You see, we have a problem in the mobile gaming sector, thanks to you. You would rather buy a pumpkin spice latte a few times a week and enjoy it for a few minutes than buy a game that you can play as long as you would like. In order for creative games to be made, there needs to be a major culture shift. We need to be willing to spend a few dollars on a quality app, rather than for a few extra lives or other in-game purchases.
Aksel Junkilla, The mobile games market is an absolute mess, thanks to you
There is an almost physical sense of irony in reading a post in which the author complains about the entitlement of his audience and yet fails to notice his own sense thereof. If we want good mobile games, we need to pay for them… starting with his game.
We’ve been down this path before here. And as amusing as I find The Oatmeal on occasion, if you find you are borrowing an argument from a four year old web comic, maybe you should take a deeper look at your idea.
The comedic exaggeration of the concept
However, that is not his sole target. The author, once he is done taking his potential customers to task turns on his fellow developers, calling on them to unite against the socio-economic menace that is Free to Play. Only when that has been defeated will people be willing to pay what his game is actually worth. He then points at the wondrous joy consumers used to feel parting with $40 for a Pokemon game and so on and so forth.
What a load of shit.
I actually expected him to go full Marx and declare that work has inherent value. But he didn’t quite go that far.
And he certainly didn’t go after his real problem, which is low barrier to entry. Nintendo can charge $40 for a Pokemon game because they invested in creating an ecosystem where not only do you have to pay that much for Pokemon, but you also have to spend $150 on hardware to play it as well. To get in the App Store you just need to development kit, meet some basic criteria, and be ready to give Apple their cut.
I love when people… and developers especially… bitch and moan about Apple creating a walled garden with the App Store, and then go back to playing games on pretty much any console ever.
And a particularly sweet dumpling in this rich soup of irony is that this walled garden has pretty much failed to weed out crap. It is, rather, a complete mess, with page after page of half-assed knock-offs and derivative shit. And even when you aren’t mired knee-deep in crap, there are often still many options.
The other night my wife wanted a video poker app as a warm up for EVE Vegas. Go to the App Store and search on video poker and tell me how many results you get, and how many nearly identical apps you find in the results. And most of them were free. So yeah, we didn’t buy a $4.99 app because it was not different in any discernible way (at least before purchase) from a number of free options. So now my wife has a perfectly serviceable video poke app on her iPhone that looks just like the real thing in Vegas. She only gets a limited amount of money to start with, and has to buy more if she runs out… that is the in-game purchase option… but she hasn’t run out yet.
There are things that certainly need to be fixed with the mobile market… problems that have been around since the App Store showed up, if the author had done his market research… but the fixing customers should be nothing more than afterthought on any list you can create if you want to live in the real world.
Complaining about customers isn’t a path to success. As in any market with low barriers to entry, you have to stand out from the crowd, distinguish yourself from the pack, make some effort to prove to potential customers that you’re worth the price. Plenty of mobile games out there have made money, and not just the free to play ones. If yours wasn’t one… well, you can blame whoever you like and declare life isn’t fair while you’re at it. But that won’t change reality.
(Hat tip to: What If…)
Addendum: Tim Cushing at TechDirt takes on this story and tears it apart.