My Struggle with Premium Pricing

4 June 2018 | 55 Comments

Lately I’ve really been struggling with premium pricing.

I’m referring to products that necessitate high prices because of how much they cost to make. Specifically, the product I’m struggling with are the metal mechs for Scythe. I have the samples, and they look, feel, and sound fantastic:

There are 7+ factions in Scythe (the + refers to the spoiler aspects of The Rise of Fenris), so each set of metal mechs has 7+ units in it (1 mech per faction). I ran a preliminary poll on Facebook to gauge interest in the mechs (including the estimated price, which I’ll get to in a second), and over 1,000 people indicated they want them. That’s enough for a small print run.

My manufacturer has spent almost a year working on these mechs. They created new moulds, tested various types of inking, experimented with glue and assembly, and evaluated various inserts. Jakub has illustrated the box. We’re now very, very close to entering production.

Yet I’m still struggling with the decision to make the metal mechs. Why? Because they’re incredibly expensive to make, and as a result, they are incredibly expensive to sell.

7+ metal mechs–that is, 7+ total miniatures, not 4 miniatures each for 7+ factions–cost $26 to manufacture. That doesn’t even include the insert, box, colored rubber bases, or freight shipping, all of which bring the total closer to $30.

We typically use a 5x multiplier for items we sell through distribution, so that means if we wanted to sell a set of metal mechs to game stores, the MSRP would need to be $150. Essentially what you see in that photo above would be $150. (The reason for the 5x multiplier is that distributors get a 60% discount off MSRP, so if something has a $150 MSRP, we receive $60 from the distributor.)

The alternative is to sell them directly at a more reasonable price–say, $60 per set. That still means if a Scythe fan wants enough mechs to replace all of their plastic miniatures, they would need to spend $240 + shipping.

It feels morally wrong to ask someone to spend that much. I’m not saying it actually is morally wrong–I’m just saying it feels that way.

So despite customers telling me they want this product and they’re fine with the price, I’m struggling to proceed with it.

However, I learned something this weekend that helped. It didn’t solve my struggle, but it’s a decent step forward.

I was listening to a Seth Godin interview on the Don’t Keep Your Day Job podcast. Around the 31:00 mark, Seth talks about pricing. He uses the example of an exercise he uses with entrepreneurs and creators in which he asks them what they would do differently if they had to charge 10x more than what they currently charge.

Think about that for a second as it applies to a product you make or a service you provide. If you were required to charge $500 for it instead of $50, what would you do differently?

In Seth’s exercise, he says that nearly every person says, “”I would make it better.” But Seth asserts that’s not the right answer. Rather, in his opinion, the right answer is, “I would help my customers feel better about their choice,” emphasizing to the creator that, “It’s not for you. You’re the person who made it, but you’re not the person who’s going to buy it.”

This message really struck a chord with my premium pricing struggle. Even though it’s meant as a hypothetical, the 10x example almost literally applies to my metal mech situation.

So part of it is me coming to terms with the fact that the price seems high to me because the metal mechs aren’t something I would buy. That’s just my personal behavior as a consumer. I’m sure there are ways I could enhance some of my favorite games, but other than buying expansions, I rarely do. But that’s okay–I need to remember that other people have different desires than I do.

The other part is the idea of helping my customers feel good about their choice. This can include shipping before retailers get the product and offering good customer service, though those are standard things we do for pre-orders. So I’m thinking I’ll put foil and individual numbering on each box of metal mechs to emphasize how special they are, and perhaps offer a discount for customers who buy 4 sets. [Update: Dusty C. bought up the idea of maybe including a signed thank-you note in each direct order.]

That’s a step in the right direction, at least.

What do you think about this topic? Have you ever struggled with a premium price? Did you implement Seth Godin’s method?


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55 Comments on “My Struggle with Premium Pricing

  1. Firstly, curious where you are with this a year on Jamey. Secondly, my first thought of what I’d do if I had to charge ten times what I currently charge for a game is that I’d spend considerably more on manufacturing it. I say that with all seriousness, consumers understand that the price of an object is a multiplier on the cost of making it and the only reason to ever feel bad for the final price is if the mark-up in excess of the norm.
    The main reason I wanted to comment though is to say, I’m a lifelong GW fan and when you said $60 for that set of minis my first thought was ‘That’s pretty cheap.’. That said, that’s only if they came in parts so I could convert them and pose them and make them unique to me, if they were solid lumps then I’d expect them to be a fraction of the cost. I think that comes from, and no offense, but the fact that collectible miniatures is a niche area that maybe you’re not super familiar with the expectations within. A model coming as a handful of bits is a bonus there, not a negative, because then I can shave down and re-pin a piece so its in a new position, or I can assemble my friend’s favourite mech so that its downed. The mini sculpting and collecting community is a huge and fanatical one, a game I worked on ‘Gaslands’ is designed for playing with Hotwheels cars and the creativity people have displayed converting them is one of the happiest things in my life.
    Long story short, $60 for that set of minis just is not expensive, I think it seems expensive to you because you wouldn’t buy it. But everything you wouldn’t buy seems expensive at the price its at doesn’t it?

    1. You make some great points, Glenn! What I ended up doing with the metal miniatures is that I sell each set for $50 through our website (not through distribution, where the price would need to be much higher).

  2. Another way to sell these is to break out each faction into a 4 set per faction, instead of your current 1×7 set. This gives buyers the option to throttle up or down the number of fractions they want to replace based on their budget. Your current single SKU locks any player looking to upgrade into the $250~ 4 set purchase regardless of whether they own any expansions or not.

    The current product structure is great for collectors who just want 1 set of awesome metal mechs to display and good for deep pocket players who want a complete metal upgrade, but is preventative for players with small play groups who might just want 2-3 faction replacements.

    On the back end, breaking out the product into 7 separate SKUs means having to manage more items, and you might see certain factions selling better than others (ie. Many players probably only own the base game but no expansions, so it’s possible you’ll see lower sales on the non-starter metal figures).

    TL;DR – the product structure is best suited for display collectors, but for parts upgraders it forces a deep investment.

  3. Making a customer feel special is never wrong. The only Kickstarters I have ever been completely disappointed in have been because I didn’t feel special or important. The two worse didn’t have anything to do with the game but with how terrible the creators treated their customers (I still haven’t even played those games. That’s how annoyed I was). I personally wouldn’t buy the metal mechs but only because of my own personal finances. It would take away too much money from my limited pool to buy other board games. Having said that if I had the money i would probably buy them because they look cool.

    I have never had a problem with board games having premium content as long as it doesn’t give someone else an aspect of the game I can now not experience because I can’t afford it. As long as I am getting the same game as everyone else it doesn’t bother me that some people paid to have their game prettier than mine. I think you should sell the mechs because there is a market. I doubt highly that anyone who can’t afford them is going to not buy your game because they don’t get the shiny mechs.

    Also, thanks for always making me feel special.

  4. I like board games, I got quite a few. But what I like even more, is a really beautiful designed and created board game. A game you open and say ‘wow’ to when you look at it. A different game company is ThunderGryph Games (currently running ‘Tang Garden’ at kickstarter, if you don’t know them: have a look), which has created some beautiful games already. But the game so far that best embodies this ‘wow’-feeling is Scythe. For that reason I got the metal coins, the improved resources, the Legendary Box, a wooden insert (which hopefully will be expanded for the Legendary Box with the expansions).

    For me the ‘wow’-feeling is part of Scythe: it’s a way to impress. Not just other people: mainly myself. Everytime I open the box, I am impressed by the looks. And I am fully prepared to improve on this.

    Despite this, I was a bit skeptical about the metal mechs. Not because of the quality, for I already trusted that it would be good. What my main gripes were, were indeed the price ánd the fact that I would need to ship it from the USA to Europe. Not that I don’t want to order directly from you, but the shipping will be pretty high to cross the Atlantic. When entering the survey I thus was a bit skeptical, and wasn’t sure I would want to order one.

    But some time has passed, and seeing the quality in the photo of this post (and on the facebook group) I get the extreme ‘wow’-fibe: the quality is really high, it looks stunningly awesome. One photo has thus changed my opinion: I do want to get them. And not only that, I actually now want to replace my plastic mini’s with these. By looking at them, the price of $60 for one set seems actually reasonable, and this will be a $240 + shipping I will actually be prepared to pay for. It’s not just an accessoire for the game: it’s an enhancement to a piece of art that gives me personally the ‘wow’-feeling I want. If you one day decide to replace the other plastic figures by metal ones, I will be in for it (I know, you once said that would not be the case, but still, it would be really nice if I would have only metal pieces).

    I think I can compare this to those really expensive but beautifully crafted chess boards you sometimes see. Chess is not my wow-game: Scythe is. So I am prepared to go a step further and pump some extra money in it. And that now includes metal mechs. I’m looking forward to hear when I can order them.

  5. Jamey,

    The idea of Premium Price came to the fore when the Outer Limit Games team sought my assistance. One of the things I immediately recognized seeing the game they wanted to produce and the high funding Goal was that they were trying to make the “premium” level game right out of the shoot. Having had experience running a few successful KS campaigns, coupled with both backing others, and reading your book, if the Backers like what they see, they’ll get you to the Premium level. And that’s exactly what happened. They lowered their Funding Goal precipitously and offered etched wooden disks and ships…but gave the option for molded plastic ships and Orbitals, along with linen-finished cards and unique dice.

    Now, in addition to assisting designers with their rules and playtesting, I offer advice in the realm of running campaigns…usually rolled into the costs of my other services. In this way, I want them to succeed as much (or nearly so) as they do.


    1. Joe: Thanks for your comment–I always like to hear your perspective. That’s a keen observation about how backers can help turn a nice game into a superb production thanks to stretch goals.

  6. Is there a possibility that you could make a less-detailed version of the metal minis that cost less to produce? Depending on what they ended up looking like, I would be very interested in getting some of those.

  7. The game have a lot of fans out there, some of them would pay for the minis fast. Try to compare your game and the whole aura around the concept with War of the Ring. Take this result and associate with your target consumer, maybe you should create as a collection item. For sure will be expensive, but a collector want to have unique items and paying will not be a problem. A tuned game would be like a tuned car, it’s special.

    Using the tuned concept you can start to “decorate” the board with new addons (Not necessarily mechs), like people are doing with terraforming mars. Playing scythe will not only be a game, but a experience filled with immersion.

  8. I know this has been mentioned several times already, but I’ll chip in my 2 cents as well. THIS is a Kickstarter solution. I know you think you can do it more effectively/efficiently through your pre-order system, but I seriously doubt if that type of system is capable of generating the buzz and excitement that a good Kickstarter project can. And while economy of scale may not be a big factor for you, I’d have to think that you can get the price per unit down if instead of looking at 1,000 units, you would be looking at 10,000 units.

    It could also be offered as an exclusive: This is something you are making 1 time only, through 1 channel only (be it KS or your pre-order system) and you aren’t going to order extras to sell through distributors (you may order a few hundred extra to sell direct, but not through the distribution channel that takes 60% of the msrp). This limited edition would add value to the consumer.

    1. John: I appreciate your opinion, but Stonemaier Games is an inclusive company–we don’t do exclusives. If enough people want something, I will make more of it, and I won’t threaten them with fear of missing out.

      With my pre-order system, I’m not worried about generating the level of buzz and excitement that a Kickstarter can–I have other goals that are much higher on the list. With this particular product, my goal is to offer a special product to people who want it. Kickstarter is for raising funds, building community, generating awareness/buzz, making a product better through feedback and stretch goals, and gauging demand. I’m already doing all of those things without Kickstarter. I don’t mean for that to sound arrogant or dismissive–I’m just pointing out that Kickstarter isn’t congruent with a solution, especially when the problem is unavoidable: The metal mechs are super expensive to make. Whether I sell them on Kickstarter or Shopify doesn’t address that problem, nor would the price per unit be different if I sold them directly via Kickstarter or Shopify.

      As for scale, metal simply doesn’t scale. The cost per unit at 10,000 units would be barely different than 1,000 units.

      Also, all of this:

  9. I’ll add something a bit different to the conversation. It seems to me that the premium add on’s are consistent with the Stonemeier brand. You make great games with great components (unlike some I won’t mention here that go with the cheapest materials the market will bear). But like the metal coins, your company has consistently made them optional and has given your customers a choices. There is one meaningful difference in this case however. That is in the past all of your add on’s (I think) could be used with other games. These metal mechs likely won’t be used with other games. With that, I leave it to you to decide how this fits with your company’s mission, branding and offererings.

  10. I love this post and the absolutely stunning metal minis. But there’s a point where a game stops being a game. Plus, what you are actually producing, if you go through with this, is insane bidding wars on eBay sites between collectors.
    So while you have a point from a Godin perspective, there is more to it.

    Making metals just because of the sunken cost of spending a year is not a justification. So I would spend my time making new games if I were you.

  11. Interesting thoughts.
    I don’t agree with Seth’s answer though. (I like most of what Seth says, as I also subscribe.)
    I think the “Make it better” is reasonable. Why? Well I’m being forced to charge 10x more… so I’m making 20x the profit. To just make someone feel better over that isn’t an apples to apples comparison. That would be pushing morally wrong without some REALLY good reason for it.

    Now if we’re talking strictly about “Making them feel better” on Standard (x1) Pricing… that I can agree with Seth’s answer.
    Take our first game for example: The “Special Edition” of The King’s Armory has 9 copies left in the world. They’re expensive, and rare. We charge full price on them, no markups, but they’re still not cheap. People fall in love with the game when they see it at cons, but it’s always the 100 price point that gives pause. Talking to folks about it at cons is always an exercise in comforting over the price based on any number of factors: quality, endless replayability, rarity, limited edition content, free shipping, signed by designer, etc etc.

    There is another solution to this problem of high priced gaming items: just put it in a bigger box.
    People feel better with bigger boxes. : P
    (Kidding …mostly)


  12. I think the idea of selling them as a set of single mechs that you would have to buy 4 of to replace all the mechs in the game is a good compromise for these. For those who are collectors who just have to have everything but don’t feel the need to replace them all, having one set to say they have a set is enough, they are catered to, those that want and can afford to replace everything also have that option.
    These are also gaming bling, the audience for them is both accustomed to and willing to pay such premium prices I would say.

  13. I am just impressed as hell that you even consider these things. Many entrepreneurs do not. You care about your customers, and that is one reason I buy pretty much anything you make (not to mention I am still waiting for you to do a bad or even mediocre game). When I first saw that you were maybe doing metal figures, I thought, “Hell no!” Price was the main reason, though some of it is just being happy with the plastic ones. But then I thought about two things. One–someone else buying the metal figures if they want to does not impact me whatsoever. Two–if you will be selling them 7 at a time, if someone did not want to spend the hundreds of dollars, they still have the possibility of buying them a little at a time over a period of time. With a moderate budget such as I earn, I am often happy to spend $30 here and there to get my $240 game when I would never, ever spend $240 up front for a game. I will likely never buy Gloomhaven, for example, but have easily spent as much on Scythe with expansions and upgrades, etc. I personally am not interested in the metal mechs, but so long as you think they can be made available for awhile, even people who can’t put out a lot of money at a time can optionally work up to it if they really want to. And I still will not be impacted by it. ;-)

    Thanks for all that you do, Jamey,
    Shane H. Hockin

    1. Shane: Thank you, I really appreciate that. That’s a good point about making enough (or being open to making more) to give people the chance to buy them when they’re ready, not just when the first wave arrives.

  14. Great article! I don’t know how you keep coming up with useful, thought-provoking topics, Mr. Stegmaier. We always struggle with premium components too. As a Kickstarter creator, having very unique, shiny parts to your game is one way to stand apart from all the rest of the games out there, but that ends up making it cost more to produce than is really necessary. Is it worth it?

    Will the unique components sell enough additional games on Kickstarter to make up for the increase in price than if you kept it simple? Since KS consumers less price-conscious than in other channels, will the higher price end up making you lose more sales post-KS? Those are tough questions to answer before you launch. I think it’s one of those things you have to think about on a game-by-game and component-by-component basis and ask yourself, “does this provide enough value to justify the extra cost?” Answering that question gets easier the more games you make so it’s best for newer creators to not take too many risks. Unique components are cool, but they are also a great way to lose your shirt.

    1. Brian: I really like this question: “Does this provide enough value to justify the extra cost?” It’s always a tough one to answer, particularly for newer creators who don’t have many people available to survey.

  15. That’s a great way to think about things Jamey! Like you I struggle with pricing (especially for the game I’m currently working to bring to Kickstarter).



  16. That’s very interesting to read the blog and all comments. Even though many of us have full knowledge about pricing and marketing, we have our ideas that may affect on our decisions.

    From a manufacturer view, it’s hard for me to accept the high price for products I knew the cost EX Work. Say I never spent $20.00 to buy a stuffed toy when my friend owned a toy factory told me the cost was less than $1.50 to make it. One friend working in the eyeglass factory, and we knew the cost of one piece of glass is about $0.30. Then I did not enter a glass shop for more than 10 years, where the cost was over $100.00/pc. So then I spent a lot of time to find clothes, shoes, and many products with low price. Of course, there’re some shops and suppliers broadcast like this” Ex Work price without middleman(distributors)” to attractive consumers with low price. But I did not stick on the low price things I knew well soon when I was disappointed with quality and service for low price goods for many times. There’re too many things to make the MSRP, the production cost may take a small part among them.

    From a consumer’s view, I may consider in a different way. Say, I like Ping Pong well. When I buy bat, I always neglect those with low price since I know I need a bat that can be used for long time with those characters I need. A good bat can make me feel happy, confidence, professional and help me to win. It’s worth of the spend.

    So if a retailer tells me like this: it’s $5.00 and it’s very good (I know some bats have lower price than $5.00). It hardly can arouse my interest. And I will go to check those with price over $20.00. However, if a maker tells me: it’s $5.00 to make this bat for those people good at the hobby. We are going to sell it to you $10.00. You can open the packing and check it. Maybe I will gloat to spend $10.00 to buy one.

    So I think you should not worry about the price. The point is to make it’s worth of the cost.

  17. That’s really interesting. As a consumer I struggle some with premium products and what feels like prices over $100 being “normal.” I want to support creators and play great games, but there are some games I’m just not going own. But your post is really interesting, I don’t know if I’ve thought really, actually thought about what makes me feel better about a higher price. I think Quality (components, art, etc.) and Replay-ability (how much will I play it, and how much do I enjoy it when I do) are big factors that make me feel like I’m getting my moneys worth. I have spent some money on higher priced kickstarters that were cases where I wouldn’t be as likely to spend that at retail, so I think “Exclusivity” or “limited availability” can be a factor – I don’t mean to say you should limit the number artificially, but I think your suggestion of Foil and/or individual numbering is a good one. Selling it almost as a collectible rather than a replacement for all your existing pieces is I think a good way to look at it. Thanks so much for sharing this and all your insights on your process.

  18. Since Top Shelf Gamer specializes in premium upgrades for games, I feel your dilemma. I think we adopted Seth Godin’s method without even knowing about it.

    We started our business with the feeling that we wanted to make every customer feel special. We wanted to make some kind of human connection to people who buy from us. So we include a personal note in every order. It’s the closest thing we can get to the in-person thank you I would gladly give to each customer if we were brick-and-mortar.

    Also, because our customers are paying a premium amount for premium products, we gift wrap each order. We modeled our packaging after luxury subscription boxes. Our customers want to improve their game experience for themselves and their gaming group – because they love a particular game and/or they take real pride in their game collection. They are special and they deserve to be celebrated. So we make each package like opening a gift.

    If you sell the metal miniatures direct, perhaps including a personal note on each one? A signed note from Jamey Stegmaier would be a be a very attractive addition. Even if the note was printed and you just signed each one.

    Also, maybe explore a premium box to carry and display them? Velvet lined? Oooh la la. :-) That would add price, of course, but I think the product deserves it and the Scythe aficionado would appreciate it. They would become incredible display pieces. I can already envision these beautiful miniatures displayed prominently on a fireplace mantel in a well crafted case.

    Btw, thanks for the reference to Seth Godin and the Don’t Keep Your Day Job podcast. I have some new thing to listen to and read!

    1. Chad: Top Shelf Gamer is the perfect example of making customers feel special. I really like the idea of adding handwritten notes to the direct-order copies of the metal mechs.

      As for a velvet-lined box, the insert we’re looking at is felt-lined, so it’s pretty close! :)

  19. yes I have struggled with this in a couple different ways. one was when I was a professional craftsperson. some of our biggest sellers were things I found so so so ugly. but we made them and sold them! little twig wreath with two painted geese on it, I am thinking of you. my other error was pricing my work at a level i could afford as opposed to market rate, leaving money on the table. I went back and forth, and came up with a couple different solutions which involved variable sliding scale type pricing. now I have been selling my sewing services. I price at $20 an hour which seems like a lot from my perspective, but I have not had much trouble with getting that rate. I know my work is worth it, and possibly more. So I have decided to make a tiered pricing…lower rate for basic work, higher rate for more complicated work, and a higher rate for design/pattern making which is brain burning. so $20/$25/$30 and I have decided to experiment with a $5 per hour rush fee, for super quick turnaround.

    so i think you are onto something. it does feel morally wrong to me also to spend so much on figures. but, it is not our job to police peoples desires. this is an emotional game for so many people, and the metal mechs will make people happy. i have praised you for your overall model, lowest price possible on base but the ability to customize. i think it is a good balance from the poor persons perspective. sure i might have metal coin envy, but i have the game and that is really all that matters!

  20. Yeah that is a tough one, on one hand I completely agree with the struggle of well I wouldnt buy this that seems insane, and then on the other hand their are plenty of people that would be ecstatic to get those at any price point.

    For me a big thing is metal coins (Charterstone really made me realize how much I enjoy the game experience with them) and now I purchased the ones for Tokaido, like $20-25 i think. Probably a huge waste of money but they make me much more happy while playing the game.

    There really isnt a right or wrong answer, but it would be a shame for you to have done all that work and then not decide to let people decide if they want a premium experience

  21. Jamey, I know you gave up on KS, and for good reasons, but this feels like the type of project that actually makes more sense for Kickstarter than for the traditional distribution model. The 5x rule won’t give you a practical price point. 3-4x can definitely work when it’s direct to consumer, KS only. Especially when demand is uncertain given a high price point. If this is something you are passionate about, but don’t want to take the risk that people won’t pay the high price point, just do a Kickstarter to see if enough people are interested. KDM and 7th Continent are KS only for exactly this reason.

    1. Brian: I see what you’re saying, but we can do the same thing with direct pre-orders and sales than we could do with Kickstarter (in fact, I think we can do it better, as we can afford to simply make the product, run the pre-order, and then ship it to customers a month later). I see your point about pricing, though–that’s why I would be able to offer direct pricing of $60, while if distributors/retailers wanted it, they would need to consider a much higher MSRP so we wouldn’t lose money.

  22. Would the production cost drop noticeably if this were a 4 X7 mech product instead of a 1 X 7 product?

    When I think of metal mechs I think of the old pewter Battletech minis, but now that such products are created by specialty companies I expect that they cost a lot more these days.

    I know you’ve wanted to swear off Kickstarter, but it seems like it should be just the place for a product like this. :)

    1. Ryan: Unfortunately, the costs wouldn’t scale by much. The cost of metal tokens doesn’t drop due to economies of scale, and even though we’d only make 1 box instead of 4 if we did that, the box would be much bigger (as would the insert). I think the price would end up almost identical.

      While I think I can do everything without Kickstarter, the one benefit that could come from using it would be to offer more effective worldwide shipping.

  23. With the metal mechs, have you considered/priced the option to have them form poured as individual pieces that are cut from spurs and assembled, painted and mounted afterward?
    There seems to be a ton of tabletop war games that use the pewter model assembly style for miniatures that can be found at a “reasonable” price.
    I know some players would want them assembled out of the box, but I’m curious if there’s an in between option for those willing to pay a little extra for the metal weight and “clink” that aren’t afraid of a little glue and paint. Just a thought.

    1. Tyson: Thanks for the idea! I hadn’t considered that. My sense is that might work for people who are accustomed to assembling miniatures, but I don’t think that’s the majority of the Scythe audience. It probably would reduce costs by about 10-20%.

    1. Chip: Thanks for your question. I think that’s pretty close to the “everything in one box” version of Scythe that some people have asked for, and I don’t think that’s something we’ll offer. While we appreciate the interest that some people might have in an all-in-one version of Scythe (the game, all expansions, all accessories, and all promos), there are a few reasons why we won’t be doing that. First, it would be prohibitively expensive for customers (around $300), which also makes it very difficult to sell via distribution channels. Second, it would be a 180 reversal for us, as we’ve said for years that we wouldn’t make such a product, and many people have bought into Scythe’s ala-carte style system–it wouldn’t be fair to them. Third, the ala carte system allows people to pick and choose exactly which elements of Scythe they want, which ensures that everyone pays for exactly what they want, nothing more. For those reasons, we won’t be making an all-in-one version of Scythe.

  24. I think that anyone who is willing to spend the extra cash for metal mechs would have already spent time on forums and seen how transparent you are with regards to pricing. I am very new to Scythe and from the few hours I have spent online researching things Scythe related it is very clear that you guys care about your consumers. This is why I am willing to spend $40 to preorder a glorified box (which i need because its so pretty and I need to fit all of my things…). As a side note, I am excited for Fenris and can’t wait to see how the modules change regular games. Also, thank you for everything you do, Jamey!

  25. The mental block here seems to be born out of a worry about perception; which is understandable, but unnecessary for Stonemaier, specifically. As someone totally new to Scythe and this community (but already addicted), it is abundantly clear that you have a commitment to fair pricing. Anyone who would be interested in spending extra money for the mechs would, most likely, have already seen your comments in various threads discussing pricing and other pro-consumer topics. That is why I am willing to spend $40 on a preorder for a glorified box (it just is so pretty and I need to fit all of my things) and I am sure many feel the same. Also, as a side note, I am very excited for Fenris. Thanks for everything you do, Jamey!

  26. I teach pricing at the university level and the viewpoint from Seth Godin is very useful. Another way to look at it is in terms of value. If you want to (or have to) charge a higher price, you need to offer commensurate value. This can be done by improving the product features and benefits (making the product better) or by improving the perceptual/intangible elements (thereby making people feel better about paying for it) or some combination of the two. You also alluded to a different but important piece of the puzzle, that of the target market for the product. There are few gamers who would buy the metal minis at all (relative to the number that would, for example, buy Scythe in the first place), but those that are willing to buy it are probably willing to pay a (relative) lot.

  27. I think that because this is a premium item it makes complete sense to make it come at a premium. I would say it would make sense to only offer it as a full set of all the mechs to limit the number of packages. Either you want metal mechs or you don’t. I would even pack them in a wood box with felt liner that could double as a wall mounted display. Charge $500, they are at a price point that nobody is buying them because they are a reasonable value add like premium resources. They are pure luxury like a Mercedes.

    1. Jetfire: I actually think there are two groups of people who are interested in these mechs: Those who want a collector’s item but can’t afford to spend $200+ (or don’t want to) and those who want to completely replace their plastic mechs with metal mechs. By offering them in sets of 7+, we can appeal to both groups with a single SKU (and a single box, single insert, etc).

  28. I like the idea of metal minis … however, I would love you to go the FFG route (x-wing) and offer pre-painted minis.

    Our hobby has a large group of people who have plenty of disposable income and they like nice things. I think you will be making many people very happy and to me there is nothing ethically wrong with serving your customers.

    I do appreciate business owners who wrestle with decisions like this and the fact that you are so transparent is refreshing.

    1. Thanks John! We’ve considered doing that for Scythe, but there are so many talented painters out there who sell their services for Scythe that I really wouldn’t want to undercut them. Meeplesource, for example, works with a great painter–you can buy the painted minis directly from Meeplesource.

  29. Economics like this I do find very interesting. At face value, 5x markup might seem extraordinary to someone with little experience in the “nuts and bolts” of how designing, making, marketing, and selling a product is. For someone like Stonemaier, this is their lifeblood. Their income comes from selling product, and that’s pretty much it. Us as consumers (also retailers) buy games that goes to feeding, clothing and sheltering game developers, as well as keeping the development cycle churning.

    On the flip side, I can agree with Jamey’s feeling from the other side of the transaction. Would I pay the 5x multiplier for a $600 full Scythe improvement kit? Certainly not. Even at the lower price option of $240, probably not. Even with a game like Charterstone that I’m totally enamored with, that is a considerably large “for fun” purchase. I have other hobbies, like PC gaming, where I feel like those price points could get much further spent on hardware or games. The metal coins in Charterstone provide a very pleasant experience, and I can understand “minting” coins like that can be vastly more simple, and thus much less complicated than the mech conundrum.

    I really like this post, Jamey. Insight into both how your brain and your company work is always great food for thought.

    1. Kyrano: Thanks for your comment. It is tough to explain the 5x multiplier, though the easiest way I’ve found is to explain that distributors get a 60% discount off MSRP. So if something has a $100 MSRP, we receive $40 for it from a distributor.

      I certainly wish the metal mechs were closer to the cost/price range of metal coins! :)

  30. Considering the prices games workshop gleefully charges for some of their stuff, I think you’re fine :D Joking aside I perfectly understand your concern, especially as consumers rarely understand the realities of what goes into producing something, the effort and expense of it. It could be worth you giving people an overview on your costs to produce to help people understand why you have had to price them the way you have. With that said, some people are fine with it regardless. Upgraded components add value for those people and a pricier upgrade set will feel more unique and valuable. These players are collectors, it’s a different audience you’re catering for.

    1. Steve: That’s a good point about clearly communicating the costs so customers understand why the price is so high (and that may have the secondary effect of making them feel special because they’re “in the know”).

      1. Indeed, plus after this past 12 months where so many horrid secrets across so many walks of life have been discovered, more than ever now people respect and appreciate transparency where they can find it.

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