I’d Buy That for a Dollar… or Less?

This past week I had logged into Steam. I don’t let it log in automatically when I start up my computer.  Some part of me always wants to limit the number of processes running on my computer at any given time.

Anyway, I haven’t been logging in recently because I haven’t been playing any games that I purchased on Steam.  War Thunder was the last thing on Steam I was playing regularly.  And, of course, we are in the great gulf between the Steam Summer Sale and the Steam Holiday Sale,

Still, that doesn’t mean there are not sales.  I got a note that something on my wishlist was on sale, an item I couldn’t really recall the details of, so I logged in to Steam to window shop. As I logged in… and several games started to update… I ran over the front page to see what else might be on sale.  There was a mention on one part of the page that over 100 games were currently on sale, so I clicked on that to get the full list.

You can sort the list by various criteria and I decided to go with price, lowest to highest, to see just how cheap things can be on Steam.

As it turns out, things can be very cheap.

Steam - Under a Dollar

Steam – Under a Dollar

That is a list of fifteen items UNDER a dollar on Steam, with the lowest checking in at a mere fourteen cents.  More than half of that list is under fifty cents.

This makes me feel dizzy as my brain wonders at what point is something simply priced too cheaply.  At what point does it start to cost more simply to run the credit card transaction.  How much of that fourteen cents does a developer even see.

Apple’s iTunes App Store has a lower limit of 99 cents if you want to charge for an app.  Free is the only cheaper option.

Is there any reason to price something on Steam for less than 99 cents?  I mean sure, fourteen cents gets you a spot at the top of the list, but is that price an enticement or a warning?

And, in answer to the title, I did not buy any of these games.  There is probably a message in that as well.

6 thoughts on “I’d Buy That for a Dollar… or Less?

  1. SynCaine

    I wondered about this a while back as well. What is the point of that .14? No one is going to make any real money off the game selling at that price, and I think it does more harm than good in terms of how people view the game (not that it really matters, no half-decent game ever goes that low, so its all shovelware anyway).

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  2. M C

    Dragonsphere is actually decent if you like Point and Click Adventures. Then again, it’s free at GOG. Wonder how many of those games are free somewhere else on the web.

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  3. anon

    It is the race to the bottom. It is happening, by necessity, to pretty much everything that is commercialized in the digital entertainment industry. Classic economics break apart when the incremental cost of a product’s production&delivery is virtually zero.

    There are very few things a company can try to do to artificially retain product value in face of the competition, like drenching their products in pre-release hype, and thus being able to charge $120 for a broken game (as the AAA industry is known to do), or use bait & switch tactics, as F2P and social/mobile games are known for. Ah, offering an actual good product has the added benefit of retaining value too. Ultimatelly, though, no solution is permanent. Eventually every single product in digital entertainment is worth zero.

    In that context, $0.14 is far too much.

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  4. Anonymous

    Some of those have long since made money and one man studios who made them have got out of business. To them it’s just.. “Hey, I got 60 cents in my account.”. They aren’t seriously trying to make money on them anymore.

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  5. Izlain

    I’ve picked up several titles that were on sale for under a buck in the past few months. Three of them were shmups though, so that said I wasn’t expecting a deep experience. I picked up Dungeon Hearts most recently, it’s a puzzle game of sorts, with some RPG elements, and yeah it’s not great but what do you want for under $0.50? Sometimes gems go on sale for ridiculous amounts. Other times it’s just trash down there.

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