OK – if you are unfamiliar with the iPhone market, let’s catch you up. iPhone = Awesome. Many games sell many copies in the iPhone app store. Everyone and their adopted dog is talking about making games for the iPhone. The iPhone marketplace is truly the wild west of the video game industry right now. Fortunes are made and lost on the App Store in your pocket.
Now that we’re past that let’s talk about the magic iPhone app store number – 99 cents.
What is worth a dollar?
- A bad cup of coffee
- One song on iTunes
- A pen
- 3 pencills
- Parking, in a shady part of town
Umm, really. That’s all I can come up with.
The simple fact is that .99 is not a lot of money. So how much game do you expect?
5 minutes? 10 Hours? There are games in the top 25 that provide both. Which makes the people who put together an addictive and satisfying 5 minute experience look like geniuses.
While .99 is a pretty new price point for a video game, we can all agree that .99 is a pretty good price for a song. So let’s run with that for a bit?
If you are a 4 piece band, you might make 1 album a year. It will have around 10 songs. That means the 4 musicians can make 10 songs a year. You sell these songs individually, as well as on a record, you tour and you sell stuff when you tour as well.
What if 4 developers formed a ‘Band’ and released 10 games a year? And sold each of them for .99? If they hit gold and have a game sitting in the top 10 on the App Store for a few weeks, they are going to start shopping for beach houses. That’s the App Store Model that everyone is chasing and the common sentiment in iPhone developers is “Top 10 or Bust”.
But what if games are more like music than we want to admit?
What if these 10 games that come out in 1 year followed a similar theme (gameplay, visually, story) in the same way musicians set a tone for an album? What if this developer band had a small, but dedicated fan base?
Like many bands, these 4 piece developer outfits might only be able to practice on evenings on weekends and they might never get their big break. But if they are talented and persistent, it’s really (REALLY) hard to imagine that they could not find an audience for their game. (they might be Norwegian Death Metallers, but they are an audience)