Know What You're Selling
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Know What You're Selling

Let's get some things straight from the get go.

  • You are running a business if your self-employment pays the bills. Businesses must adhere to the terrible truths of capitalism or will go under.
  • Generalization more or less works and makes it easier to get to a point. Of course not all things are absolute, there's an exception to every rule and case.
  • There's no law of nature, that keeps human society in equilibrium. The universe does not care whether you have same amount of whatever as someone else.

Please take these points for granted going forward.

You are not selling a service

Back in university my mentor told me about a friend who designs medicinal leaflets. You know the one, folded thousand times littered with thousands of tinsy letters found in every package of any drug. I don't remember friend's name, so let's call him Bob.

Bob's job was to fit the extreme amount of text in the small space, make sure nothing is being cut and all remains legible. How long do you think this took him?

Fifteen minutes.

After decades of experience helped out by a computer Bob was able to go from nothing to done extremely fast.

Now this story isn't about becoming efficient at your craft. The point comes when we started discussing how much Bob should have charged for such a quick turnaround. Let me give you the answer.

Thousands of dollars. Yup.

The point is, Bob delivered a tangible result, but mainly a service. Thanks to his speed and reliability he could charge that much. The pharmaceutical conglomerate would be losing millions in sales for every day their drugs weren't selling and risking public outrage if anything was misprinted. Bob made sure it wasn't. In 15 minutes.

Games as you can see are not the same thing.

You are not selling art

Gamedevs are saying, they just want to make enough to make another one. So does the next musician. So does the next writer. Painter. Designer.

Artist.

Ostrich?

Indies need to pull their head out of the hole to look at the indies of other industries.

Musicians are often asked to play for free and take the chance for promotion. Designers and fine artists are asked to work for exposure daily. Actors and playwrites pay to get their work out there with just handful of people showing being a success.

Dark clouds have formed over the kingdom of Arts & Crafts long time ago. Now it's a raging storm where most citizens run around like ostriches wearing metal hats with antennas getting hit with lightning, while visitors are cozied by the fire in their homes or at the party in the castle with the court.

Contemporary culture gave everyone a canvas and made us believe we are artists.

Here's a kicker: People en masse don't appreciate nice things. They just don't give a damn. They never have.

These bipods that can't stop arguing whether to go left or right have a lot on their plate. Every day they got to wake up and do something that will generate numbers, to give to someone else so they can go back to sleep and do more of the something, until they die and leave this cycle to their kids. That is if they managed to win the gene lottery.

Art is many things to many people. To those buying art, it's an investment or an act of patronage. Who has the money to invest and be a patron to arts? I can tell you it's not "superJ69."

Games as you can see may be art, but are not sold as such.

You are selling a product

When you are in the store, what are you looking for? When you are meeting people and making first impressions, what are you looking at? Packaging. Presentation. Appeal.

People like to be entertained. They want to have fun. They want to explore. They want to feel like a heroine, smart or cool. They want to run and jump. They want to shute and shoot. They like to do weird stuff we don't really talk about. They want to do everything they normally cannot do.

They want to have an experience more fullsome than a movie can provide because they have a say in it. They want to do all that and more. Videogames let them do this.

Videogames are packaged experiences.

This definition easily applies to the movie ticket at the theater, frozen pizza, your new phone and almost anything else.

And since "packaged experience" sounds weird we The People all sit down and after a long meeting, where Pete had to go on and on about the room temperature being too cold, decided to call it a "product." And that's what videogames are sold as.

Games as you can see are sold as a 6-pack.