“Sales screw your fans,” says Castle Doctrine dev

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 23:54 GMT By Brenna Hillier

The Castle Doctrine is going to get more expensive over time rather than cheaper, as developer Jason Rohrer isn’t impressed by the damage he believes is caused by sales and discounts like Steam’s.

In a new blog post, Rohrer argued that digital distribution sales don’t make the kind of sense as retail bargain bins did, and that they don’t do much good for fans or developers.

“Something different is happening. Something that is arguably bad for players, and possibly bad for developers as well. To put it bluntly: sales screw your fans,” he said.

“Your fans love your games and eagerly await your next release. They want to get your game as soon as it comes out, at full price. But they are foolish to do that, because a sale is right around the corner.”

Rohrer said that hardcore fans get a “kick in the teeth” when a game is put on sale, but that there are worse consequences pertaining to game’s broader potential audience.

“A culture of rampant sales is a culture of waiting. ‘I’ll buy it later, during a sale.’ Launch weeks become weak, and developers grow to depend on sales for financial survival,” he said.

“This waiting game is likely decimating your player base and critical mass at launch by spreading new players out over time. And your fans, who are silly enough to buy the game at launch and waste money, get to participate in a weaker, smaller player community.”

Rohrer also believes sales culture may reduce developer revenue in the long-term.

“To balance this out, we would need a whole lot of people who will buy random games just because they are on sale – games that they had no intention of buying otherwise. Maybe there are enough of these people, and I’ve certainly met some of them: people who have a backlog of 50 unplayed games in their Steam library,” Rohrer acknowledged.

“But even if there are enough people doing this, it’s not a good thing. It’s just people being tricked into wasting money on stuff they don’t want or need. Better that they spent that money on one full-price game that they really want rather than four 75%-off impulse buys to add to their backlog.”

Unfortunately, the developer also believes there’s no escaping the sales culture now, and admitted that Valve never forces developers to participate – although the more who join in, the harder it is for those who abstain.

Rohrer is hoping to do his bit to counter the trend, though, and is adopting the Minecraft model for The Castle Doctrine. An alpha version is currently available for $8, a 50% discount on its final price. During its launch week, it will cost $12, a 25% discount. It will then cost $16, apparently forever more.

The Castle Doctrine hits Linux, Mac and PC on January 29.

Thanks, GamesIndustry.