Tuesday, January 10, 2012


There is a thread titled "Most Overpriced Place You've Played" in the Recreational players Talk section over on PBN. It was started close to 3 1/2 years ago. It resurfaces regularly, so one could make the assumption that it is a relevant topic for many people. Mostly it consists of players submitting where they play paintball and how much it costs. Almost all the complaining is in regards to paintball prices, rather than entry or air.

But what does "overpriced" mean? When a product or service is priced at a certain level and there are enough customers buying at that level, does that not make the pricing acceptable? For instance, if a restaurant was selling $100 steak dinners and is booked up well in advance, has the restaurant overpriced their meals? If a clothing manufacturer sells their jeans at $80 each and there are hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions of people buying them, are the jeans overpriced? If Skirmish Paintball is selling paintballs at $99/case and there are hundreds and hundreds of visitors every week, has Skirmish overpriced their product?

Paying what a business has priced their product or service at, assuming there is competition for the business, is a customer's choice. I don't regularly eat out at $100/meal restaurants. I've never spent $80 on jeans. But there are plenty of people who do. Do I think they are foolish? Yeah, probably a little, but it's their choice.

In my opinion there are only two instances when something is "overpriced". One is when there is no competition and a company can wilfully choose to price something for much more than it needs to be priced, just because they can. This rarely happens in a free market system, as when others see how much money someone is making, there are others who get into the market and compete to get some of the action. That generally brings prices down to a more realistic level.

Other than that, if a business overprices a product or service, it usually means they will not sell much of that product or service. If the business does it with enough of their product/service, they are usually a business that won't be around long. Overpricing means that the price is too high for the value of the product or service in the eyes of the consumer. An overpriced paintball field could theoretically be one where players are paying $40 total for entry/air/a case of paint, if the value is not there. On the flip side, if players are paying $70 for entry/air/ and a bag of 500 paintballs, but everyone is leaving with smiles on their faces, and the field is seeing hundreds of customers every week, the prices the field is charging may be perfectly legitimate.

It's always about value. Product pricing is just one element of the value.


  1. Trying to teach economics on PBNation is an exercise in futility.

    I live in MA and I have watched indoor fields fail over an over; however, Boston Painball continues to succeed despite having a higher price!

    The reasons are simple:
    1) It's so clean. The paint (FPO field) is made in such a way that it's easy to clean off bunkers. The other indoor fields are a mess!
    2) They spend on infrastructure.
    3) They treat renters VERY well.
    4) The paint is very good. I don't have to worry about monsterballs, etc.

    Compare that to this thread:

    $5 a person, BYOP, yeah, I forsee a very short future...

  2. Blogger is being weird... Checking the last comment to make sure it posted.

  3. Jeremy, that's the way the speedball businesses works. To be "successful", you need all or most of the local teams to come to you. You need to be "the" place for all the teams to want to meet up at on Sunday. Unless you have something else like a professional "celebrity" to attract teams, you pretty much need to be the cheapest.

    I know there is no possible way a field could keep it's doors open only charging people $5/head. There is no way expenses could be met. More than likely, this would be a field run by a speedball fanatic and their other business (non Sunday speedball) will be subsidizing this.

    1. You were right. I talked with the owner and his team is tired of having to drive 2 hours to practice so the $5 entry is to entice teams to come up.

      Totally random, but how do you decide on the paint for your field? Do you look for brittle paint to reduce bounces (i.e. less pain), or more durable paint to ensure people don't get barrel breaks or a broken ball in the bag. Or is it something completely different?

    2. Winter is different, because we really have no choice but to get winter paint which is non -brittle (doesn't break in markers or on hits particularly well). Sometimes I think they just repackage crappy tough shelled paint as winter paint during the winter to be able to sell it for more, but that's just the Conspiracy Theorist in me.

      Most of the time we go with a custom paint which would be very similar to DXS bronze in make-up. Tough enough to stand up in rentals (we use Tippmanns), but will break most of the time.

      It is an interesting question though. I'm sure some field owners purposely use cheaper, less likely to break in markers and on contact paint. There are three reasons why in some ways it makes sense to field owners. First, it's cheaper which can add up to thousands of dollars in savings over the course of the year. Second, there are less barrel/breach breaks which means less clean up and maintenance and less frustration felt by rental customers because they have "goo" in their gun, keeping them from playing. Third, paint that doesn't break on contact as often, keeps players playing longer in each game. This means that the field is going to be selling more paint, or players are going to spend less time at the field, which means less labour for the field to pay.

      We don't go that route as we like to see paint break when it hits its intended target. But it costs us more and has players playing less, so sometimes I wonder if we are doing the right thing.

  4. I'm not sure that most rental players will check to see if a ball broke. The rental players I've seen call themselves out on hit. It takes some experience to know to check for a break. Plus, they have to "care enough" to want to play after a hit. When I was new, if I got shot once and could hear more coming, I called myself out without checking to avoid more!

    Although, is that emphasized in the orientation to check to ensure a break?

  5. Yeah, it depends on the renter. Many younger kids will definitely just call themselves out on a hit, break or not. But older teens and adults will often learn quite quickly that the balls sometimes don't break and that they can keep playing even though they were hit if there was no actual break. Overall, it does make a difference on how long the average player stays in the game.