Insight into how Viroid Games approaches pricing
It’s time we discussed how to price creativity. Price is a topic that often comes up in the early stages of our conversations before we take on a new client. Certainly, you want to know how much you will have to pay. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as straightforward as the question itself. There are many moving parts, and it isn’t exactly like buying apples at a supermarket. In this article, we would like to highlight some of the intricacies of pricing and present our case for collectively determining a price point.
If you have been following Viroid Games, you’d know that we have made a transition this year. Although we are still very excited about our game ideas, we diverted most of our creative resources to creating content for different industries.
For those of you who are new to what we do, Viroid Games provides various art outsourcing services: 3D modelling including props; characters; environments; etc., UI/UX design, explainer videos, and audio services. Each one of these services has its own dynamics. As far as pricing goes, it is not just about numbers. It is about value for our clients, our team, and our industry.
That is why we approach pricing with the following principles:
- We tailor our pricing to each project’s needs and specifications. We do not have a one-size-fits-all pricing model. Instead, we evaluate each project individually and provide a customized quote based on the scope, complexity, duration, and quality requirements of the project.
- We are transparent and honest about our pricing. We do not have any hidden fees or charges. We communicate our pricing clearly and openly with our clients and explain what they are paying for. If conditions are changing for either party, we are open to negotiating. In other words, no funny business.
- We stay away from hourly rates since we think it’s ripe for creating conflicting interests right from the beginning. You’ll want to pay as little as possible while we’ll expect to be paid as long as possible. Instead, it makes much more sense to discuss what can be done within the budget and give a package deal. We can be flexible and adaptable to our clients’ budgets and expectations. Hourly rate is not the answer to a limited budget.
Now might be a good time to discuss unique aspects of pricing since some of our services follow a simpler workflow than others. Let’s see a few cases.
First and foremost, what kind of art are we talking about here? There are so many answers to this simple question.
A detail that often comes up is visual fidelity, also known as low-poly vs high-poly models. While a low-poly design often sounds easy to pull off since it requires fewer details, there are situations where nailing down the detail is quite hard with so little to work with. At the end of the day, if you are commissioning this kind of work from us, keep in mind that your customers and users are supposed to understand what they are looking at. So, the goal is not to sacrifice design for the sake of keeping the number of vertices low. In other words, low-poly isn’t necessarily cheaper because it has fewer details.
By the way, vertices, triangles, polygons, etc. are technical terms that basically define the level of detail a 3D model will have. Below is a high-poly car from zizian. Compare his creation which has over 135,000 vertices over the previous one which only had 627 vertices.
So, which one looks better? Most likely the high detail one but which one is better? Ah, that depends on your production details. If you are going for a TV commercial and you need a 3D model as close as to the real deal, then a high-poly workflow will serve you better. On the other hand, if your project is a mobile game, and performance is a concern, then going with low-poly might be a better idea. In the end, if your game can’t sufficiently handle the high-poly version, players will notice this and move on quickly.
There are so many other moving parts to a 3D model like whether the design will be animated, or the model will be dismantled and destroyed live on screen. Texture quality is another important concern, stylized vs realistic.
When we sit down with our clients, we show examples and ask questions so we can understand crucial aspects pertinent to their projects. Therefore, you don’t need to know all this technical stuff. The Q&A session will determine a road for us to walk that will then define how we go about pricing.
This type of work can be done both in 2D and 3D. Either way, it can also be done and delivered as a static or dynamic creation. In the static case, we give you the rendered result like a picture. Whether you use it as a corner piece for a children’s book or take it to a print shop for making stickers, it’s up to you.
In the other corner where you’d like the character to move around like a game character or a mascot in a commercial, then we employ the help of animation. So, it’s not just about how things look but how they function. This, like creating 3D models, has its own set of questions. Hence, pricing is once again determined after our collective discovery.
The length of the finished piece is a quick price indicator in this type of work. We often use 2D graphics and come up with a motion design supported by voice-over and/or text-over.
Sometimes, our clients have a script in their minds. If not, we will ask you about the purpose of the video and its audience so the finished video will have a strong impact. Explainer videos are often used for marketing or informing a particular group of people. So, coming up with the correct message, tone and flow guides us in the creation phase.
If there are certain things that have already been handled on the client side, we could tailor our price. In a way, this is a bit more straightforward than the other kinds of work we do. You’ve got the voiceover done and have files at the ready, we’ll work with what you have. If your brand has a mascot, we’ll produce art following that style.
The more you have, the better for us to use what’s available. In the likelihood that mixing it all together would create chaos; we’d caution you and counsel you for choosing a different approach.
Music composition is usually priced based on the length of the final work. However, there are rare cases when uncommon instruments are requested, or a particular band of players might be needed to execute your idea. Nevertheless, this is as close as you can get to a price per piece.
Pricing sound design is a bit more challenging since it takes into account how long and elaborate your project is. The number of files usually is a factor in price, and it is based on the variety your creation requires. For example, if you would like to have a sound design done for storytelling where a person is narrating a story to kids, we could add key audio elements following the story’s ebb and flow. Just to cite a specific example, characters in the story are lost in a forest during nighttime; let’s plug in owls hooting and other creepy background noises. Doing similar work but for a different target audience won’t change the pricing. Thus, no kids’ menu, sorry.
However, there are cases where we charge per distinct sound. Let’s explain this a bit better with an example. In FPS video games, weapons have their characteristic sound when a bullet exits the muzzle. We use 7-8 variations of the bullet sound for each weapon to increase immersion, but we charge you once. So, players will experience and enjoy slight variations of gun firing while you won’t have to pay per variation.
Handling the mixing of all these variations and creating a seamless blend is a different service called audio integration. We currently specialize in Unity and Wwise, but we have plans to do this in Unreal as well. This service usually requires us to work closely with your development team so we can properly scope out the work.
The creative process is iterative and often involves a thorough discovery phase before starting its execution. Although it’s tempting to treat it as a commodity, it’s not that simple. We hope some of the examples we presented in this article made it clear that price is often something we would like to discuss only after we pinpoint the details.
It’s only natural that you may want to hear a price tag before conversations take place. Perhaps it might help both parties if you mention your budget early on. After going back and forth, we might find out that it might be completely feasible to do the work within your means or completely exceed the allocated resources. Either way, it’d provide a healthy framework to work with.
In conclusion, we have shared our insights into how we approach pricing at Viroid Games. We have explained our principles, factors, and examples that demonstrate our value and quality. We hope that you have found this article informative and helpful. If you are interested in working with us or learning more about our services, please feel free to contact us anytime. We would love to hear from you and discuss your needs and expectations.