Cas Prince over at Puppyblog about the declining value of the indie game customer (slightly densified):
Back in the early 2000s, games would sell for about $20. Of course, 99% of the time, when things didn’t work it was just because the customer had shitty OEM drivers. So what would happen was we spent a not insignificant proportion of our time—time which we could have been making new games and thus actually earning a living—fixing customers computers. So we jokingly used to say that we sold you a game for a dollar and then $19 of support.
Then Steam came (and to a lesser extent, Big Fish Games). Within 5 short years, the value of an independent game plummeted from about $20 to approximately $1, with very few exceptions.
Then came the Humble Bundle and all its little imitators.
It was another cataclysmically disruptive event, so soon on the heels of the last. Suddenly you’ve got a massive problem on your hands. You’ve sold 40,000 games! But you’ve only made enough money to survive full-time for two weeks because you’re selling them for 10 cents each. And several hundred new customers suddenly want their computers fixed for free. And when the dust from all the bundles has settled you’re left with a market expectation of games now that means you can only sell them for a dollar. That’s how much we sell our games for. One dollar. They’re meant to be $10, but nobody buys them at $10. They buy them when a 90% discount coupon lands in their Steam inventory. We survive only by the grace of 90% coupon drops, which are of course entirely under Valve’s control. It doesn’t matter how much marketing we do now, because Valve control our drip feed.
Long, rambling, and eminently realistic long-form post everybody interested in gaming culture and indie games should go and read from A–Z.