Do you find that you’re downloading and playing far fewer mobile games than you did a couple of years ago?
When the smartphone revolution kicked off, it heralded a brave new era for mobile gaming. No more lugging your PSP around with its brittle and clunky cartridge-disk things. No more losing your wafer thin DS games down the back of the sofa.
You would have your primary mobile gaming device on you at all times, and you’d be able to access a steady stream of new games quickly and easily. Sure, there would be issues around the control methods, but we’d all get used to that in time.
And sure enough, the app store brought with it a ton of brilliant games – some remakes of old favourites but also new, quirky, innovative titles like Gesundheit, Plants vs Zombies, Sword & Poker and many more.
You would buy them, play them, complete them, and then buy something else.
Then we all ballsed it up.
As consumers, we forgot that a great video game takes the skill, graft and experience of talented people. We forget that this endeavour has a value that is worth paying for. So we gravitated towards the free games, or the ones that were 69p. We collectively baulked at paying A WHOLE POUND for something that we’d get tens of hours of entertainment from.
And the market responded to this. To be a success, you needed to be downloaded so that you were seen in the charts. To be downloaded you needed to be free, or super cheap. So, the industry had to find another way to get the money they needed from us to keep creating these games.
And in-app micro purchases are the golden bullet. Originally these were add-ons to the core gaming experience. An optional extra for those who were already fully bought in. But it pretty quickly became apparent that this wasn’t enough.
Now these micropayments are a fundamental part of playing a game. Often they are the thing that will allow you to play the game. Sometimes they’ll give you an advantage, or help you progress more quickly.
So we’re being drip-fed an “experience” over a period of time, and paying for the privilege, in tiny amounts, regularly. And this is working for the publishers. They’ve seen a consumer base that has increasingly lost the concept of value and they are having to effectively trick them into rewarding them for their efforts. And the consumers are buying it, figuratively and literally.
The result is that have a mobile gaming ecosystem that is totally broken. Creativity amongst mobile developers isn’t about crafting the best gaming experience, or the most compelling gaming world. It is chiefly about how to slice, dice and chop the game into the smallest chunks possible and how to monetise those chunks over time – ensuring a steady stream of revenue and keeping the app at the top of the charts to keep it visible and ensure it is downloaded.
So we’re all playing Candy Crush. And we’re accepting that we have to wait another half an hour for those extra lives, or we’re paying 69p for the next 15 levels. We’re accepting the fact that our Jurassic Park doesn’t have a T-Rex without either waiting 6 months or paying another 10 quid.
And the end result is that we’re all downloading fewer games and the revolution in mobile gaming that we were once promised hasn’t transpired.
And it’s our own fault. We were all too willing to let a team of talented people graft for months, then moan that they wanted £2 for their output (split 70/30 with Apple of course).