Shadow of the Tomb Raider discount is a massive kick in the balls…

by

…for its developers.

Steam customers are outraged after the price of Shadow of the Tomb Raider dropped by 30% during a week-long sale on Steam, just one month after its release. The uproar has sent these customers into a spiralling state of anger with many of them ‘review bombing’ the game, resulting in a now ‘Mixed’ rating on Steam.

The issue here is that customers have paid full price for a game. A game that has been discounted only a month later. It’s pissed off these customers because they’ve parted with a fair chunk of cash when they could’ve just waited to pick it up cheaper. But let’s assume this sale never took place, would these same customers still be angry that they had spent £45 on the game? I’d argue not. But if they were, why purchase it in the first place?

Your counter argument will more than likely be that my statement is neither here nor there because the sale did take place but let’s focus on that pre-order/early purchase for a moment.

When a new game releases you have a few choices. You don’t buy it, you wait for it to drop in price or you pre-order/pick the up the game on, or close to, the release date. By pre-ordering a game you’re building up the potential sales figures prior to a game’s release and by following through on that pre-order, or purchasing early, you’re giving the developer/publisher a full price sale. This is why many ‘games folk’ bundle in beta access with pre-orders as it gives them a better indication of how a game is going to perform financially and hopefully converts to a full price sale.

In other words, when pre-ordering or purchasing a game early, you’re giving the developer your approval and support of their new game. That’s not to say you aren’t supporting a game if you decide to wait for a price drop. Instead, in that case, you are assessing its value to you as a customer. To flip this around would be to say that by purchasing a game early you are happy with its cost and deem it a valuable purchase to you. This is great news for the game folk as they’re getting the most amount of income they can from a product they’ve been hard at work on for a number of years.

But with all new games comes an inevitability. The price drop. Games have always depreciated in value with most seeing sizeable discounts after 2-3 months of their release. You may think these price drops are to appease you, the gamer, but alas you aren’t that important. A game doesn’t drop its price to please you. A game drops its price to increase sales. The news of Shadow of the Tomb Raider dropping price so close to its release indicates that it didn’t have a successful launch, ergo it needs to shift more copies. This comes from a franchise that sold 3.4 million copies when it rebooted 5 years ago and was deemed a financial failure.

Game development is turbulent at best so news that a substantial title such as this has already received a price drop could lead to an incredibly negative outcome. It’s something we’ve seen a lot of this year, particularly with the sudden closure of Telltale Games, a situation which was horrible for all involved but the outcry from certain gamers wasn’t too dissimilar to Tomb Raider’s sale.

Unfortunately, this subsection of gamers has an air of self-entitlement about them which doesn’t allow them to see beyond their own arseholes. There are bigger things at play than ‘losing’ £15 on a game that, by all accounts, they were happy paying for. Or losing £20 on a game that couldn’t be completed because the company had crumbled, casting hundreds of people into uncertainty due to them no longer having a job. If these gamers took themselves out of the centre of the universe for a second it would allow them to see that they’re actually doing a good thing. All it takes is a little shift of perspective to see that their £15 has gone towards sustaining the development of future games and ultimately keeps developers in their job. It’s not money they’ve lost. It’s money they’ve invested.

So next time a game releases have a little think. Are you happy paying full price for the game? If so, great! You’ll rest easy knowing that you’ve helped support the game and its developer, and when it inevitably drops in price you’ll have probably experienced all it has to offer. Win, win. If you aren’t happy, don’t. Wait till it drops down to a price you’re more comfortable with. That way you don’t have to bitch and moan that a game you purchased has come down in price.

Web developer by day, game developer by night. Mostly cranky. Mostly.

@KieranMcClung

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