The 'GDC 25' Chronicles: A Numbers Game
[Continuing his 'GDC 25' archival research ahead of the 25th Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next February, official GDC historian Jason Scott unearths a GDC 1997 talk on the arcane art of pricing retail games in the '90s.]
I've been humming along with audio recording digitization for the GDC Vault (and intend to start doing video as well) and as I cast the net wider, I get to listen to a range of subjects I normally wouldn't sit around for. It's like I'm suddenly an attendee who went to every panel, in every year. And in the front row, besides!
With this mega-attending of a quantum GDC, I've gotten a real appreciation for clear and well-spoken speakers, and subjects presented comprehensively. The titles don't have to sound sexy, and they don't have to have speakers' names that are ripped from the cover of top-selling games. They just have to give a great talk.
So with great pleasure, I present to you "Strategic Pricing", a Game Developers Conference 1997 presentation given by Phil Adam and Ann Stevens, and for which the audio is available on GDC Vault for free. A talk in which... hey, come back here! I'm serious!
Phil Adam co-founded Spectrum-Holobyte, a grand game publisher founded in the early 1980s; the company nearly made it to 20 years before being absorbed by Hasbro in 1998. At the time of this presentation, Mr. Adam is working at Interplay, a company he'd ultimately become president of.
As we're all living in the future now, the urge to point where the past got it wrong is pretty strong. But what I think is more useful than pointing out this prediction versus that prediction is the clear, straightforward way the speakers describe the nature of choosing what price to charge for retail games and when, how to assess the lifetime of a game, and some examples of successes and failures they've been a part of.