If you’ve ever purchased a premium asset from the unreal engine marketplace, chances are you’ve seen the comments that go something like “Looks good but I’d only pay $10 for this” or in more extreme cases “this price is insane”. As professional developers we read these and roll our eyes but goddamn are they irritating nevertheless.
I remember when I found UWORKS by Vlad Serbanescu - it’s an amazing implementation of the steamworks api, with a custom NAT punch solution and full blueprint support. I discovered this plugin when I was preparing to advertise a contract for just 1 steam-works feature I desperately required for the launch of my game. UWORKS cost me a third of what I was prepared to pay for that feature, with 1000% more functionality (not hyperbole). There were still comments saying it cost way too much.
More recently there’s the lovely Advanced Interactive Foliage System by Abey Miranda. This sweet pack includes vertex shader ‘faked’ physical foliage interaction that looks fantastic and gets similar results to what dice and triple a studios work with. It’s only $50. “extremely overpriced in my opinion. i would buy it for 8£-10£ ” is still cried out in the comments.
Entitled Cry Babies
It’s tempting to write alot of the more aggressive, insulting, and rude comments off as the salty tears of entitled cry babies. Because they are thanks for reading my blog post.
Just kidding haha. I think SOME of the commenters do deserve the benefit of the doubt. With essentially zero barrier for entry into game development these days, with freely available triple a engines accessible by anyone, it makes sense that a large number of people browsing the marketplace genuinely don’t have any understanding of the costs (both in time and money) involved in creating high quality assets and dev tools.
If this is you, or someone you know, that’s OK! It’s important to understand the value of the tools in real world context though, so here’s some info that might help put it in perspective:
With the UWORKS example, for $500 AUD I got an implementation of the entire steam api including nat punch for my use in development. For $500 AUD you could afford to hire a junior to mid level contractor, for a SINGLE day. I can’t speak specifically to how long Vlad has spent working on it, but I wouldn’t have had a hope of hiring someone to deliver the same amount of excellent functionality in less than 30 days or more likely even 90 days. That’s $45,000 in working hours. Available on the marketplace for $500.
With my interactive water plugin, UIWS, which is available for $349 usd, I know how much time I spent so can answer very specifically. So far I’ve spent at least 4 weeks worth of full time work and another 2 - 4 weeks of varied dev hours developing the tool. To hire me to develop the feature set bespoke it would have cost somewhere between $7,000 and $12,000 usd.
Some have defended their criticisms on premium pricing with “You can’t compare bespoke assets to marketplace products because everyone can have them” and I mean, looking at the above comparisons, they should be glad we’re not charging anywhere NEAR what it would cost to hire someone to develop features bespoke.
How to fix?
We’ll never stop people being mad that they’re not getting our hard work for a pittance. But we can stand our ground and educate wherever we can.
If you’re a seller, price your products for their worth
Don’t undersell yourself and your work for fear of people being mad at you. Professional developers understand the value proposition and will happily pay for good work.
Don’t worry about losing money. You might sell less units, but in the case of UIWS I would have to have sold 35 copies at the most commonly requested price point to make the same amount as I currently have from it thus far. Joe Wintergreen said it best - “Folks: ‘lower price = more sales’ can be true but ‘lower price = more money’ almost never is“. My experience with UIWS reflects this.
An added bonus is that of the clients of mine that I’ve spoken to, all have been working professionals. I haven’t had to answer dumb questions, and I’ve been able to have some great discussions regarding support/feature requests with my high quality user base.
As a buyer, if you see a nice looking marketplace asset that’s out of your price range:
If you don’t understand why an asset is priced the way it is, ask! Maybe it offers something under the hood that you’re not aware of or don’t understand. Maybe it was deceptively difficult to develop. If you have a genuine concern with a product’s pricing, ask for clarification, learn, and be professional!
As a seller:
If someone has a question, I more often than not like to give them the benefit of the doubt. Even if they’re just a salty rude individual we can use it as a good opportunity to educate other potential buyers. We’re the best people to justify our price points; It’s a bit lame that we’d have to, but nothing will change if we can’t educate.
Even if you’re not in the market for a particular product, if you see a great product you like copping unwarranted flak for pricing (as is pretty much inevitable) give it a like, a share, or leave a comment! Often the angry comments outweigh the pleasant ones solely because the professional devs are smart enough to know they don’t need to voice all their opinions to the world haha. Bring balance to the force.
Don’t feel pressured to contribute to the ‘race to the bottom’ when putting a price on your good work. If someone doesn’t understand your price point, help them to understand. If someone’s telling you your pricing is insane, they’re not worth listening to.
We’re with you. Do your great work. Get paid.
To wrap up I’d like to leave you with some of my favorite salty comments. Best read with this playing in the back of your mind haha. If you have any of your own, share them in the comments!
Edit: 20/12/18 I received an earnest apology from the author of one of the tweets listed here and have since removed it. The author took responsibility for their actions and conducted themselves professionally. Big kudos to them.
Edit 2: 24/12/18 It appears as though the user hasn’t followed through with their commitment to rectify the situation. Their tweet has been re-embedded
That price is insane lol— Johnny Guitar (@JohnnyGuitarDev) December 17, 2018
This entire thread
where I learn I should charge less or else I am evil capitalism
$350 for basic water interaction. LMAO— colby (@imcolbyhall) December 19, 2018
I’m dying at the idea of paying $350 for a basic water setup. What were those full time work weeks doing, I literally don’t see the work here.— eFr0st (@fr0st_e) December 19, 2018