Saturday, May 19, 2007

Pricing right and making deals

Dinesh Ramde wrote:
...I've never understood the appeal of "The Price is Right."

How does someone get good at that game?

Also, Bob also says he's looking for the retail price, which is different from the sales price. So how do you ever know what the retail price is?

Parts of the game are a matter of luck. The price of cars fluctuates enough between similar models that even if you know the ballpark cost of a Jeep Wrangler, you still have to get a bit lucky. But the bottom line is that you can know enough about the cars on the show to play intelligently.

Are the prices of the cars similar to the price of a Jeep Wrangler in a Minneapolis showroom? I have no idea, I haven't shopped for a new car in my life, so it doesn't matter. I can know what cars are selling for on TPIR, that's what matters. It pays to do your homework.

But when you're trying to determine prices for grocery items, home computers, bicycles and home appliances it can get a bit trickier. Some of us shop for grocery items on a regular basis, so what we pay in our local grocery store may differ from the price on stage. But even if you can't rely upon the prices in your local Jewel grocery store to help you on TPIR, if you watch the show regularly, you have a pretty good idea what the prices are for products currently appearing on the show.

The trickiest thing about prizes like trips and furniture collections is that two similar items can vary widely. I have never known the manufacturers well enough to know if it's a $3,000 bedroom set or a $5,000 bedroom set. Trips are hard to estimate, too. Trips overseas are typically expensive, yet trips to Canada and Mexico are often less than trips to Boston or New York.

During my last trip to Los Angeles a few years ago I spent weeks compiling prize lists so that I had a good idea of the price range for the cars commonly offered on the show, as well as a variety of prizes that show up regularly as an "item up for bid," as a pricing game prize or in a showcase. That didn’t guarantee I would win if I was chosen as a contestant, but I know it would have helped. Yet i failed to get picked in my fifth and sixth attempt at being a contestant.

Another D Cup comment:
...I hate when people turn to the audience to make their decision for them -- if the audience is filled with equally clueless people, why put any more credence in their uninformed suggestions?

I root against a lot of the contestants I see on the show because of their stupidity. The audience typically knows if the right price is higher or lower during a pricing game, but not automatically. If you aren't sure, it may be worth following the audience's advice, assuming there's an obvious majority. When I'm in the audience I'm so bitter about not having been picked that I am tempted to yell what I think is the wrong answer.

But what blows me away is when people are playing games like Spelling Bee. You have to select numbered cards from a board of 30, hoping to select letters that spell the word car. It's completely random, yet I see chuckleheads looking to the audience for advice on what number to pick. There are times you look to the audience and times you simply pick a random number. Some people can't separate the two, and that irritates me.

Another thing that irritates me is when people demonstrate the fact they're not a regular viewer of the show. My favorite example is the game Let 'em Roll. It's like Yahtzee, you can earn up to three rolls of five dice. If all five have cars on them by the end of your rolls, you win a car. When it's time to roll, you go up a few stairs and stand behind a ramp. You dump the dice down the ramp and onto a round table. They give you a big plastic bucket with the dice in them, and you're supposed to roll them down the ramp together. Yet almost every time I see the game the contestant wants to start by rolling the dice one at a time. Bob has to tell the contestant to roll them all at once. That drives me nuts.

To me that says a fair number of contestants are people who see the show once or twice a year. Should they be exempt from playing? No, but it's hard to root for somebody who doesn't watch the show.

So after writing all of that, I think I've only touched upon the tip of my TPIR blogging iceberg. That, ladies and gentleman, is proof that I can blog excessively about the most ridiculous topics in the world. Perhaps it is best that I not promote this blog, or reveal my identity. I'm already mocked and ridiculed enough in life.

One more D Stroy comment:
Is that how "Deal or No Deal" works? I've refused to watch that idiocy so I have no idea how it works.

The show can be exciting, but it's purely a game of luck. There's no intelligence involved whatsoever. All you do is pick a numbered case and try to eliminate small cash amounts from a board containing 26 prizes, ranging from a penny to $1 million. Every so often you get offered a buyout, a total based upon the probability you have the highest dollar amount left on the board. It also takes into account the range of prizes left.

If there's only one big amount left on the board, yet five others less than $1,000, you may take the buyout because opening another case could reveal the last big amount, ensuring you will finish with less than $1,000. (You can’t win more than the highest prize left on the board.) If you're willing to gamble, however, and open a tiny amount, the next offer goes up. It's a simple game, and at times it can be exciting to watch.

The problem with it is that every contestant has a cheering section they bring to the stage, as coordinated by the show, so the contestant is conferring with friends and family each time a buyout is offered. The drama annoys me. And while Howie Mandel is entertaining, I could live without his schtick at times.

That's my biggest beef with most of the recent big money prime time games, they want a comedian to yuck it up during game play. Last I checked, emcees like Tom Bergeron and Alex Trebek were able to lighten the mood, yet didn't need to perform stand-up comedy while hosting a game.

What makes Deal or No Deal weak is that it has no play-along factor. You can look at a buyout of $107,000 and say “I wouldn't risk it, I'd take the offer and end the game.” But you aren't testing your knowledge against contestants, or trying to solve a puzzle ahead of Wheel of Fortune contestants. Because of the lack of a play-along factor perhaps the show would be dull without Howie's hosting or the family drama during each decision, but the bottom line is that DOND isn't a great game. Don't get me wrong, I'd gladly be a contestant, because even if you have bad luck, it's hard to walk away with less than $10,000. Only gambling fools walk away with relative pocket change.

Given the show is highly produced, contestants aren't picked randomly. Plenty of people want to be a contestant, of course, so there's no chance I would be chosen. I'm not beautiful or gimmicky enough to entertain the masses, at least not on paper. But in reality I would geek out if I was a contestant, and probably put on a highly entertaining show.

It’s a very simple game, and only effective because of the $1 million carrot. It can be entertaining, but you’re not missing much, Chachi. I much prefer 1 vs. 100 even though they kept tweaking the game play during the season and still couldn’t get it right. I’m glad it will return to NBC this fall.

1 comment:

Dinesh Ramde said...

Dude, you sound like a fascinating person.

I might belie my own geekdom by admitting this, but you sound like the kind of person I'd have a blast talking to at a party. The fact that you know so many TPIR nuances and can blog about them with such eloquence -- truly entertaining, my friend.

I hope you end up on the show one day. I imagine you're the type of player who would end up on stage after having bid $1 on the product in question.

And I hope you get a game of luck, not something like Plinko.