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The PA Report - Price your game higher, avoid sales, reap the rewards



  • GunganGungan Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    Apple laptops do have the longer battery life, but how valuable that is to you depends on what you use your laptop for; if you are going out into the mountains, battery life is a lot more important than if you're bringing your laptop to business meetings.

    Yes, of course, but if all you care about is battery life, you might as well buy a cheaper laptop with a stack of batteries. Who doesn't have a laptop bag when travelling?

    The MBA is supposed to be a performance ultrabook, and is priced that way, but doesn't meet the performance specs of competing ultrabooks at the same price point.

    Gungan on
  • SiddownSiddown Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    Reliability isn't a factor here, they all use the same Intel parts.

    You really are underestimating the importance of things like power supplies, motherboards, etc. These are the parts that the PC manufactures skimp on to cut their prices.

    Also, you're really changing the argument too. The Lenovo you linked too is a 15 inch laptop, the entire purpose the Air is it's portability which we all know the smaller things start getting, the more expensive it is. For example, the 11" Air would never be worth it compared to the 13" from a technical standpoint, but people I know that fly every week love the 11". For them, the smaller form factor is worth it.

    So let's please stick with comparing apples to apples (pun not intended).

    The only Lenovo that compares in size, weight and specs to the Macbook Air is the Carbon Series.

    The entry level is on sale for $1050, it has the same RAM, SSD, Video Card and Processor as the entry level 13" Air. The Lenovo has better screen resolution but only 5.5 hours battery life, so I'm fine with calling that a wash if you are. If we ignore everything else, the "overpriced" Apple is $50 more.

    Shouldn't Lenovo, which sells more computers than Apple be able to blow Apple away here on price? How is it that Lenovo sells this machine for $1050 and it's fine, yet Apple sells nearly identical machine for $50 more and it's overpriced?
    The MacBook air is a laptop built out of parts worth about $750 that will become obsolete faster than the Toshiba. If I were to value 4 hours of battery time at $50 like you are, that would be an ~$850 laptop since the first 4 hours are included (you only need 2 extra batteries on the Toshiba).

    Building your own will always be cheaper than buying one off the shelf, but at the same time you seem to be concentrating only on the technical components and not on the size of the machine. Getting those parts into just over half an inch thick, three pound package is the hard part.

    Again, if it was that easy, how come Lenovo, HP, Dell, etc. aren't destroying Apple on price for these Ultrabooks (inspired by Intel (tm))?

    FYI, about the Toshiba you posted. It's only on the Canadian website, which is a bit odd. I can see it having a different sku, but there is no comparison on their regular dotcom site. On the site, they list two different sets of computers that would compare to an Air on size and weight, the KIRA (i5, Intel Video Card, 256 SSD, 8GB of RAM for $1300, but if you order today it won't ship until New Years) and the Protege series, which does have a very nicely looking one for $900 yet it seems to be getting replaced by the same machine just with a different version of Windows for $1080 so I'm a bit confused by it (,2000111328,).

    If anything today has taught me is how poorly computer manufacturers websites are designed.

    Siddown on
  • GunganGungan Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    a) The Lenovo Y510p that was on sale I linked was 15.6". Everything else was 13.3-14", including the $949 IdeaPad Y410p.

    b) Modern laptop power supplies are external bricks because they would be too thick otherwise. I have never seen a laptop power supply fail at home, or at work, and I worked in IT for 5 years.

    There is some possibility of manufacturers skimping on capacitor or resistor quality, but all of the chipsets for controllers/networking/ATA/sound/wifi/bluetooth/etc are all made by a very limited set of suppliers that all PC manufacturers use; there aren't that many players in the chipset game. More importantly, if any of them skimped on quality when building a laptop where pretty much everything is soldered onto one board, they would have quality control and customer support nightmares. It's easier to get away with skimping on desktop power supplies, because it's one part and it's easily replaced.

    And you're dismissing performance specs completely. The Carbon X1 does NOT have the same processor as the Air. It has a 2.7Ghz processor. The MBA has a 1.3 GHz processor. By Apple's own admission, every 500 MHz of CPU speed is worth $100 (they dropped the price of the Air this year by $100 while only changing the CPU from 1.8GHz to 1.3GHz).

    That puts the value of the Thinkpad Carbon X1 $280 higher than the Air.

    Here is a summary of the specs of the IdeaPad you thought was 15.6" but is actually 14":

    Lenovo IdeaPad Y410p

    2.5Ghz Core i5 CPU
    14" 1366/768 Display
    500 GB HDD -> Upgrade to 128 GB SSD +$150
    NVIDIA GeForce GT750M GDDR5 2GB
    6GB RAM Upgradeable to 16GB
    Regular price $949 (+$150 w/ SSD Upgrade) = $1099 with a spare 500 GB HD for external use.
    Current sale price $740 (+$150 w/ SSD Upgrade) = $890 with a spare 500 GB HD for external use.

    MacBook Air|GOCA&cid=AOS-CA-KWG

    1.3Ghz Core i5 CPU
    13.3" 1440x900 Display
    128GB SSD (Not upgradeable)
    Intel HD Graphics 5000
    4GB RAM (Not upgradeable)
    Regular price = $1099
    No sale price.

    Based on the slowness on the CPU alone the MBA should cost no more than $860, which sounds about right to me if you include the $ value of battery life. The extended battery life of the Air barely accounts for the GPU in the Y410p being twice as powerful, having 2GB dedicated video memory, and 2GB more of system memory.

    Getting parts into a thin package isn't hard. All you have to do is not allow users to make their own upgrades by soldering everything onto the motherboard (see every tablet and smartphone ever made), and use the i5's onboard GPU. Forced obsolescence is the name of the game.

    I know I've always had concerns with "how portable is portable enough?" The Y410p is 1.2 inches thick at 5.5lbs, Air is 0.6 inches thick at 3 lbs. Personally, I don't see how weighing 2.5lbs less gives me any value at all. It's hardly enough to detect in a laptop format since you're not holding it up to your face while using it.

    RE: Your confusion with the Toshiba site here: (,2000111328,).

    The one on the left is $999 with a $100 discount. The one on the right is $1099 with a $20 discount. I don't think one is replacing the other. You are right in that they are the same hardware, but the right one has the PRO version of Windows (7 or 8 I can't tell, maybe both, I know businesses hate 8 so it might ship with 7 PRO with the option to upgrade to 8 included) while the left is the standard version. That accounts for the $100 price difference.
    Again, if it was that easy, how come Lenovo, HP, Dell, etc. aren't destroying Apple on price for these Ultrabooks (inspired by Intel (tm))?

    Because Apple isn't the only offender when it comes to overpricing ultrabooks, and they figure they can get away with it too. However, there are many more competitors in the WinPC market than the MacOS market, that helps keep the prices down a bit in the lower price brackets. The latest trend has been overcharging on hybrid/convertible ultrabooks, which only cost more because they have detachable keyboards or a screen on a hinge that flips over. Since the demand for hybrids is going up, traditional laptop prices are also falling.

    Gungan on
  • WyvernWyvern Registered User regular
    Thinking over my own purchasing habits is making me realize that release price has precious little influence on whether I'm willing to buy a game immediately on release or not. If I get really enthusiastic about a game and can't stop thinking about the possibilities its systems have to offer, I'll buy it at release because I'd go crazy thinking about it otherwise. If a game looks appealing but I'm okay with the idea of sticking with the stuff I already have for now, I'll wait for a sale.

    I got way into the promise of FTL in the days leading up to release, so I bought it at the release price of $10. If it had released at $20 or maybe even $30 I still probably would have bought it. Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion looked intriguing when it released at $40, but I was able to wait until it was at 75% off. If it was released at $25 or $15 I still probably would have waited (although at a base of $15 I'd have been a lot more likely to settle for 50%). It's less a matter of "is this game good enough to be worth the price?" and more a matter of "can I deal with my curiosity going un-sated for a while?".

    Another interesting example is Crusader Kings 2. I don't even remember when it came out; I never paid much attention to it initially. I had never played a Paradox game before and I guess just kind of assumed they were a bit too much for me even as someone who likes strategy games. Months later I started hearing people tell stories about their CK2 experiences and I started getting more interested. Later that week it went on sale and I bought it immediately. Steam sales are great in situations like this because it's basically an opportunity to have an advertised launch-level event AFTER positive word of mouth has had time to go around rather than before. Free content updates are an alternate way of attempting this (see: Team Fortress 2 in its early years). But it's important to do SOMETHING. Crusader Kings 2 was, in retrospect, good enough to be worth $40.00, but I didn't know that during release, and without something to jolt me into action, it would have eventually gotten lost in new releases and I would have forgotten about it.

    So there's definitely a case for higher launch price points in certain cases, but I would say avoiding sales on the assumption that it will make your product look more valuable is a major misstep. Some people will buy a good product at full price even if the full price is high, yes, but the people who take a wait-and-see attitude probably won't come back for you if you don't give them a good push. One should focus less on manipulating public opinion via pricing and more on generating enthusiasm about your actual gameplay and then taking advantage of that enthusiasm.

    To further illustrate that point, look at XCOM. The lead developer was out there pretty much 24-7 promoting that game in the month or so before it released. Interviews, previews, discussions of game mechanics, stories about his inspiration or the development process, whatever. Just spending a ton of time and effort showing why his game was something special from every possible angle and making it look really cool. By the time it came out I was so excited that I would have paid pretty much anything for it.

    Democracy 3 released with me not knowing anything about it and without it instantly capturing my imagination. That means that the odds of me paying release price are pretty much zero. The fact that it costs $25 rather than $10 is totally immaterial to this. I'm just not inclined to pay much attention to it until I start hearing good word of mouth. Maybe it turns out the game is really good, and the word of mouth is all really positive, and it ends up on my radar! The opportunity to build up the sort of hype that results in an impulse purchase has still kind of passed. In the absence of a sale or some other event that will galvanize me into being really enthusiastic about making the purchase at THAT PARTICULAR MOMENT, odds are good that I'd just keep putting it off until I forget about it.

    3DS: 0817-4948-1650 || Pokemon X name: Kyrah
  • SiddownSiddown Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    Gungan wrote:
    a) The Lenovo Y510p that was on sale I linked was 15.6". Everything else was 13.3-14", including the $949 IdeaPad Y410p.

    Yes, and the IdeaPad Y410p weights twice as much, is twice as thick and doesn't come with an SSD (and is not upgradable according to their website). So it's not a comparison. People choose Macbook Airs for a reason, and that reason is the portability.

    The Toshibas you list are also much bigger, heavier and thicker as well.
    b) Modern laptop power supplies are external bricks because they would be too thick otherwise. I have never seen a laptop power supply fail at home, or at work, and I worked in IT for 5 years.

    Yes, you are right about power supplies, in laptops these rarely go. But laptops in general break all the time. The standard policy at my firm is when you laptop breaks down, they hot swap your hard drive out with another one because the Lenovo's we have break so much. At the last firm I was at, they had the same policy with the HPs. I use my MBP the same as every other PC laptop I've owned (from a Sony Viao, to numerous HPs, Dells and Lenovos), and I've never had a problem in the 4.5 years I've used it (beyond my son ripping off my F3 key). The battery isn't as good as it used to be, but it still gives me about 4 hours of life unless I'm running something that is maxing my CPU.
    Because Apple isn't the only offender when it comes to overpricing ultrabooks, and they figure they can get away with it too

    So all these other companies race to the bottom for regular laptops and PCs, but for Ultrabooks, what they all agree to keep the prices high? Not only is that illegal, it's incredibly unlikely that one wouldn't break that sort of agreement to get the upper hand. Yet none do.

    Truth be told, getting all those parts in a case that weights under three pounds is difficult. By the way you are talking, you'd think that someone, anyone would come out with a $700 version, yet they haven't. And in all honesty, unlike with iPads and iPhones, this is where the other manufacturers have a massive advantage. Apple sells like 4.5 million machines a quarter, HP, Lenovo, Asus, etc. sell 10 times that. They have the economy of scale working in their favor, but the only answer you have to that is all of these companies are independently keeping prices higher? Sure...
    And you're dismissing performance specs completely. The Carbon X1 does NOT have the same processor as the Air. It has a 2.7Ghz processor. The MBA has a 1.3 GHz processor.

    But I thought you said you work with computers? With the Intel Haswell's, the Airs beat every other Ultrabook on the market in processing. The quality of the flash memory helps (when applicable), as does the OS, but Geekbench scores show it's a much faster computer. So despite this generation having a 1.3 GHz compared to a 1.8 non-Haswell, it performs much better now.

    FYI, the Carbon XT comes in at 5,663, the Air with it's 1.3 GHz processor comes in at 6,769, it's significantly faster.

    Siddown on
  • GunganGungan Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    OMG, you are just beyond stubborn with the ridiculous thickness and weight on a device that has to be placed in your lap or on a table to use. The Air doesn't beat every other ultrabook on the market, there are clearly others with much better specs at higher price points. Haswell is also a ~10% improvement over Ivy Bridge, which is not major. The primary benefit of the Haswell is lower power consumption.

    That being said I didn't have to look far to find even more examples:

    HP Split 13t-g100 x2 - Hybrid Ultrabook
    1.6Ghz Haswell Core i5
    4GB RAM
    128 GB SSD
    13.3" IPS Display (1366x768) Touchscreen
    13.4 x 8.5 x 0.44 in (tablet); 13.4 x 8.5 x 0.7 in (tablet and base)
    2.18 lb (tablet); 4.39 lb (tablet and base)
    16.25 hour battery life

    Faster CPU, Touchscreen, superior battery life, removable keyboard.

    HP Spectre 13t-3000 Ultrabook
    1.6Ghz Haswell Core i5
    4GB RAM
    128 GB SSD
    13.3" HD Infinity Display (1920x1080) Touchscreen
    12.75 x 8.66 x 0.59 in
    3.2 lb
    9 hours battery life

    Faster CPU, 1080p Touchscreen, comparable battery life.

    Toshiba Portege Z35-AST3N03
    1.6Ghz Haswell Core i5
    8GB RAM
    128 GB SSD
    13.3" (1366x768) Display
    12.44” x 8.94” x 0.55”/0.70”
    2.6 lb
    12 hours battery life
    $1000 (On sale for $900)

    Faster CPU, twice the RAM, same battery life.

    The Y410p still gives you a 2.5 GHz Haswell Core i5, and a dedicated GPU which is amazing, and despite its paltry 5.5 lb it's somehow too big to carry around? FYI, it also has an optical drive (Air doesn't) which you can replace with an UltraBay ($12 on Amazon) with whatever the hell 9.5mm hard disk you want to put in it. It's still $949 ($740 on sale), which is phenomenal. The Y410p gives its owner a more versatile product. With the Air, you're literally paying for less substance, and fewer options.

    Never mind that you can get Haswell i7 equipped laptops for the same price, the important part is that it crams the minimum required no frills hardware for a working computer into a 3 lb box. Lunacy! Smaller electronics certainly isn't the natural by-product of iterative electronics manufacturing, it's Apple being special. They are using the slowest Haswell available and putting it in a stylish aluminum marketing gimmick.

    At work I use 6 different laptops regularly for data acquisition: a couple of 10 year old Dell XPS's, a 5 year old Dell Inspiron, a ThinkPad, a newer HP EliteBook, and Panasonic Toughbooks (the only ruggedized one). I work in a climatic chamber where water spray is common, and stuff gets stacked on them all the time. None of them have had any problems, except the ThinkPad lost the little red nub in the middle of the keyboard. We have never had any of these test units replaced, and they get abused more than any office laptop. We are actually begging to have the XPS's replaced now because they're so slow, and just won't die.

    Gungan on
  • AethelBrandtAethelBrandt Registered User regular
    He completely lost me when he said that Bose was "actually a superior product"—the man clearly has no idea what he's talking about, and has clearly fallen for branding over actual quality. You can get a pair of Sennheisers or Grados for comparable or lower price than a similar pair of Bose headphones, at significantly better quality.

  • SiddownSiddown Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    Gungan wrote:
    OMG, you are just beyond stubborn with the ridiculous thickness and weight on a device that has to be placed in your lap or on a table to use.

    It's the major reason why people buy the device, to them it's important. I work in an industry where most of my peers fly at least twice a week (mostly Sunday nights/Monday mornings to clients, and Thursday nights back home).

    I get that this isn't important to you, but to many people who specifically buy Macbook Airs, it's important. And to just dismiss it because it's not what you want is just flat out ignorant.
    HP Split 13t-g100 x2 - Hybrid Ultrabook

    Users reviews complain that it's heavy and the battery life sucks (and their own website say "up to 10 hours", so the 16 hours must be only when it's in tablet, not really relevant). Geekbench just benchmarked it on November 9th, 2013, and it comes in at a third of the Macbook Air.

    So it's heavier, slower and has a worse battery, but other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?
    HP Spectre 13t-3000 Ultrabook

    This one is at least closer, its about the same size (about .2 lbs heavier though), but it is $100 cheaper. Checking out it's speed, in the month of November, five of them with i5 chips have been benchmarked. The best of which still trailed way behind the Macbook Air (by about a third). So for 10% lower price, you get something that weights about 7% more, is slower and has 75% the battery life.

    For some that's a fair trade of (as they probably wouldn't notice the speed), for others maybe not. I'm willing to call that a wash.
    Toshiba Portege Z35-AST3N03

    This looks like a very nice machine, out of all of them this is probably the nicest. But it still doesn't perform as well (although better than the HPs you listed). It's actually a bit lighter and it's battery life is good, so this would definitely be a worthy contender.

    Weird that I can't find a single User review on and it;s been out of a few weeks. Not on Amazon or even their own site, I'd be curious as to what people think. But I'll gladly concede that on hardware alone, unless speed is your number on priority (which isn't likely for most people), this is probably a better machine. Of course, if the User reviews come in and complain that it's made a cheap plastic, etc. then I'd change my mind.

    Now, personally I get a 10% discount from Apple because my firm (and plenty of other large companies) get discount from Apple, but even with that discount this would still come in at ~$90 less. I'd still pay the extra because I have an Apple store down the street, I have Apple TV (streaming video/music to the TV), and I have my MBP. But if someone didn't have any of that, this would be a good purchase.

    After all this work, you found ONE machine that (depending on reviews) is better than a Macbook Air for people who care about portability. To find any machine that actually beats the MBA on performance (not specs, actual performance), you need to go north of $1100, so can you honestly call it overpriced? Actually, ignore that, I'm sure you will find a way.

    Siddown on
  • SiddownSiddown Registered User regular
    You can get a pair of Sennheisers or Grados for comparable or lower price than a similar pair of Bose headphones, at significantly better quality.

    But there are dozens of other lower priced, horrible quality head phones out there of much worse quality. So to people in the know, yes you can just go out and get better headphones than Bose, but for people who don't know anything, buying Bose is a safe bet since they are better than 95% of the other ones out there.

    Although, I would argue that is because of name recognition, not due to price.

    I'd argue the same goes for Apple. If you know your stuff you can go find a machine that is at least on par with a good piece or Apple technology for cheaper (if you are having trouble sleeping, read my arguments with gungan below). But if you don't know anything about computers, you are much more likely to buy a piece of junk, because those pieces of junk make up 95% of the market. So instead, pay more for an Apple and chances are you'll be happy, buy a $400 laptop from Staples and within a year you'll have a paper weight.

    But again, that more about name recognition than price which is the underlying flaw of his argument.

  • GunganGungan Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    It's the major reason why people buy the device, to them it's important. I work in an industry where most of my peers fly at least twice a week (mostly Sunday nights/Monday mornings to clients, and Thursday nights back home).

    Uhuh. Next time they're around, toss 1.5lb worth of rolled quarters into the bottom of their laptop bag without telling them and see if they even notice. Anything under 5.5 lbs is already considered ultra portable.

    MacBook Air 4250U Geekbench average of 10 most recent results : 4510.

    HP Split 13t-g100 x2 - Hybrid Ultrabook

    The Geekbench result you're referring to is not the correct model (it doesn't come in the 4200Y flavor). The only 4202Y on Geekbench was an HP Spectre x2 ($1100) which scored 4357.

    The only difference between the Spectre x2 and Split x2 is that the Spectre has a 1080p display (vs 720p) and a backlit keyboard that join forces to lower its battery life to 12 hours. The guts are otherwise identical, so you can expect the Split x2 to perform the same.

    The 4202Y Split x2 is actually $850 at Best Buy (cheaper than the HP site, go figure), and user reviews are mostly quite favorable. The track pad seems to be overly sensitive for some (possibly a software fix?). Users also confirm 14+ hour battery life.

    So lets review again. Both of these options have equal performance as the MacBook Air, the same dimensions, only 1.5 lb heavier with equal or better battery life, one has a 1080p display and a backlit keyboard, both convert to tablets with 6+ hours of battery life, and neither exceeds the price of the Air. In addition, the Split x2 has the option to add a secondary hard disk inside the keyboard. You get more for your money from either option.
    HP Spectre 13t-3000 Ultrabook

    Again, Geekbench does not have a score for the most recent 4200U equipped Spectre, and there are no reviews on the most recent model either. However, last year's Ivy Bridge 3317U equipped Spectre Geekbench results averaged at 4367 and it's currently going for $880 on Amazon. On the other hand, Geekbench results for other 4200U equipped laptops averaged at 5500, and I expect similar results from this Spectre and the Toshiba: clearly better than the MacBook.

    I am starting to think all 3 of these are actually launching for the holidays because there are few or no reviews yet for any of them.

    Keep moving the goal posts and using out of date benchmarks though. Have fun. The fact that your comparisons yielded in favor of the Air by 33% should have clued you in that you weren't looking at the correct data, though I will admit Windows 8 is likely not contributing to performance.

    Just to be clear though, anything using onboard Intel Graphics is a horse in the race to the bottom.

    Yes, brand recognition is a useful tool for marketing departments to target people who can't be bothered to shop around. I think a lot of places need their employees to be more knowledgeable about the products too, though.

    Gungan on
  • TheMagicLemurTheMagicLemur Registered User regular
    Well, I can see why this would appeal to - ahem - certain individuals who can just plunk $25, $30, or more down without much concern.

    I have an entertainment budget of ten bucks a week, if I'm lucky. I'm not going to save for three weeks or more to risk buying a game that might not actually be enjoyable to me. I wait for sales and bundles and such for precisely that reason; if I end up not really enjoying the game, I'm out maybe ten bucks, tops.

  • whackowhacko Registered User regular
    The problem with pricing your game a little bit higher, as if it were a "premium" experience, is that you then have to live up to that expectation. If you don't, then there will be a lot of consumer backlash and the people who were disappointed in your premium-priced game are unlikely to trust you in the future.

    And unlike the Ferarri or Rolex used as examples in the article, people are unlikely to see you using an indie game which eliminates half the value to people to whom a "Veblen good" is an attractive purchase option.

    Sadly, the reality is that most indie games aren't worth a premium price tag. I am not saying that they aren't good games, but the vast majority of indie games lack the polish (either in sound, graphics, control layout, game balance, etc.) that would make it qualify as a premium experience.

  • theseumtheseum Registered User regular
    edited December 2013

    what you don't seem to grasp is that for a lot of people, $300 is what they spend on a bottle of wine. The macbook air is better than anything else, and whether it is overpriced is irrelevant.

    And even for those of us who don't have ridiculous amounts of money, spending an extra couple hundred bucks on a computer you are going to have for at least 3-5 years is worth it.

    theseum on
  • likalarukulikalaruku Registered User regular
    Won't work for me; I will wait two years to play a game if that's how long it takes to get a GOTYE or drop to $20.

  • ParatechParatech Registered User regular
    Sometimes waiting a couple of months nets you 50% or more discounts on games.
    Unless you don't have games that you are playing, or want to play the game right now, there's no reason to buy a game day 1.

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