SpyParty Early-Access Beta Pricing

Sorry I’ve been so quiet here and there, I’ve been heads-down working on the Early-Access Beta.  I’m obviously way behind on my original estimates of “mid-June”,1 and I apologize for that, but I’m getting closer, really I am!  I’m super honored so many people have signed up to support SpyParty’s development and to help playtest the game, and I can’t wait to get you folks invited in and playing.  I think it’s going to be a great time, assuming I ever actually get it working…

I’ve finally solidified my plan for the Early-Access Beta pricing, so I want to describe that here and hopefully answer any questions you might have in the comments.

There are going to be two pricing options:

  1. $15 USD — Like I’ve said elsewhere, $15 has become the de facto price point for AAA Indie Games, and it’s almost certainly what I’ll price the final game at on the various platforms, assuming XBLA, PSN, and Steam are still operating when I ship in 100 years. 2  I’m really happy there’s a “standard” price point for high quality indie games now, because it not only means I don’t have to think about it, but players also know what kind of experience they can expect for their money.  $15 doesn’t mean “budget game”, it means “awesome indie game” now, and that’s great for innovation and creativity.

    Your $15 gets you access to the beta SpyParty and all the updates during the beta, access to the private beta website, which includes forums for announcements, finding games, and discussing strategies, and eventually a bug/feature tracking system.3  You’ll also get the game for free when it releases on PC.  I can’t say for certain right now, but I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to give you a key for activating it on Steam or your digital distribution platform of choice.  If/when I end up doing a MacOS port, you can have that version too as part of the deal, in case you’d rather play there.  I probably won’t be able to give you a console version, but if I can figure out a way to do that, I will.

  2. Pay what you want above $50 USD — A significant number of people have asked if they can contribute more than $15 to help me make SpyParty, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, and I think I’ve figured out a neat way to let those who are interested do this.  When you get your invite mail, there will be the $15 option above, or an option to pay $50 or as much over $50 as you want. 4

    As you may have read, I am quite wary of extrinsic motivators and rewards, so I want people who contribute at this level to do it because they want to help me make a new and different kind of game.  They are not going to get any badges or stars next to their name in the game or in the forums, or any exclusive gadgets in the game, or a special plaid jacket, or a fancy hat, or anything like that.  If you’re playing the game, you will have no idea if your opponent paid $15 or $500 for SpyParty; it has been and always will be a pure player-skill game.

    I am incredibly grateful to everyone who joins the Early-Access Beta, at whatever price you decide to pay. I’m also incredibly grateful to the fans who follow the game and aren’t going to join the beta, but will buy SpyParty when it comes out, or even just help spread the word and contribute ideas because they think the game sounds interesting.

    However, as a special way of saying thank you for generously helping to fund the game, I am planning on putting everybody who contributes $50 or more in the game credits. There aren’t going to be any credits in the game until it ships, so again, this is not going to create a two-class system during beta testing. This is just a way of giving thanks and recognition to the people who put a little (or a lot) extra in when the game needed it most.

I got the idea for this credits thing from Dan Verssen at Dan Verssen Games.  Dan makes board games, and since board games have an up-front cost for printing, he takes preorders to both judge the popularity of a game and to fund its initial print run.  To thank the preorderers, he prints their names on the box, which I think is a wonderful way of including fans of the games in the development process.  Here’s the back of  his game U-Boat Leader as an example:

The heartfelt message from Dan at the bottom is how I feel about everyone who has shown interest in SpyParty as well.  It’s a pretty incredible feeling.

Okay, back to work.  Post any questions you have or clarifications you need in the comments.


  1. …as you wonderful folks are quick to point out at every opportunity! []
  2. That’s a joke, internet! []
  3. Intially I’m just going to use a subforum for bugs and features, but I’ll set up something like bugzilla or one of the other open-source ones once things are rolling. []
  4. To be honest, I think I limit the input box to 5 figures.  I will gladly make exceptions to this if you email me! []

107 Comments

  1. Ben Gronfors says:

    Would we be able to give the $15, and then after we play the game and see how awesome it is put forth another $35 and get the credits? Or would it have to be a one time payment deal?

  2. Phobia says:

    Perfect picture. I couldn’t have said it better. Keep up the work, be it good or bad, it’s progress.

  3. Chris says:

    It would be interesting to know how much additional effort it would take to make a Mac OS / linux port. Just out of curiosity.

    Don’t get me wrong I love the concept and as soon as it is released it will be in beta status I will play it (VM or the likes).

    • checker says:

      I will probably do MacOS as the first port just because it’s a lot easier than going to consoles, and getting code working on two platforms gets you a long way towards general portability (ignoring things like using the PS3 SPUs, etc.). That said, my brain cannot contain the concept of doing the port right this minute. :)

      Edit: I guess I didn’t answer the question…I dunno, maybe a couple months? I’m terrible at estimating this stuff. I also don’t even have a Mac right now…

    • Micha says:

      Would be great if you could spent little time on Wine compatibility if the linux port is too far away =)
      I’d be happy to invest 50$ if I can play it on my Debian machine =)

    • Hodge says:

      If you can bear farming the ports out to other people, it might be worth getting in touch with Ryan Gordon (icculus.org) for the Linux port. He ported some of the Humble Indie Bundle stuff (as well as about a hundred other things), and seems to be the ‘go-to’ guy for this kind of thing.

    • checker says:

      Spending time on WINE compatibility sounds like it could be a good tradeoff in the short term, assuming it works pretty well.  I’ll check it out (later :).

  4. Ian says:

    And with the Dollar dropping against the pound at the moment I could make a bargain donation.

  5. chequers says:

    I am deeply curious about your reasoning behind making the pay-what-you-want threshold so high.

    Here’s my ‘benevolent Chris’ theory: If the extra threshold was 1c, people paying the standard price of $15 would feel they were doing the bare minimum you expected of them and feel guilty about enjoying the game, which is a Bad Thing. By making the extra threshold so ridiculously high it’s a clear signal that you only expect this support from Notch and Garry Newman fighting it out on your leaderboard, and that the $15 price point is totally fine to pay.

    My ‘evil Chris’ theory is that you’re going to catch everyone who said they’ll pay more than $15 for this game and make them either pay a ridonkulous extra above what they meant or swallow their pride and go back on their word!!!

    • checker says:

      The benevolent Chris theory is closer to the truth, although I’m even more benevolent that that (or more afraid of the poison of extrinsic motivators), because there isn’t going to be a leaderboard, nor will there be any differentiation in the credits based on contribution.  Basically, yeah, if money’s an issue, please just pay the $15 and that is 100% completely and totally cool with me, and I truly appreciate it.  If you have some extra cash and want to help out more, then I could definitely use it to make the game better.  I didn’t want people to game the payments just to get their name in the credits, so I couldn’t do something like “pay above the average” or whatever; I feel like that stuff just puts people in a mindset that isn’t what I want.  Definitely don’t feel guilty about “only” paying $15, I will still work my butt off to make an awesome game for you.

    • McGravin says:

      I still don’t understand why I couldn’t contribute, say, $25. What about all the people for whom $50 is just beyond their budget but they want to help out above $15? I’m sorry, but your pricing scheme does not make any sense to me.

    • checker says:

      Yeah, I was trying to keep it relatively simple, but I’m not sure it’s the best pricing scheme ever. I’m going to leave it like it is for now because I’m too busy to change it, but I’ll try to provide ways for people to contribute more than the base price once the beta’s open. I really appreciate that you want to!

  6. Marco Antonio says:

    So do you have a plan to release this game on xbox360 and psn, why?

    • checker says:

      Do you mean “why would I release on 360 and psn”?  I would like to put the game everywhere people want to play it, because having a large community of active players is vital for a competitive player-skill game.  Consoles are a ways off, though.  I’m just focusing on the gameplay for a while.

    • chequers says:

      Is cross-platform multiplayer a goal, then? :D

    • Marco Antonio says:

      ok, thank you for the answer. I don’t have clear what the game is(I read the news from RPS today), but I am worried ALWAYS about a console release. Control are too much different, even audience is difference. I have to admit that my preorder would start without a console, but no prob, I am following your project with great attention :)

    • checker says:

      > cross-platform multiplayer

      Yeah, I’m going to push really super ultra duper hard on that.  I will probably go down in flames, but that’s part of the reason I’m spending all this time learning all the ins and outs of doing a modern secure backend infrastructure, so when somebody from a console platform says “you can’t do that because of X” I can say, “yes you can, you just need to do Y”.  At least this way I can fight through all the technical reasons they’ll start with when they say ‘no’, and then we’ll get to the pure political/business ones.

    • checker says:

      > console controls

      Don’t worry, I am making sure the game is equally playable mouse+keyboard and console controller.  One nice thing about SpyParty’s design is that there’s no advantage to either control scheme, unlike an FPS where the mouselook people would mop the floor with the console people if they were allowed to play together.

    • Ivor Marlow says:

      Is SpyParty going to be available for Mac? Been following its progress for (what feels like) ages, so excited to see the finished product.

    • Ivor Marlow says:

      Shit, just re-read the thread. Ignore me, I’m an idiot.

    • Vincent says:

      Skulls of the Shogun pulled this off, so there’s president, when you want to do that. It’s less about ‘waargh, security’ and more ‘oh, eight, the 360 is ancient, and requires hoop jumping’. The Skulls folks are reasonably nice – if you ask them at this year’s PAX, they’d probably give you some pointers.

    • checker says:

      Yeah, I’m friends with those guys.  PC< ->xbox is not a huge deal, I just really wish I could do xbox< ->ps< ->wiiu. That would be awesome, but also impossible due to politics.

  7. tim says:

    So when can I play beta? :)

  8. Logomorph says:

    shut up and take my money already!

  9. Martijn says:

    Looking forward too it more and more! though my vacation is almost at an end, i’m sure i can skip lectures the first day i can start playing ^^

    • jordy says:

      Surely playing SpyParty and outwitting your opponent will be much more educational and useful then any possible lecture yo could follow. That’s why my main course this year will probably be playing SpyParty..
      And, have to be honest, you’ll get some competition from Diablo3, but that’s no shame I imagine.

    • Martijn says:

      He also has Trouble in Terrorist Town as competition in my case. Also a behaviour analyzing game, rather addicting.

    • checker says:

      I still need to try that mod.  

      Oh, hey Martijn, the email address you’ve entered to subscribe to the comments is bouncing and has been for a while.  I’m going to unsubscribe it.  Sorry for the public comment, I didn’t have another way to contact you (since the email bounces).

  10. I can’t wait to play, especially since I wont be at PAX this year. =( I need to get my Spy Party fix!!!

    • jordy says:

      Speaking of which, will BETA, to the best of your estimation skills, be release before or after PAX this year?

    • DrowningRabbit says:

      I highly doubt it will be before PAX at this point. You’re cutting it rather close now. If the beta was to that point of being release worthy by now, I’d think we’d have had a bit more information and fanfare.

      With that said, I still sit, patiently waiting for the rapture.

    • checker says:

      No PAX for Nolan!?  I was planning on having you do booth duty again!

  11. Phil says:

    I enjoy every blog post knowing we’re getting closer and closer to the beta! By the way, if anyone wants to know their place in the signup queue it’s pretty easy to get an estimate. Check your signup confirmation email, there’s a date and time which you can compare with the signup graph at http://www.spyparty.com/2011/05/12/beta-data/. I’m approximately 2707th in line, which isn’t too shabby.

    I’m using ubuntu at the moment. I’m not that experienced in using WINE but can anyone tell me the likelihood of being able to run the beta this way?

  12. Jacob Dieffenbach says:

    *rubs debit card against the computer monitor* ITS NOT WORKING I WANT TO GIVE YOU MONEY! Wait… *flips card over so the stripe is facing the other way, taps against the screen* Nope, still not working…

  13. Timur says:

    I just hope Chris doesn’t burn out too soon. Hiring someone to fix easy bugs from pre-order money can be good idea. Sounds like he is crunching too hard for too long.  

  14. Kyle says:

    I’m trying to get my friends as excited about SpyParty as I am but sadly they don’t know a good game when they see one and it’s proving to be an uphill battle. However, I’m confident that I can get them hooked if I can sit down with them and play some head to head matches in person. To be honest I would normally just pirate the game and say problem solved, but I refuse to do that with an indie title. So my question is, should I buy a second Beta copy or will you support something like the Starcraft Spawn copies?

    • checker says:

      There won’t be LAN play or spawn copies at the very beginning, because I’m drowning, but I plan to do something like this.  In the short term, I’m going to try to get a way for you to at least get your friend invited when you get your invite, but even that is a bunch of code I have to write on the backend to do it right.  They’ll still have to pay for an account, it’ll just be a short circuit invite so they don’t have to wait in line (hell, I haven’t even had time to make a press-code thing, so journalists are either going to have to pay for it like everybody else, or wait until I get that implemented :).

      I totally understand that being able to get your friends in easily is going to be key to it taking off, so I want to get the problem solved as soon as I can.

  15. TehShrike says:

    Frozen Synapse cost 25$ and hasn’t had any difficulty selling (though it is PC-only – charging 25$ would probably be a lot more shocking on XBLA and PSN).

    Another thing that Frozen Synapse did very right: EVERY purchase of the game came with an extra key to gift to whoever you like.  Especially in a 1v1 strategic game with a learning curve, this resulted in the quick viral spread of people in love with the game.

    The Mode 7 team has said they are very glad they went with the extra-key plan.

    Also, I’m really stoked for Spy Party. <3

  16. Soupnazi says:

    Ohman, this is so awesome. I like how you won’t be giving extra credit to people who got the beta, either.

  17. Cramill says:

    Maybe this was answered elsewhere, but I thought I’d ask. Will the early access beta (or the game in general) have the ability to play 2 players on a LAN with the same beta key? Or would that require 2 copies?

    • checker says:

      It was answered elsewhere deep in some comments on another post, but I need to lift it out to the FAQ.  In the meantime:  it’s not going to work LAN-only at all at first (well, it doesn’t connect to the internet until you want to go play other people, so you can practice on your machine all you want, but the practice modes are pretty rudimentary right now, they’re okay for practicing but they’re not fun by themselves), and each player will require an account.  I will definitely figure out how to do the spawn copy thing, and LAN play, and all that, but it’s going to be a while.

  18. Pete Vigeant says:

    If they *do* put in $50 or more, we could have an exclusive live-action session in the city… just an idea.

  19. HothMonster says:

    Howdy, Checker

    Did you send out the confirmations for the early early beta people yet? I know you said you wanted to send out an email to make sure people knew what they were signing up for. I haven’t received such an email. I know its probably because you haven’t sent it yet but I get nervous.

  20. George B says:

    I’d like to get my name in the credits just to add to the ‘games shipped’ part of my portfolio :)  

    • checker says:

      Hah, I didn’t think of that!  Hmm, I wonder how mobygames will handle it if I have 100,000 people in the credits.  :)

      Edit: Speaking of lots of people in the credits, I’m kind of hoping a ton of people sign up for that, not only because that would help fund the game, but I’m loving the idea of having to write special fancy credits code that lets you fly through a zillion names in the credits, search for your name, sort them different ways, etc.

    • George B says:

      Sold!

      (also don’t tell anyone about my mobygames subterfuge, it’s part of the SpyParty ARG) 

  21. Jais says:

    Heartfelt and informative ^_^

    Will absolutely be donating to this!

  22. Kolya says:

    I don’t know the last time I’ve been this excited to pay someone some money for a game!! Oh wait, yes I do… it was when I pre-ordered Overgrowth.

    Can’t wait to get my beta.

    Thanks Chris!

  23. Ron says:

    I’m very eager at this point.

  24. justin says:

    I want to help more, but can’t… I’m  18a and no job plus college expenses.
    But i actually wanted the game for PS3 on PSN soo…
    I guy the BETA now for Steam when it release For 15$ and then when in PSN
    I give you 15$ so I really give you 30$, Happy? so you know I have your back Cheker!
    It will not get the money in time when you need it to make game all the potential you see in it
    but it’s still helping you, right? maybe for next game, hmm? i want to see your 2nd game!
    I don’t want to be in the credits i just want to help you. happy!?
    What do you say.  

    • checker says:

      Even the $15 is massively helpful, so no worries, and I really appreciate it!  I definitely don’t want people who can’t afford the higher price to feel bad about it, any support, even just following the game and talking about it to your friends is hugely helpful!

  25. John says:

    The beta will be on PC right? (stupid question, I know)

  26. Geo says:

    I hope you are prepared to have the longest credits ever.

  27. lobstilops says:

    Alright, so I may just not have read exactly or I might be retarded.

    But if I pay this $15 right now, can I play it right now? Or do I have to wait until either beta or release…?

    This is the only part that is confusing me because I see early-access beta but I am not exactly sure what this entails. My credit card is waiting and needs it’s satisfaction! Help!

    Oh, and thanks. ;P

    • checker says:

      There’s no way to pay yet, because I haven’t finished writing the code.  The signup available now is just to get in line.  Eventually, you’ll get an invitation mail, and at that point you’ll be able to satisfy your credit card, and you’ll be able to download the game immediately.  I don’t want to take anybody’s money until they can play the game.

    • lobstilops says:

      Ohhhh Ok. I thought you could pay now. I will go sign up… sorry for wasting your time ;P Just got a bit confused :D Thanks for the help.

  28. dwarf says:

    Hi, i’m really interested in your game, and i’m really thinking about investing in it. But i’m french and i prefer paying by paypal, is it possible or not?

  29. Tim says:

    I can’t commit money to a game without playing it first, so unfortunately I won’t be taking part in your beta. However, I am very intrigued by the concept. This game is at the top of my radar. Thanks for all the hard work! Is steamworks a viable cross-platform solution? Would love to play this with PSN and Steam friends.

  30. James says:

    That is a lot of money to be asking for a game that isn’t developed enough to have a demo.

  31. Jared says:

    Please give me a beta.

  32. Rydell says:

    So how does one go about investing in such an interesting game?

  33. Joe says:

    Any thought on IOS once you’ve conquered MacOS? Spy party on iPad would be great.

  34. Ryan says:

    $15 is a lot to ask for a beta that we haven’t even tried yet

    • checker says:

      There’ll be a demo once I release the game, but that won’t be for a long time. The Early-Access Beta is for people who are really motivated to help out with the development of SpyParty, and it’s totally cool if some people don’t feel comfortable doing that and want to wait for the release!

  35. ima420r says:

    I want to try this out and help with the beta but paying for the beta is asking a lot. Trying the beta and if I like it being able to pay for it would be better. Plus, I would rather have the game on xbla and if I pay $15 I will only have it on PC (though a possible Steam code is a plus). And what is with the price point thing? Who says $15 is the set price for indy games? I have paid as little as $1 and as much as $30, there is no real set price for a game, it’s all based on how much time and money is put into it and how much needs to be charged to make a profit.

    • checker says:

      Hi, yeah, I probably won’t be able to give out XBLA codes when I ship due to Microsoft’s policies; I’d love to, though. Steam is really cool about that stuff, though, I’m pretty sure that’ll work out. As for the price, it just seemed like the right price for the game, given the depth and quality I’m shooting for, other games of the same scale, my funding needs, etc. I’m assuming there’ll be some kind of demo at some point, but it’s going to be a while before that happens. I totally understand some people don’t like to pay for betas, and that’s fine with me, I’m happy just to have fans whether they join the beta or not!

  36. Repeating Digits says:

    That’s a pretty bold move there Champ. 15 bucks for a small, simplistic game, with devs that can’t even keep up with their own milestones? I’m definitely in for something good here. This is like paying 15 dollars for a Mario Party mini game, except it’ll be unfinished for months/years and be riddled with bugs.

    • checker says:

      Sounds like you’re the kind of person who’d rather wait for the release and demo to check it out, and that’s fine with me! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when/if you finally try playing it if you think it’s going to be simplistic. It is, however, riddled with bugs right now. :)

  37. DuMaNue says:

    Thanks for the beta info, would we be able to beta the macOS version before release? Because you don’t have a mac and I’m only on a mac, mac book air for that matter, and I won’t have access to a PC but still would like to help beta test the game. And I know you’ve said you will probably have a macOS version in the works once the PC version is done, but would that be before or after beta is over do you think?

    • checker says:

      It currently runs great on Wineskin, which is an emulator for the Win32 API on MacOS. I’m blown away by how well it works, actually. A ton of beta testers are using it. So, no need to wait! Eventually there will be a native port, of course, but for now, Wineskin makes it a non-issue.

    • DuMaNue says:

      That’s fantastic, thank you. Apologies for a followup question, but would we need to download wineskin and set it up ourselves with your OC version, or would you have a fully working wineskin ready for us to d/l and test?

    • checker says:

      No problem with the followups!  You have to install it yourself, but it’s pretty easy, and there’s a thread in the beta forums that walks you through every step.

  38. Lucasxplode says:

    Where do you buy this game?

  39. Totex says:

    Have you tried Kickstarter @ http://www.kickstarter.com/ i know of several projects that went on with this site

    • checker says:

      I hope to not have to do a Kickstarter. It’s an option, of course, but I’d rather just do a paid beta, and directly trade a cool game for money, rather than do all the video and hype and rewards and all that other stuff that’s distracting from making said game cooler.

  40. Antman says:

    Hmmm, I think I’m out. Call it “kickstarter fatigue” or “Charity ennui” but I’m fed of with paying for games before they are out.
    Maybe I’m a bit oldschool but I’d rather part with money when it comes out. It is a tough economy, but you should have some responsibility of making your game off your own back, why should I take the risk instead of you by giving money upfront with no guarantee that you will either finish it or make good on your promises.
    If you receive a gargantuan amount of money do you think you could linearly scale the final product? Or just laugh all the way to the bank.

    • checker says:

      Like I’ve said before, I’m totally fine with people waiting until the game is released, just hit the unsubscribe link in your invite mail and the scripts won’t pester you again. However, in case it’s not clear, this isn’t like a Kickstarter where there’s no game and you’re giving money and hoping to get something to play eventually. SpyParty is fully playable and has been for a couple years, and there are lots of people in the beta playing it every day. You can watch a bunch of games at varying skill levels on the streams page: http://spyparty.com/streams

  41. Rj says:

    Gah! Hurry up and send my invite so you can take my money and I can get overwhelmed by the awesomeness of your game! Its a win win here.

  42. Cory says:

    Two years after signing up and I just now got a beta invite

    • checker says:

      You got one of the re-sends, so the internet must have eaten your first invite. Sending mail in 2013 is such a disaster, I can’t wait to open the beta and get out of the invites business!

  43. Sliver says:

    Wait, so we’re paying full price for an early beta? No discount even? Wow, at least include a second key to play with our friends if you’re doing this.

    • checker says:

      I’ll probably eventually do some kind of discount for two like Frozen Synapse did, but right now I don’t want to mess around with sales and other incentive type things, I just want to focus on making the game awesome.  I’ve actually been thinking about potentially raising the price after I put the new artwork in, since it’s taking a lot longer and costing more to make than I thought, so you might be getting a discount at $15 and just not know it yet.  No idea whether I’ll do that, time will tell.  For now, you should buy it if you think it’s something you want early access to, and if not, it’s totally cool to wait until you feel like it’s worth it!

  44. Hemingjay says:

    Can you set up an easy way to purchase gift-able copies? I like to support and promote great indie games like this at my home forum Bay12(home of Dwarf Fortress). I hold giveaways there which increases awareness of good games and tends to inspire people who don’t win to buy it. It also helps keep our forum community close.

    Long story short, I would like a way to buy 5-10 copies so I can give them away but the current purchasing method won’t really work for that. Any way you can help with this transaction?

    • checker says:

      Yeah, I want to do gifts really soon, thanks so much for your interest!  I’ll try to do it in the next couple weeks! Send me mail at support at spyparty dot com if you want to try to do it now, I’ve got a kind of hacked way to make it work that I’ve done before, but it’s not great.

  45. 7ravekiller7 says:

    Maybe you could use kickstarter to help your game further?

    • checker says:

      I’m hoping the paid beta will fund the game to completion. Kickstarter can be useful, but preparing the campaign and doing all the basically-mandatory reward levels and whatnot is a huge distraction from making the game, and the paid beta will hopefully allow me to just focus on making the game awesome.

  46. Shaun says:

    I registered, payed for the game, then clicked a link that said return to spyparty. It says i have payed for the game but i forgot to do step 3, will i still be able to play without paying again? or is there a place i can go to play now? P.S i have already checked my email and have not received a confirmation email.

    • checker says:

      Yeah, I did an update on the server and it broke one of the scripts.  I’m manually getting your account in shape now, and I’ll send you mail from support at spyparty.com in a sec.  Sorry about the trouble!

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