Comment: YoYo Abandoning Game Maker Roots?
September 8, 2011
Game Maker is changing rapidly. Gone are the days of ‘Lite’ and ‘Pro’. For the veterans of Game Maker, the nostalgic days where users would refer to the paid version as ‘full’ and when Softwrap hadn’t yet dipped its troublesome hand into community, are a world away.
Future Game Maker users will be given more choice, able to select one or more of four editions to suit their needs. Game Maker Studio, HTML5, Mac, or what will no doubt be the most popular edition, Game Maker Standard. However with an increasingly steeper price tag for features better suited for professional developers, is Yoyo Games abandoning its roots and shutting out a big portion of the community in pursuit of a new and perhaps more profitable demographic?
The price tag of the HTML5 version of GM will hit triple figures, coming in at $199USD a copy, accorrding to a recent announcement from Yoyo Games. It goes without saying that Game Maker, generally regarded by much of its users as a tool used mainly by children and teenagers, has always been a popular choice for people who need a starting point in game design and programming. The earlier price tag of $20 was suitably placed, but even then for some younger users, it was a fair amount of money to obtain and spend in one go online (judging by the odd begger asking for a free key). A creeping price tag for the standard version, now at $40, may require more work than mowing the neighbours garden and doing chores around the house.
For older users and veterans of Game Maker the standard edition should still be within budget. But for those who may have been looking forward to porting their collection of work to an online format, at almost $200 for a single copy of HTML5, its an option that excludes most everyday homebrew users in favor for an audience closer to that of a professional developer. The prospect of someone thinking seriously about developing apps and using Game Maker, instead of Apple’s official developer tools or an alternative professional IDE, may seem laughable.
We contacted Yoyo Games CEO Sandy Duncan, who said he would gladly answer our questions by unconventionally posting a response on the YoyoGames blog. In an email, Mr.Duncan recognized the need to address issues regarding pricing and its affect on the existing user base.
“I want to take this opportunity to reassure you that this is absolutely not the case.” Mr. Duncan wrote in his post at the blog, after we asked him whether or not Game Maker was “abandoning its roots and prioritizing less on the everyday user”.
“We want to make GameMaker a tool that can be seriously considered by professional and semi-professional developers. In doing this WE ARE NOT DESERTING OUR ROOTS, in fact quite the opposite.”
He went on to explain in the post that Game Maker can be used to create professional software, perhaps referring to questions we asked about Game Maker being considered only as a tool for beginners and young budding software developers.
Erik Paldanius known as HighQuality on the GMC, the developer of Wuka World amongst other online projects and platform based games, has been part of the community since 2008, and expressed his views on Game Maker pricing.
“The price tag is way too high, it should stay at $99 and never go any higher…
“What they are doing here is taking a product designed for kids and adding ability to export for multiple platforms to it and expect people to pay hundreds, possibly thousands for it when GM Studio comes out.” he said.
HighQuality explained that the short (albeit significant) list of differences between Game Maker HTML5 and other versions of the program would have him paying no more than $99 a copy. He said he would be interested in paying up to $399 for the studio edition however.
“YoYoGames has a lot of flaws to sort out such as decompiling, speed issues and a better API. Until things like that are fixed Game Maker is simply not suitable for professional development in my opinion.” HighQuality said, addressing belief that Yoyo may be moving towards a new market. Rest assured, the standard edition of GM should remain affordable.
“We’re not intending to keep increasing the price of GameMaker Standard.” Mr. Duncan wrote in the blog post.
YoyoGames may have anticipated a revolt in the significantly higher costs for selected Game Maker products, as they have sparked a short time deal. Users who want to grab Game Maker HTML5 for half the price had the opportunity do so during the beta period where the program will be offered at $99.