The times they are a changin’ …

On February 8, 1991, video game publisher Silicon and Synapse was founded. They would go on to develop the world’s most successful personal computer game franchise; Warcraft.

But wait!? Isn’t Warcraft made by Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.? It certainly is, as Silicon and Synapse became Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in 1994. In the early 90’s, it wasn’t unusual to spend $40 to $70 per title to play a game on your personal computer. Adjusted for inflation, that puts the price around $80 to $120 today. But today, games on the computer have taken on a completely different style than they had nearly 20 years ago.

Now, with the rise of Facebook, game developers are revisiting the old marketing mix for their games, specifically in the product and price sections, by moving to smaller scale, social versions of popular games. Many smaller companies are putting small scale games on the social network platform and charging small fees for different additional features. These “micropayments” however, mean that instead of spending $60 on a brand new game that you install on your computer, you can end up spending much more.

Micropayments (or microtransactions) are drawing a mixed bag of reviews. On one side, you have those who view these little transactions as a good thing. On the other hand, it can result in a much higher price paid for the product than if it was on a shelf somewhere.  It’s finding the right balance between these that is becoming the great white whale for developers.

I guess we can call them Ishmael.

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