How region-hopping game customers unintentionally helped an indie become a hit

How region-hopping game customers unintentionally helped an indie become a hit

The growing popularity of digital purchases has had the unintended effect of breaking down regional price barriers designed to keep gaming affordable around the world.

This is due to “region hopping” – a tactic used by those looking to take advantage of lower prices in other countries, as publishers adjust the price of games in each region based on median revenue.

The problem with that is that it means customers in wealthier economies can also afford to grab a game for significantly less than their own local price.

This can reduce revenue for developers and publishers, especially smaller ones, but can also sometimes help.

In an unexpected twist on the norm, former games journalist turned publishing expert Mike Rose shared a story about how his publisher’s latest game unwittingly benefited from region skipping.

Let’s Build a Zoo, published by Rose’s No More Robots, went up for pre-order on Nintendo’s eShop on September 22.

Overnight, pre-orders skyrocketed, and Rose said he woke up satisfied with the number of pre-orders — at least until he checked where those pre-orders were coming from. “Oh. Shit,” Rose expressed. Eighty-five per cent of pre-orders came from Argentina, where the price was around US$1.50 – a huge departure from the UK price of £15.49.

It was clear that most of the pre-orders weren’t coming from customers actually residing in Argentina, and that’s when Rose discovered that Let’s Build a Zoo was featured on several regional eShop price comparison sites.

This, Rose says, left his team with a difficult dilemma. They could raise the price in Argentina to the price of pricing the game to legitimate local customers, or maintain the same price knowing that illegitimate sales were occurring.

That’s when the twist happened. By the end of the second day of pre-orders, Let’s Build A Zoo was now rapidly climbing the eShop charts in the Americas, becoming one of the top 100 sellers.

Above all, Nintendo lumps together the entire continent, which means the game was in the top 100 charts in the United States.

In Rose’s own words, by the time the game launched on October 29, “we’re getting the attention of *a lot* more American players – a lot more attention than we would if we didn’t have not been that high in the rankings.”

Even better, Rose says, due to the traction it gained in the US, the EU eShop team also highlighted the game in Europe and Australia, resulting in higher than expected sales there. -down. The end result was that people on average paid over $20 for the game.

While it worked for Let’s Build a Zoo, many other projects are affected by people exploiting regional pricing, so I asked Rose if he would support region locking.

Despite the region skipping issue, Rose told me he opposes region-locked consoles. He fondly remembers buying American and Japanese Nintendo DS games that never came to Europe, so personally he wouldn’t want that to go away.

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