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Developer hits back at Take-Two $40 app comment

Wed 22 Jun 2011 8:09am GMT / 4:09am EDT / 1:09am PDT
Mobile

Trucks & Skulls creator refutes Zelnick's "five minute" game argument

Appy Entertainment

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Mobile developer Appy Entertainment has hit back against comments yesterday from Take-Two's Strauss Zelnick - which speculated that $40 tablet games could become a reality - by insisting that the length and complexity of mobile games has no impact on the pricing of iOS titles.

"'Price points aren't lower on iPhone because of five minute games - our latest game, Trucks & Skulls Nitro, clocks in at six hours-plus for $0.99, and our metrics indicate players return to Trucks several times a week, with average sessions longer than five minutes," said brand director Paul O'Connor.

"Prices on iOS games are compressed to free or $1 because this platform is at the centre of the most competitive entertainment software market in history. Surviving here it requires a new kind of thinking that, frankly, most of the console industry has been unwilling (or unable) to achieve.

"Display size is a consideration in game development, sure, but drawing a direct relationship between screen size and depth of play is like saying 'movies can only be robust and entertaining when viewed on an IMAX screen.' A larger screen can make an image more engaging but if your game isn't designed to take full advantage of this new, connected (and unique) touch-driven platform, then all a larger screen is going to do is amplify the shortcomings of your game."

When asked whether Take-Two would attempt to sell mobile games for $20 or more Zelnick had argued that, "The reason the price point is currently lower for an iPhone app is it is used for five minutes, and not for a hundred hours".

16 Comments

Sergey Galyonkin Marketing Director, EMEA, Nival Network

24 0 0.0
While I agree on "this platform is at the centre of the most competitive entertainment software market in history", <a href=http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/trucks-and-skulls/id391137569?mt=8>Trucks & Skulls</a> vs LA Noire? Really?

We're comparing micropayments-based physics 2D retro-racer vs interactive movie. I think, that's exactly what Zelnick was talking about.

Posted:3 years ago

#1
Angry birds, plants bs zombies etc are brilliant, addictive games which if one adds up total time played to beat levels

Posted:3 years ago

#2
Angry birds, plants bs zombies etc are brilliant, addictive games which if one adds up total time played to beat levels

Posted:3 years ago

#3

Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments

302 383 1.3
I suspect the difference (if there is one?) would lie in the *average* play time. Games like angry birds or robo defence likely get more playtime than some AAA games, but I'd suspect there's a long tail of mobile games that get played for minutes and forgotten about.

Posted:3 years ago

#4

David Bachowski VP Business Development, Babaroga

66 0 0.0
If you give me a game as in-depth and satisfying as Dragon Age or any other large scale, epic game, I would be happy to shell out $30-40 for it.

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Kristian Fosh Director, DreamFever

6 0 0.0
I think the iPad has potential for some really exciting gaming and with the right titles could really lift the lid on the budget titles. Its time developers looked into new ways of using the interface in new ways instead of remaking the same old games.

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer

237 97 0.4
Hmm.. first thing that get's my attention is the following line: 'our metrics indicate players return to Trucks several times a week, with average sessions longer than five minutes' so it seems they are tracking their users, which is a reason for me not to buy the game.

Posted:3 years ago

#7

Tom Hunt Game Developer, neocade

22 15 0.7
For $40, there had better be some swag involved.

Posted:3 years ago

#8
Once digital distribution becomes the dominant distribution system for console games, the days of selling shiny discs for $40 will come to an abrupt halt.

The hyper-competitive/low-barrier world of the "App Store" is the future. The meritocracy is here.

Posted:3 years ago

#9
To be able to sell games at a higher price, Apple would need to totally change the way they show the games on AppStore... frankly it is absurd the way they do it :

There are no categories. Only 5 games are showcased each week. Maybe 20 or so are listed in the new & noteworthy section. Another 20 or so in the "what's hot" section... then that is about it.

You cannot invest millions in games that people WILL NOT SEE on the market place.

Posted:3 years ago

#10

Corey Skiffington Programmer/Scripter

6 1 0.2
@Andrew Collecting metrics from games is sweeping through the large publishing companies. There is usually something in the EULA about anonymous data collection. The Call of Duty series uses it for those statistics that marquee across the screen.

Posted:3 years ago

#11

David Amirian Writer

59 3 0.1
length of time spent on a game pales in comparison to the reality of how much you actually enjoy playing it. i'd much rather spend 40 dollars for an app that i can enjoy and play for 6 hours than a 99 cent one that i can play for the same amount of time but is completely terrible

Posted:3 years ago

#12
I think it all comes down to the portability factor. As I take my iPad, or phone, on the go, it does so many other things than play a game. Because of that, I'm taking advantage of the mobile device in other ways and therefore don't have as much time to play a game. When I do, it's true, it's for fifteen, maybe twenty minutes. I know most examples have been about games at $0.99 but I have a very difficult time purchasing games at $9.99 as well; even the great ones. Dead Space on the iPad comes to mind. Originally released at $9.99, I found myself thinking "I'd never play it long enough/as often", so I put the $10 towards the console release of DS2. I was satisfied with that.

But I would offer this up. In my opinion, mobile devices don't lend themselves toward prolonged, comfortable gameplay due to control, screen/device size, game progression (and by this, I mean most are fast-paced in order to keep attention), among other factors. However, there are still many gamers of the portable market that enjoy the more-in-depth games that developers have to offer, and because of that so will follow the purchase trend if those prices increased.

Publishers and developers are free to do as they please (I'm not sure about any terms within the App Store or Android marketplace), but, in agreement with Eric Trudel, there needs to be more visibility of the title in the delivery channel and elsewhere. I don't think this is, in Eric's example, Apple's completely responsibility to be sole marketeer. So, now, advertising, pr, and/or marketing costs will increase undoubtedly for that game to be released and garner sales while priced at $20-40 only based on "the time is right to increase price" theory. I think publishers and developers have a freedom from that and therefore can make electronic media independently, abundantly, and with greater passion because of the wide availability, accessibility, and purchase ability -yeah, I went there. Maybe a price point of around $15 is ideal, but $40 causes a portable game to lose it's appeal.

I'm done. Sorry for length.

Posted:3 years ago

#13

Ryan Duffin Animator

8 0 0.0
William,

"The hyper-competitive/low-barrier world of the "App Store" is the future. The meritocracy is here."

Don't get too idealistic. The meritocracy arrived in music 5-10 years ago and now we have Justin Beiber and the Black Eyed Peas.

And if it were a true meritocracy, indie devs wouldn't feel the need to make thinly-veiled headline-commercials on gamesindustry.biz with public rebuttals to people who's statements do make headlines. Who'd heard of "Trucks & Skulls" yesterday and knew it was 6 hours for only $.99?

I love the Indie dev movement but there's a of brokenness and lack-of-sustainability in the app store model.

What does "longer then five minutes" mean anyway? It's a pedantic rebuttal to say what it isn't. If you ride the train or bus to work, yeah, it's probably more than five minutes. Now if metrics show that the average play session of "Skulls and Trucks" (or other mobile game) is longer than an hour, *then* we have a surprising and newsworthy piece of information.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ryan Duffin on 23rd June 2011 7:50am

Posted:3 years ago

#14

John Ozimek Director, Chomp Ltd

6 0 0.0
I have to say, that too many of the comments in this thread reflect the too-rigid thinking of 'proper games' vs mobile, where everything is either high production/high cost or cheap and low quality.

The reality of the console and PC industry is that retail spend is decreasing while dev costs increase. The rise of the download stores from Sony, MS and Nintendo, to create a viable market at a lower price point, is surely proof that there is an audience for games that are different and bite-sized?

Apple allows devs to set their own app prices, it just happens that the majority have settled on 59p/99c. However, plenty of games achieve significant downloads at a higher price point - but to talk of a $40 game is just stupid. The app ecosystem is a totally new approach to content where the value comes less from the initial purchase and more from repeat visits and the up-sell of DLC, virtual goods and in-app advertising.

Seriously, the execs in the big publishers need to get up to speed with the mobile industry before they make these sort of daft claims.

Posted:3 years ago

#15

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
Neil - "I suspect the difference (if there is one?) would lie in the *average* play time. Games like angry birds or robo defence likely get more playtime than some AAA games, but I'd suspect there's a long tail of mobile games that get played for minutes and forgotten about."

I'm fairly new to the smartphone space, but I'm terrible for downloading a game, playing it for five minutes and then deleting it. It's not helped by many not being able to copy to my SD card so I have to get rid of them to save space. On the other hand I find a small number of games like Game Dev Story and Angry Birds well-designed and addictive, and have sunk many hours into both. Just the other day, in fact, I bought Grand Prix Story, but I'm already tiring of it much quicker than I did with GDS.

Posted:3 years ago

#16

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