Last year game developer somthinelse released a game called Papa Sangre to iOS, which was well reviewed and garnered a Game of the Week position on the iOS App Store. Speaking at Edinburgh Interactive, managing director Steve Ackerman mentioned an intriguing conversation the developer had with Apple in bringing the game to market.
“Obviously Apple doesn’t promise anything in terms of promoting games, but before the release of Papa Sangre they said they were very interested in the game, and that they might promote it. They asked us how much we were going to sell it for, and we said maybe £1.99. They said ‘you must be joking, this is a premium app, this is worth more than the price of coffee.'” said Ackerman.
In the end the app was launched at £3.99, and in the US it sold for $4.99. So far it has sold over 50,000 copies, according to Ackerman.
It’s not clear whether pricing strategy is something that comes up in conversation between Apple and every developer, or if this is an isolated incident. It does show that Apple is interested in generating revenue, both for game developers and of course, for itself.
Pricing of games is a hot topic these days, with Nintendo president Satoru Iwata saying at GDC that $0.99 games were harming the value of games, and that it was bad for the industry. Epic Games’ Mike Capps also spoke out against dollar games. In fact, it wasn’t until the emergence of iOS games that we really saw games priced at the $0.99 level.
Recently there have been several iOS games which buck that trend, however. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP was released at $4.99. Final Fantasy came out at $8.99, and the recently released Final Fantasy Tactics: The War Of The Lions is a whopping $15.99.
Take these prices in perspective, though. Console games regularly retail for between $40 and $60, and many PC games are in the same ballpark. The rise of digital distribution on the PC through services like Steam have helped to drive the prices of PC games down, and Steam is notorious for holding flash sales on older titles, where prices may be reduced by half, or even more.
In the end, consumers evaluate how much game they’re getting for their money. If they feel that they’re getting their money’s worth, they’ll be positive about the game. Is Final Fantasy Tactics worth $15.99 to you? Maybe it is. What’s the most you’ve ever spent on an iOS game? Did it feel like a lot, or are you becoming conditioned to spending a little bit more for a so-called premium title?