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Author Topic: Letís Discuss The Pricing Of Steel Beasts  (Read 1044 times)

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Online Rinix

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Letís Discuss The Pricing Of Steel Beasts
« on: February 03, 2017, 06:41:55 PM »
Letís discuss the pricing of Steel Beasts. I donít see the price of $125 itself as a problem, since I donít think itís too expensive. But I do have a problem with its lack of economic rationale. Others seem to view the price itself as a problem, given that they feel the need to defend it.

Marko is just not convincing when he says that
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Also sales volume plays a part.
If your selling thousands of copies you can well afford to reduce the cost of the finished product.
Cover your development costs and still make a profit.
Unfortunately SB is a niche product.
Also some potential new customers who think SB is over priced do not realise there buying ten years of upgrades.
The problem with that is that Steel Beasts now, and games in general now, are primarily digitally distributed. In fact, right now there is no DVD option in the eSimGames store. Overhead for PC gaming is relatively low due to the lack of physical copies to make and store. Theyíre not buying ďten years of upgrades,Ē whatever those are. Theyíre paying upfront the rough cost of 1 year of an MMO subscription, plus $40 periodically for upgrades to maintain multiplayer capability. And upfront cost is an incredibly powerful psychological force. If you donít believe me, just watch this CSB safety video about DuPontís fatal phosgene accident in 2010:

Mirzayev makes an unconvincing argument when he says that
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Honestly, when compared to simulations of its caliber, Steel Beasts isn't that far off on pricing. For example, Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations retails for $80 (not including DLC, which is actually cheap at $2.99 a piece), Gary Grigsby's War in the East is $80, and all DLC pushed the price to $110. Both of these games are acknowledged as being top tier for their specific focal area, and both have relatively niche markets. 
Also, the price is relative towards the market it is geared towards. Compare Pro PE's price of $125 to VBS2's civilian version price of $500 upon release of VBS3. I would say that Steel Beasts Pro PE is not overpriced for what it does, and for what it represents.
In addition to what I said above about digital distribution, the problem with that is that Steel Beasts is $125 even before the $40 upgrades, which are DLC on steroids that you either buy or get locked out of multiplayer. You can argue about how much more you get than conventional DLC for your $40, and you would have a valid case, but getting locked out of multiplayer if you donít buy isnít the best outcome. And the cost of the VBS2 civilian version likely reflects that the ďcivilianĒ version is meant for military personnel to work with in a more casual way, much as Steel Beasts Pro PE is also intended for. In that case, Bohemia Interactive charges that amount because the military market is willing to pay that amount, while the civilian market generally is not.

Rotar, Iíve got to disagree with you when you say that
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I seem to remember reading that SB Pro PE generates the largest portion of their tech support issues even though we're a significantly smaller portion of their income.
Yes, Ssnake has mentioned that before and now. But what both of you are implying doesnít make sense. Back in 2006, Ssnake said that
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A standard classroom license for 10 PCs is $18,000.
I donít know if their classroom license costs have changed, but $125 per Steel Beasts Pro PE copy sold + $40 upgrades doesnít sound like much compared to $1,800 per Steel Beasts Pro copy sold + undoubtedly more expensive upgrades by military clients, and all of their military clients in total have a lot more people than the civilian enthusiast market currently provides. In short, it doesnít sound like the current Steel Beasts Pro PE price model can compensate for increased tech support overhead in any meaningful way.

Neither can I think much of Nate Lawrence or RogueSnake in their statements using DCS and its DLC totaling over $800. Firstly, DCS DLC requires DCS World, which is free. Secondly, DCS DLC is so varied as to practically constitute whole new games. Buying DCS: Flaming Cliffs 3 and DCS: Combined Arms delivers similar, but not identical in detail, gaming experiences to buying Flaming Cliffs 3 and Steel Beasts. And Steel Beasts locks you into an armored warfare experience, whereas DCS allows you experiences ranging from WWII fighter aircraft to modern air combat to helicopters to basic ground warfare with air support. In short, the two of you are comparing apples and oranges.

Of course, all of you miss an important point that Ssnake himself admitted
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I will also admit that the original pricing structure was designed to set up a warning sign against impulse buyers. This was done to protect them and us from a big misunderstanding, that SB Pro PE would be something like "Quake on tracks", some egoshooter/action game. Steel Beasts Pro PE first and foremost is a training tool with which one can incidentally also have a lot of fun - if you are willing to accept the premise that it wasn't designed to be a fun game in the first place, but as a tool to support instruction of soldiers.
The literally very next post from ht-57 shows the psychology of the Steel Beasts community:
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You may want to up the price of admission. In the "world of tanks" For a one year premium account its $95usd, couple that with an upper tier tank for $53usd
The Steel Beasts community is rather dysfunctional. It upholds a price that has no economic rationale and was designed to deter people, and even asks for it to be increased based on a game with an actual economic model that is designed to get people to spend lots of money without thinking about it.

I really donít get Ssnakeís reasoning, given the wealth of Steel Beasts content on YouTube. Steel Beasts may be immersive to play, but to the ordinary gamer, watching an unedited round must be like watching paint dry. No oneís going to get the wrong impression these days. Thus, the $125 entry price results in Ssnake getting a wrong impression
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Some gaming channel a while ago generated about 100,000 views in three weeks ... which resulted in approximately 14 copies of SB Pro PE sold above the average during that time. So, given that the conversion rate of video view-to-purchase decision is close to .0001, videos tailored to a very specific audience that are supposed to generate more interest are almost guaranteed to fail their purpose.
Maybe if more enthusiast sales were the goal, and if the price wasnít so high to begin with, then the conversion rate would have been higher. And why is he even talking about the conversion rate, given that heís not spending a cent on community-generated videos?

All of this brings us back to the subject of the indie military games market. Last year, Rock Paper Shotgun did an article urging indie military game developers to cut prices on their old games. The responses he got donít help Ssnake at all. John Tillerís normally valid response of actively supporting his titles doesnít apply here, since he doesnít have eSimGamesí military contracts as a primary source of income. Shrapnel Gamesí response doesnít apply here for the same reason, and adds a pointless tangent about how great it is that they can keep selling at these prices. Slitherine Groupís response looks the most impressive, but doesnít hold up. They cite inelastic demand curves, thinking that this magically solves everything. It doesnít, for the exact same reason that applies to the others: they donít have eSimGamesí military contracts as a primary source of income.

The three developers that responded to Rock Paper Shotgun are part of the indie military games market, just like eSimGames. Which leads me to a side note about what these four developers do share in common. The indie military games market has a tiny audience, no interest in expanding its audience due to perceptions of the audience being tiny, and a tradition of supporting games over the long run. These create a high barrier to entry, and thus the indie military games market is what is known as an oligopoly. Oligopolies are subject to what are known as kinked demand curves, where the elasticity of demand can change sharply depending on price. This demonstrates that Slitherine Group doesnít have a good grasp on economics. Furthermore, said oligopoly would erode if the market expanded its audience, since a larger audience would bring in more developers. With this, combined with the fact that oligopolies are more profitable than a relatively free market, they donít have an economic interest in expanding the audience.

Thatís before we even get into psychological motives, such as one of Slitherine Groupís own developers being accused of having paranoid personality disorder; Ssnakeís already mentioned intention to keep out impulse buyers; or when all else fails the ďthis is the way weíve always done it/not invented hereĒ mentality.

In conclusion, donít try to defend Steel Beastsí price. It doesnít need defending, since it isnít intended to be defendable at all. Its rationale is psychological and has nothing to do with economics, roughly matching the rest of PC gaming, or growing the audience.
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Offline Don_prince

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Re: Letís Discuss The Pricing Of Steel Beasts
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2017, 07:45:04 PM »
100% agreed...

In conclusion, donít try to defend Steel Beastsí price. It doesnít need defending, since it isnít intended to be defendable at all. Its rationale is psychological and has nothing to do with economics, roughly matching the rest of PC gaming, or growing the audience.
Not to be a smart ass but with a conclusion like that there is nothing to discuss... :P

Online Rinix

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Re: Letís Discuss The Pricing Of Steel Beasts
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2017, 08:42:14 PM »
100% agreed...

In conclusion, donít try to defend Steel Beastsí price. It doesnít need defending, since it isnít intended to be defendable at all. Its rationale is psychological and has nothing to do with economics, roughly matching the rest of PC gaming, or growing the audience.
Not to be a smart ass but with a conclusion like that there is nothing to discuss... :P
Maybe, but I want to leave the door open in case someone else can find something to discuss. :P
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Online Asid

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Re: Letís Discuss The Pricing Of Steel Beasts
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2017, 04:00:41 PM »
This is a difficult one.

It is unfair to make comparisons with other products because of many factors. Esims target a specific customer who has a specific interest.

Letís compare to DCS. DCS is free. You get free updates. You only pay for what you want. The mp community is not affected by updates. What I mean is that it is a free update to latest version so it is easy to obtain. This means it is easier for mp sessions. Regular bug fixes and free engine upgrades/updates.

I have no issue paying for extra content. A lot of resources get put into creating and improving models etc. However, what about bug fixes? These are usually free but what if you have a version which has some significant bugs and the next update is a paid one? This means you end up having to pay for the fix. How can this be addressed? Esim could produce an update for the older version to address the bugs. This however costs resources. I understand that there has to come a time when older versions are "left behind".

Esims have said in the past that the relatively high price is a barrier which they deliberately set to avoid disappointment. I understand this but it also stops many people who are interested but cannot see past the initial price tag. Esims have introduced a "time limited license" but this is not ideal to many people as they see it as "renting".

Esims can see the value of a PE version. They receive lots of feedback and bug reports. However this does cost them in customer support. We pay for this though.

The price also takes into consideration the DRM system. You might not like it but it works because there are not illegal copies floating about. Imagine it. If it was readily available for free. What would multiplayer be like?  ??? Also it could significantly hurt Esims financially to the point where they either remove the PE version or stop developing the product.

Things are not ideal. It is Esims choice ultimately. We make the choice to support or not support this by purchasing or not purchasing. I for one have enjoyed SB Pro for a number of years and do not regret the purchase. I continue to use it. Would it be better if all updates were free? Yes but Esims have to eat. It is a small company with limited resources. The product will remain niche for the foreseeable future


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Online Rinix

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Re: Letís Discuss The Pricing Of Steel Beasts
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2017, 07:20:02 PM »
Asid, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you on some points. Otherwise, I agree with you.
Esims can see the value of a PE version. They receive lots of feedback and bug reports. However this does cost them in customer support. We pay for this though.
I have serious doubts about Ssnake's claims that the PE version causes a disproportionate amount of customer support. First, the militaries that use Steel Beasts Pro collectively have a lot more people in them than the PE enthusiast community. Even individually, they probably have more people in them. More people generally equals more bug reports. Second, Ssnake himself has stated that Steel Beasts Pro is no longer linear in its development, and that multiple branches are left in service with militaries, at least some of which get bug fixes. When Ssnake wrote that in February 2016, by his own count, Steel Beasts Pro 3.x alone had 3 different branches in service, all of which were getting bug fixes. It doesn't sound like the smartest idea for a small developer with limited resources.

Speaking of not the smartest idea, just look at the eSimGames' downloads page: http://www.esimgames.com/?page_id=1390 Old versions available for download going all the way back to the 2.370 beta, and two of the downloads, 2.483 and 2.552, can't be used because the former requires a 2.460 install which isn't provided, and the latter requires a 2.546 install which isn't provided. ::)

The only explanation for why Ssnake represents the PE customer support as so high is that he's lumping in Pro support with PE support, on the grounds that customer support for the Pro version results in bugs fixes for both the Pro and PE versions. Pro does get features well before PE does. Just remember this video of the Pro version from April 29, 2016. PE 4.0 wasn't out yet, yet Pro had several of its features, namely the new particle system, new tracers, and night sky:

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The price also takes into consideration the DRM system. You might not like it but it works because there are not illegal copies floating about. Imagine it. If it was readily available for free. What would multiplayer be like?  ??? Also it could significantly hurt Esims financially to the point where they either remove the PE version or stop developing the product.
I personally don't mind the CodeMeter DRM. eSimGames certainly needs it, as one can tell by reading this CodeMeter case study that they featured in. But I can understand that others would mind it. Software protection dongles as DRM have never been liked by gamers. And DRM's reputation has only fallen among gamers.

Edit: I forgot to talk about this statement by Ssnake:
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What can I say. SB Pro is a highly specialized software developed for a small market. That limits our options as far as prices are concerned if we don't want to lose money with the Personal Edition. I'm not even talking about substantial profits here.
I don't get what Ssnake is saying here. The fact is that Pro makes more than an order of magnitude more money per PC than PE, and that's for a standard classroom license, let alone a containerized simulator license. I can't honestly see how making a loss on PE would heavily damage their income, given how Ssnake is always talking up how little of their income comes from the PE version.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2017, 07:26:28 PM by Rinix »
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Online Asid

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Re: Letís Discuss The Pricing Of Steel Beasts
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2017, 08:02:03 PM »
Asid, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you on some points. Otherwise, I agree with you.
Esims can see the value of a PE version. They receive lots of feedback and bug reports. However this does cost them in customer support. We pay for this though.
I have serious doubts about Ssnake's claims that the PE version causes a disproportionate amount of customer support.

The point I was making with that statement was that esims do have to provide support for customers of PE versions but we do not that support for free. We pay for it.

Ultimately the customer or potential customer will choose if the product is too expensive. Esims makes choices based on what they think is best for them.

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Online Rinix

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Re: Letís Discuss The Pricing Of Steel Beasts
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2017, 04:41:58 PM »
This YouTube comment is another example of the Steel Beasts community viewing the game's price as a problem that needs to be defended: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9u2hA0qM1SI&lc=z12bhlcr5yvlfpsiu04cjnvhlqrqff4wwnk0k.1486715936624078
Quote from: whya2ndaccount
Because almost 100% of the time the people who complain about the price have no idea about the time based license option. Its a bit hard to guess what you know and what you don't know based on the half phrase that you posted. I mean "man I'd like a copy of that, but the price tho ..." isn't even a sentence, but it implies a judgement that the cost is too high.
The person above is likely Gibsonm, given his talking elsewhere in the YouTube comments about having an i5 and a 560 Ti, and "I work for a living on the ground," which corresponds to his Australian Army service and his mention that he sets the benchmark for Steel Beasts at an i5 and a 560 Ti.

The response: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9u2hA0qM1SI&lc=z12bhlcr5yvlfpsiu04cjnvhlqrqff4wwnk0k.1486712730460650
Quote from: LKSE Jampzi
you seem to post this in response to every SB video, but.... that's not what I asked, right ? I know the prices and the different options, I don't get why you'd create a bot to answer that, particularly to people not interested.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9u2hA0qM1SI&lc=z12bhlcr5yvlfpsiu04cjnvhlqrqff4wwnk0k.1486741200132287
Quote from: LKSE Jampzi
so you're saying that it's my fault that you posted that..? How about you think half a second more and figure out that there is no chance that anyone missed one of your gaijillion copy pasted comment ? I didn't ask for the price or anything, I'm grown up enough to know how to find the official link with everything written there. If you're genuinely here to help you might need to change your message from the "oh my god people are SO DUMB" tone to an actual informative and useful one; e.g. : "I don't know if you checked but there is actually a time based license available on the site that would be perfect to try it out. Then if you really like it you can consider upgrading to the full fledged version ;)" see ? more polite, less douchy, and an actual help without sounding patronizing ;)
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Offline bigus

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Re: Letís Discuss The Pricing Of Steel Beasts
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2017, 01:13:11 AM »
I paid $175 Canadian........
I don't mind the price at all.
I did research before buying and knew what I was buying.
I don't regret the purchase at all...

Sorry to go off topic, but
My beef is with DRM and the method they use.
It's confusing.
I would prefer not having to plug in a USB stick. (windows install uses this feature)
This means changing the BIOS which some people might not be comfortable with.

As far as pricing, I think downloading a copy and a key. Paying for major updates would be a good enough.

No disks or USB sticks.

Steam is not an option for me. I like to have a personal copy on my drive.
Steam might last as long as GameSpy.

Other than the DRM. I'm a fan.
This is a top notch simulation. Not a game.






« Last Edit: March 11, 2017, 03:15:21 AM by bigus »

Online Rinix

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Re: Letís Discuss The Pricing Of Steel Beasts
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2017, 05:44:02 PM »
A side note in discussing upgrade pricing: http://www.steelbeasts.com/topic/11657-patching-original-sb-pro-pe/#comment-173402
Quote from: Ssnake
Last but not least there are about 600,000 lines of code (which is the same order of magnitude as Windows 95, I once heard).
Not even close. Windows 95 is estimated to have 15 million lines of code in it:
http://www.answers.com/Q/How_many_lines_of_code_are_in_Windows_95#slide=2
http://www.howmanyarethere.us/how-many-lines-of-code-in-windows-7/
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