Why PeaceMaker costs money?

I have been meaning to write this for a while now in response to several emails and postings. I am finally going to throw my first round of comments into the ring to respond to the overall idea that we should be giving away the game for free, why we are a for-profit, and finally why we are charging for the game.

To the comments we get that “I won’t purchase a game that should be free”, or along the lines of “how is a game that is meant to reach people charging money”, on a personal level it has always struck me as odd that thing associated with “peace” should only live in the non-profit or free segment of society. Another comment that we were always asked was “what is your business model”. This implies that because the game is about conflict resolution or “peace” that the standard models don’t apply. It is about spending where your values or interests lie, if your interest is in games why not a game that has received reviews from an established game designer such as “is fun, challenging, tense at times, and extremely well presented”? If you’re interested in the issues then we also equate the experience with a documentary. We address a social issue in an interesting way. I could go on and on for experiences that people pay for that are similar at a base level to what we are doing.

We did have a long debate on whether to be for-profit or non-profit. The issues that drove our decision can be summed up fairly simply with the reality that it was easier and faster to find funding for the profit venture. There is a growing trend for social entrepreneurs, self sustaining models with positive missions, ie positive changes through for-profit ventures ( even this years Nobel Peace Prize Winner Mouhammad Yunus ). We also chose to remain unaffiliated through investment or sponsors. We fought for a long time to maintain the mission of our company and were very sensitive to bias concerns. We continuously saw the opportunity that if we are financially successful we could influence the gaming industry as a whole to understand that this type of mature content is not only in demand but a financial opportunity. To lead by example and to help populate the space with more titles like ours. We still work with and maintain great relationships with several foundations and non-profits for providing the game in places where funding is a problem and for creating wider awareness and support for communities and educators to engage people through the game experience.

We feel we chose a price point that is fairly low for what we have invested in the project, and hopefully not a barrier for too many people. You could also insert a whole argument here on perceived value of something you purchase versus something that is free ( I am not going to extrapolate on that argument except to say this drove some of our decision on the final price ). The main objective is to earn enough money to be able to update this title, expand its community interaction, and to address other topics we have in the que. The primary drive has never been for personal financial gain.

I could and will continue to expand on this, as this is only some of the thinking and issues we have addressed. I attempted to keep this short but was unable to get the basics out without going on a little bit of a soapbox rant.

15 thoughts on “Why PeaceMaker costs money?

  1. Books cost money. Why should an educational game be any different. From the little I have seen of this project so far, the software is well worth the $20 you charge.

  2. While I regularly purchase indie games like this, the problem is your lack of a free demo/evaluation/trial (call it what you will) download

    I’m reluctant to fork out my hard earned cash with only a look at a brief video.

  3. If you look at the prices at which ‘conventional’ games come, that is around 40-50€, then you see that for a computer game the price ImpactGames chose is very cheap.
    If you consider, that those conventional computer games may be fun (which PeaceMaker also is), but most of them are neither very creative nor do you learn anything from them, then you see that 20$ definitely is not much at all.
    And if you compare what you usually get for 20$, for instance 1 or 2 DVDs, then I think the price really isn’t that high! I don’t see why people should only pay money for stuff that has much less value than an educational game. The reason why I never bought any educational game is not that I wasn’t interested in it, or thought that I’m not ready to pay for it, but simply because there weren’t any good educational games! And I’m very happy that this has been changed!

  4. as a programmer myself, i understand your point on this matter. however i also agree that if your intentions are truly to promote peace, and this game is your chosen vessel to do that, you are going to reach a much smaller audience this way. you can buy xbox games for 50, and your game…while pretty well designed, doesnt hold a candle to those games. i think if you truly wanted to hget your msg across, 5 would be plenty. you could however donate the money to a world peace org. also, letting your public know you’re not trying to cash in on this issue.

  5. My wife has worked in non-profit for many years, and the need to get money is the same. Instead of charging a small fee to “users,” non-profits have to go raise several large sums of money from donors and small batches from “members.”

    The point is: money raising occurs in either case, even if some users are getting the good(s) or service for “free.”

    When having a for-profit vs. non-profit endeavor, it seems like having a high level of transparency (as you start doing above) is key to making the for-profit venture feel less “sleazy” than a non-profit venture.

    And, to me, avoiding that sleazy perception (real or no) is the prime outward messaging problem to work on for people who are “for-profit non-profits.”

  6. I’m glad to see that people have some opinion on this matter and thank you to everyone who supports us. I’m glad that we are viewed as good educational game ( Mourad ) but I hope we can also be viewed as an engaging experience at home that also happens to inform you. “Educational” games have a bad association with “boring”, “not fun”, and something my mom would make me play. I’ll quickly respond to a couple of the comments:

    Al: We understand peoples desire to see more before they buy. We are looking into ways to make our tutorial available as an application so that people can get a better feel for what the game play is like. We tried to quickly respond to peoples initial desire to see gameplay with our video but that doesn’t seem to be enough for many such as yourself. Especially in the game world (PC) this is becoming the norm so we understand. File size and the cost to us for bandwidth have been obstacles as well as the technical creation of the limited version. That being said there are many other things that people purchase with less information than we have tried to provide ( ie movies, even console games etc. ) We hope that in the meantime other peoples positive response to the experience will be enough.

    David: Constraining the value proposition to comparisons in the game market ( which we hope to expand as the other David points out comparing us to a book ). We understand that we are not a console game, or even a PC game with gameplay as long or intricate as a game like civilization, which is why our product is less than half of the cost of those games. As for charging 5 instead of 20. This would severely limit our ability to progress as a company. I also hope that our game stacks up to more than 1/10 of the other games and we definitely believe that we stack up to other games that are available for 20.

    As for audience, we are always looking for ways as I stated to promote the game in community groups, support events and find funding through foundations and non-profits to reach those audiences that 20 dollars may be a barrier for. If we reach the kind of success that even puts us on the positive side be assured that we will find ways to give back. We have put a lot of effort into this project battling all the way while it was never apparent that we would ever make money. The drive that helped us reach this point could be used for many other positive ventures. We are also looking into ways that we can implement a model where a portion of each sale goes to X like the “Red” campaign. This raises the same affiliation issues that funding and sponsorship did.

    Cote’: Thank you for this message. One more thing I will add to the non-profit vs for profit is that it is very difficult to start a non-profit. 1. There is a long period before you can actually get the status of a non-profit and all the legal and accounting qualifications. 2. Foundation funding cycles are long and timing is everything. 3. As a non-profit with no history it becomes very difficult to get larger grants as they want to see a track record first. All of these are counter to a development path that requires funding upfront in order to get to the commercialized, usable, and verifiable product. Foundations have a very hard time funding the “commercialization” portion of development. The are strong on funds for research, validation, and dissemination but it’s not sexy to their boards to give money for legal and copyright issues, as well as the always sexy quality assurance.

  7. Pingback: Moving at the Speed of Creativity » Blog Archive » Gaming for Peace

  8. It’s interesting to see the ‘nonprofit’ vs ‘social good’ debate play out in another sector. I work with some community groups and I see a lot of people assume that because an organization is doing good, it has to be a non profit, and all of it’s services have to be free. Mouhammad Yunus has been my standard example when I have to explain, but I think I’ll use your studio as example as well. Profit can (and should) come from created enough new value that everyone involved can gain.

  9. Pingback: People Over Process » Blog Archive » links for 2007-02-15

  10. fair enough – the only way you can enhance the product and develop more products sustainably and independently is if you cover your costs. However, I’d still like to hear about how you intend to pursue some form of price discrimination to increase access among demographics that arguably need this kind of edutainment the most.

  11. I was happy to pay the $20 to get an interesting new gameplay experience and a bit of education at the same time. As the game proved to be good, I’m even happier to have supported your company. I’m looking forward to your future projects and I fervently hope you achieve enough sales to be able to stay in business and continue developing reality-based games as captivating as PeaceMaker.

  12. This game is meant as a means to sensibilize the people for the Palestinian conflict, so i’m certain you could reach millions of people if the game would be free instead of the rather few engaged people you do now.
    I think you could easily get more than enough support from the Israeli and US government if you’d handle the request right. I’m pretty sure both countries would be eager to ‘improve’ their image by making this game free for all, as they are the biggest cause of the problem.

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