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Big game publishers embrace App Store

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
While many of the early successful iPhone and iPod touch games came from small-time developers, big-name content creators like Electronic Arts, id Software and Konami are flocking to the platform, using their brands and marketing muscle to compete.

The App Store has about 13,000 games in 19 separate categories, ranging from old-fashioned board games to complex first-person shooters. Many games are the work of independent developers like Tapulous, creator of the "Tap Tap Revenge" series.

But brands like EA have an advantage with popular licenses like Tetris and The Sims 3, which casual audiences are familiar with. The latest version of The Sims released simultaneously on the iPhone and PC in June. It is priced at $9.99.

Larger companies like Gameloft are now looking to take a bigger piece of the action. Those companies typically spend more money to develop a game, well beyond what most independent developers are able to invest.

"Although the top iPhone games are made by independents today, the big publishers will strike back," Jeremy Liew, a managing director at venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners, told Reuters. "The iPhone only offers one way for games to get discovered today, and that favors the cash-rich big publishers."

Still, inexpensive games seem to sell the best. While new titles like Metal Gear Solid Touch might jump to the top of the charts upon release, the $7.99 price tag seems to deter some buyers over time. Meanwhile, $0.99 offerings like Bolt Creative's Pocket God which offers regular updates with new content continue to appear consistently in the top 10 paid applications.

And given those 13,000 other games to compete with, and a total of 65,000 applications, standing out in the crowd on the iPhone's App Store has become increasingly difficult. The Wall Street Journal profiled some of the methods developers have employed to gain attention, from guerilla marketing tactics to temporary price cuts.

For a title like Gameloft's "Hero of Sparta," the price cut method seems to work. A reduction to $0.99 helped to propel the title into the top 10 paid applications on the iPhone. Similarly, a four-day $4 price cut for Peggle, from PopCap Games, reportedly increased sales by a magnitude of 20 to 25.

Appearing in the top 25 list of applications is apparently key for developers to find success, so they must find unique ways to promote their products, and price them competitively, to achieve that level of awareness.

Many developers also offer demos of their games to entice users for exposure. The free sample of Metal Gear Solid Touch has earned nearly 60,000 ratings from users, while the paid version has managed just over 1,000 reviews.

Having a proven brand doesn't hurt either. Gameloft's recently-released iPhone adaptation of the Ubisoft license Assassin's Creed is one of the top selling items on the App Store, despite its $4.99 price tag among a sea of $0.99 titles.

And then there are entirely unconventional methods, such as this one discovered by the Wall Street Journal: "Some developers try to capitalize on popular brands by embedding those brand names into their own apps' descriptions. For example, a recent search for EA, the brand for game giant Electronic Arts Inc., turned up 15 games from a company called Digital Chocolate Inc. A close look at the games' description showed that the word "each" was abbreviated to "ea." Digital Chocolate Chief Executive Trip Hawkins was a co-founder of EA."
post #2 of 24
noomero oooono
post #3 of 24
Gee thanks for your intriguing post, 'success'. FAIL.

Apple is going to have to come up with a better way to sort through or categorize the tens of thousands of titles on the app store. If a user wants to find an app of a particular type, he must wade through several results (many of which are junkie and amateur) before finding the serious software developers who create a truly worthy app. It's frustrating and time consuming to find the great apps.

Additionally, so many of us have been burned when we download a bummer app that we're all a little gun shy to spend $5-10 on a new title. Why not offer a 'return/refund/exchange' policy if you don't want the app after 30 minutes? I don't know how to flesh out the details and the technology - it's just an idea.

It will be nice to see the 'big game' publishers developing truly amazing apps for iPhone. One has to wonder if, much like the PC, the game developers will drive performance of the hardware?
post #4 of 24
I'm still trying to figure out the self-esteem boosting qualities in being the first poster in a thread. Is it because of parental inattention? Loss of girlfriend? Sore wrist? What?!
post #5 of 24
Love the app store but the search is horrible. reminds me of ebays growing pains when they got really popular. Apple needs to add more cAtegories. Its almost impossible to find apps unless you read about them somewhere else or use one of the third party app store extension apps or websites
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Still, inexpensive games seem to sell the best. While new titles like Metal Gear Solid Touch might jump to the top of the charts upon release, the $7.99 price tag seems to deter some buyers over time. Meanwhile, $0.99 offerings like Bolt Creative's Pocket God which offers regular updates with new content continue to appear consistently in the top 10 paid applications.

What this article ignores is that the top lists are unit sold based and not revenue. If you compare games that sell for $0.99 and $9.99, the former has to sell 10x more to make the same revenue (ignoring Apple's 30% cut). This means that a more expensive game doesn't have to sell as many copies to make the same or even more profit.
post #7 of 24
The iPhone is a source of some income for these big game developers, but I see a huge shakeout occurring in the future and only a few will remain on the platform. The rest being run off, copied or gobbled up.

There is no future with games on the iPhone as the hardware can't be advanced without more heat or draining the battery. So the games can't be advanced if the hardware can't be unless they use remote processing or something.
The danger is that we sleepwalk into a world where cabals of corporations control not only the mainstream devices and the software on them, but also the entire ecosystem of online services around...
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The danger is that we sleepwalk into a world where cabals of corporations control not only the mainstream devices and the software on them, but also the entire ecosystem of online services around...
Reply
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Napoleon_PhoneApart View Post

I'm still trying to figure out the self-esteem boosting qualities in being the first poster in a thread.

It's an ancient phenomenon:

http://slashdot.org/faq/com-mod.shtml#cm400

pay attention to the dated of that question...
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

The iPhone is a source of some income for these big game developers, but I see a huge shakeout occurring in the future and only a few will remain on the platform. The rest being run off, copied or gobbled up.

I don't think so. There is a very low barrier to entry and low overhead once you are there in the App Store. It's an ideal ground for new developers to market themselves directly and compete with the big boys.

For the first time it's more about the quality of your offering then who you are.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

There is no future with games on the iPhone as the hardware can't be advanced without more heat or draining the battery. So the games can't be advanced if the hardware can't be unless they use remote processing or something.

What you say is stupid. As CPU and GPU tech advances so do batteries, thus battery life would usually be at least maintained at the same rate. Also, as a chip design improves, they get better at generating less heat, or Apple improves the device design so that it can extract more heat naturally.
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by nizy View Post

What this article ignores is that the top lists are unit sold based and not revenue. If you compare games that sell for $0.99 and $9.99, the former has to sell 10x more to make the same revenue (ignoring Apple's 30% cut). This means that a more expensive game doesn't have to sell as many copies to make the same or even more profit.

I do not doubt that good games priced 10x less will eventually sell 10x more. Well, not "exactly", for if it were really like this, game developers wouldn't ask 10 bucks for a game. Perhaps they're being conservative?

I know I wouldn't buy a 10 bucks game. But I would buy several 1 buck game. Perhaps even 10 . So they end up with the same cash, the only difference is more people get served.
post #12 of 24
App Store = the future.
post #13 of 24
The big developers might be making iphone games but the efforts have been overwhelmingly poor so far with only a handful of exceptions.

The Sims 3, Rolando, NFS Undercover, Brothers in Arms, Hero of Sparta show some real production values but it's a small minority out of tens of thousands of apps.

Even developments of big franchises like MGS, Resident Evil, Mass Effect etc are very poorly executed.

Too many games are not taking advantage of the iphone's hardware and simply delivering the same experience you get on much more primitive cellphones instead of what you'd find on a PSP.
post #14 of 24
I think the problem with the App Store is the focus on quantity instead of quality. Just browsing through the games section finds that a LARGE majority of games are $0.99. And since they are $0.99, a game has to be popular BEFORE it reaches that price in order to get any benefit from reaching that perch (as value is assessed not on the absolute cost of the item, but it's price relative in time).

Another way to put this is that were the price of a Ferrari to drop by 1/2 tomorrow and for tomorrow only, you'd find a huge number of people trying to buy one, even in this economy. But if the Ferrari were always priced at that "lower" price, then sales would stagnate. The problem however is if you've always priced that car lower, you will never make up cost.
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

The big developers might be making iphone games but the efforts have been overwhelmingly poor so far with only a handful of exceptions.

The Sims 3, Rolando, NFS Undercover, Brothers in Arms, Hero of Sparta show some real production values but it's a small minority out of tens of thousands of apps.

Even developments of big franchises like MGS, Resident Evil, Mass Effect etc are very poorly executed.

Too many games are not taking advantage of the iphone's hardware and simply delivering the same experience you get on much more primitive cellphones instead of what you'd find on a PSP.



Same as on pc, you develop for marketshare. The 3gs is only a tiny percentage of ownership which is why you see most games being designed for first gen hardware.
New iPhone is about as powerful as a psp but you don't have to pay $50 for games
Used to tick me off when I used to buy video cards the day of release for my pc builds. No games to take advantage of it for over a year. So I stopped and now only look at mid to low range cards
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocNo42 View Post

It's an ancient phenomenon:

http://slashdot.org/faq/com-mod.shtml#cm400

pay attention to the dated of that question...

Wow - sad.
post #17 of 24
Needs a GTA.
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by FormerARSgm View Post

Gee thanks for your intriguing post, 'success'. FAIL.

Apple is going to have to come up with a better way to sort through or categorize the tens of thousands of titles on the app store. If a user wants to find an app of a particular type, he must wade through several results (many of which are junkie and amateur) before finding the serious software developers who create a truly worthy app. It's frustrating and time consuming to find the great apps.

Additionally, so many of us have been burned when we download a bummer app that we're all a little gun shy to spend $5-10 on a new title. Why not offer a 'return/refund/exchange' policy if you don't want the app after 30 minutes? I don't know how to flesh out the details and the technology - it's just an idea.

It will be nice to see the 'big game' publishers developing truly amazing apps for iPhone. One has to wonder if, much like the PC, the game developers will drive performance of the hardware?

Not just games, hunting through movies is a goofy thing too! Music is about the only thing that is easy to sort through.
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

Same as on pc, you develop for marketshare. The 3gs is only a tiny percentage of ownership which is why you see most games being designed for first gen hardware. New iPhone is about as powerful as a psp

Sure, but the original one is half as powerful, which is enough for PSone level games and even a bit higher than that. In that light, I'd say it differs from the PC arena as there is still a guarantee that every one of the 40 million or more iphone and ipod touch owners have minimum PSone level hardware and yet we get endless ports of old atari/SNES games that use 2D sprites.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magic_Al

Needs a GTA.

They got a GTA 2-like clone called Payback but it's not all that good. But there are examples that show that the iphone is capable of this. Take the full 3D game Dexter for example:

http://toucharcade.com/2009/03/27/ha...r-iphone-game/

In that video, you can see the quality of graphics isn't far off the PC versions of Max Payne 1 and 2 and it could probably cope with some Splinter Cell versions. Splinter Cell seems like a great game for it because there are a lot of context-sensitive controls (sneak, shimmy, grapple, take hostage, interrogate), which works well with a touch display.

Nothing to stop the Tomb Raider franchise coming over too. TRU is on the DS and mobile phones in limited form and should be coming to the PSP.
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magic_Al View Post

Needs a GTA.


That would be a HUGE seller. I am really impressed with the current gen of Iphone games being released the games seem to only get better. The only game that is on the suck side is Sims 3.
post #21 of 24
12 months of an App store for the iPhone/touch, kids.

Let's see what it looks like in another 24 months.

And how did you get your games before the app store? Didn't you have to go to other sites for reviews, ask friends, check out forums, and then buy? And didn't you have to keep what you bought, or did you ask them if you could take it home for 30 minutes to check it out first.

Sheeeeeeeeesh...

Small, independent developers are at least getting a chance.

Big develoopers have waited to see how the App Store panned out and if there were going to be enough devices to make it worthwhile.

Once the power of the 3GS and subsequent iPhone/touches are the norm, the big guys will make a handy living making iPhone/touch games, and the small developers will still have a chance of making some cash.

You download an app for free, don't expect a lot. If you get a lot, rejoice.

If you download an app for a buck, and you don't like it, well, toss it. It only cost you a buck.

If you don't like to spend between a buck and ten bucks because you might not like the game, then either go find the reviews, check the companies' websites, ask your friends, and check out the forums... just the way you did when you were deciding to buy a $60 game.

It's fairly simple.

We just seem to have a bunch of cheapskates that want a great gaming experience for free or .99c.

You get what you pay for in most instances. In this case, you have thousands of applications that allow you to get full value from your free download.

:-)
post #22 of 24
With the relative success of the iPhone/iPod Touch and the app store, I wonder whether this will put any pressure on Nintendo, with regards to the DS and DSi? For example will they try to be more open with regards to the API, reduced cost of the dev kit and even open up their own app store?
post #23 of 24
Whoa wait a minute. EA is making iPhone games now?! WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?!



Was this supposed to be published a year ago or something?
post #24 of 24
I would love if companies like Atlus, Gust, N1, etc... brought some of their RPGs to the iPhone.
Most of these games are controlled by menus, and this would work just fine on the iPhone. SoMaGa ported Vay to the iPhone, which I bought, and the controls were really good.

iPod nano 5th Gen 8GB Orange, iPad 3rd Gen WiFi 32GB White
MacBook Pro 15" Core i7 2.66GHz 8GB RAM 120GB Intel 320M
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iPod nano 5th Gen 8GB Orange, iPad 3rd Gen WiFi 32GB White
MacBook Pro 15" Core i7 2.66GHz 8GB RAM 120GB Intel 320M
Mac mini Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz 8GB RAM, iPhone 5 32GB Black

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