At GDC 2012, Mikio Watanabe, COO of CAVE, developer of shooters such as DeathSmiles, said when it comes to hardcore retro Japanese mobile games, don't sell yourself short.
Cave's first two efforts in the iPhone space were ports of its hardcore scrolling shooters EspGaluda II and Dodonpachi, and the studio has since released original iPhone games. Releasing those mobile games gave Cave some valuable lessons, Watanabe said.
"Setting a good price and making sure the port version is respectful to the original is very important," he said. "...Our belief is that people will pay premium prices as long as it's a good product. So with some of the Cave games we set the price at 1000 yen -- that's about $12-13." That's a far cry from the typical 99 cent games that proliferate the current mobile market.
"If it's a hardcore product, go for the higher price point," he said. "...Don't underprice your product."
Watanabe said that in Cave's experience, smartphone-tailored games cost around $250,000 to make. Forty percent of that goes towards engineering, 30 percent to graphics, 15 percent for localization and QA and 15 percent to audio and sound design, he said.
"What you wanna do is aim for a maximum play experience for the user. And if you manage to do this as long as it's a pretty well-known retro game, you will be able to get users to try it out, and the reviews should be pretty positive."