Over the past few years the PC indie scene has erected a new payment structure wherein people can often buy a work in progress for a cheap price, then slowly gain access to all of its added features at no additional cost. Conversely, they can wait until it's complete and pay the full price later on.
Now, Nordic developer KnapNok is adopting a similar structure to its upcoming Wii U party game Spin the Bottle. Creative director Lau Korsgaard told NintendoLife that he's planning to release Spin the Bottle around early July at a cheap price, then increase it as two more updates are introduced throughout 2013. The idea is that the early adopters will receive the updates at no extra cost, ensuring that they're rewarded for their efforts rather than punished.
"We see a bunch of games right now permanently lowering their price on the eShop, they probably have their reasons to do it, but I think it is the wrong way around," Korsgaard said in statement to Eurogamer. "Why penalise people who bought the console early while driving prices down in general, making it less possible to make money in the future?"
"Our strategy is inspired by how indie PC games has been sold for years now. We will launch at a price around €7 / $9 but keep adding content and raise the price for each new update. People buying in early get all future updates for free. The important thing is that we will be open and earnest about it, we will 'warn' about an upcoming update and encourage people to buy while the price is low."
Korsgaard added that he still wants to explore this space of party games where players have to look at each other rather than the TV, but he doesn't want to make this conventional DLC. "I don't really find DLC's that cool," he said. "The idea of milking money out of your most loyal fans while later giving everything away almost for free is not appealing to me. We see it the other way around; our most loyal fans helps us build up value in the game, for that we are going to reward them with free updates. New customers don't get cheated, [as] what they buy will be 'worth more' than what our early adopters bought. I really can't see anyone getting pissed here."
Thankfully, Nintendo was supportive of KnapNok's peculiar business strategy. "Originally when we presented the idea to Nintendo they were a bit puzzled," Korsgaard explained. "They do have some guidelines about how much you can reduce your price post launch, but nothing about raising the price, so I took that as a yes. Since then we have talked about it a few times and they are supportive of the strategy. Nintendo has been really flexible to work with in this sense. We have control of everything, and all they provide is good advice.".
It's certainly an interesting theory and nigh unheard of in the console space. What do you make of this unique pricing structure, dear readers?
For more information on Spin the Bottle, I got a bit tipsy at GDC and played the hell out of it at a party.