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Capps: Dollar apps are “killing” traditional game pricing

Wednesday, 20th April 2011 01:36 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Epic Games president Mike Capps has said cheap apps make it much harder for the traditional industry in this “scary” transitional period.

“If there’s anything that’s killing us it’s dollar apps,” Capps told Industry Gamers.

“How do you sell someone a $60 game that’s really worth it? They’re used to 99¢.”

While he commented that it’s an “exciting time” for those finding success in non-traditional paths, Capps said things are cagier now than at any time in Epic’s history.

“We have not been this uncertain about what’s coming next in the games industry since Epic’s been around for 20 years,” he said.

“We’re at such an inflection point. Will there be physical distribution in 10 years or even five? Will anyone care about the next console generation? What’s going on in PC? Can you make money on PC if it’s not a connected game? What’s going on in mobile? Tons of really scary things.”

The veteran developer also said that it has become impossible to predict platform trends.

“It used to be, ‘Well, of course PlayStation 3 will be successful because PS2 was amazingly successful.’ But can you say for sure that you know everyone’s going to jump to the next generation?” he said.

“I sure hope so – I’m going to try to make some great tech that will make everyone want to. But it’s scary.”

Epic unveiled new Unreal Engine tech at GDC, with various representatives commenting that the demo was a benchmark for the next generation to aim for.

Capps’ comments mirror those made by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata at GDC this year, in which he accused bite-sized pricing of eroding gaming software value.

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5 Comments

  1. FadeLive

    Cheap cell phone games have been around for like what 10 years now? Just because more people play them now than before due to smart phones doesn’t mean it will replace traditional gaming. I don’t think people will suddenly start thinking that just because they can now get cheap game experiences that buying a game over the 1 dollar price range is stupid.

    Plus the majority of cell phone gamers aren’t traditional gamers that own consoles or even play them. Sure there are over lapses but its generally different markets. Most phone games are still just cheap time wasters. Or rather most games there are sold due to them being cheap time wasters. Console/PC games generally offer something more substantial. Whether that is a 30 hour epic single player or a deep multiplayer experience its something that you generally can’t get for 1 dollar.

    When you pay 1 dollar for a game you most of the time get 1 dollar worth of content. It might be great fun and last for several hundred hours. Hell I don’t know how many hours I’ve logged on cheap cell phone games over the years but its a lot. That hasn’t stopped me from wanting to play the newest Metal Gear Solid, Oblivion, Assassin’s Creed, Grand Theft Auto, Half Life or whatever that was coming out on the consoles/PC at the time.

    Now the day they can offer all those people that want to play the newest, biggest and best games the same experience for 1 dollar then you will have a problem.

    It seems various developers when panicking too the media over the recent mobile game market success usually generalize gamers. Not everybody wants the same experience. Not everybody want big console games for 60 dollars but not everybody want to exclusively play 1 dollar phone games either. Separate markets. Please Remember it.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. ybfelix

    “It seems various developers when panicking too the media over the recent mobile game market success”

    Well, since the media is busy covering $0.99 things, big games have less free publicity, that could be an impact…

    #2 3 years ago
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    #3 3 years ago
  4. The_Deleted

    ‘IF’ traditional games are being pwnd by cheap throwaways, maybe these traditional games are doing something wrong.
    Being $60 dollars might be your first clue. Every game is $60 regardless of quality. They need to assess a games worth and sell it on accordingly. Obviously no publisher will want to admit a game is not worth full price but if, for example, the next movie tie-in is developed as a budget title, maybe consumers won’t feel quite so ripped off whenever their kids get the new Iron man game and it’s back out of the console before the first shot is fired.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Lounds

    Dollar apps or 59p apps, don’t take years and months to make, the production value isn’t the same, it’s like a game that developed for console or PC takes years to make, e.g. Big Hollywood block buster right, 1 dollar app = Movie that went straight to dvd

    #5 3 years ago

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