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Free Transfer: Pay What You Like For Champ Man

This is both impressive and – in the gaming space – unprecedented. In a move which echos Radiohead’s honesty box for the download of In Rainbows, Beautiful Game studios have announced that from now until release, if you pre-order the game, you can pay what you like. There’s a £2.50 transaction fee, but you can pay a penny on top of that and get the game. Crikey. The video which announced this and some assorted quick thoughts follow…

Well, it’s a ballsy move to say the least. It’s clearly an attempt to get people who would be fans of Football Manager to try their game. I’m not sure whether to read it as desperation (as in, they need people to play the game) or confidence, belief in the long game and trying to speed up the war of attrition which they spoke about in our recent interview. After all, if they didn’t believe they have something worth playing and that may secure a larger fanbase in future iterations if people would only give it a shot, why would they do a deal like this?

(Well, it’ll get press. But that’s not exactly enough.)

Actually, there is one route to future income from people lured in by this. To quote their page…

Championship Manager 2010 will also feature CM Season Live, also available to order through the Champ Man store, which is updated every month with real player data and information for the 2009/10 football season.

CM Season Live is additional downloadable content, available at just £5 for 6 updates, including all the latest statistics, scores, competition standings, player transfers, player stats, bookings and major injuries plus much more from the 10 leading countries in Europe and can be downloaded directly to the game throughout the season.

In other words, there is a revenue source from people who buy the game on the cheap. That said, it’s still an insanely brave move for a publisher. I’d have thought it’ll mostly cannibalise their already-hardcore fanbase who would have bought the game full price happily. The thing to note there would be the offer is actually solely through their own site and digital download service. As such, like Radiohead, whatever money is given to them is all in their pocket. By dodging a retailer middle-man, it keeps the maximum amount of the cash.

Anyway. Cripes. What do people think? And, this really begs the question: if given the option to pay whatever you want for a game, how much would you pay?

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Kieron Gillen

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Kieron Gillen is robo-crazy.

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