Monday, December 10, 2012

Why is Mutant Mudds $1 on the App Store?

A question I have been asked is why Mutant Mudds costs only $0.99 on the App Store when it costs $8.99 on Nintendo eShop. I’ll try to justify it.
Mutant Mudds was first released on the Nintendo eShop on January 26, 2012. The Nintendo eShop was a very new market, so all I really had to go on in regards to comparable pricing of platformers was DSiWare – the digital download store on the Nintendo DSi. The two main titles I looked at were Shantae and Cave Story. Shantae was priced at $12 and Cave Story was $10. I felt that Mutant Mudds was similar in scope to these, if perhaps slightly on the lighter side when compared to them, so $8.99 felt like a competitive price for a platformer in a Nintendo handheld market.
When the game released, most people agreed that the price was fair, even though it was the most expensive title on the Nintendo eShop at the time – if you do not count DSiWare titles, which are also available on the store. Including Shantae and Cave Story.
So then it came time to think about the pricing of Mutant Mudds in the App Store. I was new to the market in terms of being a consumer, so I did not have an immediate feeling of where the game should be priced competitively. I knew it could not be priced as high as the Nintendo eShop version, due to lack of buttons and 3D, but I was not sure how much lower I should go.
I did a lot of research on other titles and gauged how successful they had been. What is nice about the App Store games is that the data is fairly transparent. You can see top paid titles, highest grossing titles, number of reviews, number of active players on Game Center, and other such indications that give you a decent impression of how well a game has sold. Looking at the top paid apps today, you’ll notice that the majority are priced at $0.99. Sure, there are a few that are priced higher, but they typically offer a well-known brand or perhaps a state-of-the-art experience with cutting edge graphics and such. Mutant Mudds is not a large brand that can command “premium” price, nor does it sport state-of-the-art graphics. J
I even considered going freemium with the game and chopping up all of the game contents in purchasable chunks, but quickly ditched that idea when it just didn’t feel natural for this game. But, I am glad I at least considered that pricing model.
Other research that I uncovered suggested that even pricing a game above $0.99, say at $1.99, would result in less than 50% sales – meaning; if you can sell 100 copies at $0.99 you should expect to sell less than half that when priced at $1.99. That’s crazy!
Another painfully obvious fact is the quality of games now available on the App Store for $0.99. In an interview with GimmeGimmeGames, I recently said:
The quality of games that can be purchased on the App Store for $0.99 is very high. Titles like Jetpack Joyride and Bad Piggies make it a very competitive market. We have to try and compete with that quality and price-point.
Each market is different, not only due to the audience that is actively purchasing goods in those markets, but also due to how that market is presented to the public. After only spending a short time buying games in the App Store you are quickly conditioned to hunt for games that are free or $0.99. Only a well-known brand or an out-of-this-world impressive game can demand “high prices” such as $4.99 and above. It’s a crazy thing. But, it’s real.
We make games because we love to. We also want to continue to make games. That means we have to position our games competitively in each market in an attempt to maximum on the cash we receive. The inevitable result is that some people will get upset. I don’t like that fact. But, it is unavoidable. What makes it bearable is the fact that there are just as many people, if not more, who are ecstatic about the price of the title in their market, because that’s where they live and they understand or can appreciate the business side of things.
I hope this helps shed some light on how we approach such things. Happy gaming.