The race to the bottom is killing Epic games, and they’re not shy about letting the public know just how badly the $0.99 price point is affecting their bottom line.
Mike Capps, the president of Epic Games told IndustryGamers,
If there’s anything that’s killing us [in the traditional games business] it’s dollar apps
We understand where Capps is coming from. Developing a-list titles for any platform requires a lot of man hours, and at the cost of one-dollar per download, it’s pretty difficult to turn a profit. The one-dollar app price-point has been on my mind a lot over the last couple of months. I still can’t figure out how a startup can sustain growth at that price, without some luck, marketing, and serious help from Apple. While it’s working for independent firms, major development agencies surely struggle with it.
There’s more to it than price
I have to admit, I was that guy. You know, the one sitting there worrying about a dollar purchase, and instead usually opting for the free or cheapest version instead of the best. But you know what? It’s not worth it. I’m at that place where I’ll buy an app if I want it. If it’s the best, and it’s going to be something I’ll use or play, it’s worth the monetary investment.
Life’s too short for me to invest countless hours looking for the cheapest alternative to save a dollar. I’m much better off paying that dollar and moving on with my life, while enjoying that shiny new app I just purchased than fretting over a couple of dollars.
Sure, sometimes a dollar is the right price for a particular application, but in other cases $20.00, $30.00, or even $40.00 might be. When it comes to a-list titles that provide high marginal utility I’ll spend the cash every time. The price battle should be: is $20.00 – $30.00 games providing enough quality game play to make the purchase worth it? If it is, I’m in, but if not, I move on. That’s my personal barometer for purchasing apps and games on the App Store these days, not price.
But, here’s the problem: A lot of people have been burned by a lot of crappy applications that aren’t worth the price. Once burned, twice shy.
Take for instance iMovie for iPad. I made the purchase expecting it to do a lot more than it did. Maybe it was the post-keynote hysteria that got me excited about it, but I bought it the moment it was available, knowing very little about its actual features. It didn’t have the features I was looking for, most notably the ability to speed up or slow down a video clip. I was annoyed, and even a little bit angry. I spent money on it, and I expected it to do what I wanted it to, but it didn’t. It wasn’t until I realized that it was only $4.99 that I got over it. Besides, I made the purchase. I should have done more research before purchasing the application.
At that price point I could get over it easily, but a game at $60.00 isn’t so easy to get over. There are no returns; there are no easy refunds. Actually, there’s nothing to do but delete it from your iOS device and move on. Now, more than before, review sites are important. Before, you could download a demo of a video game and try it out, allowing you to decide if you liked it, and move on if you hated what you were playing. Those days are gone. On the App Store, your only real option is to make a purchase and then curse yourself if it doesn’t work out. I’m willing to do that within reason. A couple bucks here and there won’t break my bank account, but $60.00 here and there just might.
Until Apple figures out a way to get consumers confident about their purchase before dropping the $60.00 on an a-list application, a lot of people are going to avoid the hassle. If Apple could figure out a way to include trials, refunds, and clearer information about feature sets on the App Store, they would probably see a lot more sales.