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A Lesson in eCommerce from The World of Goo

The World of Goo is a physics-based puzzle game released in October of 2008.  It was favorably received by the gaming community, receiving many awards.

On the one-year anniversary of the product's release, the developers decided to undertake an e-commerce experiment.  They offered to sell the game (previously retailing at $20) to anyone for whatever price the customer was willing to pay: " cent, a million dollars, the usual twenty, or any creative number they let you type into the text field."

In the week that followed, 57,000 additional people purchased the game; the graph above shows what prices they opted to pay.  About 17,000 people paid $0.01, but another 16,000 paid $1.00-$1.99, and several hundred paid the full $20.00 original price.  Total sales = over $100,000 for the week.  And still rising, because they have announced that they are continuing the offer until October 25.

The developers discussion at their website includes their impressions of why people paid different amounts, and notes that they made no money when people paid less than $0.30 because of Paypal transaction costs.  For further discussion of this odd marketing strategy, see Rock, Paper Shotgun.

Via Metafilter.

Since World of Goo is a digital product, they lose nothing if someone buys it for just a penny (presuming no selling cost involved).

I always wonder if this would work on physical goods, where there is a non-zero cost of goods. It's iffy - but there are some pay-what-you-want restaurants that boost their profits with this scheme.
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Alex, since they went through Paypal, there are costs associated with collecting the money -- I think they said they lost money for any donation less than 30 cents.
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i had pirated it on my wii so i took the opportunity to give them a little money. i can't afford $20 for a casual game i played for a couple hours but $5 seemed justified
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Well thanks to this post I've bought the game for $0.50 and that's $0.50 more than they would have had because I would never have got it otherwise...Plus it's a really cool game, well happy!

Yes...I am cheap.
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How long before the game becomes boring do you realize you've paid 20 bucks for pixels. I paid out ten bucks for another physics game which was very challenging, but after about a week my brain was tired and I had built a solution for every level. I haven't used it since. I can only hope these games can inspire future architects and inventors.
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You could say the same thing about any medium pwscott... how long before a book becomes boring do you realize you've paid 20 bucks for a stack of paper with small symbols printed on it?
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Radiohead tried this a few years ago, except they did this at the time when the album came out and not a year after release. The wiki page goes back and forth between album sales being very successful and I am not really sure how that one turned out.
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I think I'll toss them $5 myself for their year old independently developed game just to support them, and have it on my computer should I ever have the desire to play it. This business model works well as long as there is no middle man, and unfortunately, Paypal is such a thing and profits could be better had it not been necessary. Like record companies, I would much rather avoid them and put the money directly into the hands of the artists.
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I bought this game when it first was released for $20 then I bought it again at a store for $20. So I spent $40 for the game.

It is a great games especially if you play it on a tablet.

What makes it even better is the lack of DRM.
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