People in the Steam forums for Early Access mecha-action game Brigador have been asking the creators at indie studio Stellar Jockeys to lower the game’s $20 price tag. Stellar Jockeys has since responded and defended its pricing decision.
In short, the most compelling points that Stellar Jockeys makes is that they’ve spent five years making it from scratch, that the game’s urban area is about the size of Grand Theft Auto III and hand-detailed, there’s a Nickelback poster that costs $20, and that they have to pay out Valve’s take as well as the highest state income tax rate in the US.
You can see the full response from Stellar Jockeys to people asking for a $15, $10, or even lower price point instead below:
“We have spent 5 years making Brigador, if you include when we started building the engine.
Much of that has been working full time, 6-7 days a week, 8+ hours a day. Even at a very conservative estimate that’s over 10,000 hours of work per person, and there are 4 of us. We did not do a kickstarter, we do not have a publisher. We have funded this entire project out of pocket.
Here is a list of things that also take about 5 years to do:
- get a PhD
- get married and have two children
- earn $72,000 at the US minimum wage (pre-tax)
- win the election and serve a term as President of the United States
- fight World War I
- develop from an embryo into a person who can speak in complete sentences
- fail to qualify for the Olympics, twice
- start drinking too much and gain 20lbs because of stress from starting a company and building a game for 5 years
- watch all 262 episodes of Two and a Half Men (we do not endorse doing this)
Brigador was made almost entirely from scratch, and when it ships will contain 2 hours of original music (small sample), over 100 different enemy units (spoilers), a story campaign, a free play mode, and a playable landmass of ~2 mi² (split between 20 maps) — roughly the size of downtown Chicago or the urban area in GTA III — hand detailed all the way down to street lamps, trash cans, stop signs, etc. I took some time to render out two of the maps in their entirety at game resolution so that you can look around for yourselves:
(heads up, each image is ~10 mbs)
For this we kindly ask that you pay $20.
As a reference point, here is a list of things that cost more than $20:
- a toilet plunger
- a 30-pack of Bud Light
- a trash can
- this single article of Calvin Klein men’s underwear
- a fruitcake no one will ever eat
- the Point Break remake Blu-ray
- a calendar
- this Nickelback poster
It’s bad enough there’s a Nickelback poster worth more than the game we’ve spent the last 5 years building, worse still to have people come along and announce that in fact our game is only worth about as much as this other more common Nickelback poster. I hope you can understand the frustration this inspires.
$20 a copy, once you factor in Valve’s take and taxes, gets cut down to about $10 a copy (we live in Illinois which has the highest state income tax rate in the US at 5%). Pretending we don’t have to pay contractors or have any other development related expenses, to pay ourselves minimum wage for the time we’ve put in requires selling 25,000 copies of Brigador. Factoring in contractors and any kind of reasonable living and that number jumps up to ~50,000 copies. While not unheard of, that’s already getting into long-shot territory, especially for a new company that has no pre-existing ties to games media or the backing of a publisher. And people’s reticence to pay what amounts to a pint of beer more for the game means adding another 33% or 16,000 copies to see the same results. That increase alone amounts to more units than many independent releases ever sell.
We’re not asking for pity or charity, nor are we saying you should buy a game just because people worked hard on it– it’s possible to struggle valiantly and still make poo. But quality, depth, innovation all require time, and projects of this scope demand full-time work. If Brigador is not worth $20 to you, that’s fine, by all means wait until it goes on sale. But understand that you’re making an already extremely difficult job that much harder. Brigador took so long to make because we wanted to take a risk on building something unique rather than just reskinning an existing game. We wrote an engine from scratch so that we could create fully destructible environments and still have good control over performance. Iterating on design, creating something even only partially new takes a tremendous amount of time, and if people are unwilling to pay a price commensurate with the labor involved in creating games like this then fewer people will take those risks, and many of the ones who do will get starved out the industry.
At the end of the day we all have to eat. So yeah, we think it’s worth $20. Hope that clears things up.”