iOS game pricing. Or : how Indies can still exist on the Appstore?
I’ve been watching closely what was going on on the appStore since its opening a few years ago. As an indie developer, I asked myself a simple question : how to price my game right?
The context today is this : both indie games and AAA titles are in an unfair competition. Why? Because they have the same price range (FREE – 10€).
Unlike the Appstore, the PC/Mac/Console market is healthier in this department. Between indies and AAA, the price range is larger (FREE – 70€). So when you spend 70€ in a game, you know you will get fancy 3D graphics and rollercoaster gameplay. But you can spend a few Euros in an interesting looking indie game just to try something different.
On the Appstore, customers expect to get AAA for 0,79€ or even for free. It makes it hard to differentiate your indie product from an AAA production.
A few indie devs took the issue in the opposite way. Simogo priced its fantastic title Bumpy Road 2,59€ at release and got somewhat successful. Superbrothers‘ Sword & Sworcery was priced even higher and got the attention it deserved. They believed in the value of their product and customers recognized this value when they purchased it.
The thing is, as always, those are exceptions, not the rule. The Appstore pricing is not healthy for indies. Long time are gone the days of Tiny Wings.
Having said that, what can we do about the pricing rules of the Appstore? Nothing. We have to wait.
The fact is that iOS devices are getting wider and wider audience. Most notably, younger players now want iPods Touch and iPads for Christmas, instead of 3DS or PSP.
What does it mean? Simply that as iOS is getting stronger as a gaming platform, AAA production budgets will rise and so the price of the games. 0,79€ per game is not a sustainable strategy for major publishers.
And user base will welcome more and more core gamers coming from aforementioned platforms that will be more inclined to spend more that 5€ on an iOS title.
When this will happen, and I believe it will eventually happen, it will give indies some air to exists on the Appstore, at least in the price point area. I just wish it could happen just right now.
In a more short-time window, I strongly recommend any indies wishing to make an iOS game to go cross-platform from the start. iOS, Android, Mac, PC, Flash, HTML 5… Anything that you can think of. The same goes for desktop/web indies as mobiles and tablets are here to stay.
Choose your development tools wisely. A lot of SDKs let you build for different platforms with the same code. As an indie, you may not have budget or time for porting your game. It might seems expensive to get a SDK like Unity vs. an open-source one. But in the long run, you will spare a lot of money/development time.
Share your opinion!