7 June 2012

The worth of IP...

Pursuant to this article and this commentary on the article, I've got some thoughts on the expectation of your customers and the worth of IP:

On the other side of the coin, I can’t help agree with him somewhat on this point: “ Also what Steam does might be teaching the customer that “I might not want it in the first month, but if I look at it in four or five months, I’ll get one of those weekend sales and I’ll buy it at that time at 75 percent off.”

If this is a problem then it's another sign of the software and game industries thinking they are special and above all other commodities and services businesses ever in existence in the world. Plenty of people see a price and think - well, i'll get it when it gets cheaper.... And we think like that, not because we're trained to think like that through experiencing sales; we think like that because that's what happens in life. Things get cheaper over time - they get older, less relevant (yes, even software) and are therefore worth less in value.

Not to mention that the whole concept that IP is worth whatever the creator/publisher thinks it's worth is complete and utter rubbish. Whatever you create, whatever you make - it's only worth what people are willing to pay for it. I think a song i just wrotre (i'm making this up, now) is worth €100 per listen - it's just that god damn awesome! However, I can guarantee you that no one in their right mind would pay that price for that experience (well, okay maybe some rich people with questionable mental acuity might)...

Back to digital releases: By definition, DRMed, time-limited software you buy on Steam, Origin and any other digital distro is worth less because you don't control it. I could, if i wanted, still play Doom on my computer - I have the data, I have the disc (and diskettes). They're on me, they're my responsibility. I also have the Steam copy of Doom too.... but if Steam goes down, closes doors/shutters then I can't play it, it's gone. It's their responsibility. That automatically devalues the hell out of what I'm willing to pay for something.

So, dear Reader, I put it to you that it is not the sales that are training us to want or expect to pay less... it's the quality of the experiences we're slowly getting as digital comes into its full glory. All those shut-down music services.... all those shuttered online portions of games (that are apparently so integral to the experience!).... DRM schemes that break, stop us from playing our games or just generally degrade the experience. We learn and we remember our treatment, our experiences.

Want to complain about consumers wanting to pay less for your product? Then make sure the product you're offering is worth to the consumer what you want them to pay for it.

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