Last week, two-man game studio 2D Boy made like Radiohead and let people set their own price for World of Goo, a game in which you construct gelatinous towers from cute little goo balls. The promotion, which has now been extended until October 25, is in celebration of the game’s first birthday.
2D Boy has now shared the sales figures, the range of prices paid, and the results of a buyer survey. Media buzz and word of mouth gave sales a hearty boost, reaching 57,000 downloads at an average of $2.03 per download, (over $100,000 even after Paypal’s 13 percent cut), but it’s more interesting to see what people said about 2D Boy’s pay-what-you-wish model.
Asked why they chose a particular price, survey respondents mostly said “That’s all I can afford right now” or “I like the pay-what-you-want model and wanted to support it.”
“How much the person feels they can afford seems to play a much larger role in the decision than how much the game is worth,” the developers wrote on their blog. Incidentally, most people said the game should normally cost $10, not the $20 it usually sells for.
The data is enlightening enough on its own, but there’s one point I want to bring up: Shortly after World of Goo was released last year, 2D Boy estimated that piracy rates were roughly 90 percent. Given the survey responses from the sale, I’ve got to think there’s a correlation between piracy and the feeling that a game’s price isn’t justified.
2D Boy doesn’t draw any conclusions, saying that other developers would have to try the idea under different circumstances to get a better picture of what’s happening. They’re right, because World of Goo is an exceptional game and a critical darling. But other developers should take this model for a spin to see if its legs are sturdier than goo.