How much is too much for a mobile game?

We’ve become spoiled since the app store revolution, expecting software to be either free or cost a dollar. You only need to go down to a game store to see what prices we normally had to pay for a mobile game, and compared to that, we really shouldn’t be complaining. A lot of the cheap games on mobile devices are casual games though, often 2D games that despite good graphics, epic fun, and perhaps way more gameplay time than “real” games do end up feeling inferior in a weird way.

But then you have game releases that really shake up the mobile platform. Games like GTA III, which started out as a major release PC game a decade ago. GTA III got a lot of praise for its price point, but there are also those games that get the exact opposite. The game in the screenshot above is Choas Rings II, the sequel to a popular RPG by the famous game developer Square Enix. It is definitely far away from the $1 range of games with its $20 price tag, a price that is considered very expensive despite the fact that it would have classified it as a bargain item in a proper game store.

The reviews for the game vary from one stars to five stars like everything else, with the majority hanging around the latter. For those that have given it low scores, performance seems to be the major complaint. People are naturally more upset about performance issues in a $20 game than in a $1 one, and it shows. On the other hand, the people who don’t find the performance issues to be game breaking/present at all don’t seem to mind the high price, and the term “console quality” is being used quite a bit.

Personally I’m a bit split on this issue. I do think that we have become spoiled in the last few years with regards to the price of software and games, but on the other hand, money can be earned through quantity as well. Considering the amount of reviews on the game in the US store I don’t really think the game has sold that many copies just yet, at least not compared to many cheaper games. $7 and $10 are the most used price points for major releases, and I personally think that the game would indeed sell at least twice as many copies at $10 as it will at $20.

With Borderlands 2 coming to Tegra 3, it’s going to be interesting to see what price point the company aims at with that release. If it’s indeed a direct port it will have to make sense in terms of prices for the console versions as well, in order to not make those prices look ridiculous. Definitely an interesting situation we’re in, and with the Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vita portable consoles still going the expensive cartridge route for at least some of the games, I have a feeling that it will be a while until companies silently agree on what a good price for games is.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.