Skaven Mad: Blood Bowl Released, Expensive

By Kieron Gillen on June 26th, 2009 at 7:20 pm.

Beautiful Skaven. The sexiest of the rat-men. The horny horned god. Oh what am I saying?

Hmm. Blood bowl’s just been released via Digital Download. I almost didn’t blog about it. Which is some going when I normally leap a the slightest chance to mention the Skaven. The reason why is the small matter of its price. It’s forty quid, digital download only. And there’s no demo. That’s not on, is it?

I occasionally feel as if I’m alone on this one. I’ve a tendency to tweak marks down for clear price-gouging, because the mark’s sole purpose is a consumer guidance role. Accepting a game’s increase in price for no clear reason is a betrayal of the consumer advocacy part of the gig. Seeing the period when Activision were doing terrible ports of their superhero action games and releasing them for thirty five quid grated enormously. It doesn’t matter whether or not it’ll be reduced in price almost immediately – reducing from a higher price to a lower one is incremental, and if we let people release for more money then it really just leads to more expensive games.

But for a digital download – and a game solely released this way – it seems even worse. The thinking on matching prices online to those in the shops is that developers believe by undercutting the shops, the shops will stop stocking them. (They’re right here too, which does lead to the situation where you can more consistently buy a boxed copy cheaper than you can a download one – the sales skew that one a bit, of course, but they’re not consistent. By definition, really.) Perhaps the thinking is by releasing on Direct Download first they have to be more expensive than the shops, to discourage people from buying it from them now?

(I presume it’ll be hitting the shops eventually. Last I heard the 360 version was, which makes a PC version not doing the same a really odd decision)

Alternatively, they’re aware that as a game with a certain hardcore audience, some people would pay the little extra. They know not everyone will – but better they get the money from the people who will before the inevitable price cuts. Which is basic economics – different people will pay different amounts for different things and you make most profit by making sure everyone in each group pays as much as they can – but a difficult thing to accept when it’s as brutal as it is. I mean, extrapolate outwards. If – say – Epic let you have access to Gears of War 3 two weeks in advance of everyone else but you had to pay a grand for it… yeah, I bet there’s people out there who’d do it.

Okay, I’m going into thought experiments on this one. But fundamentally, it annoys.

Am I alone on this one?

(And – er – what’s it like, folks?)

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132 Comments »

  1. Heliocentric says:

    Dicks to you mr game publisher, dicks i say.

    I look forward to buying your game in a bargin bin before christmas. A pleasure.

  2. Lack_26 says:

    I always found it grating when digital outlets sell for more than the shop, with a shop I understand why they sell at these prices, there are a fair few middle-men. But not so much with D-D.

    I haven’t actually brought any digital only games other than on Steam, this is probably because I trust these companies less. I like boxes (kleptomania much?), but I trust Valve enough to buy their games Digitally, not the other companies though.

  3. Dominic White says:

    I really enjoyed the beta version of Blood Bowl, but yeah, the price is offputting. I’m living out in France now, and the 50 euros they’re asking comes to about 43 quid.

    That’s just not on.

  4. Colthor says:

    Yeah, a game being launched for £stupid puts me off from buying it and makes me dislike the publisher a bit. Why do they think their game is so special I should pay twice as much for it as I would for most other games?

  5. Eamo says:

    Well, considering I have two copies of the actual board game I am not sure what exactly the point of buying this would be anyway.

  6. jsutcliffe says:

    A few things:

    1) Boxed-retail release is scheduled for September. This strikes me as backwards. A digital release is presumably easier for pirates to repackage and distribute. Releasing to retail stores _then_ doing a digital release seems like it’d help avoid some piracy. But then I’m no game retail strategy genius, so I know nothing.

    1a) It’ll also be on Steam around September too, I believe.

    2) Forty quid is about the same price as the 3rd ed. box back in the day. Forty quid is also probably what you’d have to pay for two teams from GW these days. I have no issue with the price, and if I wasn’t watching the pennies I’d have snapped it up already.

    ***does a bit of research***

    2a) Bloody hell. The Blood Bowl box is now 50 quid, and a single team is 30-40 quid. I’d stop complaining about the steep price for the video game.

  7. Bullwinkle says:

    40 pounds? Really? I see the price as US$50. 40 pounds is outrageous. Frankly, I think $50 is too high.

    Anyways, I’ll be waiting until it hits Steam in September. Then there will be a nice big sale. Thanks, Steam!

  8. JonFitt says:

    Hmm, it appears as $49.99 here, which is the same price as all other full priced games (Prototype and Arma2 are both $49.99 on Steam).

  9. Benny says:

    I personally prefer to buy the game on disk. While digital downloads are nice and convenient there’s something about having the box in your hand that makes it seem more worth the 30ish pounds you just spent on it.

    It’s kinda half supprising though, as console games sell for that much on release and i know a few friends disapointed with left 4 dead on 360, costing more and not playing as well as the PC. Maybe they’re keeping to a single price across all platforms, which could spell bad if other publishers go the same way.

  10. Son of Montfort says:

    You guys can hate all you want – we in the US had to pay $49.99. I would say it is worth every penny! I’m having a blast, were talking renewed my faith in PC gaming (I have been in the gaming doldrums since games like The Sims 3 were disappointing and preform poorly on my computer). The gameplay is simple, but engaging and some of the plays really get your heart pounding! So many tactics to choose and so much you can do to try and squeak out a win (I’m a Skaven man, myself).

    I have posted my initial impressions and a mini AAR on the Wargamer.com forum – I will link here.

  11. mandrill says:

    I’m not advocating t, or even condoning it, but I’m willing to bet that there will be many a potential buyer turning to the torrents for this one. The best and most effective method of combating piracy (IMO) is to cut the price.

    The fact that we in the UK get regularly gouged on the prices of pretty much everything for no good reason that I can see is beside the point. Cheaper goods = more sales, thats basic economics, its finding the balance point of profitability that is tricky.

    I am of the opinion that this is a gouge pure and simple and I won’t be buying the game because of it. Then again £35 is a tad gougy too, and £30 is on the cusp of being so. I generally don’t even look at purchasing a game until its around £25, by which time everyone has moved on to the next big thing.

    If Steam’s experiments with huge discounts have proved anything its that low prices drive sales and can generate more profit as a result.

  12. Hunam says:

    £40 for a pc game lol is about how my gut feels on this one.

    Also, to our American friends, $50 (£30) is normal for a PC game, but does it have the same type of expectancy as it does in the UK, that is, the retail price drops about 2 – 3 weeks after release. I couldn’t imagine paying more than £30 for a top end game like Sims 3 or Modern Warfare 2, you know, the blockbuster releases, but £25 ($40) is the pricepoint for PC games for me.

    I really did quite like the look of this, but no demo and a silly price clearly means they don’t want me to buy it.

  13. jsutcliffe says:

    @Mandrill

    “If Steam’s experiments with huge discounts have proved anything its that low prices drive sales and can generate more profit as a result.”

    I’m pretty sure the Steam sales are so successful because they’re so short, so we’re not comparing like-to-like here.

  14. Alex Hopkinson says:

    It’s the joy of the $ to euro conversion gaming companies so love. If we in the UK can get it for the USD price of $50 then we can pay £30, which is about £5 more than many new PC games sell for on Amazon but still a very acceptable price. However if we have to pay 50 euros then that’s £40, which is the price of a new console game. Annoying.

  15. Bibliotekarz says:

    I’m happy to say that for the first time i see a game which is cheaper in Poland than in Western Europe. It costs 99 zlotys here(box version of course), which is just about 19 quid. Lucky me!

  16. Vinraith says:

    Damn. Like others, the lack of a demo along with the high price-point rules out the immediate purchase I was anticipating. They should REALLY get out a demo, they might get $50 out of me if they can provide some serious Blood Bowl nostalgia.

  17. Greg Wild says:

    Exactly what I was thinking.

    I’ve not paid £40 for a PC game in…err… ever. Let alone one which I’m not entirely sure is worth a the usual £20-25 markup without having played a demo to check.

    Just spent £40 on both ArmA II and a selection of books on Iran, too. I imagine we’ll see it quietly brought down in price in a month or so ala Empire Total War.

  18. GreatUncleBaal says:

    Finding any firm release date info for this game (other than the digital version) is rather difficult. I really feel that their marketing department hasn’t made the best of getting this game out there, which is a shame. And yes, £40 for a digital game seems counter-intuitive. I may pay that for a physical copy of a game I am massively looking forward to (if it’s got a huge manual or map or something cool bundled with it), but not a straight download. Will definitely wait for a demo or some reviews at least, as I’m more than a little worried at the lack of actual gameplay footage in the trailers (although the pissed dwarves etc are amusing).

  19. Archonsod says:

    Given I liked Chaos League I assume I’ll like what Cyanide have done now they have the official GW sanction.
    I’m not gonna pay £40 for it though. Particularly not when it’s download only.
    Ah well, back to Sudden Death it is.

  20. invisiblejesus says:

    “Finding any firm release date info for this game (other than the digital version) is rather difficult. I really feel that their marketing department hasn’t made the best of getting this game out there, which is a shame.”

    Boxed release in the US and Steam release will be in September.

    I used to love the Blood Bowl board game, and have been really looking forward to a high quality PC version. I think I’m going to wait on this one though; browsing their forums it looks like there are a lot of players who find it pretty unpolished, which supports my suspicion that an early digital release basically amounts to charging players full price for a beta test. The price point is something I can live with, but I’d rather wait for the game to get polished up a bit and release on Steam so I don’t have to fuss with running around finding patches.

  21. Matt says:

    For a while now I’ve found it hard to sympathize with the crowd that so loves to complain about game prices. Comb through the release list from last fall and even the most avid gamer is bound to find several quality games he overlooked for less than $25.
    Kieron seems to think that it shouldn’t matter what the price is after launch. And while I suppose there may be some truth to that for someone writing a professional review with deadlines and all that, I think it very much should matter for just about everyone else.

    All it takes is the tiniest amount of patience (often as little as a month) and most games can be found for well over 20% less than their release price. If someone isn’t willing to wait a month for a cheaper price, all that says to me is that the price really wasn’t that big of an issue for them after all.

  22. Archonsod says:

    Hmm, boxed copy is supposed to be international and released in France and Germany today. Amazon.fr have it for EUR 47,34 which is still £40 :(

  23. Ian says:

    FORTY of my British pounds for a DOWNLOAD copy?

    Nay, I say!

  24. Lady Bobz says:

    It’s just money people. You have to fart it away on intangibles or it clutters the place up and attracts thieves.

  25. Hunam says:

    It’s coming to steam et al in September according to the official forums, but as far as I can tell, the UK wont have a box PC copy, I do hope they change their minds/I am wrong about this.

  26. Hi!! says:

    The lack of a boxed copy in the UK might be due to the problems at Ascaron, who is the regular UK distributor for Focus Home Interactive (the publisher of Blood Bowl). I’ve tried to figure out the fate of Ascaron UK ever since the bankrupcy, but haven’t found anything.

  27. reverseclipse says:

    Does it look better than the beta? I enjoy the game play quite a bit, but i don’t want to put the money out unless it looks a lot better.

  28. Ben says:

    It’s pretty fantastic, actually. I’m not sure what people are seeing that’s unpolished; I haven’t seen anything aside from a few translation goofs (i.e. a menu popup warning that “You don’t have any player. Would you like to buy some?”). I haven’t encountered any bugs. It’s an absolutely spot-on adaptation of the boardgame.

    As for why you’d want it if you already have the boardgame, I can think of several reasons. Online multiplayer lets you play friends who aren’t in your area, and it’s got a pretty slick single-player campaign mode, too. I’m really loving it, even if it is a bit on the pricey side (and it is).

  29. Elman says:

    50€ is pretty much the regular price of a game here in Spain. Which is why I buy pretty much everything on the Internet, from the UK: I usually get to save like 20€, and on top of that I get the original dubbing, instead of the (Usually terrible) Spanish one.

    In this case I’ll be forced to buy it here, and I’ll be able to enjoy spanish text with english voices… Ugh. Well, it could be worse (See Starcraft’s dubbing…).

    However! I’ve never played Blood Bowl, and there’s no way I’m buying this without playing it first. I’ll find a way to give it a spin before I buy it, you can be sure about that. Since when is it fine NOT to release a demo?

    Oh well. Apart from that, it looks like a great game.

  30. Brass Gerbil says:

    @jsutcliffe

    “I’m pretty sure the Steam sales are so successful because they’re so short, so we’re not comparing like-to-like here.”

    Actually, you’re incorrect there. Steam’s weekend sale technique is called “loss-leading,” and it’s one of the time-tested methods for increasing long-term revenue. Think of it as second-order advertising.

    Initial high prices scare away customers who are “on the cusp.” But a weekend of loss-leading can generate enormous word-of-mouth advertising, and you can gradually climb the price. That’s retail marketing 101.

    Also keep in mind there may something else at work in this case: a future non-compete agreement between the manufacturer (publisher, in this case), and a bulk retail outlet, (Steam, here). They don’t want to hamstring their long-term revenue by undercutting their own distribution deals. This is why it’s usually cheaper to buy a retail product from the middleman than directly from the manufacturer. It’s just market protection.

    • jackflash says:

      That’s not a loss leader. A loss leader is when you sell one item at a loss and hope that will induce them to buy other items at full price. Non-rivalrous goods can’t really be loss leaders because there is no marginal cost of production or distribution. Obviously, you can still sell them at a price so low that no matter how many units you sell you won’t recoup your costs of production (so overall you sold them at a “loss”), but steam sales tend to generate huge amounts of revenue for the product on sale because of the high volume.

  31. Lafinass says:

    I’ve never particularly understood the price parity between digital distribution and brick and mortar. Why is the consumer expected to pony up the same coin when there is no stocking cost, no inventory to manage, and pretty much a reduction in the ‘middle man’ cost across the board?

  32. Stromko says:

    When I saw the price I decided not to buy it. I’m not willing to play full price for a Tournament-style game. For 50$, I want a full world or a big storyline or something like that. I’m also not willing to pay 50$ without absolutely loving the demo, and there’s no demo so, no.

  33. liquidindian says:

    It’s not the £40 that’s putting me as such, it’s the 21-day window for download, then that’s your lot, matey. It’s just not what I’m used to for digital downloads. Maybe I’m spoiled, but I feel that Steam & Gamersgate & even GOG have set the bar by allowing us to download multiple times, and to provide a service that’s less than that for more money is enough to convince me to wait until September.

  34. JonFitt says:

    @Hunam:
    Annoyingly with the crap state of PC games sales in the US, there’s not the price drop I was used to in the UK. Your big stores if they even have any PC games* will still sell them at $50 6-months down the line. I haven’t found a good delivery retailer that is better than Amazon.com, there’s nothing as good as Play.com that I’ve found so far.
    So basically, I either wait for a Steam sale, or get it from Amazon.com later when the price has dropped.

    * Went into 2 Gamestops to try and buy Sims3 for the missus and was told they no longer stock PC games apart from copies of WoW!

  35. Flappybat says:

    This seems to happen to non-mainstream games. Arma2 was put up for 40 euros two weeks before release but you can pick up the box for £25. Not that many digital games are cheaper which there really should be far more fuss about in the press. I’m buying less games on Steam (except sales) as they almost all command a £5 premium over boxed copies for no reason.

    On Bloodbowl, I got it and am enjoying it but find it bizzare that they put A or AA effort into it but didn’t bother to round off many of the edges. I mean, whenever an event happens you get a big box of white text on black background on screen, the game telling you to use your imagination because there wasn’t any room in the budget to tell you about it.

  36. Flappybat says:

    Make that “show you it”.

    I guess I will expand a bit more on the game. I think it’s bizzare they didn’t smooth it out a bit more for massmarket.
    You don’t need to change the game at all, the basics are very simple. It doesn’t translate to a real time mode like Dawn Of War (and it was a mistake for them to even try) but with the computer handling all the work you barely even need to think about numbers. Some solid work on making the presentation easily understandable with good feedback and communication from the game to the player and it could have been as mainstream as Dawn Of War. Instead they threw their hands in the air and said it’s always going to be a hardcore game and relegate it to selling a couple of thousand copies.

  37. Jubaal says:

    Aye, I played the beta and was very impressed with it. However I’m very disappointed that the digital download is £40 and the boxed copy does not come out until September. I cannot see this helping their sales.

  38. Feanor says:

    Calling a download digital is redundant.

  39. leeder_krenon says:

    OK WE HAVE ESTABLISHED IT IS EXPENSIVE. no more posting on this is going to make a blind bit of difference and frankly i am sure nobody else wants to read another bore wittering on about how £40 is expensive. it is expensive. we all agree on that. so what we want to know now is:

    IS IT ANY GOOD?

    thanks.

  40. Nick says:

    19.something % VAT =(

    Fuck it, I bought it cause its a game I have been wanting for about 10 years. Necromunda next pls kkthnks.

  41. Nick says:

    And yes it is very good.. as it is Blood Bowl. I have only played a Hot Seat game thus far but it was very entertaining, nice little animations for things and the rules all seem present and correct, including events like my player getting brained by a rock thrown by an angry fan (the events and special rules appear as text boxes in turn based mode.. I could care less about real time so I have no idea if they’ll even occur there).

    In short.. it’s Bloodbowl and Bloodbowl is a good thing.

  42. Son of Montfort says:

    Leeder_Krenon, see my post above – go to the link and read my mini-AAR. Oh, it’s good… it’s REAL good!

  43. Nerd Rage says:

    @Feanor
    So are phrases like “ATM Machine” and “GPS System” but that doesn’t stop the majority of people from using them that way. While it is redundant to specify that the download is, in fact, digital, that’s the way it’s always used in marketing. They make sure to tell you it’s a digital download, because a significant portion of their customers need it spelled out for them by a cadre of fuzzy little puppets singing a catchy tune about how a secret society of fairies devote their lives to putting the digital in your download service.

    I noticed at one point that the help page of some or another download website specifies that the customer will be required to have an internet connection in order to access the download service. How many shades of silly is that?

  44. Nakki says:

    It’s same with Anno 1404 and digital download. Both Steam and Gamersgate ask around 50 euros, while I could get the game for 33 euros INCLUDING SHIPPING from Play.com.

    Why the hell can I get game with physical box and dvd shipped from a foreign country to my front door for about a third cheaper than just downloading it? I thought the prices would favour the buyers with digital download, not just increase profits of the sellers by a huge marigin.

  45. Nakki says:

    Yes, just for refrence: here in Finland new games cost about 50 euros to physically buy from a physical store too.

  46. Rosti says:

    This is an interesting development. I’ve had this title on my list of DS-Games-to-grab-if-they-don’t-look-crippled for some time now and this might just make it more attractive.

  47. Dave L. says:

    I’d be more angry about the 21 day limit on the download once you’ve purchased it than the price. Much as I really, really want to play this, I think I’ll hold off until September and either get a boxed copy, or get it off Steam.

  48. Stompbox says:

    Actually as an Australain 50 euro for a new release is cheap. We pay more presumably because it is believed we are descended from theives.

  49. Mr. Brand says:

    New PC games are 40-50€ here, while console games are up to 50% more (from reasonable stores – we have some which are just insanely overpriced). $50 seems sorta cheap, but a bit much for download only.

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