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Are 99-cent gamers on iOS more myth than fact?
Are 99-cent gamers on iOS more myth than fact?
August 3, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

August 3, 2012 | By Eric Caoili
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    20 comments
More: Smartphone/Tablet, Business/Marketing



"The idea of a 99-cent gamer on iOS is more myth than fact, it's the quality and depth of each product that will drive the right price for consumers."
- Telltale Games' SVP of publishing Steve Allison dismisses the notion of consumers ignoring a mobile game's quality, as they debate over whether to purchase a title priced higher than a buck.

Telltale recently released its episodic adventure game The Walking Dead to iOS devices, keeping the same level of quality seen in the praised PC and console editions, and pricing each episode at $4.99 for iPhones and iPads.

Many have decried the "race to the bottom" in terms of pricing seen with games on the App Store, and some have even said developers have little choice but to release free-to-play titles as a result, but Allison argues that's not the case.

Telltale, though, has the advantage of working with an extremely popular license -- and having a bigger marketing budget than most iOS studios -- in this particular case.

For those App Store developers working without those conveniences, are 99-cent iOS gamers still a myth? Or do they see most consumers as unwilling to pay for a more expensive game regardless of its quality, forcing them to underprice their titles?


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Comments


Matt Robb
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Give me quality and prove that quality to me *before* I pay, and you might just be able to charge a higher price.

John Tynes
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I do wish Apple had adopted Xbox LIVE Arcade's model of always doing a free trial of every game.

Adam Bishop
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It's also the model for XBLIG, which is perhaps a bit of a closer comparison to the App Store with its wide open nature.

Roberto Caldas
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Everybody wants the free trial, I believe Apple will implement this model before every developer dies trying to sell games at 99 cents.

James Coote
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Actually, it'd probably be in Apple's interest to have all the 'little guy' developers drop out of the market as it'll raise the general quality level of apps on the app store

Carlo Delallana
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@James - then there would be no Tiny Wings

Brent Gulanowski
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We need some high quality research in this area. Personally, I suspect discoverability is the real culprit. Lots of people have better things to do than download hundreds of apps and try them all out, even if they are free. Time is what's really valuable. Although buying something you then don't like is certainly a downer, there are probably other ways to get a higher confidence that you will like a game. Demos are nice, videos are nice, better quality screenshots, better reviews -- Apple and all other retailers should ensure that their clientele have the best information available for helping them to find products they will enjoy. (Retailers should also do a lot more to help developers to find customers who will like what they're selling.)

James Coote
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I think you have to go out and chase the customers, rather than passively waiting for them to chance across you on an app store (improved or otherwise).

Toby Grierson
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I looked at the top grossing the other day and only a small fraction of them were actually 99 cents. The overwhelming majority were either freemium or multiple dollars.

David Phan
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Having an excellent brand such as the "Walking Dead" franchise kinda helps make users shell out cash up front.

Michael O'Hair
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Great games help, too.

Kellam Templeton-Smith
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I think the race to the bottom has led to Freemium games dominating the market, with a few well marketed higher priced ones (Infinity Blade) able to compete.

But yes, I do believe there is a subset of people who just stick to 99 cent titles-comment sections (not representative of the overall market, I know) are rife with guys who strongly suggest sixty 99cent titles are preferable to a single AAA release.

As Brent mentions above me, the App store is also not conducive to easy discovery/tryouts of apps. Beyond a complete UI overhaul and better sorting, there are myriad ways to tackle that, none being "correct".

GameViewPoint Developer
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As has been said, of course you can charge that for a Walking Dead game because that brand already has a huge following (me included), the same would be true for any other well known brand, so that's not a very strong argument in favour for higher priced games. The majority of iOS players have a hard time even paying .99c let alone $4.99.

James Coote
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That's the point. Once you persuade the user that the game is actually worth paying for, they are probably not going to care whether it's $0.99 or $1.99

Sure some people will scoff and say "pfft, I can get all these other games for $0.99, what makes your game so much better?" Ultimately though, if you've created the desire to play in the player's mind, they are probably going to cave in eventually.

Terry Matthes
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I think my work is worth more than 99 cents.

Kellam Templeton-Smith
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Think? Or does your stuff actually sell at a higher price point/have you experimented with discounts?

Phuong Vo
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Walking Dead should be a 19.99 title not 4.99, so its the same as a .99 title.

And I agree this game has a big budget and huge brand. Not a real good example to use.

Terry Matthes
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I just feel that way. I don't feel like competing in a scenario where I have to undervalue my work by such a large margin.

Alex Nichiporchik
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The Walking Dead is just a darn good game. Remember a year ago whenever a game based on some TV/Movie IP came out, everyone just ignored it?

It hasn't changed, there's still a lot of crap coming out based on popular IPs, but Telltale actually made a good game and that's why it's selling. Good game first, everything else just helps.

Bradley Johnson
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It's all about exposure. People are willing to pay money without a doubt. Getting them to find your product in the first place is the hard part.


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