Creating a sustainable financial model for the Infinity games – adding subscriptions

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, they get 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 an initial rate of $12, then $8 after that.)

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.

This is effective May 27th, so anyone who purchased 9 or more months ago will have their updates and customer service period expire on August 27th, 2018. For everyone else, the date is 1 year from their original purchase date.

You can tell when your current updates + customer service will need to be renewed here (and clicking to get a redownload e-mail). You will be e-mailed before the renewal time to let you know, if you haven’t already added a subscription.

You can also add 1 year to your subscription term beforehand here so you don’t have to worry about it. (This will add 1 year after the point it is set to expire, so the new expiry date will become September 1st, 2019 if it’s set to expire September 1st, 2018).

Game development will move to an official release for each major product every 3 months or so. This is an estimate. 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, but these are goals and subject to revision.

Anthony Burgoyne, Lead Designer, 270soft

Q&A

Q. I already own the game. Does this mean I have to purchase it again?

A. No. If you are an owner, you only have to purchase a subscription ($8 per year) to continue receiving updates and customer service after your current term expires (August 27th, 2018 or later, depending on when you originally purchased).

Q. Will I be able to keep playing the game if I don’t get or renew a subscription?

A. Yes. You can keep playing the latest version available before your subscription expired.

Q. Can I unsubscribe?

A. Yes. At any time, if you added an auto-renewing subscription and don’t want your subscription to renew, simply contact us and we will cancel the subscription renewal for you.

Q. Are you promising 4 updates per year for each product?

A. No, but the goal is 4 updates for each of the Infinity games per year, roughly once every 3 months.

Q. I thought I would get updates until the end of the products’ life-times when I originally purchased. Isn’t this unfair?

A. The option here is between switching to a subscription model for the Infinity games, or to stop updating the games. Since the intent of subscriptions is to allow 270soft to significantly change the games, this new policy effectively starts new products that are more sustainable.

Q. Are you on Patreon?

A. No. Adding extra features for something like Patreon means more time spent not making the games better. If you want to support us more, the best way to do that is to give feedback, help with creating campaigns, and let other people know about the games!

Q. Will this change be able to cover improvements desired by the community, such as full-screen support and possibly mobile apps on iOS and Android down the road?

A. Yes, that’s a big part of doing this – to be able to continue updating the games. Full-screen support is something that might 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.

42 thoughts on “Creating a sustainable financial model for the Infinity games – adding subscriptions

  1. I can understand within reason the need to do this. But the President Infinity game was announced with the possibility of a two-round presidential system and a France 2017 scenario which were both important reasons to buy. Can we still expect them at some point? Because if not I’m not so confident wether the subscription model can actually work.

  2. @Prometheus,

    Yes. The point of adding subscriptions is so that we can continue to work on features such as two-round. Those are both currently planned to be added.

  3. Sounds good – Can you set up the system to send out an e-mail reminder so we know when to pay for the subscription? Maybe a week before our existing subscriptions expire?

  4. I would echo the sentiments expressed previously: the French election is something I am dying to play and I feel like you keep saying it’s being added, but there hasn’t been an actual date. Will you commit to actual dates and deadlines?

  5. @thr33,

    Yes. You can also add 1 year to your subscription at any time.

    @Rogerstoneyou,

    I’m very careful with committing to specific dates for specific features. The reason is that it’s quite difficult to accurately estimate both – a specific feature and a specific date. I call this the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of Software Development. You can know one, or the other, but knowing both is tricky. Committing to release dates often means people who are ticked off because you said it would be released at a certain time and then it wasn’t.

    The French election requires 2-round, which requires the ability to model voter flow after the first round, which requires the Favorability feature. The Favorability feature is the next planned major feature to be added to President Infinity, but estimating just that prerequisite is difficult at this point. I believe Favorability will be committed to for the next major release cycle. Once that is done, two-round, France 2017, and so on, are a lot closer to being implemented.

  6. Q. Are you promising 4 updates per year for each product?

    A. No, but the goal is 4 major updates for each of the Infinity games per year, roughly once every 3 months. The goals for upcoming releases are here.

    Please pay $8 per month while I provide you nothing but “goals”. Reasonable. You’re better off with a pay-to-purchase DLC or an expansion pack.

  7. @anthony

    I think this is fair, since we want you to make money so you can keep producing and improving these games. That said, I think that having such a system will definitely put pressure on making sure basic functions of the game exist. For instance, candidates not dropping out in PI is a serious flaw. If I didn’t already own the game, I would be extremely hesitant to buy the game if I knew of this flaw. If I didn’t know about it, and I bought the game, I would likely be upset, questioning whether I should get a subscription, unless the update was declared eminent.

  8. @Nick,

    I considered pay-to-purchase DLC or expansion packs, but decided against it. First, because it becomes complex to manage quickly. Let’s say you have a Favorability feature as a pay-to-purchase. Now you have to write code that works with or without Favorability. It quickly becomes a big headache. Second, let’s say you add a new campaign, Florida 2018 Senatorial, say. That doesn’t have the problems inherent in a major new game engine feature, but now you don’t want users to mod and distribute the campaign, so you don’t let people post modded Florida campaigns and so on. That attitude is antithetical to a major feature of the Infinity games – open exchange and modifiability of campaigns.

  9. Will I be automatically signed up to this? I’m not interested in a subscription at all, and if you have to do it, I do not plan to be on it.

  10. @TooManyIdeas,

    No, you will not be automatically signed up for a subscription. Once your current term is close to expiring, you’ll be notified that it’s about to expire.

  11. @Chris,

    Creating a new version once per year means holding back on major features until they’re bundled at a later date. I’d rather get feedback sooner, and get new features into users’ hands sooner.

  12. I might have asked this before, but is there a possibility of having a subscription model that covers multiple games? i.e. instead of each separately, maybe President Infinity + Congress Infinity, or President + UK, or is it all a la carte?

  13. I fully support this; I certainly get that much worth of enjoyment each year from these games. It’s great to support a publisher who’s making games that cover elections outside the US each well. Hopefully this model can help support not only improvements to existing games, but also expansions, such as covering elections in more Canadian provinces, etc.

  14. I remember you saying something a while back about creating a new game where you have to actually play as the President…is that still in the works? I’d buy it in a heartbeat if it ever came to be.

  15. What about favorability? Any updates on that? To be honest, President Infinity’s 2016 scenario still feels very broken unless you play as Clinton, and the 2016 scenario is the core of the game at the moment. If you play as anyone other than a Dem, by the time primaries are over the GOP always has a *massive* lead from bleed over from the primary campaign. That seemed like a very important thing to fix with the core concept of the game before branching out to proportional representation and the like, then moving on to Congress Infinity and then the Prime Minister game before (at least I felt) you ever had a working version of the President game.

    I’m not completely sold on the idea of signing up for a subscription and then waiting to see if the game finally starts to work. Favorability has been discussed for almost two years now.

  16. @Tanner,

    Yes, Favorability is the next major feature planned to be added to President Infinity. I’ll look into the 2016 campaign dynamics you are referring to.

  17. @Michael,

    I want to add incumbency features to President Infinity. In time, this might come to approximate a Be President game, but if so, it won’t happen for some time. The focus is on elections.

  18. I’m in. I have been playing some version of this game (a lot) for 8 years. Given the thousand plus hours of entertainment I’ve gotten from it, I feel like I’ve barely paid for it at all. That’s not even counting the free updates for all of these years, plus access to user created scenarios. Eight bucks a year is a no brainer for me.

  19. If we allow our subscription to expire, but later decide to subscribe to obtain an update, would the $8 price stand or would we need to repurchase at full price?

  20. I’m ready to pay $8 a year to support a worthy cause. I’m really happy the focus has been on developing statewide scenarios. That being said, I see major issues with making this realistic as far as fundraising and advertising goes. What approach are you taking to making sure that advertising isn’t too expensive or inexpensive and fundraising isn’t unrealistic or minimal?

    I would also like to see the game not allocate CP’s to targeting. I find this an issue with nationwide campaigns but even more so with states with 100+ counties. Too tedious, too long, and not enough days by the time the CP’s replenish. Allow targeting to be CP free and as many or little at a time. Allows the user to take a week by week approach of changing strategy instead of having to stick with the areas targeted due to the CP’s and time spent to target it.

    Election night for Statewide campaigns. I think it will be really anticlimactic to stick with the two different time zones. The results will be finished quickly. I would add an alogorithim where counties report randomly after x polls close but not immediately. We know that when polls close they don’t report as soon has it happens. Allow counties to report after x time but not after x time but let them choose when to report. Makes it more exciting and also keeps the user on edge and allows the user a different election night experience every time.

    I would also like the ability to turn all polls off and play in the dark.

    For popular vote races, turn off estimated votes and just keep poll number.

  21. I really want to emphasize not allocating CP’s to target. I find myself not playing the game as much because it’s too much of a hastle to target and clicking each state to run for ever ad turns into a full time job.

  22. I can spend a week targeting 2 or 3 states that appear competitive but are just a polling glitch but we’re never in contention. But guess what, I just wasted a week using my CP’s to go after them, now I’m spending money to finance them and I’m stuck with them when I click the target all button, even wasting more money on them. This is a major setback in gameplay. And again, another reason why I don’t play as much.

  23. ALso, another glitch is Newspapers. If I run with the strategy of running newspaper ads nationwide I can win election easy and spend no money. Let’s be honest, this isnt realistic. Newspapers should have a lot less impact. Digital ads should replace this feature and it would make a lot more sense.

  24. @Rz,

    Advertising and fundraising have campaign-specific variables, which will help in fine-tuning.

    Feedback re targeting and CPs noted.

  25. Should those of us who are only getting 3 months expect a two round voting system for PI or an updated CI for 2018?

  26. I’m conflicted about this.

    I can see that there obviously needs to be continued revenue to support development, and I don’t have a problem with the subscription model. Except…I don’t know what I’m paying for. There’s an obvious tension between not wanting to commit yourself to development timetables you can’t meet, and paying customers wanting to know what they’re going to get for their money.

    I’m also slightly uneasy about you raising the subscription price if it lapses – surely you’re just guaranteeing that someone who wavers when their renewal date comes up is never going to come back. Presumably you can give lapsed players a “special offer” to come back every now and then for the $8 price, so that’s probably not that big a problem.

    Personally, I’m a little sad that I won’t be able to subscribe given the current setup – I just don’t play the games enough to justify subscribing to them. I don’t play them enough because, for PI at least, it still feels like a work in progress, which the subscription model will only serve to reinfoirce further. And, once I choose not to subscribe, I’m never going to be able to resubscribe because I’m not going to pay 50% more than the going rate, just on principle.

    I don’t really have a solution – but maybe explaining my thoughts on the matter is at least somewhat useful.

  27. @Gorgotha,

    “surely you’re just guaranteeing that someone who wavers when their renewal date comes up is never going to come back.”

    I don’t think this is true. The value of a subscription will be demonstrated by the on-going updates. If they’re compelling enough and give lots of value for the money, people will be happy to opt back in, I think.

    To be clear, the $12 is the initial re-subscription amount if it’s lapsed, once back in the next subscription cycle would go back to $8.

  28. it asks for a phone number when I’m paying for the subscription with a credit card. I’m concerned because I don’t want my number to go to a third party and I could possibly get more spam-like phone calls. Can I be assured that my credit card info does not get into the wrong hands when I make the online purchase? Thank You!

  29. @Ken,

    I don’t think there’s much reason to be concerned about your phone number – PayPal is one of the largest online processors of purchases. However, I am guessing you can simply use a default phone number. Perhaps your own, but change one digit, for example.

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