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16/01/2011

RRP versus pocket change release. The cost of purchasing portable games


OPINION

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.

4 comments:

Clarke O'Gara said...

I couldn't agree more. Games on mobile phones are quickly catching up with games on portables. On my Android phone I have Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja. Both less than £4 and both take hours and hours to complete.

Nintendo and Sony should consider having their own 'app marketplace' where you can download classics such as Super Mario Brothers 2, Streets of Rage, Duck Hunt (for the DS) at a price point of less than £5

Patrick Honeyman said...

Thanks for commenting.

From what I've read about the 3DS, I think you'll see it soon enough my slender friend.

Prices of games are a big bone of contention. If the RRP is £39.99 on release, then within half a year that's at least half price, what does that say about their true value?

Kinsta said...

Again its simple marketing - supply and demand. Games are priced at what they are because enough people are willing to buy them at that price on launch day.

The 'true' value of games is entirely subjective to each individual and in this case a moot point. (unless you count the physical cost of blu-ray disc/dvd that the game costs in terms of raw material to be harvested...lol). I don't pay any price for a game unless I am happy with doing so as when it comes to games I'm a patient guy. I can wait 6 months for a £40 game to become £15, no problem.
If I do happen to buy a game on launch day at full price, that means I am completely happy to pay that price.

Patrick said...

I agree with you there. As time, circumstances and prices become more of a consideration, I'm finding that unless you desperately want to play something upon release games can either wait until you get around to them or you will only play a handful if you have other commitments. Thank God growing older gets you to look at these things and really consider them.