Factorio, a very popular factory-building sim, is joining a wave of much, much larger game franchises such as Call of Duty, Star Wars Jedi, Final Fantasy, and others in getting a price bump due to inflation. But unlike the massive AAA audiences of those other games, much of Factorio’s community seems…surprisingly cool with the idea. But not all.
While companies like Ubisoft, Take-Two, Xbox, and Sony have all effectively set a new standard for game prices over the last year, Factorio is a bit of an oddball because it’s a much smaller game. Its developer, Wube Software, is a much, much smaller studio than any of the other companies that have announced price increases, and Factorio itself isn’t increasing from $60 to $70, it’s going from $30 to $35.
It’s also notable that Factorio is a much older game that’s seeing an increase from its former pricing, rather than a new game setting a trend for a franchise moving forward. Factorio first launched in early access in 2016 before its 2020 full release. Since then, it’s never had microtransactions, and the only extra content available to buy on Steam for it is its $7 soundtrack. But it’s never been part of a Steam sale before, either – a choice developers explained back in 2016 (as spotted by Kotaku) as a way to respect the players who had already bought the game.
“We don’t want to reward the people who hold off on buying the game, the game is a price we find reasonable, and this is the deal. If you think it is priced too high, then it is your choice to not purchase, and we hope that with enough time, and extra development, we will be able to convince you of its value.”
Factorio’s price increase was announced on Twitter on January 20, six days before it goes into effect, and the community’s response thus far is surprisingly positive. Granted, most of the folks replying seem to already own the game, but they’re also clamoring for more ways to support Factorio. Many others are sharing anecdotes about their own lengthy playtimes in comparison to how much they spent, implying that the many, many hours put in were worth the relatively cheap price. A glance at Factorio’s “overwhelmingly positive” Steam review score indicates plenty more people feel the same way.
Factorio – Nintendo Switch Version Screens (Nintendo Direct – Sept 2022)
That said, a handful of people seem unhappy with the change. A look at Factorio’s overall user review trends shows very, very few negative reviews…with two exceptions. One is back in July of last year when (based on the reviews) a regional pricing issue in Russia seemed to make the game twice as expensive for those users. And the other period of negative reviews began, you guessed it, on January 20, with a surge in “Not Recommended”s accusing Wube of being greedy and questioning the validity of inflation as an excuse for raising prices. Unlike many other review bombing situations, most of the negative reviews have quite a few hours on record, so it’s certain that at least some segment of the community is unhappy about this (even if, again, they’ve already bought the game too).
Factorio is one of the first major independent games to react to inflation with a price increase in such a visible, public way, but it’s possible it won’t be the last. As we assessed earlier this month, AAA studios are likely to continue to push $70 as the pricing standard for AAA games, but there’s also increased discussion among the indie community about charging more. It’s possible we see more games follow in Factorio’s footsteps as the year goes on.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.