Two of GOG.com's executives have suggested that the massive, price slashing sales, such as one sees on Steam, are bad for all concerned, with fears of devaluing games when it comes to the industry, and worries over product quality from a consumer perspective.
Speaking to RPS, managing director Guillaume Rambourg and head of marketing Trevor Longino made the point that huge price cuts send the message that the product isn't worth terribly much at all, with the resulting effect seeing gamers simply wait for the next big sale, destroying long-term product value.
"Selling games at too high a discount – one often sees discounts above 80% off here and there -sends a message to gamers: this game, simply put, isn’t worth very much," they said. "Of course you make thousands and thousands of sales of a game when it’s that cheap, but you’re damaging the long-term value of your brand because people will just wait for the next insane sale. Slashing the price of your game is easy. Improving the content of your offer when you release your game, that’s more ambitious."
The GOG.com boys feel that it all comes back to one of the central tenets of their site's ethos: ensuring that the day one package is rewarding a full price sale.
"Our industry failed to provide gamers with a fair and attractive offer on day one and therefore convince them to buy games when they are released, which is the best way to support a publisher or developer from a financial standpoint," they continued. "GOG has always been trying to add as much value as possible into their offer; and we hope more gaming companies will follow this direction.
"Heavy discounts are bad for gamers, too. If a gamer buys a game he or she doesn’t want just because it’s on sale, they’re being trained to make bad purchases, and they’re also learning that games aren’t valuable. We all know gamers who spend more every month on games than they want to, just because there were too many games that were discounted too deeply. That’s not good for anyone."
Although acknowledging that sales might help promote impulse purchases that might not have occurred otherwise, they suggested that "you need to reach a happy medium between giving someone a chance to take a risk without feeling like they’ve gotten a bad deal, and pricing things so cheaply that you tell gamers, 'this game I made isn’t worth very much.'"
Further on in the interview, they noted that the majority of revenue on GOG.com comes from full purchases rather than sales runs on particular games.
"The fact that the majority of our revenue comes from games that aren’t on sale shows that gamers–of course–are sensitive to pricing, but they’re equally attentive to value. I think we provide excellent value, even at full price, and our gamers seem to agree."