Creating a sustainable financial model for the Infinity games

A huge amount of work has been put into updating the Infinity games (President, Congress, Prime Minister U.K. and Canada), but it isn’t sustainable without a better financial model to support that development. A better model will give a stable financial basis so we can continue to invest in the Infinity games and expand our investment beyond what we are doing now.

So, I am announcing we will be moving to a base product + subscription model. What does this mean for you?

For someone buying a game new, that means the game + 1 year of updates and customer support. After that, a person can choose to purchase a yearly subscription for $8. (If the subscription isn’t renewed, a person can renew later on but for $12.)

The subscription covers updates and support for all the games you own, so if you own all 4, you get updates to all 4 for $8 a year.

If you already own the game, you will be grandfathered in for updates and customer support for a certain amount of time. You will be grandfathered for from 1 year if you just purchased to a minimum of 3 months for anyone who purchased more than 9 months ago.

Game development will move to an official release for each major product every 3 months or so. So on a subscription, you can expect 4 official updates per year per product. The goals for upcoming releases will be stated clearly on the web-site for next release.

Feedback is welcome! I want to make sure any concerns or potential improvements to the model we’re moving to can be evaluated before making the switch.

Anthony Burgoyne, Lead Designer, 270soft

49 thoughts on “Creating a sustainable financial model for the Infinity games

  1. A possible alternative would be DLCs for perhaps certain campaigns (like Florida 2018). This idea has been proposed before and not much came of it.

  2. Yes, that’s an option, and I’m open to feedback on that, but I prefer making it more simple.

  3. That seems reasonable. For a while I’ve been wondering how it’s financially feasible to buy the game once and then keep getting updates for years.

    Did I understand correctly that the plan is to pay for the upgrades, and not for access to the game itself? Some games have a subscription where you only get access to the game while you pay the subscription. Your access to the game stops when you don’t pay, even if you’ve paid for years before. That always seems unfair to me, because you already paid for the game earlier. But I gather that isn’t the case here?

  4. I like both options the DLC and the subscription, but I do not know how many people play the game and DLC work for games like Battlefield and Call of Duty where there are millions of players. The subscription would give a larger amount of money but if you promise us four updates a year per game, and one my take longer than expected that could, cause problems.

    The DLC option would mean that the player could craft the exact game they want, but what would the DLC be in price.

  5. I would much prefer the DLC options for several reasons
    1. Greater focus on efficency, a set deadline would lead to much more pressure to implement features which may very well lead to the feature being extremely buggy.
    2. I, as well as I bet most people bought the game under the assumption that they’d receive updates until the product’s end of life.
    3.One additional thing you could do is limit the amount of computers a single copy of the game can be installed on. If someone needs an extension they can email you for a special key allowing them to install on more than one computer.

  6. @Berg2036,

    The goal would be 4 a year. Yes, it could cause problems if there is a significant overrun, and that is where structuring the goals carefully (making sure the game can be released without requiring months of additional development) and making modest goals becomes important.

  7. @NYRepublican,

    These are all good points.

    1. Yes, there’s something I refer to as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of Software Development. Just as you can’t know both the location and momentum of a particle at the same time, you can’t know both the release date and the features that will be included in that release.

    That is why being careful about structuring the goals and being modest about goals is important. Having said that, these would be goals, not deadlines, and subject to revision. They simply give both the development team and customers an idea of what to expect and focus on.

    2. Yes, I am sure some people think that. I believe the web pages say ‘minor updates’ are included. However, I have been consistently adding major updates for a long time now.

    Not on Patreon.

  8. @Anthony
    the PI web page says “You can order and receive the latest release version immediately (and then all subsequent updates).” it doesn’t differentiate between major and minor updates.

  9. The PMI-UK page says “You can order and receive the latest release version immediately (and then all subsequent updates).”

  10. You’re right – it should say ‘and then all subsequent updates as we move towards the election’, which is what the PI page says (and is now out of date, as that refers to the 2016 election).

  11. @NYRep,

    Wasn’t able to find that text on the PI page. It qualified it with ‘as we move towards the election’.

  12. With this new policy, that would effectively end those products as they were, and start new products that are more sustainable, as the intent is to significantly change the games, effectively creating new versions.

  13. This seems like a sensible and practical idea for product evolution. $8 is great value to cover the products. Its good to hear there are ideas for a long term strategy.

  14. I certainly agree that you need to move to a different model for the games to be sustainable – I’ve had every iteration of either PI or PMI since PM4E Canada 2011 came out and other than paying for each different game, I haven’t paid anything more despite the vast changes and improvements that have been made. That’s been wonderful for me but I’m sure it’s been quite difficult for Anthony. Indeed, I was talking to some friends who play a couple of weeks back about this very issue and all of us said we would be willing to pay more for either DLCs or a subscription model. It may be a niche area of gaming, but there is certainly an enduring fan-base and I am sure I am not alone in being more than happy to contribute more to the development of the games.

  15. I defidently perfer the subscription model!!! And I really hope since you are doing this that you will bring back the be a president/political career game we wanted.

  16. Also if we own the inifinity games right now can we just opt into the subscription program? Or have to buy all new products first?

  17. Honestly, I would probably be fine with this or any other option (would even pay more than suggested in this post; though I’m only really interested in PI/CI/PMI-UK). The products are fantastic, as is the support/service.

    I’ve been a bit busy so I haven’t had a chance to catch up on new releases, but would these features be included in future DLC/updates? I think they have been mentioned as suggestions but I’m not sure which are part of the official plan:

    (1) Official France Presidential scenario
    (2) Favorability
    (3) Demographics
    (4) Some feature that allows primary losers (maybe based on animus or platform distance from nominee) to run third party or as independents

  18. Thanks everyone for the feedback!

    @TheMiddlePolitical,

    If you own already, you just opt into the subscription.

  19. I believe this change is more than reasonable, and I completely support the policy change if it ensures continued development of current and future games. I have purchased the various games since President Forever 2012. Not once, have I come across the game I did not immensely enjoy. The support for said games have been fantastic, and would be very much worth the subscription in my opinion. As both a political enthusiast and gamer, you can imagine I very much want to see the games succeed and have the needed financial support. I do have one question: will this change in financial policy be able to cover quality of life improvements desired by the community, such as full-screen support and possibly mobile apps on iOS and Android down the road? Thank you for the amazing software, Anthony.

  20. I am not really a fan of subscription due to the fact that I prefer to buy things as I have the money for them. With that, may I suggest having the ability to just buying the updates as they come available? Personally, I would even be willing to consider paying a little more per update at that point for some of the logistics that might take.

  21. Actually, thinking about it a little more, maybe my case would be a little more feasible if it wasn’t a nessecarily an auto-renewing subscription (but can be if others would like).

  22. I have one ask: Update existing campaigns for free (new ones for DLC, let’s say UK election called next week) and make patches free. I will pay a pot of gold (£8) for a state (£13) for a full-blown election.

  23. Thanks again everyone for the feedback.

    @Dallas,

    “will this change in financial policy be able to cover quality of life improvements desired by the community, such as full-screen support and possibly mobile apps on iOS and Android down the road?”

    Yes, that’s a big part of doing this – to be able to continue updating the games. Full-screen support is something I would like to see happen – mobile phones is more problematic, as it would probably require a complete redo of the user interface, but iOS and Android tablets are possible.

  24. @Dustin,

    I’ll be looking into subscription options, but my guess is you would be able to disable auto-renew.

  25. @Astrok,

    Existing campaign updates and patches would be included under the subscription, as well as new campaigns. Does this address your request?

  26. Anthony
    ID be OK with the subscription model, Though I would like a few things done
    1)Full screen support
    2) since thatll probably require a redesign anyway and the GUI kit is the main issue regarding a linux port maybe have a linux port?

  27. @NYRep,

    I figured you’d make it about porting to Linux! 🙂

    Yes, full-screen support is something I’d like to see done.

    The Linux tools will probably mature in the next few years, and at that point it would become more feasible. In the meantime, an emulator is the best bet on that OS.

  28. @Anthony,
    Well,for now I’m sticking to Windows after I had to wipe my hard drive due to a failed dualboot (due to a mistake completely of my own making). Anyway I hope to install it to this 1 TB external hard drive I have mainly for backing up bug I figure I might as well make it more useful by installing Linux on it so I plan to do it soon.I’d be nice to not have to reboot into Windows when I do get around to installing it to that

  29. @Anthony Yes thanks. Could you patch UK PMI AI is not researching scandals or chasing endorsements anymore?

  30. @Atrok,

    I believe this has been fixed in the latest internal (not released yet), but it is noted to double check.

  31. I believe that the subscription model is what would work best for the development of the infinity games under ideal circumstances. My only concern is that there has been relatively little progress for President Infinity or Congress Infinity in over a year.

    When Favorability, Voting Blocs, and Issue Spectrums were announced last January, there was some level of expectation that some of the features would be playable or at least worked on within the next year. I have a lot of trouble trusting a subscription based model when there’s been so little done over the past year to change PI outside of a few GUI updates and editor updates.

    Working on contemporary campaigns never seems to really work out how it is expected to. You’ve focused on the snap election, the French election, and soon to be the Florida senatorial election, and while I believe these all to be respectable goals it seems like work on actual gameplay has diminished greatly. I’d prefer to see work done on gameplay aspects first, and for now the community seems more than capable of handling these contemporary elections that are slowing other progress.

  32. @CalebsParadox,

    Thanks for this feedback, it’s important and I want to address a couple of your concerns.

    You’re right that 2017 focused mostly on Prime Minister Infinity. Having said that, February 28th, 2018 was a major release of President Infinity ( https://270soft.com/2018/02/28/president-infinity-v-2-7-2-released/ ). Congress Infinity had a major release on March 22nd, 2018 ( https://270soft.com/2018/03/22/congress-infinity-v-2-7-5-released-windows-mac/ ). If you think all that’s been changed with PI (or CI for that matter) is a few GUI and Editor updates, I would recommend looking at the release notes with each of those.

    Having said that, I hear you – major features like Favorability have been pushed back. My view is if you want to see features like Favorability, Voting Blocs, and Issue Spectra, the best way to ensure that is to make sure that there’s a sustainable financial basis to game development. This is exactly what adding Subscriptions is designed to do.

  33. You don’t update the game enough to make any of this worth it. Plus, the updates are rarely extensive.

  34. $8 is a great price. I like the idea a lot.

    Although not sure I agree with your use of the term ‘major release’ to describe patches like this: https://270soft.com/2018/04/25/goals-for-next-major-releases/
    Don’t get me wrong, the work is appreciated and it adds up. I just think “major release” is a bit over the top there.

    Maybe the aim should be 3ish ‘minor’ releases, and then one more comprehensive ‘major’ release each year per game. Like adding the option for a preferential electoral system for PM Infinity UK – that’s a massive job I’d expect to be a headlining feature, and which might take you longer than most patches to develop.

    I don’t mind if the patches vary in ambition, what really matters is just that we’re clear what we get for the money over the balance of an average subscription year, and that you have the flexibility to occasionally work on bigger projects / additions that take longer than one patch cycle.

    Just some thoughts. I’ll probably be on board either way.

  35. @Robert,

    Thanks for this feedback re major or minor releases.

    The intent was to distinguish between minor bug fix updates and ones that add new features or campaign, and you’re probably right it is better to use ‘major’ more carefully. Using something like your meaning here, the aim is 2 major releases, 2 minor releases, per year, per product. So, a major or minor release every 3 months, with major releases about 6 months apart.

  36. So the subscription is on TOP of the regular game price? Does the game stop working if the subscription is not renewed? I also wonder if there might be additionally a “premium” subscription option that would allow access to all games.

  37. @Servo75,

    Regular game price includes the game and 1 year of updates + customer service from time of purchase. If the subscription isn’t renewed, the game keeps working but there aren’t further updates + customer service. The $8 covers subscriptions to all games that have been purchased.

  38. @Anthony any chance of a modernization of K4E or at least a patch so it works correctly without admin rights.

  39. @NYRep,

    No, K4E’s code base is about 10 years out of date.

    PMI at some point might have MMP voting, we’ll see.

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