Braid creator Jonathan Blow has responded to questions about the higher price of the PC version of the game, noting that several factors were involved in the decision, not least of which is the fact that 20 bucks is pretty cheap for a good PC game.
A PC version of the hit Xbox Live Arcade game was announced today and is scheduled to arrive via the Impulse digital distribution network on March 31. But the game is selling for $19.95, a jump of $5 over the original price of 1200 Microsoft Points ($15) which itself took criticism for being more expensive than the usual XBLA cost of 800 MS Points ($10). When asked about the increase, Blow touched on a few points that affected the decision and noted that "standard" pricing doesn't necessarily translate across platforms.
"As for the price disparity - that's what happens when you have standard price points on different platforms," he continued. "As one example, World of Goo costs $15 on the Wii, but it is the same game as on the PC, where it costs $20. World of Goo is a really nice game, and I think $20 is a fine price for it, but Wii games are generally a lot cheaper, so I understand why it's being sold there at that price."
It's a valid point, and one familiar to PC gamers: 20 bucks doesn't get you very far out of the bargain bin. It's a trade-off, perhaps; PC owners have grown accustomed over the years to things like free online play and a wealth of user-generated content, but ready access to cheap games that don't suck over services like XBLA has remained elusive. That may not satisfy thrifty cross-platform gamers who grumble about forking over five bucks for Frogger, but some of us spent fifty bucks for seven hours of Stranglehold.
"There are other factors - support costs are a lot higher on the PC, and there's always the piracy question and what that does to sales. But about piracy, nobody really knows, it's just a big question mark," Blow said. "So the main reason for the $20 PC price point is that that's just what games like this often cost on the PC."
UPDATE: Blow is apparently sick of answering questions about the price of Braid for the PC because he's since decided to drop the price to $14.95, the same as the Xbox Live Arcade version. "Ultimately, I don't care that much about the PC release price," he wrote on his blog. "The XBLA version was nicely profitable, and my goal with the PC release is mainly to get the game out to a wider audience."
"It would be nice to earn the optimal amount of money from that release - I have interesting ideas for games that I want to make in the future, and making games is very expensive, and I will probably have to hire people to help!" he continued. "But ultimately, I would rather have people talking about the game itself, what they like and dislike about it, than about how many American Fiat Currency Dollars it costs."
Pre-orders for the game haven't been charged yet, he said, so anyone who's already in line for the release on Impulse will also get it for $14.95. He also noted that along with Impulse, the game will be available on "one or two" other digital distribution networks when it's released.