My friend Eric Knisley recently posted a link to a blog post that caught my eye. The blog post, in turn, linked to a study that came up with what seems like an obvious conclusion: that games that cost less will sell more.
Yes, this is my attempt to recreate my aforementioned eaten-by-HASTAC (more likely: I didn't save it properly) post.
Anyhow, on the face of it, the study's results are pretty obvious. Not that obvious results aren't valuable: a lot of the time what that much-heralded "common sense" tells us is, um, wrong. You don't know until you've tested a thesis. That having been said, though, these results were more interesting than you might initially imagine. It's not just that price matters, it's that price matters more than any other factors. That includes graphics, storytelling, playability, good reviews... basically, the study is saying that people don't care if something has any value to them, if it is cheap enough. Not exactly encouraging words for the creators in the world.
However, I have to ask: is a game (or any other creative project) really successful just because it sells a lot of copies? Even leaving out the fact that it's possible to sell an incredible number of copies of anything and lose money at the same time, is profit the only motivation for making games? I don't think a game has fulfilled its intended purpose unless someone plays it and gets something out of it. If I buy a book, but never finish reading it, that book has failed on some level. If I buy a game I don't want to play, the same is true.
I know this argument will never fly with companies. To them games are products, items to be moved. Games aren't really made by companies, though. They are made by individuals. Creative minds create for themselves and for others. Without them, the well will run dry, and consumers will eventually become jaded and stop buying things. Especially when there's a lot of quality free content out there on the internet and in the real world besides. If companies follow the obvious conclusions of this study, then they're acting as their own worst enemies in the long run. I know this is business as usual for a lot of folks. That doesn't stop it from being true.