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Cheap Games a Risk To the Industry, Says Nintendo President 310

Posted by Soulskill
from the expensive-games-a-risk-to-your-industry-buddy dept.
Recent comments from Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aime indicate that the company is worried about the effect of inexpensive mobile games on the industry. "'Angry Birds is a great piece of experience,' he said, '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.' Taking one last dig at the mobile competition, Fils-Aime added that he 'think[s] some of those games are actually overpriced at $1 or $2, but that's a different story.'" While low-priced mobile games might not be good for Nintendo, it can still work out well for indie developers. 2DBoy, makers of World of Goo, released some statistics about launching the iPad version of the game.
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Cheap Games a Risk To the Industry, Says Nintendo President

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  • by mentil (1748130) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @05:23AM (#35148316)

    Big-name games that cost $10 million to develop and have $25 million marketing budgets aren't going to be $1 any time soon, the market just isn't large enough to sell 50 million+ copies, at any price. Only 50 million Xbox 360s have been sold, for reference.

    The console makers set the licensing fee that publishers pay per disc, AFAIK it's a flat fee, so disc games will never be $1. Do you think Wal-Mart would bother stocking $1 games? They might set up a RedBox-style machine that spits out discs, but the shelf space used for the traditional route would no longer be feasible.

    Publishers are running scared because they know the future is in digital distribution, and precedent is being set, while they're still on the fence twiddling their thumbs, for $1 games being the norm. This is problematic as $1 is a suboptimal price for many games, especially high-quality games with a massive advertising budget. The main reason it 'works' in the mobile phone space is due to the mechanics of toplists and how they're self-influencing. Console makers could halt this simply by eliminating the ability for end users to browse and download games via toplists. They could be replaced by alternative, possibly more complex lists.

    For downloadable games with low (under $200k) budgets, it's alot iffier if a $1 standard is bad or not, as the market is definitely theoretically large enough to make it sustainable. When cellphones start coming out with analog sticks and buttons (like the PSP phone) and still have $1 games then I might start worrying.

  • Re:This is good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bemymonkey (1244086) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @05:24AM (#35148326)

    backgrounds and animations because that looks to be the golden ratio of where it's worth it for a developer to make a $.99 game and for it to sell enough copies to people who want a game to play on the toilet.

    Isn't that exactly where the money's at? People that work all day and have friends don't have time to play games except on the toilet... :(

  • Nintendo and pricing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @05:28AM (#35148354) Journal

    Nintendo seems to have developed a pricing problem all of its own of late, which has nothing to do with $2 phone games. I'm pretty sure this has contributed to Nintendo's current profits slump, at a time when the company should be using its large installed base for the Wii to really rake off the cash.

    The company just seems to have some really, really odd ideas of what a game should cost. It's most notable in the Wii's online store, where in the UK, direct, unmodified ports of 25 year old arcade games (many of which are hardly timeless classics) often tend to be priced in the £6-£8 range. Things are mildly better in the US, I believe, but the prices seem out of whack.

    I absolutely don't want to hold up the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network Store as paragons of value for money, but they certainly offer a better deal than Nintendo's online shop (and have much more consumer-friendly terms of service as well, which link games to an account rather than a console). Compared to the classic game packs you can pick up on Steam and other PC services such as GOG, Nintendo's pricing looks positively extortionate. If Reggie wants to talk about games that would be over-priced at $2, he should look at the stuff like Exed Exes and Commando in his own online store - which he's trying to sell for four times that price.

    Things aren't much better on the boxed-game front either. As we get further into this console generation, the general quality gap between Wii games and games for the other consoles and the PC is widening. There are a few honorable exceptions, but most of the Wii games released these days tend to feel short and shallow. And yet despite this, and despite their increasingly painful graphical shortcomings (with most Wii games still struggling to match the best the PS2 had to offer), the games tend to be priced at roughly the same level as games for other platforms (usually a few $ behind the PS3/360 games and a few $ above the PC games).

    If I were Nintendo, faced with the dramatic profits slump they've seen, I'd be looking to boost volumes of sales by pitching more boxed games at the more realistic $30 (or £20 in the UK) price-point and slashing the prices of titles in the online store. If you sell more games, you keep people using their Wiis. And if you keep people using their Wiis, they will buy more games for it. Sony managed to achieve that virtuous circle on the PS2, but despite their installed base lead, Nintendo haven't managed it this generation.

  • Re:Translation (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @06:48AM (#35148608)

    You're trolling, right? Most nintendo consoles are sold on the strength of super mario XXIV. Nintendo is no more or less guilty of sequel-itis and no more or less innovative than sony or microsoft.

    Sequel != uninnovative.

    Mario has long led innovation in platform games. Super Mario 64 was a world apart from Super Mario World. Then we got Super Mario Galaxy and Super Paper Mario, all producing a radically new experience, yet maintaining a certain continuity of Mario charm. Nintendo isn't a bland games factory, Nintendo is an inventor and an innovator.

    HAL.

  • Re:Competition (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @06:51AM (#35148614)

    Not really. Nintendo doesn't generally have a problem competing on value for money, that why the Wii can compete with the PS3 and XBox, and why the DS is the market leader. Better value for money on mobile gaming is frankly the exception, not the rule

    Angry Birds is the exception not the rule, and Nintendo knows a thing or three about the gaming industry, including that they remember the great video game crash of '84, and more importantly what caused it. That has little to do with value for money or even competition, but more about knowing all to well what happens when a market gets flooded by cheap, shitty products.

    The funny part is that it was Nintendo who came around and resurrected the North American market by locking down their platform and controlling who can release what for it, very much like Apple is doing with their app store. Some people learn from the mistakes of the past, others don't.

  • What? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by adamofgreyskull (640712) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:07AM (#35148918)
    This is just so off the wall I don't even.

    Angry Birds is a simple concept with some great levels and compelling replay value. Would I pay $40 for it? No. However, conversely, I probably wouldn't pay even $2 for some of the "mini-game compilation" titles that have been released for the Wii (having been burned by one such abortion, priced at GB£15), nor would I pay $2 for any of the hastily hacked together "Dogz" clones for the DS. I love those platforms, but some of the crapware that's been released for them should give this man pause for thought before throwing around insults about "cheap" games.

    There's a market for AAA US$40-50 titles and a market for US$1-10 casual/indie titles. These are two separate things, and complement each other. What he's probably worried about is that these $1-10 casual/indie titles will compete with similarly priced re-releases of 1st/2nd generation console titles on WiiWare/DS like Super Marios Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Ecco the Dolphin etc.. Now, do I really want to play Sonic on my Wii or do I want to try out VVVVVV [steampowered.com] or Chime [steampowered.com] or Clickr [steampowered.com] on PC?

    Now, if you price your SDK and impose restrictions in such a way as to exclude or discourage casual, indie or hobbyist developers then don't be surprised when they turn to other platforms with lower barriers to entry...
  • Re:He's right. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @11:17AM (#35150452) Homepage Journal

    And you honestly don't seem to get economics. What you've described is the natural order of any industry: young upstarts come in and disrupt the older establishments by outcompeting on price or quality. The biggest difference here is that the barrier to entry is so low. I bet a lot of smart auto mechanics have had great ideas for a faster or cheaper or safer or more economical car, but don't have access to the capital to built it. The investment required to build a new game is almost zero by comparison, usually at most the cost of buying an SDK for the desired target platform. If you can make it a web-based game, you can write it in Notepad / Text Editor / Emacs / Vim, upload it to a free PHP host, throw on some Google Ads, and start making a trickle of pennies for no monetary investment at all.

    If my kid writes an iPhone game after school, what economic or moral obligation to they have to release it for a price you'd consider fair and non-destructive? You claim that these games are sold at artificially low prices, then complain that they should be sold for artificially high prices. How about we let the market decide what the proper price for a video game is?

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