Thursday, August 21, 2008
An offer I couldn't refuse
I've been playing a lot of Football Manager Live (FML) in the last months, a game currently in beta, developed by Sports Interactive and published by SEGA. Yesterday SEGA sent me an e-mail with probably the strangest pre-order offer I ever received: As a beta tester not only could I get early access, including name reservation, for the release version of FML if I pre-ordered, I also could get a 12-month subscription at half price.
For regular customers SEGA is offering 3 months subscription for £22.99 (at current exchange rate that is $42.82, or $14.27 per month). That is rather expensive for a football manager game with 2D graphics, for the same money you could subscribe to WoW or WAR. Taking a longer subscription for regular customers only reduces the cost slightly: 6 months for £43.99 ($13.66 per month) or 12 months for £72.99 ($11.33 per month). But beta testers pay 30% less on the 6-month price, and 50% less on the 12-month price. So a full year costs me only £36.50, advertised as "10 pence a day", or $5.67 per month.
I took them up on that offer, because I find at $5.67 per month FML is reasonably priced. But I am very astonished that this offer appears to be only valid for beta testers. If you consider the difference between what a regular customer will pay for FML and what I paid, I basically got paid $68 for beta testing. First time anyone pays me for being in a beta! And of course access to the beta was based on luck, not everyone who applied got in. Some people got randomly selected, and later everyone in the beta could invite some friends, at which time one nice reader of my blog thought of me, for which I am grateful. I got in by chance, profited by being allowed to play for free, and now get to continue playing at half price for one year. To me that appears to be extremely unfair. In my favor unfair, but nevertheless.
Now I hear that the Football Manager games of Sports Interactive have a highly dedicated fan base, especially in the UK. But I wouldn't be surprised if not all that many of these fans were willing to pay between $11.33 and $14.27 per month to play the online version of their favorite game. And people who never played the single-player game are even less likely to join FML. So for the benefit of the game I can only hope that SEGA reconsiders and makes this pre-order offer available to anyone, not just mailing a code to beta testers. Overpricing a game which is niche to start with is probably not a good strategy.