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Dollar Apps Killing Traditional Gaming?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the transitional-period dept.

Businesses 343

donniebaseball23 writes "There can be no denying that the rise of smartphones and tablets has had a major impact on the gaming business. The prevalence of free and 99-cent apps has changed consumers' perception of value. Mike Capps, president of Gears of War developer Epic Games, said, 'If there's anything that's killing us [in the traditional games business] it's dollar apps. How do you sell someone a $60 game that's really worth it? They're used to 99 cents. As I said, it's an uncertain time in the industry. But it's an exciting time for whoever picks the right path and wins.'"

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Profit dollars are what matters. (1, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891300)

The installed base for iOS is over what, 60 million units? And Android is like, 40 million. So if you develop a game that costs a million bucks to develop and sell it for ten bucks, you have to get 0.13 percent of the users to buy it to break even. And if it's a 99 cent thing you and your mom cooked up in a few weeks during summer break that's cute and catches on, you may never work in a real job ever in your life - before you're even out of middle school.

An interesting game. It sounds like the only way to lose is not to play.

Re:Profit dollars are what matters. (3, Interesting)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891402)

An interesting game. It sounds like the only way to lose is not to play.

Many will lose simply because the number of popular game apps will be a tiny fraction of the number developed and marketed. The losers will include quite a few who invest time/effort/money in developing a game that gets bought by essentially nobody.

Right now, these mini-games have novelty value, but that might wear off, and the potential rewards for success will shrink if the punters don't play.

Of course, I'm not really in the "gamer" demographic. The last game I bought for a PC was Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, maybe 20 years ago, for about $40. Since then I've bought precisely three PlayStation games for the kids, costing a total of about $150. The number of app-style games I've purchased for our smartphones is exactly zero, and unlikely to change.

Re:Profit dollars are what matters. (0)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891630)

Yup. nobody plays any of those old games.

Uno does not sell cars anymore.
Nobody buys any of the parker brothers board games.

I think you really underestimate the value of a quick game. I know people that keep around a old Motorola Razr because they had "Bejeweled" on it. funny part is that the Apple store is so crappy that I had to show these people that they could buy it for their iphone. you cant easily find anything in the apple store.

Which by the way Bejeweled is STILL highly played after years and years.

Re:Profit dollars are what matters. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35892018)

Man, I'd never buy one of those Uno cars, they are made of cardboard and just don't last.

Re:Profit dollars are what matters. (1, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891604)

If your game costs $1,000,000 to devlop for a phone or portable device, then stop right there, close up shop and go home. You are doing it wrong and will only produce crap.

Yes it's neat that you paid a world crafter to spend 8 hours a day for 6 months to place every pieces of junk in your world, ala: fallout 3 and some gamers might notice and appreciate that, but 90% will never notice and dont care. So stop paying a "artist" low 6 figures to do grunt work and hire a student at low 5 figures to do it instead.

Honestly, hiring rock star programmers and artists on a $1.00 iOS game is utterly stupid. And only a complete moron would do such a thing.

Games like angry birds, coded up in a month, art done in 3 months by a medicore artist. ALL DONE and even at dumb silicon valley pay rates you are still under $100,000 and they made that back in the first week of sales.

Re:Profit dollars are what matters. (5, Insightful)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891872)

hiring rock star programmers and artists on a $1.00 iOS game is utterly stupid

It's not that expensive although the cost is rising quickly. There's a significant number of rock star programmers out there who want to write for their phone and are willing to take a pay cut to do so. Try hiring for a console game right now. That's become even more expensive because so many developers no longer want to write for consoles or work on a multi-million dollar title. The stress involved in doing so can be substantial.

Re:Profit dollars are what matters. (1, Informative)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891906)

Here's some simple math for you to illustrate the reality of the app marketplace. By Apple's own claims it has (A) generated $2,000,000,000 in revenue for developers, and (B) hosts 350,000 apps in its store. A / B = $5714.29 per app on average, the vast majority making significantly less than that. That's no way to make a living. The winning strategy seems to be to make lots of garbage quickly and hope something sticks. Any other strategy is akin to to winning the lottery.

You don't (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891304)

You sell a $5 app and hope you make 12 times the sales. Or that other costs are sufficiently lower to justify the reduced income per unit

Re:You don't (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891350)

Or you sell a free game with $1 episodic content.


Re:You don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891394)

Or you sell a free game with free episodic content and charge a $1 for support.

Or better yet, free game, free content, free support, and then a miracle happens and you make money!

Re:You don't (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891446)

What's happening now, on iOS and other platforms, is you give away the FPS but charge for the bullets.

It's pretty insulting when you think about it, but then I'd say that about half of all consumer products are pretty insulting to the consumer, if the consumer took the time and had the resources to think about it.

Re:You don't (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891636)

Yup, too bad nobody makes any money off of linux. Glad we have billionaires like Linus Travolds who secretly pumps money into the project.

Re:You don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891858)

Most of those making money off Linux are doing so with the free software, charge for support model.

Re:You don't - thumbs up! (1)

Xenious (24845) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891970)

The days of overpriced crap console games at a fixed 60$/hit are coming to an end. Time to look for gameplay and quality but steamline cost. No more "ages of war 2, 3, 4, 5 etc" as an easy revenue stream. Eventually the apps will whittle down as well just like podcasts did. The proverbial wheat from the chaff separation and we end up with lower cost higher quality gaming options.

Re:You don't - thumbs up! (2)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35892056)

Sounds reasonable. Although you can understand why the established players are concerned.

Look at Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891310)

No really, they often sell big name game titles with a grand discount in for example the holiday season.
I think that whoever alters his/her business model to a new more flexible design (being able to put 75% off the price for a game for example), wins this battle.

Re:Look at Steam (1)

c0mpliant (1516433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891814)

I was going to mention Steam as the perfect example. This Christmas I bought at least 15 games, 10 of which I still haven't played but I bought because I know I will play it eventually. Very few games are actually worth €60 and so I usually wait for the price to come down before paying out that much money for the game. Steam's model of sales has made me buy games which I also would never have bought had it not been for the steam sale. Especially Indy games. Ive spent at least €60 in total on Indy games which I wouldn't have before mainly because they're usually too expensive for what I'm getting, or because they're fairly unknown and/or awkard to download or install. The Space Shuttle Simulator was a perfect example of a poorly thought digital distribution, I could only install the game on 1 machine. Now that I've installed Windows 7 I can't play the game anymore and I'd never buy from that company again, but if they released it on steam I would

Re:Look at Steam (1)

Ice Tiger (10883) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891948)

Steam have it sussed, lower the unit price and sell more games and the lower the price then less piracy too.

As the distribution costs are next to nothing as opposed to physical media distribution then profits go up as the number of units goes up despite having to have a larger amount of sales to generate that profit.

Maybe that $60 game needs to be sold for $20 or even $10 at launch?

There has been many a game I've bought for under £10 on Steam even if it has not been a core game genre I like just to try out and if I get a few days out of it then am happy. Have it at £45 and I'll never buy it unless I'm pretty sure I'll really like it.

"Exciting Times?" (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891314)

That makes me think of an ancient Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times."

$1 isn't what they should worry about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891324)

The $1 apps you get are great for distracting you from boring commutes or the odd 5 minute little game when you get a moment, but they won't be replacing larger games of the kind Epic makes for a long time, if ever. Angry Birds is fun and all, but even the most involved games in that market are nothing close to something like CoD. What they *should* be worried about is lower priced/free indie games, like Minecraft.

Re:$1 isn't what they should worry about (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891660)

dude the epic game does not exist anymore. The game that took you a month or more playing it nightly will never exist again.

Dragon Age II: short as hell unless you shell out more and more for DLC.

The LAST epic long game was Blue Dragon. right now game companies are more interested in short crap. Hell I finished Halo:reach on hard in 3 days... That's a freaking mini-game. Gears of war II was 2/3 the length of Gears of war I and I have low hopes for III.

and who in the hell wants to play an epic 5 month long 3 hours a day game on a portable device? There is a reason you dont have WoW on ios and android....

Re:$1 isn't what they should worry about (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891854)

I was playing Red Dead Redemption for a month or two and was still only about halfway through the story.. if you buy the right type of open world/sandbox style games you can get a lot of value out of them. Oblivion is another good example, and Skyrim will be out soon. I love the type of game where it's enjoyable to just explore the world rather than always pounding away at a linear plot.

Re:$1 isn't what they should worry about (1)

arcsimm (1084173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891988)

To add another data open-world datapoint, I've got 90 hours in Just Cause 2 and 60 in New Vegas. As for Oblivion, well, I think since 2006 I've done a complete playthrough about once per year. One of these days I may even finish the Fighter's Guild quests and play through Shivering Isles!

You shouldn't have to (5, Insightful)

Draaglom (1556491) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891334)

Your $60 game should be incomparable to a $1 game, in terms of both gameplay and technology. If it's not, you are Doing It Wrong.

Re:You shouldn't have to (1)

Ganthor (1693614) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891668)

Yeah Absolutely. it should be .... ummm 60 times better perhaps? - and no, 59 times better in technology and same game-play isn't going to count.

Re:You shouldn't have to (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891688)


I didn't even think twice about buying Portal 2 earlier this week, and it was worth every penny.

This is like the movie industry being worried about television - they are two different products, loosely related to each other.

Re:You shouldn't have to (2)

martijnd (148684) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891778)

I did think twice.

So I downloaded the portal I demo (free), and then bought Portal I (full). Cost me Euro 8 and I am enjoying it.

I don't have to think very much things priced under Euro 10 -- but something like Portal II at Euro 50 ... that gives me pause.

I can afford it, but why waste the money?

I most likely wait for another 1-2 years and then buy it at a discount.

Re:You shouldn't have to (4, Funny)

Danieljury3 (1809634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891896)

Obligitory XKCD []

Re:You shouldn't have to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35892052)

I always do that, because I am cheap and not an avid gamer. I buy games when they are out of fashion and in the 2 for 10$ rack or at Christmas on Steam. The game is exactly the same and I payed less.
But I can understand that someone who is a hardcore player could pay 50-60$ for a new game.

I don't care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891344)

You can have your Angry birds etc. and i will play my Demons souls, Dead space, Gears of War and Portal 2

Why anytime, anything gains a bit of popularity it automatically starts to 'kill' anything remotely similar ?

Most are crap (2)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891352)

That depends, on the iPhone a lot of $1 games are made free for 24 hours. It only takes 5 minutes of playing to realise that most of them fall into one of these categories:
  • Run left to right, tap to jump
  • Tap the screen to shoot the monsters walking from left to right
  • Farmville clone
  • Angry Birds clone

Most of these get deleted after 5 minutes (and in the case of the first item, within 30 seconds). Games like Street Fighter IV are completely unplayable on a touchscreen. I don't think Epic really has anything to worry about.

How do you sell someone a $60 game... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891360)

How do you sell someone a $60 game that's really worth it?

Has there ever really been such a thing?

Re:How do you sell someone a $60 game... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891428)

I'm curious about this too. To me a game I like is worth $20-30 and a game I love $30-40. What kind of awesome-ness can he offer me that's worth $60?

Re:How do you sell someone a $60 game... (1)

Zingledot (1945482) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891714)

Depends how you set your standards. I could say $30, as was the cost of games 'back in the day', but am I even keeping up with inflation? Candy bars can't cost a nickel FOREVER.

Monetarily, I tend to have two different rulers: World of Warcraft and movie theater tickets.

Games that go on forever and involve constant content development/support measure against 15$/month for what they offer.

Games that are one-time experiences with the visceral feel of current technology measure against movies

If a movie is 1.5 hours, with the ticket costing 8.50 is 5.6$ per hour. Some movies are 3 hours.

If a game is 10 hours at $60, that is 6$ per hour for entertainment. Some games are 40 hours.

So, how much is it worth to you?

Re:How do you sell someone a $60 game... (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891924)

Then again, back in the days when games were half the price, the market was a few geeks and the industry wasn't churning over billions per annum. Seems to me economies of scale, even taking into account higher production costs, should mean game prices comparable to what they were, way back when. Having said that, I'm at the point where I don't worry so much about the cost of games, but it's hardly surprising that the average gamer's age is mid thirties, that's probably the sweet point where you're young enough to have bought into gaming in the early days but old enough that you can lay down a reasonable chunk of change per game without too much pain.

Re:How do you sell someone a $60 game... (1)

Qubit (100461) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891654)

How do you sell someone a $60 game that's really worth it?

Has there ever really been such a thing?

Global Thermonuclear War. Best $60 I ever spent.

Well, except for that one time in Vegas...

Re:How do you sell someone a $60 game... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891882)

Starcraft 2, hands down. I don't even play traditional multiplayer, and I'm not into single player beyond single play through, but fan made custom maps are absolutely wonderful.

"Traditional Gaming"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891376)

Maybe it's just me, but to me "Traditional Gaming" has always meant stuff like traditional boardgames, wargames, and RPGs. Video Games certainly took a lot of their possible customers, but stuff like Catan and Warhammer still sells.

I'm sure traditional video games will survive.

Re:"Traditional Gaming"? (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891592)

Traditional VIDEOGAMING would be a better word but people who use 'traditional gaming' are speaking about video gaming specifically given the context.

Short answer: No. (1)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891404)

Long answer: Hell no.

Daft (4, Insightful)

symes (835608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891410)

Isn't this the same as asking whether short scruffy videos on You Tube are going to usurp Blockbuster films? I think the only threat would be if smart phone games could be developed so that the game arena was the real world and the phone was some mission interface. That would be neat - best it isn't a FPS though...

Re:Daft (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891472)

I think the only threat would be if smart phone games could be developed so that the game arena was the real world and the phone was some mission interface. That would be neat - best it isn't a FPS though...

Too late. It's already happening on the West Side of Chicago. The saddest part is the real world FPS going on there is most popular with a demographic that skews to the 11-17 year-old range. By 18, there's a good chance you're in jail or dead.

So (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891412)

Make a good game and it will sell itself. Don't spend most of the funds on marketing.
-Ex beta tester.

Re:So (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891488)

Make a good game and it will sell itself. Don't spend most of the funds on marketing.

That was the first thing I thought of, too.

How do you sell someone a $60 game that's really worth it?

Make sure it's as good as Half-Life 2.

Re:So (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891632)

It might happen. But generally a studio knows when it has a good game. Halo 3 wasn't too bad but MS still felt the need to spend $55 million or so promoting it.

Not the first time we've heard this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891424)

Re:Not the first time we've heard this... (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891974)

I guess Nintendo compete more in this market space - games that rely on gameplay, not graphics, to sell - but even so, they should be able to compete with a $1 game given the much higher production costs. And besides, all the major consoles (and the PC, via Steam) have a platform for delivering cheap games, if Epic can't outsell a $1 game on price, why don't they just sell their game for $1? Either $1 games are profitable or they're not, if they're not then stop worrying about them, they'll die out once the companies behind them realise they can't make money.

99c games suck (1)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891432)

Of the phone games I've bought that cost maybe 1€ or 5€, most of them have been pretty bad. Either the game is so easy to beat that it only lasts a few hours, or it is so boring that you won't play it. For example, the chess game I bought for 5€ was so simple to beat even at the highest difficulty level that there was no point in it. So for me the $60 console games still provide a lot of value because they provide many more times entertainment than the cheap phone games.

20 dollar games suck. (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891626)

I bought some 30eruo games for the wii. They seem perfectly targeted for my children. However the gameplay sucks so much that they are often not played again after a first time, or only once or twice. It just seems win windows port where you have to point at the screen to emulate the mouse movement.

There is not always a correlation between price and quality. A lot of those "low-prices" 30 euro games were 60-70 dollar at release.

Te solution is to read review and recommencements, and not the specifications of the games. Same goes for appstore games.

Re:99c games suck (3, Insightful)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891908)

But for every person like you, there are lots like me who only want to play Angry Birds for a few minutes a couple of times a week. Honestly, I've spent more on phone games in the past year than I have on PC or console (PS3 and Wii) titles and frankly I've been disappointed with purchases on all the platforms. The difference is that when I buy a crappy phone game, I'm only out a few dollars. When I buy a crappy PS3 game (like I did twice last year - GT5 and ModNation Racers), I'm out $60 each time.

Apples, meet Oranges (1)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891440)

I don't expect to get multi-player FPS HD blah blah blah on a 4" screen. I expect to get a little doo-dad game limited to what I can do with a touch screen, a couple buttons, and accelerometer input. Something to occupy a few minutes at a time here and there.

How is this news (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891442)

We already had this same article with NOA CEO Reggie Fils-Aime bitching about the same thing despite the fact that they're absorbing the same behavior with the Shop Channel, which BTW, makes buying World of Goo easy & cheaper (on both ends) instead of driving to an archaic dying store to get a hardcopy for 2-5x the price. Random Rant: I think Sony has something here w/ the PSP phone. I think Nintendo should develop an android handset of their own, but with a patented APU so it'd still technically be their platform, & they can still be archaic if they want & keep a DS slot on it if they can't spare the 200MiB/Game.

There were few $60 games to begin with. (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891448)

Really. Most of what you game dev studios/industry was producing, was CRAP. $60 was the perception of the 'price point' that the marketing types came up with - "hey, what is the maximum people in america will pay for a game ?" turned out, that perception was wrong.

you were rehashing the same crap over and over and pushing it to masses with marketing. just like movies. trailers, marketing hype, ads, showing only the best few parts you added to the game, whereas the rest was rehash of the previous version or other games. taking no risks to please shareholders. a few cents per share more for every shareholder, more important than satisfaction of your customer.

that was why there was rampant piracy.

thank mobile apps. this '$60 blockbuster' bullshit will end.

Re:There were few $60 games to begin with. (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891482)

Well, EA is the monster it is for a reason.

People keep buying Fifa Y+1, Madden Y+1, NHL Y+1, etc, etc, etc, every year. For $60

While (semi-)independent game developers struggle.

Re:There were few $60 games to begin with. (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891558)

of course. ea is the foremost monster that 'industrialized' gaming and deteriorated it into a milking operation for shareholders.

Re:There were few $60 games to begin with. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891696)

They claim those games are expensive because of the rights fees.

Guess what, the same game without the NFL branding and fake teams and names on generic faces IS JUST AS FUN. you dont have to pay a bunch of prima donna babies for the right to their "branding".

If the game is a great football simulation, real gamers will buy it.

I personally dont know, those games have a -100 interest to me. IF I can run up and punch an opposing team player for grandstanding, or pick off a spectator's head in the stands with the football, then it's boring.

Re:There were few $60 games to begin with. (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891824)

Yeah, they're not expensive because of licensing, 'sports games' are on average the same price as 'non-license' games.

But of course, if EA sold "NFL 2012" and "Generic Football 2012" being $5 cheaper, same engine but with no real names, NFL would probably still outsell by a large margin.

Re:There were few $60 games to begin with. (2)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891856)

Nice in theory but totally invalidated by actual activity in the industry. I once worked at a small company that made a licensed sports game for a few years: company made big bucks. Then the license expired and EA bought it up. Company I'd been at tried to sell the exact same game (with improvements) unlicensed. After a few years it was out-of-business.

Right now, I couldn't name a single unlicensed sports game of any success level at all. (I've been out of the industry for some years, so my knowledge base is admittedly low.) Licensing has been proven to be almost everything in that industry. People don't care about "football" in the abstract, they care about their particular home team and its players.

Perception of value (2)

mrjb (547783) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891450)

Our perception of value is distorted anyway. Example- It takes about 100 days to raise a chicken to the point where it's slaughtered, plucked, driven to your supermarket and refrigerated. It'll cost 5 GBP. At that price, 5p/day per chicken, someone manages to feed the chicken, clean after it, vaccinate it, transport it, keep it cold and apparently still make a profit on it. But don't expect to be getting premium stuff at that price.

fake 'weather' worst by far terrorist activity (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891454)

ANY other presentation is just more&more fauxking phony poisonous fatal smoke&mirrors hypenosys from

the southern hillarians will rise again, in mebotuh (formerly utah). don't miss it.

so hymens come from god, & the 'weather' comes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891728)

& comes, now more than ever? that's probably why a no-fly zone has been declared over southern hillary (former atlantic ocean area)? the thinking is that after the riff-raff unproves out of the equation, there'll be need for some monkey trainers, & clergical beings, so the restrictions might be lifted, by 2025.

No *SOLO* Game is Worth $60 (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891456)

The Multi-Player experience is what provides the gaming console experience with value and makes it "sticky." A player buys the latest $60 game because the people he hangs with online -- his guild, his clan, platoon, his whatever -- are buying it and want to "move on" to the next shared experience. It's a proposition that works for the developer, the online service, and the player.

But the solo-only game? I have not purchased a solo-only game at full price, within the first months of its launch, since the debut of the original Xbox. It'll be less than half-price within a year if it reviews well, and under $15 and bundled with a second game if it does not. I can wait. Not being in high school and needing to brag that I "beat" a game in a weekend, there is zero value to me in owning a solo game when it first comes out.

Add to this the idle-time-wasters of inexpensive and addictive arcade games like Angry Birds, Plants versus Zombies, etc., I mean... geez... there's still only 24 hours in a day, last time I checked...

Re:No *SOLO* Game is Worth $60 (2)

DreadPiratePizz (803402) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891742)

Developers just aren't in general focusing on providing a challenging single player experience that one needs to keep playing to master. I mean, look at a game like Super Meat Boy. Single player, but there's no way you'll explore everything it has to offer even in 20 hours. Maybe more. I continually spend a great deal of money to import Cave shooters from Japan. These games can easily be beaten in 30 minutes on free play. The appeal, is that to actually get good enough to 1CC them and get a good score, take months and months of practice. What's killing the single player games market in my eyes is the focus of single player on storytelling. Instead of being about getting good enough at the game to conquer all the challenges it has to offer, developers are treating the single player mode as merely a way to tell their story, and so design the campaigns to be easy to beat (so their story can be told). It's been a very long time since a major release has actually been challenging to finish the single player portion of. The appeal of multiplayer is obviously that you can get better and better since you're playing actual humans. You used to have to get better and better to beat the single player portion of many games, but this is no longer the case, and in many cases 100%ing can be accomplished even by beginners. That's why it's dying.

Re:No *SOLO* Game is Worth $60 (2)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 3 years ago | (#35892042)

It still boggles my mind that so many game developers pay so much attention to "story." It is like the producer of an opera worrying himself over whether his cast looks athletic enough.

Now, I'm sure there may be some people who refuse to buy an opera ticket because the performers aren't good-looking, just as I'm sure there may be some game players who fret over whether their new game will have a good "plot," but it is madness for the producers of either form of entertainment to be concerned about these confused consumers, just as it would be wrong for lipstick manufacturers to spend time and money making their product stick on a pig.

Re:No *SOLO* Game is Worth $60 (5, Insightful)

Xian97 (714198) | more than 3 years ago | (#35892010)

My feelings are the exact opposite. I prefer the single player experience, whether it be on the PC or Consoles. I am looking forward to games like The Witcher 2, Elder Scrolls Skyrim, and other single player games. I have zero interest in multiplayer; when I get home from a hard day's work after dealing with difficult people the last thing I want to do is to have more social interaction. The games I play are usually 40 hours or more in length, that's pretty cheap entertainment and well worth the $60 price tag.

I find very little of the $1 games that can hold my interest for very long at all, where many PC and Console games I have played for hours on end.

perceived value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891478)

I've never paid $60 for a game. I bought a PS3 when the slim version came out, and there were several good games priced down to $30 at the time. That is about all I'm comfortable paying.

Just last night, I was in Walmart and saw Portal 2 for PS3 for $60. No way. I just gifted it on steam to my nephew for $40. It's not just perception of value; same game, lesser quality on console probably, much greater cost.

Re:perceived value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891898)

There were console gamers buying the PS3 version of Portal 2 because on Amazon, you could work a deal where you ended up paying $35 ($55 with $20 discount) to receive the PS3 version which came with the PC/Mac version of Portal 2 for free. So if someone was really that concerned with "super value", there are ways to find it.

Personally, I thought Portal 2 was easily worth $50 on the console based on its predecessor and I haven't been disappointed. I've also gladly told others they should buy it.

Pfft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891510)

Saying that 1$apps are killing real games is like saying comic-books and/or short-stories are killing novel sales.

Dollar apps... really? (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891516)

Mike Capps, president of Gears of War developer Epic Games, said, 'If there's anything that's killing us [in the traditional games business] it's dollar apps.

I thought if there was anything killing you it was piracy. That's what you guys have been sprooking about for years on end, anyway.

Re:Dollar apps... really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891700)

Mod parent up, if course it's pirating what's killing the industry!

Re:Dollar apps... really? (2)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891710)

And, strangely, the rate of piracy is often correlated to the number of digits on the price.

Re:Dollar apps... really? (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891942)

Not really, there have been claims of sub-10$ games having up to 90%+ piracy on android (essentially tracking amount of automated log-in attempts from copy of a game without a proper key on some server they used from a game or two).

They still sell enough though, and how many of these are actually "I want to try it before I buy it" is a question thrown in the air. But piracy (or more correctly copyright infringement) isn't going to just vanish because price goes down.

Re:Dollar apps... really? (2)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891938)

Epic complained about piracy then used game sales and now $1.00 apps. Basically their problem is everything except their lack of innovation and complete reliance on making the same game in a prettier package every year and charging a high price.

Fundamental misunderstanding (1)

senorpoco (1396603) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891540)

What it is killing is the pricing of games with an 8hours single player mode at $60. There are two choices, either make games which are worth the price or reduce the price.

Maybe you need to sell your $60 game for $10 (1)

Liambp (1565081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891550)

I am a long time PC Gamer and currently in state of intoxication over the amount of gaming goodness I can get on the platform these days for buttons. I can get so much high quality gaming for $5 and $10 that Angry Birds for a dollar seems like the rip off to me.

Perhaps it is impossible to cover the cost of a traditional AAA game by selling it at such a low price but the market is moving on towards dramatically lower prices whether the publishers like it or not. Maybe increased sales will help compensate for lower prices. Digital distribution surely saves some cash as well.

A $60 game that's really worth it. (5, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891562)

How do you sell someone a $60 game that's really worth it?

Perhaps it isn't worth $60.
If a $1 game provides me with about 1 week of entertainment, a $60 game should provide me with 60 weeks of entertainment.
There aren't many games that can do that, and there are even less that give me the convidence to pay for those 60 weeks up front.
I fear TFA calculates "worth" as "the amount of money we had to spend to make it". There used to be a day when games could be fun without gigabytes of graphics and sound. That day has never really gone, it's just been obscured by an increasing focus by developers on adding stuff that isn't part of the actual game.
If I bake a cake and package it in a golden, diamond encrusted box designed by some guy that changed his first and last name into a single, unpronouncable word, the cake hasn't increased in value at all. Sure, it looks much nicer with all the shiny bits, but it can't compensate for the fact that I can't bake a decent cake.

Re:A $60 game that's really worth it. (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891726)

In fact, I find a game to be more worth it when there is LESS cutscene crap. I want to interact with something when I'm playing a game - if I want to watch some rendered 3D stuff, I'll go down to the local theater.

Re:A $60 game that's really worth it. (2)

the_brobdingnagian (917699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891862)

Ah! The economics of fun!
If a free game can entertain me for 10 minutes, how long should a $0.99 game entertain me?

Adapt or Die (1)

JohnRoss1968 (574825) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891566)

Dollar games are not killing anything. Things change. Period. Adapt or die. Its called the free market.

Provide the right games! (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891568)

One game I have been desperately looking for on both Android and IOS, and failing to find a suitable version of, is Baldurs Gate - put that on the mobile scene and I would be more than willing to pay more than a few bucks for it. But it doesn't exist, and nothing is rising to replace it, so I dont spend my money.

This is old news. (1)

RogueRat (1710322) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891574)

Games will always be sold and bought for what they're worth to the consumer... and guess what? People are still buying $60 games. This is old news and I'm sick of hearing about it.

How do they set the price anyway ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891650)

How do they end up with a $60 price anyway ?

Wrong again industry (1)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891674)

Hello? Portal 2

There you go. You sold it for more than a buck. The truth is that a dollar game should not be a direct substitute for a $60 game and if it is you're making it wrong. This is true almost everywhere - you can rent a movie for your family for $1 or go to the movies for $50 (or a football game for hundreds). You can buy $2 flip-flops or $400 designer footwear. You can get $0.50 ramen or $30 steak, Two buck chuck or a $100 bottle of wine.

The gaming industry has always been volatile and unpredictable and if this guy is just figuring that out he's forgotten a lot of history.

Casual Gamers (3, Interesting)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891678)

There was a report here a few months back or so that linked to a game company's discovery that quite a few people only played a $60 game for a few hours and many never completed it before moving on to the next game. These are the folks that are being lost. Instead of spending $60 on a game they don't complete, they spend a buck or a few bucks on a game for their phone. It lets them play a little when waiting or idle without having to go to their computer, power it up and go back in.

I was a pretty heavy gamer back when Doom, Command and Conquer, Red Alert and StarCraft were popular. As multi-player became more popular, I found I didn't have the time to invest in trying to beat some twitchy 15 year old who had nothing better to do all day. I still get the newer games like StarCraft II and even play them, but I haven't finished it yet. I'll get the other two when they come out as well and may finish it they, or not.

I also have several "games" on my iPad and iPhone ranging from Angry Birds (it's really a puzzle solving game), Popper, and Pocket God to Small World, Rage, and Red Alert with several others in between. They're fine when I'm sitting here at work at lunch or in the car with my wife going somewhere.

The game companies have less of my money because I'm not interested in sports or super realistic multi-player gaming (battlefield 2 or crysis for instance). I like the games like Castle Wolfenstein, Duke Nukem, Doom, Quake, Command and Conquer, Red Alert (the original one more than the newer ones), Carmageddon, and StarCraft. Heck, I'd be excited to get many of the games I played back then simply updated to work on the current tech.


Bravo Captain Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891690)

But it's an exciting time for whoever picks the right path and wins.

This is what makes reading the summaries worthwhile. If not for reading that, I'd have thought winning was a boring time.

Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891738)

People still buy conventional games. People still buy hugely expensive to develop RTS games in insane amounts. Many, many people still subscribe to games to the tune of 10 to 15 USD a month. People pick up crazy numbers of the latest run around and shoot people multiplayer games.

So.. no, I wouldn't say that cheap casual games are killing the console and PC game market. People are still willing to pay 60$ for a new game, so people will keep making 60$ new games.

Stupidity + lazyness = virtual millionaire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891746)

The only problem here and in other places is that anybody has the ability to speak up. That comes with the internet. And the reality is stupid people seem to gain a majority. Not because they are more than smart people, but because they have more free time. In the case of the one having this dillema: there is no dillema. For example one might have the mind and skills to make beautiful coats, but has no idea of how to make shoes and beyond taking a pair and walking around can't really evaluate a pair of shoes either. To get to this particular case: because a claustrated young person can generate a few lines of code does not mean he or she can sell it at a profit. It simply takes a different set of skills. Now, because of the trend of the last decade to imply that SOME programmers are good and that SOME of the good programmers are well paid thus (falsely) the must be smart - any pimple face has assumes a smart stance.

To give a solution to this dillema: maybe you are addressing the wrong crowd. Sure, a Steve Jobs would sell that $60 game at $260, but maybe, just maybe, one who starts with the assumption that his clients would pay only 99c for the product just knocks at the wrong door.

assbackwards (1)

garutnivore (970623) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891776)

'If there's anything that's killing us [in the traditional games business] it's dollar apps. How do you sell someone a $60 game that's really worth it? They're used to 99 cents

And again, the fat cats in the industry are looking at things backwards. Once the costs are calculated, they figure each copy of the game should go for $60. There may be good reasons for this figure, since they have to recoup their costs. In their head, they think that this $60 figure they discovered is a natural fact, like weight, for instance, is a natural fact. If you take a bunch of apples and put them on a scale, you'll get a certain weight. Give the same bunch of apples to someone else and they'll get the same weight. (Those who would like to quibble can go jump off a cliff a this point.) You can repeat the experiment with 10, 100, 1000 people and maybe after discovering that their scale needs recalibrating, they'll agree on the weight.

The $60 figure is not like this. It is not a natural fact. It is an opinion that the game holds such value to potential buyers that they'll willingly give up $60 for it. And then if you ask 10, 100, 1000 people about how much they value the game, they'll give very different answers. It may very well be that no one agrees that the value of the game is such that it is worth $60. Now, if it so happens that there are games which are sold for $1 which provide what people seek in a game, why should they be willing to pay $60?

So the fat cats say "$60", the market says "no way!" but because the fat cats think their opinion is a natural fact, they then assume that there is something terribly wrong with the world. They do not ever consider that their opinion that their $60 game is "really worth $60" could be mistaken because they think the $60 figure is a natural fact rather than an opinion.

(Other entertainment media also think like this. CD sales declining? It is not because we do not deliver the value people want. It is because something external (e.g. piracy) is interfering with the order of nature.)

You're ignoring the real issues (1)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891794)

99 cent games aren't changing consumer's perception of value. Your intolerant, draconian treatment of your customers are changing their perception of your value.

Premium downloadable content? What the hell is that? I once bought two 3.25" disks full of Doom2 WADs because it was convenient to do so versus downloading them off of, not because Doom2 was defective by design unless I pay even more for "premium content".

But then, isn't that a problem with the rise of consoles? Not exactly a great place to start for a user mod community.

But at the same time, what the hell is this article going on about? The gaming industry is a huge beast now. Some gaming titles are making more money on opening weekend than movies do. So congratulations, you have managed to trick the consumer into accepting your asinine treatment of them. So I guess...



1$ games are more innovative than "trad." games, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891866)

because 1$ games must compete on innovative gameplay, as they can not compete on bling bling!

Stupid (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891868)

"The prevalence of free and 99-cent apps has changed consumers' perception of value"

No it hasn't.

'If there's anything that's killing us [in the traditional games business] it's dollar apps. How do you sell someone a $60 game that's really worth it? They're used to 99 cents.

And you're president of Epic Games? I think the reason your company is being "killed in the traditional gaming business" just became obvious...

of course Epic doesn't like it (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35891928)

Epic's games lack decent scripts and stories. They're all a bit samey and lacking any real variety or innovation. They rely on making games prettier than their last ones which is expensive. They can't compete against cheaper games but the thing is no one was ever really happy to pay $60 for a game especially when it's yet another sequel with another hulking space guy spouting cheesy rubbish.

Actually you are killing your industry. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891946)

"If there's anything that's killing us [in the traditional games business] it's dollar apps.

Actually no. What is killing the traditional games business is unneeded bloat in your corporation. In the end of the day there will still be demand for that $60 dollar game. _You_ might not be willing to make it, it might not make _you_ enough money, but some other company eventually will. Maybe they won't be able to pay exorbitant CEO salaries, corporate cars, multi million advertising budgets, corporate campuses, licensed-title games, and teams of lawyers ready to sue players for minor IP infractions. But they will be made, and they will be made with out any of the unnecessary crap that defines your "industry."

Look at the tools needed to make music for example. Today any off the shelf computer can rival a recording studio from 20 years ago. The barrier to entry is way less then it used to be. Programming and game development is going to follow the same path. My only hope for the future is that the game developers get to profit more then the project managers and CEO in the game companies of the future. But thats probably being a little too optimistic.

Newsflash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35891996)

People beginning to see that games aren't supposed to be big-budget barely interactive movies, want actual games which cost very little to produce.

Film at 11.

Games aren't WORTH $60!! (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35892016)

Games are worth about $30 tops. These game makers need to adjust to reality. They have been over-charging for entertainment for too long and just like Microsoft, are having a difficult time adjusting when the market changes.

So yes, tiny tablets (phones) and larger tablets are making changes in the software industry. Compete, change or get out of the way. And certainly stop complaining about market forces which you once commanded being taken away from you.

Not the real question (1)

Jimpqfly (790794) | more than 3 years ago | (#35892048)

"How do you sell someone a $60 game that's really worth it?"
The real question is :
"Is a $60 game ever worth it ?"
Prices have always been too high, from Nintendo NES cardridge to the last XBox game. That's also why you find piracy.
We want some $20 to $30 Games.

So everyone who bought a PS3 and an XBOX (1)

PinchDuck (199974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35892060)

Now refuses to buy a game that costs more than $1.00?
I don't believe it. Cheap apps have expanded the market to people that wouldn't buy a console. If you're having a hard time selling console games, don't blame the casual gamer who wants to spend 15 minutes on the subway playing a game. Blame the glut of "me, too" games at the high end.

Uncertain times my ass...Quit bitching. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35892062)

"'s an uncertain time in the industry. But it's an exciting time for whoever picks the right path and wins.'"

Sheesh. I really get sick and tired of hearing "who is me!" from the gaming industry as they continue to turn record profits.

Bottom line is there is enough demand out there to satisfy damn near every single major player in this industry. If you can't thrive in this world where reality is so bad and stressful that mind-altering legal and illegal drug use is at an all-time high and people are literally craving that alternate reality to escape to every day, then either your product really sucks ass or you're doing it wrong and not paying attention to the several players in the industry who are doing it right. Everyone can win here, just ask Charlie Sheen.

Tradition (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#35892076)

Traditional gaming? You mean, like cards and chess and parcheesi?

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