuse of words ruins it.

But the points were still made. Literally everybody except you got them, whether they agreed or not.

I got what he was going for, but he failed to deliver it properly. I'm not sure why you think I don't understand what he was trying to say.

Normally this would not be such a big problem, but the parameters for debate have already been crippled. Since the discussion has been started on false terms of art, it is doomed. It could have been possible for this to be a fertile ground for a meaningful dialog, but being based on factual inaccuracies means it won't go anywhere.

It doesn't matter if people "get it" - being accurate actually matters in the bigger picture. I'm not sure if Jim cares about being taken seriously, or if the people who comment do. But if you actually want change, then it's important to be accurate. I would assume people are debating these things because they want things to change, but I could be wrong. It might just be pointless pontification. But if you don't care, then why comment in the first place?

You're arguing semantics, ostensibly. The point was made, and gotten, while you claim it was lost. Clearly it wasn't. YOU knew what was being said, so why are you acting like the point was lost?

Blade_125:
Jim fails to understand (or maybe never took) the first rule of economics.

Everything is worth what the buyer is willing to pay.

He has valid points, but I can promise you that a company does not continue with a bad practice that loses them money. If digitally priced games are put at that level, its because enough people buy them at release to make it profitable.

Personally, I think eventually people will wake up and stop paying these prices. There are so many games to chose from that many people will wait for a sale. Look at the crazy deals that pop up on steam. I see fairly big releases going for $20 less within a few months of release. It is a pretty rare game for me to buy on release now (last one was Arkham city). I wait for a sale on steam, or at bestbuy for a console game. If publishers want to cut out the middle man they need to price accordingly if they want to see their sales increase.

I understand it perfectly, but part of the point of these videos is to highlight to consumers that they *should* demand better and not be so willing to pay. I don't think that's a failure on my part, more like a plea for long-term common sense.

You said yourself that people will wake up and not pay. I am trying to help that move alone, while also appealing to the industry to secure against that long-term eventuality by being competitive NOW. They want digital to take off, but the market demonstrates that you only really beat a rival when you offer better. Right now, the publishers aren't offering better.

Blade_125:
Jim fails to understand (or maybe never took) the first rule of economics.

Everything is worth what the buyer is willing to pay.

He has valid points, but I can promise you that a company does not continue with a bad practice that loses them money. If digitally priced games are put at that level, its because enough people buy them at release to make it profitable.

Jim didn't say their current digital distribution system isn't profitable. It just would be about bazillion times more profitable if they lowered the prices by five bucks or so, you know, to give ANY incentive to buy digitally.

Here's the 386th rule of economics: You don't just find a price point where it is profitable, you find the price point where it's the most profitable.

Publishers are going the other way. Instead of lowering the price of digital games, they are lowering the value of physical games by including only a disc and a case and requiring that you activate it via Steam or Origin. Even the DVD cases have gotten cheaper. Soon, you'll get a disc and a sleeve.

In the end, the idea is to convince consumers that buying physical is a waste of effort since you don't get any benefit anyway.

Blade_125:
Jim fails to understand (or maybe never took) the first rule of economics.

Everything is worth what the buyer is willing to pay.

He has valid points, but I can promise you that a company does not continue with a bad practice that loses them money. If digitally priced games are put at that level, its because enough people buy them at release to make it profitable.

Personally, I think eventually people will wake up and stop paying these prices. There are so many games to chose from that many people will wait for a sale. Look at the crazy deals that pop up on steam. I see fairly big releases going for $20 less within a few months of release. It is a pretty rare game for me to buy on release now (last one was Arkham city). I wait for a sale on steam, or at bestbuy for a console game. If publishers want to cut out the middle man they need to price accordingly if they want to see their sales increase.

Ah but the crux of the argument here is that by lowering the digital price, they will paradoxically make more money in the long run. What it boils down to is that digital releases cannot be sold back. Thus digital games get rid of the "used game problem". Which by the developer accounts is costing them tons of money.

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