Hey everyone, as I write this we're checking out our release build for any bugs that might have slipped past us, and checking to make sure that our launch day goes according to plan. For those of you who want to see where we're at and catch a glimpse of actual gameplay, do check out our latest devlog on Youtube.
But in this blog I wanted to both announce our our launch price and or different pricing tiers. A lot of people have been asking about the price of the game, and it's something that we (and every other game developer) wrestled with. I know that regardless of the price we choose, there will always be someone that thinks the game is too expensive. So this is my effort at least explain the thought process behind our pricing structure. Whether or not you agree with it is up to you, but hopefully it will shed some light on a usually murky process.
Base Game - $20
We've priced the base game at $20 (or $19.99 on Steam). We came to this decision after researching similar games in the genre. As some may know, I was the artist of Prison Architect and the presumed artist of Rimworld. I am actually not the artist of Rimworld, but essentially I gave Tynan Sylvester the thumbs up when he politely emailed me about using a similar art style. Both Prison Architect and Rimworld's base tiers are set at the price of $30. That could have been deemed a little pricey back then, but in the Indiepocalypse environment of today, launching at that price seems ludicrous, if not suicidal. You could argue that for the amount of content they provide, $30 is an excellent deal for either game. But remember that the games were priced at $30 at launch!
Something both games did was a Kickstarter style tiered system of rewards. I think that tiered rewards like this are a really cool way of letting your players be part of the game, and I'm genuinely surprised that very few people have taken advantage of this. I will admit that it adds some complexity to the process, so that may be one reason why devs shy away from it. For ourselves, we stuck to four tiers for the sake of simplicity. We absolutely did not want to do any physical rewards because we've heard so many horror stories from Kickstarters that actually lost money just because of the logistics and shipping of physical rewards. Given we live in the Philippines, the cost of shipping around the world would be astronomical.
Aside from Prison Architect and Rimworld, we also took a look at two other games, Another Brick in the Mall and SimAirport, both of which launched within the past year. At $12.99, Another Brick represents the lower end of the price spectrum, while SimAirport sits happily in the middle at $19.99.
Taking all the information above into consideration, we were pretty confident that we had enough content to match SimAirport at launch, and so we decided that $20 would be a fair price for the game. We hope you agree!
Base Game + Political Animals - $25
Political Animals was our first ever game as a studio. While we maintain it's a good game(Waypoint said so!) that was a victim of very poor (though unavoidable) timing, we certainly learned a lot working on it together as a team. It gives us a track record as an indie studio that has every intention of taking a game to the finish line. It says we will not run away with your money.
Political Animals was published by Positech, creator of Democracy 3 and Production Line. Positech aka Cliff is a shrewd businessman who wouldn't have made a deal with anyone that he thought would run off with his cash. Unfortunately the bet he made with us didn't pan out (sorry, Cliff!) so hopefully enough of you buy this tier to help cover the cost of funding Political Animals. :D
This wasn't an easy decision either. Pricing this tier at $25 means we're essentially selling Political Animals at $5, roughly 66% of its current price of $14.99. Devaluing it by that much is a risky move, but the gamble is that it will sell enough to be worth the risk.
Base Game + Political Animals + Name in Game - $35
We named this as the Best Value tier because we believe it offers the best value for both ourselves and the player. For an addition $10 on top of the previous tier, you get to have your name immortalized in our game, which is pretty cool. It's a great value for the player since Prison Architect charged $50 and Rimworld charged $45 for the same privilege.
And I'll be totally honest, it's a great value for us because it's very little additional work on our end to add your name in the game. So if you buy this tier, think of it as giving us a small tip for the hard work, plus you get your name in the game plus a copy of Political Animals in the deal!
Base Game + Political Animals + Name in Game + Custom Teacher Sprite- $200
One of the coolest things about the Prison Architect tiers was the chance to get yourself made into a prisoner in the game. We wanted to give the players of Academia : School Simulator a similar opportunity so we came up with the idea of creating custom teacher sprites for the player.
You might notice there's a pretty big jump from $35 to $200 for this tier. We worried that because we had nothing to offer in the middle of these two tiers, the price jump might be a little shocking. But in the end, we decided to stick to it because the $200 accurately reflects the amount of time it takes to make custom sprites and program them into the game.
Prison Architect charged $250 for this tier at launch. I can't say this for sure, but in the long run I think they actually lost money on this because of the time it took me to talk to each player and render out the artwork for their character. We would do revisions on the characters until the player was satisfied (they deserved it for shelling out that much!), and that was time that took away from making art for the actual game. I've streamlined the process somewhat so I think we're okay at this price. I suspect that not many people will actually buy this tier though, so we may end up just making custom sprites for friends and family!
So that's it! A long winded explanation of how we came to our tiers and price points for the game. While ultimately each player will decide for themselves whether or not the game is worth buying, I hope that this blog has shed a little light on the thought process behind it. For folks who are price sensitive, we will be launching at a pretty hefty 20% discount during launch week. Hopefully this encourages people who are on the fence to take a chance on the game by paying the launch price then sitting back and playing the game after its developed some. Less than a week to go folks, it'll be nice to finally get the game in your hands!
Note: Academia will first launch for Windows, then Mac and maybe Linux as we make sure each build is properly executed.
Thanks for reading, and hope you found this useful! Academia : School Simulator is coming out on September 8, 2017! please sign up for our mailing list, join the Facebook group, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to our Youtube channel and help us spread the word!