I read an opinion piece on the MCV website this morning, discussing the challenges of portable game RRPs in the current climate. An interesting topic, sure, and one worth debating over.
The article highlights that 3DS titles will retail for higher than current portable releases (£30-£35 for the uninformed). It also suggests that Sony may follow a similar path with its upcoming PSP2, due for release later this year.
Providing the iPhone's game download service as a counterpoint, it highlights the quality of titles avaialble with Apple's popular mobile compared with dedicated games portables. Price is considered, comparing the 99p-£5.99 iPhone offerings with the dearer fair of Nintendo and Sony.
MCV also considers the frequency of users playing games portably today, suggesting the numbers are fewer than those of 2005. Quoting Nicholas Lovell in an article over at Gamesbrief, he reckons that “The iPhone has taken price expectations down to somewhere between $0.99 and zero,” creating a difficult arena for the PSP2 and 3DS to compete in.
Mark Howsen, sales director for MCV SCE UK offered his opinions on the matter, explaining that consumers will buy-in to the costs of hardware but will pay very little, or if possible nothing at all, for a machine's software. An investor call held by Nintendo of Japan CEO Iwata in October this year over declining software sales would help to add weight to Howsen's suggestion.
The President for Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils-Aime and Satoru Iwata, have spoken of their fears of the iPhone's presence in the handheld games market. Iwata has also discussed digital approaches the company hopes to take upon the 3DS' launch. Does anyone expect a counter to the cheap pricing of iPhone games in the games industry soon?
Consideration should be given to the money spent versus free time. It may be said that £30.00 for a handheld title is worth every penny. Alternatively, it may be better invested or spent on necessities. MVC's Ben Parfitt highlights that if an iPhone game such as Flick Kick Football can take 17 hours of his time, why not pay £1.79 over £30.00?
One important question is left hanging in the air. Will iPhone competition or recent market circumstances force the major games companies to bring their prices down? Or will we see a splitting of hardware on offer along the likes of iPhone game releases? Observing the development of RRPs for the 3DS and PSP2 post-launch will be highly interesting for the next few years ahead.
Any thoughts on the cost of portable game releases versus the likes of donwloadable phone games? Feel free to post what you think in the Comments section below.