Indie developer Positech Games said via a new blog post that game sales (like the kind found on Steam and in the Humble Bundle) are providing the endorphin rush instead of the fun of actually playing the games players are purchasing at deep discounts. Positech Games' Cliff Harris says that these kinds of sales are insidious dangers that normalize huge price reductions.
"This is a big psychology trick that is being used to siphon money from gamers, and it's a bad thing," he said. "And if we can – and I think we probably can't – we should stop it."
Harris went on to argue that consumers will choose to wait for the "inevitable discount," depriving the developer of revenue and the game of much-needed players (a bad thing if the game happens to be multiplayer-focused).
He also expressed concerns over the way steep discounts "devalue" the games. When a product costs $5 or less the consumer is less invested in their decision, and will ultimately be less discerning in what they buy, according to Harris.
"We don't 'invest' money in them, so we give up and discard them at the first time we lose, or when we get confused or stuck. Some games are complex, tricky, hard to master, take a while to get to the point at which it all makes sense."
"I understand that varied price points to suit different gamers is good, I understand the reasons for sales being economically efficient ways to maximize global utility. But this implies utility is derived from the product. We are no longer selling products, we are selling discounts. The endorphin rush is now from getting a bargain, not the fun of actually *playing* the game. This is bad."
You can read his entire blog post here.