Nintendo: Cheap Mobile Games A Big Industry Risk

Reggie Fils-Aime is what's known as a 'character' in the games industry, the type that's always two seconds away from another quotable remark. This time, speaking to Geoff Keighley on GameTrailers TV, he's claiming that cheaply made mobile games are "one of the biggest risks today" in terms of the games industry.

Reggie's argument is that disposable content, like Angry Birds, is priming consumers to expect more for less - the end result being that gamers will expect to pay less for top level, AAA handheld content.

"Angry Birds," claimed Reggie, "is a great piece of experience, but that is one compared to thousands of other pieces of content that for one or two dollars I think create a mentality for the consumer that a piece of gaming content should only be $2."

What do you guys think? It's an interesting point. On the one hand cheap digital content has allowed independent developers to be successful via the self publishing route, but larger distributors will struggle to compete eventually. Will this result in less premium content being developed?

It's a possibility. Personally I've been a huge fan of these so-called 'disposable' gaming experiences, but will this be to the detriment the games industry in the long term? I'd argue it might create sustainable growth on some level...

Nintendo 3DS Preview Special [via Gamasutra]


    I don't agree with Michael Pachter much but I think he was right on this one. These Apple app store games etc are the biggest risk for the 3DS and PSP2.

    Portable gaming is another beast compared to consoles and PC's. Gaming sessions for portables are short term affairs so why would someone want to pay $50 for a small amount of use? People will spend that money if they are sitting down for hours on the couch but not the 20 mins - hour on the bus.

    Gameboy's etc got away with it because mobile phones never had the functionality to compete but they are catching up fast with the advent of the iPhone etc and the ease of getitng new cheap apps. Why would the average consumer want to cart around a portable gaming device and a smart phone in their pocket?

    what a load of ****. in the end gaming is about the experience you get out of it; if you spend millions to make a crappy experience that can't compare with a 2 dollar game why are you complaining?

      That's not the point. The experience isn't that matter, it's the price. Angry Birds is a great game and a fun experience. But consider the play time and the amount you spent for that play time. I'm guessing, what 2-3 hours to complete Angry Birds? For only a $1.19? Then when you look at a full AAA game, that's expected to take 10-15 hours to complete, yet it'll cost something like $60? That's his argument, and it makes perfect sense. Why should people pay for a $60 game when I can spend about $10 on the App store and get a fistful of games that'll last much longer?

        Mind you, you know -why- it only costs $1.20 to sell a game like that compared to Legend of Zelda or Halo or Red Dead? It's the art and the marketing.

        Red Dead was a huge game. Really enormous playable space, lots of high quality voice acting, high resolution textures to cover every inch of viewable space, and so on. This costs an -awful- lot to produce. If they scaled the resolution down, it would look relatively as good, and cost dramatically less to make.

        To get coverage of a game on all the websites, in magazines, on Good Game, to throw a game's name around enough that people know about it before they announce it, it all costs cash. Cold hard money to get people talking. Even magazine ads are ridiculously expensive for their impact. When was the last time you saw an iPhone game with a full-page ad, or TV spot?

        It's not that the quality is lesser, necessarily, it's that the budget is smaller. You get a quality experience without the pricetag. This is what the end-game goal for Nintendo has to be, or they may not do well enough to put out a 4DS. I don't have any idea how Sony thinks they'll be able to compete with this market, either.

          I apologise, I should've clarified that when I was talking about bigger games, I meant portable titles such as Ghost of Sparta, Peace Walker, etc. Cheap mobile iOS games don't really have that much of a concern for me with AAA home console titles; I know what I'm expecting, a full blown and detailed experience. I will hand over $60 for a new home console game. But for a portable title, then I have problems handing out $50 for a new title. Because why would I pay $50 for a portable title that'll last me 6 hours, when $5 on the App store will last me double that? That, I see no point. I find myself less and less interested in portable home console type games, such as God of War. I'd much rather play it at home, on the couch, chilling out, not on the train, listening to some idiot's doof-doof music, putting the volume full blast and still not hear the dialogue coming from the earphones on my PSP. $50 for God of War at home? Yes please. $50 for God of War on the train? Nope. I'd rather throw some birds or cut some rope on the train.

        "I’m guessing, what 2-3 hours to complete Angry Birds?"

        Indeed. Im still half way on it. I play it on the bus to and from work every day. Probably put in 4 - 5 hours so far. Thats exactly how long it took me to to finish BLOPS by the way. How bloody insulting huh? Also, Angry Birds has been FAR more challenging than BLOPS ever was. Far more fun too!!! So, Reggie, it's a case of they may be cheap, but they do fill a void. The one left by publishers when they decided they could shovel **** at us for maximum price and minimum content. Now we're getting the opposite. Minimum price and maximum content for that price.

      You win the comments. I could not agree more. All it does it fill a void of games that are not AAA titles that you accept that paying a buck has some risks. if they are buggy or just plain rubbish, just deal with it. If a game is of sufficient quality, then it would be worth the money. I just think it will make it harder for crappy games to sell.

      Doubt people will not but the next RDR because of flight controls sales to date?

        The other thing is there will reach a point with the app store where everything has been done

        I mean I tore through alot of apps when I got my phone

        Now theres not alot to amuse me because high scores don't really interest me

        So I would rather 60 dollar games and the occasional 2 dollar timewaster than 30 timewasters that are angry birds or cut the rope clones

    Define "Triple-A" or "Premium". Look at Infinity Blade, or Chaos Rings, or Ace Combat for iOS. All of these are sub-$20 experiences with very high production values.

    Look at Steam's Indie section, the quality of graphics and sound and gameplay. Look at Xbox Live Arcade and PSN. Cheap, excellent games are already abound, even on the so-called "Triple-A" platforms.

    I've found myself preferring the 2-8 hour burst of innovative and high quality gameplay compared to the 6-12 hour drags which cost 4x the price.

    Nice one! One of the tags is "mobile gaminf".

    The risk of all these poorly made games, at any price, is that people will think that this is the norm. While there isn't a worry of running out of shelf space, there is still all the other worries that caused the 1983 crash.

      Thanks for the spot. Elly 'Tag Nazi' Hart would have killed me for that one...

    I think the mobile app store will mature and prices will go up.

    Yes, $2 mobile games are one of the biggest risks to _Nintendo's_ portable gaming business.

    Do I care? Not as long as the $2 games are fun!

    To be fair, the current DS and PSP games are pretty overpriced for what you get. The iOS stuff is also significantly underpriced, plus the whole thing is utterly flooded with cheap crap due to the low barriers to entry. There should be a happy medium in there between the two.

    It's also not fair to compare against the low-end casual iOS games as well. Sure, Angry birds is only a few dollars, but it's a very simple game - most people wouldn't pay a lot more than they're asking for it. A better comparison for the expensive packaged games is the stuff that's coming in in the $8-15 AUD range. Dead Space HD on the iPad for example is a pretty complex game that's much more squarely aimed at the core gamer market. It's pretty good too, and actually worth its price.

    I think what the reality is here is that Nintendo has been chasing after the casual market since Iwata took over the company. It was really paying off for them with the DS and the Wii, but then Apple and Google have come along and effectively pulled the rug out from under them. The casual market has significantly swung away from Nintendo and their overzealous push toward that market has alienated a good amount of their core fans, and so they're in the position where their new platform suddenly seems a bit directionless. And this is one of the reasons I think why Sony were able to steal a lot of their thunder with the NGP.

    It's especially relevant over here in the land of horribly overpriced video games, but I don't really think these kinds of games are a threat.

    Most of them are garbage, and are actually a rip-off at $2. The problem is that the app-store is so popular, that pretty much anyone can throw a crappy game together and be successful. There's also the fact that gamers aren't playing these games, they are being played by the everyman.

    Phone games are a completely different market to handhelds - something that you can play for two minutes while waiting for an appointment or the bus or w/e. They will never offer a meaningful experience in the way that DS or PSP games do, so I really doubt we have anything to worry about.

    The industry will just have to follow the consumer.

    Unfortunately for Nintendo, competing companies have delivered better value to the consumer while they have stagnated with the old system of premium pricing on closed systems.

    Survival of the fittest.

    By itself the point has merit in theory. But from Nintendo? More than half the games on Wii and DS are shovelware at full retail price. When they get better 3rd party support, then maybe there would be some merit to their woes.

    The gaming market hasn't changed. Nor will it be satisfied by the likes of Angry Birds. These mobile games are making a new gaming demographic from non-gamers, they're not cannibalising bona fide traditional games. At least not for most of us. Reggie doesn't have a lot to worry about.

    But in the end, we win if these $2 games keep Nintendo nervous enough to lower their prices.

    so wait am I supposed to feel bad that a giant conglomerate that over charge for there games is suddenly worried about cheap quality games making people realize that they've been getting the shaft for 20 years?

    Yeah fuck em, if they can't compete then they'll crash and burn. That's capitalism Reggie, aint it a bitch.

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