Steams summer sale will be happening in less than hour folks, and with that said some controversy has arisen. On one side you have EA who thinks that the sale, any sale, is damaging to the industry while Valve is coming out swinging, fighting back against EA’s mudslinging.
EA’s own David Demartini, head of the Origin service claims that the Steam sales “cheapen” video games and hurt publishers in the end.
I just think it cheapens your intellectual property. I know both sides of it, I understand it. If you want to sell a whole bunch of units, that is certainly a way to do that, to sell a whole bunch of stuff at a low price. The game makers work incredibly hard to make this intellectual property, and we’re not trying to be Target. We’re trying to be Nordstrom.
When I say that, I mean good value, we’re trying to give you a fair price point, and occasionally there will be things that are on sale you could look for a discount, just don’t look for 75 per cent off going-out-of-business sales.
What Steam does might be teaching the customer: ‘I might not want it in the first month, but if I look at it in four or five months, I’ll get one of those weekend sales and I’ll buy it at that time at 75% off. It’s an approach, and I’m not going to say it’s not working for Valve. It certainly works for Valve; I don’t know if it works as well for the publishing partners who take on the majority of that haircut.
I can’t tell you how much this is riddled with greediness. I for one don’t always go thinking that I can get a game on sale later. If I really want a game, and I have the money to burn I will buy it. However, as a poor and starving college student I don’t always have the cash for a $60 game Mr. Demartini.
Would you rather me not buy your games at all? That’s what I’d be doing if there weren’t any sales. I would only occasionally purchase titles because a lot of them I’m unfamiliar with. It’s not just me, a lot of my friends love steam sales because they too are starving college students that still want to play video games when they can afford it. If anything sales make a person aware of new titles and allow them to explore what they were not going to take a risk on before.
Take for instance Portal 2. I got Portal 2 awhile back and payed full price for it. I had seen let’s plays of Portal and wanted to get the game. I bought it and poured about eight hours into the game and was kind of disappointed. I enjoyed the game but was upset that my sixty dollars went to waste on such a short game. Then we fast forward to when I purchased Skyrim. I had played the previous Elder Scrolls games (Morrowind and Oblivion) and was sure this game would be an amazing game. It was and well worth the sixty dollars I payed for it.
If I had to go back in time I would have waited to get Portal 2 when it was on sale on Steam a few weeks back. Skyrim on the other hand, I am glad that I got it when I did. One also has to take into account that digital copies of games are being sold at the retail price of physical copies. This and the fact that game companies are trying to suck every living penny out of us is what’s wrong with the industry. These game companies are still stuck back in the 90s when my parents were still paying for games that I was interested in. The consumer base for video games are a lot of college students who are trying to fight against budget cuts, it’s not helping our wallets when companies like EA think that they are entitled to gauge prices.
I’m going to end my rage rant right there and get on with things. Valve came out against Demartini’s statement with Jason Holtman, Valve’s Business Development Chief, saying this:
If this were all about a cheapening and somehow lessening the money out there or somehow customers don’t want to pay any more, they think everything should be like a used car lot – sticker price is not the real price – you’d feel that and you’d get real reinforcement of that. We don’t see any of that. We see people buying a lot and enjoying it and playing a lot.
For instance, if all that were true, nobody would ever pre-purchase a game ever on Steam, ever again. You just wouldn’t. In the back of your mind be like, okay, in six months to a year, maybe it’ll be 50% off on a day or a weekend or during one of our seasonal promotions. Probably true. But our pre-orders are bigger than they used to be. Tons of people, right? And our day one sales are bigger than they used to be. Our first week, second week, third week, all those are bigger.
That points out that what’s happened with those sales is, you’ve probably caught somebody and introduced them to a game when they haven’t had it, and they’ve played it, and the next time the franchise comes out or the next move from that publisher, the next move from the partner, they’ve just become more avid gamers.
Discounting is one small function of what we do. It’s one small function of our market and our store. It certainly doesn’t seem to be anything that cheapens IP. “We do it with our own games. If we thought having a 75 per cent sale on Portal 2 would cheapen Portal 2, we wouldn’t do it. We know there are all kinds of ways customers consume things, get value, come back, build franchises. We think lots of those things strengthen it.
Exactly right Mr. Holtman. You tell EA the Scrooge, you tell em.