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XCOM proves $20 apps can work, says Take-Two CEO

XCOM proves $20 apps can work, says Take-Two CEO

Tue 30 Jul 2013 10:30pm GMT / 6:30pm EDT / 3:30pm PDT
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"Consumers are willing to pay a premium price for a premium entertainment experience," Zelnick explains

Free-to-play may be the dominant business model in mobile, but it's not the only one. In a post-earnings conference call with investors today, Take-Two Interactive chairman and CEO Strauss Zelnick seemed pleased with the decision to set the price of XCOM: Enemy Unknown for iOS at a comparatively whopping $20.

Zelnick said the game was not just critically acclaimed with a Metacritic average of 92, but commercially successful as well. In its first week of release, Zelnick said the adaptation was on Apple's top 10 grossing iPad app chart.

"The success of XCOM: Enemey Unknown for iOS illustrates that consumers are willing to pay a premium price for a premium entertainment experience on any platform. This bodes well for the opportunity to deliver profitably our most immersive new AAA titles to mobile platforms as they evolve."

Take-Two has previously experimented with bringing some of its AAA efforts to mobile platforms, most notably with older titles like Max Payne and Grand Theft Auto III. But with tablet horsepower beginning to catch up, Zelnick has said before he hopes to have mobile versions of AAA titles arrive simultaneously with their console or PC counterparts.

11 Comments

Jeremy Glazman
Programmer

28 4 0.1
Let me be the first to remind everyone of this interview from two years ago, explaining why turn-based games are dead and which brought us such choice quotes as:
strategy games are just not contemporary
and
Look at someone old school like Ray Charles, if he would make music today it would still be Ray Charles but he would probably do it more in the style of Kanye West.

Posted:8 months ago

#1

Shane Sweeney
Academic

329 211 0.6
"The 90s generation of gamers all love Xcom and we own the IP, so we thought OK, what do we do with it? Every studio we had wanted to do it and each one had its own spin on it. But the problem was that turn-based strategy games were no longer the hottest thing on planet Earth. But this is not just a commercial thing strategy games are just not contemporary." HA.
I am craving turn based games for my iPad. Kingdom Rush Frontiers have a new patch coming out August 1st, and strangely I am anticipating it like a release of a AAA game.

Posted:8 months ago

#2

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

787 931 1.2
Popular Comment
What they've all so far proved is that you can sell a brand on mobile for above $3 if it's already massive and you have a big budget. Well, big news there - colour me impressed.

However, walk a mile in the average mobile developers shoes. Special cases are always going to be special cases no matter what, but generalising from them is a bit silly.

If you really want to claim you're doing well with a mobile title, you should really create it on mobile. Secondary sales of big hits don't really indicate anything beyond the strength of the brand itself, and certainly says nothing about any one platform.

One of our mobile games has a metcritic just 3 points behind theirs and we tried to up the price to $5 once. Sales completely nosedived.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 31st July 2013 8:42am

Posted:8 months ago

#3

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,119 889 0.8
I'm certain they can albeit for special cases at this point in time.

XCOM may only be a special case at this stage but it does prove that it can work whereas many will tell us no-one would even consider paying "more than a dollar" for a mobile game.

The next stage is seeing more of these types of games attempt a more premium pricing model, offering a higher return to the studio and pushing even more grand productions. I agree with Paul that the average mobile game developer will not experience the same sort of success at that price, but we're looking at a very modern 'issue' and it requires a 'modern solution' going forward.

If the average developer wants to target the premium market, what is the best route to getting there? You could call it an unanswered question at the moment.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 31st July 2013 11:58am

Posted:8 months ago

#4

Jakub Mikyska
CEO

178 880 4.9
I agree with Paul on this one. If you have a strong brand name and a well-received game, you can price it whatever you want and it will probably sell well (Final Fantasy games come to me as another example), but it won't work for a new IP, no matter how good it is.

But I think that Take-Two has proven that mobile can be a great secondary market for AAA games. Something that the super-high budget segment of console and PC games needs desperately. I really hope that we will see more AAA games come to tablets.

Posted:8 months ago

#5

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,716 598 0.3
Any price point and any business model can work if it fulfils a consumer demand.

One of the biggest problem for much of the game industry is not thinking of the customer. So many games are developed because that is what the developer wants. And then they are surprised when nobody else wants it.

Posted:8 months ago

#6

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,374 1,024 0.7
@ Bruce

Indeed. This is why computer RPGs on KickStarter have taken off - because the consumer wants them, even if the publisher thinks otherwise. One thing I will say (anecdotally) is that the strategy market is actually one of the higher paying genres - you don't really get 12 year old kids playing them, but you do get people in their 20s and 30s (and older) playing them. And that's the market which is not only receptive to high-quality "thinking" titles, but is also the market which has more disposable income to hand.

Posted:8 months ago

#7
This is why computer RPGs on KickStarter have taken off - because the consumer wants them, even if the publisher thinks otherwise.
Sometimes the publisher does think the consumer wants RPGs, but some of the publisher's customers - retailers in the boxed model - do not.

Posted:8 months ago

#8

Jeremy Glazman
Programmer

28 4 0.1
One of our mobile games has a metcritic just 3 points behind theirs and we tried to up the price to $5 once. Sales completely nosedived.
But was your game a branded AAA title? That was the point of the article, that a market exists for premium branded content, not that everyone can raise the price of their apps now. The more interesting note was at the end:
But with tablet horsepower beginning to catch up, Zelnick has said before he hopes to have mobile versions of AAA titles arrive simultaneously with their console or PC counterparts.
If iOS games began to approach the quality and depth of even Nintendo DS games (which X-Com certainly does) then I think that's a good thing that can help normalize the value of mobile games in general, but until then I expect most successful non-F2P apps to continue putting up a budget/effort level worthy of the sub-$3 price range.

Posted:8 months ago

#9

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,210 2,051 0.9
And here....we....go.

Big budgets, big brands, big prices....it's consoles all over again.


You guys keep talking about the hardware catching up to consoles without considering how that would impact the dynamics you praise about mobile with respect to the small developer. Be careful what you ask for.

Posted:8 months ago

#10

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

787 931 1.2
>> But was your game a branded AAA title?

No. And that's actually my point, not yours. AAA mega brands will sell anywhere so that doesn't say anything about mobile. I'm glad to see it though, larger studios might start taking mobile more seriously.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 31st July 2013 5:19pm

Posted:8 months ago

#11

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