Price of Thrive on Steam

Seeing as many people in the community would be interested in a one time purchase:

I think now’s a good time to ask about how much people would prefer to pay for Thrive to get a version on Steam, which would mostly be the same other than you get updates through steam and probably we’ll try to make sure the game works on your computer more actively than asking you to go to report to Godot developers that it doesn’t work. So the benefits wouldn’t be that great, it would be mostly about supporting the future development of Thrive.

Because the source code will always be freely available (even if due to file size limits on Github we can’t provide precompiled versions) people can get around paying very easily, so it should not be very high price. But it also needs to not be very cheap either because otherwise it would be useless as a way to get funds to further the development of the game, which is quite a big reason why the steam release is being planned.

At this point I also think we should keep the price the same basically forever (not counting discounts if we want to have those every now and then as it’s been shown that discounts actually increase the total revenue). Another option would be to start at a much lower price now and then maybe increase the price in a year or two once the game is more complete. Any thoughts on that?

Here’s the poll:

How much would you pay for Thrive on Steam?
  • nothing (it should be free)
  • $1-3
  • $4.99
  • $7.99
  • $9.99
  • $19.99
  • even more

0 voters

We aren’t yet ready for some time to put Thrive on Steam (itch.io could be sooner as they don’t have the same kind of license requirements), but we are working on that: Making a CLA for Thrive - Meta - Thrive Development Forum

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If you put it in itch.io, then what about the “Name your own price” feature?

So if someone wants to pay a large amount of money, they are able to, and if someone wants to pay a little amount of money, they are able too.

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I’m not sure about that, because under Finnish law you can’t collect money without giving something in return (the Finnish word here is “vastikkeetta”, which Google unhelpfully translates as “free of charge”). I bet this hasn’t been tested in court. So we’d be in pretty uncharted waters whether the “name your own price” price on top of the base price (or it being free) would be considered a donation (collecting money without giving something in return), because you can just get the exact thing for free if you don’t decide to pay. On this I’m leaning against not using “name your own price” because of that. Getting a lawyer to review the situation might be pretty expensive, but then again I haven’t asked so I don’t know how much legal advice on this would cost.

To get around the laws regarding donations, you must have a a donation collecting permit, which we are going to try get, but it won’t be the fancy version that is in effect indefinitely, so there’ll be a fixed period for now when we can accept donations. Thus, if we go with the interpretation that the “name your own price” is a donation, we’ll only be able to offer that for a fixed amount of time.

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honestly 4.99$ is a good price for the full version of an entire evolution game, it’s cheap and the best deal, more than that is more of taking extra money for profit, and 4$ per download should be enough to cover all costs.

If we did that then we would only be on itch.io because there are not many game-publishing-websites that have the option to do that

it is a donation, it says so here :
Screen Shot 2021-06-10 at 3.43.16 PM
Which is a big red flag that it does count as a donation!

For being on Steam, Valve covers all download bandwidth related costs, so that isn’t a factor here.

How did you get the $4 figure from? I haven’t signed the steam distribution agreement yet so I don’t have insider information but it seems pretty widely shared online that the Valve’s cut on Steam is 30%, meaning that after that from a 4.99 price tag there would be 3.49 left…

Let me do some quick math. I’ll assume that around 5000€ is required to cover all costs related to a single full time developer on Thrive. This isn’t an exact figure but I came up with this by starting off from a really lowball salary for a programmer of 2500€ and then doubling that as I have heard that is a way to estimate the total cost of an employee. So with that 4.99 price, the situation is actually even worse because our costs are mostly in euros so the exchange rate of $1 = 0.82€ is really hitting hard right now. So with that price the monthly needed copies sold to keep a full time developer is: \frac{5000}{4.99*0.7*0.82}=1745.65
so with that price we would need to sell an unimaginably high number of copies. With a $7.99 price it would be a lot better: \frac{5000}{7.99*0.7*0.82}=1090.21 needing to sell 700 less copies per month.

I don’t think we can hit either of these targets but I hope this kind of gives a picture on what kind of sales volume we would need for a full time developer. Initially it will probably be only enough to help pay for a part-time developer along with the patreon money.

Support is not synonymous with a donation. You can purchase a product where the company says that buying it supports their operations, but you are still buying a product. I’m still suspicious about the name your own price counting as a donation.

The reason for Steam would be exposure and getting more people to give money via purchasing the game there? The problem, as you rightly say, is the cut they take for themselves. Then there is the amount of games being released on Steam, which makes it very hard to ‘be seen’. You are basically counting on the Steam algorithm which is tough to do I would suspect.

The only way, in my opinion, to make Steam work, is if you have a bit of a media campaign around it which involves mailing about every YT reviewer out there. I think the premise of this game, Spore what it was supposed to be, is actually very appealing.

There is a little game I own and followed for few years now. Warsim: The Realm of Aslona. It’s a single developer. Game is nothing like Spore but he faced similar issues when going on Steam. Here he talks about it a bit: https://youtu.be/okNxgraGAYY The questions are annotated, it starts at 17:56

Then there is the review system, people see Spore like, buy it, play it and be disappointed it only has cellular stage and leave a negative review. These will kill any sales on Steam full stop. I mention this as I see people leave similar comments now and then.

So in short I think it’s naive to think Steam is gonna generate money. If it is only to allow people to give money, then is itch.io or Patreon surely not better and would it not be better to make a statement on this (ie this is how you can help us) because otherwise 30% of what people pay will go to megacorp Valve.

Finally, Patreon gives you sort of stable revenue which would be preferable I would imagine then the unpredictable revenue from a Stream release.

Oh and for price on Steam I would set at $5 stating that it would increase with every new age that is added :slight_smile:

Honestly the agreed upon strategy is to sell it for “profit money + 30%

Then say the price is then $8. Why not ask those people, who want to give money, to just send it via itch or patreon? You then get the whole amount incl 30% mark up. The consumer pays the same either way. You can always give a promise for example that they will get a free key to redeem on Steam if it is ever released there.

The developer however benefits by 30%.

For other people, new players you would assume, I refer to my Steam obstacles above.

Our total patreon fees are almost like half of what Steam would take…

I’m hoping that if we start talking about the steam release first within the Thrive community, we would have an initial player base that is positive about the game. So hopefully the few negative reviews wouldn’t affect the overall reception too much.

We are asking as hard as we can to get people to join our patreon. Next release date (June 19th) we’ll also accept donations for the next two months.

I’m trying really hard to get enough money coming into Thrive to be able to afford at least one full time developer. For that any revenue stream that generates more money than goes into maintaining it, will be worth it and gets closer to that goal.

Fair enough that Patreon is also costing money of course.

Why is donating in Finland so difficult to do btw? Is there a historic reason for this?

We have a strict law against collecting money without giving anything in return. It was eased this year (that new small donation campaign is the new addition to the law).

I don’t know the real reason behind the law, but I’ve heard the following reasoning / urban legend:
A group of young people went around collecting “donations” from the elderly for their football club. They had a really official looking clipboard and would write down the names of the people who “donated”. What the elderly didn’t know was that they were being scammed as the money they gave didn’t really go towards a football club, instead the group of young people just took the money to buy sweets.
To counter this a law was made requiring you to have a donation collecting permit, and for getting that permit you need to submit a request to the police who verify that the reason you are collecting donations (this was relaxed recently as well, but there are still some reasons you aren’t allowed to collect donations for). And after the donation campaign (or periodically if the campaign is ongoing for a long time) you need to submit a full breakdown of how much donations you got, the costs associated with getting donations, and where exactly the money went, which the police use to confirm that the donation campaign was done legally.

So basically the motivation seems to be that when you collect donations the people can actually be sure the money goes to what the donation campaign says the money goes to.

Just a few suggestions here:

First, be sure to make clear that the game is in early alpha and that it can be gotten for free. If people on steam believe the game to be complete or that they have to pay for it to have it when they don’t, the reviews will just massacre it.

Second: consider giving different prices for different countries/regions. As a Brazilian, I know not only that I pay less in many of the games I buy on steam than people of other countries, but also that I would have bought much less stuff on steam than I did if I had to pay the European or North American price for it (and I also know that I barely ever pay for a game if it is charged the same for me as it is for an European or North American). It’s a simple question of economic power - people in Latin America and in many parts of Asia simply cannot pay the same price on a game as those in Europe, for example. That said, I voted for 5$ price tag because I believe that would be the highest acceptable price for you to sell your game around these parts. The game is amazing, but people around here simply won’t pay more than that for an unfinished game that they can get for free.

Third: I would suggest you better consider the sales strategy. On anything you sell normally, that’s indeed extremely recommended (I myself only buy a new game when it is on sale or it’s price is already low). Since you are already going to sell the game at a relatively low price, and since the game is going to remain to be available for free, I really don’t know how much giving price discounts from time to time would actually help - though small sales (like a 10% reduction on the price of the game) might help with visibility).

Finally, just a disclaimer: I have no idea how steam actually works for publishers. With all these suggestions, I’m assuming that you have full liberty to decide on how you sell the game.

EDIT: something about the vote. Don’t just go for the price that has the most votes. Right now, 5$ is winning for a small margin, but it is clear that a decisive majority wants the price to actually be higher than that, they just don’t agree on how much higher. As it is now, taking the 5$ option would actually go against the will of the majority, so don’t simply accept the option that has the most votes without considering the whole picture. Also, if you really wish to fully leave the decision “on the hands of the people”, maybe doing a two-stage vote could be helpful (the two most voted options go for a second round).

Welcome Back! Can’t you just change the price to some extent on 1.0, another some extent on 2.0, and full price on 8.0?

Doing it seven times just sounds like bad business to me, though doing it twice (once you believe the game to have reached a “beta” stage and on full release) could be acceptable.

EDIT: then again, thinking about it, it’s just like DLCs, so I guess doing it once for every stage could be a valid strategy. In that case though, maybe selling each stage separably could also be a valid strategy, and maybe even a better one than just cranking up the price of the base game.

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The game would be in early access…
Steam’s guidelines on that are pretty clear that you need to describe how the game is right now in the early access phase.

Overtly open wording that paying for the game on steam may not go over well with Valve. There’s at least one other game that has a a sort of roundabout way to say that you can try the game for free from their website.

I personally don’t have enough market knowledge to set different prices for different regions properly. I hope there’s like a button to set regional prices (that take purchasing power differences into account) automatically after just setting the price in euros.

I wanted to hear if my guesstimate about a suitable price is way off or not. I personally think that 7.99 is maybe the best pricepoint (if we don’t start with a lower price initially) as it is a bit unexpected, most games won’t go for that kind of price 4.99 and 9.99 are more common, so it might stand out. And still it’s not high enough price that it overrides the convenience factor, when you can get something for free or easily through steam, the steam price can’t be too high otherwise people will make the extra effort to grab the free version.

Trying to separate the game into DLC parts (for each new stage) sounds like useless work that will be badly received by the people, I would expect they react to that very badly (they’ll think we are milking money out of them for each new thing in the game, instead of letting you just buy the entire thing and then have all future updates for free).

If thrive arrives on steam like how it is now then it should probably be 5$ but if it releases on steam as a full jam packed game (like spore) then ill be willing to pay 60$

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I agree with KessBro. If it releases how the game is set up now, the price should range from Free to about $10 USD (Remember to account for steam sales, as that is when everyone actually buys the games). But if Thrive ever reaches its goal of being a VERY large game, then you probably should increase the price. I don’t know everyone’s financial situation, but I think the game would be severely undercharging in the event the game reaches a “ending”. (I would at most pay $84 USD. My wallet would hurt, but I would pay it.)

Did you consider the fact that the source code (so compiling the game yourself) would always be an option? That’s why I don’t think even the full version of Thrive can charge much money, because the inconvenience of compiling the game yourself is not huge.

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I don’t have much to add here other than reinforcement of previous points. If Thrive appeared on Steam, there would be some number of people who had never heard of it and would try it because it sounds interesting. I find very likely that these people would be disappointed by what they feel is an insufficient amount of content, and they would leave negative reviews. I think you’re underestimating the number and impact of such reviews. Bad reviews substantially hurt sales, and this game already won’t attract many buyers. Remember that the reviews last forever, so even if the game is great later, the many bad reviews at the beginning will forever reduce the game’s average score.

I imagine people would also find paying pointless if they can easily get the game for free. Downloading the game from the website and buying it on Steam would probably take about the same amount of time. If you want people to spend money on the game, you’ll need to offer them something that they can only get by paying, and that offering needs to be commensurate to the amount of money exchanged. I think I should note that compiling the game yourself is easy for someone familiar with programming, but for people who know nothing of it, compiling is simply out of the question.

I am opposed to putting the game on Steam now. I think that would result in a brief influx of curious people who ultimately would be disappointed and leave. I don’t know about other people, but I am tired of games being released in unfinished states with a promise that they will be completed later. With Thrive that isn’t a problem because it’s free. I imagine Thrive would sell maybe 100 copies, but even that seems optimistic to me. It would be at best a small influx of money. A better plan is waiting until the game is more substantive and then putting it on Steam, perhaps once the cell stage is done.

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