Publishers Could Charge More Than $60 Next-Gen, And It's All Apple's Fault
Posted on Monday, August 27 @ 15:30:00 Eastern by Daniel Bischoff
Everyone was happy and willing to drop $1 on games for their iPhone or Android device. It was novel, entertaining, and people discovered that certain titles presented a great value. Billions of apps have been downloaded to mobile devices around the world, a vast majority of which have been games. So long as the markets remained segmented, no one thought that App Store pricing could afflict console gamers or PC gamers.
Unfortunately, as brands and publishers are crossing over between the two markets, pricing has been afflicted. In the case of Square Enix, this means unheard of pricetags on iOS ports of classics. $15 for Final Fantasy Tactics iOS seems absurd when stacked against the mountains of ¢99 apps.
Sure, you might get a beloved title on-the-go, but there's a question as to the legitimate value of a game that's over 10 years old, merely ported to a modern device. The same can be said about Square's recent release of Final Fantasy Dimensions. If you want to buy the entirety of the 2 year old, formerly Japan-exclusive mobile game, you have to shell out $30.
Stack that against 30 Angry Birds, Tiny Wings, Where's My Waters, and more. The price doesn't add up. Now, Square Enix has announced that The World Ends With You, a cult classic Nintendo DS game will be reaching a new audience on iOS.
Compared against the original DS release, The World Ends With You: Solo Remix's $20 (iPad) asking price doesn't seem too bad, but once again, Square Enix has ignored the market and priced their port far outside the norm.
I don't see the vast majority of ¢99 games suddenly raising their prices to meet Square's hairbrained value. Console games (handheld or otherwise) do not pose a threat to the mobile market. The reverse, the pairing of Activision and Angry Birds, does present a threatening vision of the future for console games.
Activision revealed last week that it would publish Rovio's Angry Birds for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo 3DS. You wouldn't think that one of the biggest publishers in the world would bother releasing a game on these platforms at the same price as iOS (¢99) or Android (free).
Angry Birds Trilogy, a compilation of Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, and Angry Birds Rio (notably not including Angry Birds Space), will be priced at $30 for 3DS and $40 for home consoles.
.... I'll let that sink in.
The highest possible price for these three games is $10 in HD on iPad (including every piece of DLC).
That's a mark up of $20-$30. Activision says that they've remastered each game for 1080p visuals, artwork, and new cinematics. They've also added Move and Kinect support and 3D, in addition to achievements and unlockables. To top it off, 19 brand new levels will come to Trilogy exclusively to compliment the 700+ levels from the original releases and DLC.
I don't pretend to know exactly how much work all of these new features entail. I'm also sure that you'll reap plenty of gameplay from this huge collection, but that doesn't mean it's right.
Four times the original price? For a game you've probably already bought and played (and in my case didn't enjoy)? What's more, Activision has said that two DLC packs are in the works for the September 25th release.
Angry Birds Trilogy is a dangerous game, not literally, but because of the precedent it might set. It's not like this is a downloadable title or a new game altogether. This is a port... of a game over a year old... with features no one could possibly want (Kinect).
There's no justification for this. This is a threat to our wallets and the bottom line gamers are already struggling with. If this is how mobile games are valued by publishers who typically support the big consoles, how will next-gen games with massive production budgets, workforces numbering in the hundreds, and massive, complex online infrastructures be priced?
The Angry Birds Trilogy port team consisted of... maybe 20 people?
Creating a second market on i-devices and letting developers go to town certainly seemed like a great idea, and it worked for a while. The consumers would cull the wheat from the chaff and everyone could walk away with 20 great games in their pocket for a third of the price on a new console game.
Apple's market has fought off the advances of publishers like Square Enix, maintaining focus on cheaper, more disposable experiences, but the reverse is a much bigger threat. If we accept the advances of mobile-game-inflation by puslishers like Activision, it will not bode well for core games.
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