The App Store: For What It’s Worth
So, I woke up this morning and started messing around with my iPhone - like I usually do these days - and I decided to hit the app store.
I’m not sure exactly what it is that led me to it, but it’s gotten to be a bit of a habit of mine. Occasionally I find myself flicking the icons back and forth and just clicking whatever looks prettiest to me at the time.
I happened to notice that Osmos - an iPad game that had received some coverage on Kotaku - is the “app of the week.” It has, evidently, been ported to iPhone. I haven’t personally checked it out or watched too many gameplay videos, but the impression I got from the general response to the game was a good one.
I trust the sites that I frequent and the art style alone is selling the point to me: the game is good. At the least, it can’t be that bad. It takes some work to get good reviews, after all.
It’s stuff like this that irritates me:
Now, I understand people not liking the game. It’s perfectly fine to find a game ‘frustrating.’ Different people feel different ways about different things. Besides that, I can understand the additional frustration that the second reviewer might have felt after accidentally buying the application. Nobody likes surprise charges.
What really bugs me, though, is the idea the the app is “pricy.”
I know that money doesn’t grow on trees, and I’ve been in my own bit of tough financial spots… but the app is $2.99. That’s little more than the price of a $2 meal deal at Taco Bell. (Those are cheap and good, buy them).
It’s roughly the same price as a hamburger somewhere else. In fact, people pay much more for hamburgers. Or sub-sammiches.
It’s much less than the price of a 2-hour movie, for that matter. The price would be fairly justified if you played it for any longer than that, if you look at its value as measured by the ‘time of entertainment’ it provides.
Considering that, I really don’t feel that the app is, in any way, expensive.
The inherent problem here is the fact that it’s “app-store expensive.”
If you’re familiar with the app store, then you’re probably aware of the pricing structure used therein. There is a great volume of applications available for free, (Facebook, Pandora, Twitter), and there are tons of apps and games that are available for 99¢. Even when things start getting “expensive,” they usually stay below five or six dollars. Anything that starts approaching $10 is entering “specialty app” territory, and anything for more than that is, essentially, claiming to offer a lot of functionality.
What this amounts to is a major distortion of value. Take, for example, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. It was released, originally, for the Nintendo Ds. It’s been a while since I bought a game for full price, (I’ve been buying used, lately. I know about tough financial situations, like I said), but the average price of a DS game is, as I recall, somewhere between $25 and $30. You can find GTA for cheaper these days, due to the fact that it’s an older game and probably didn’t sell as well as the more popular titles on the platform.
When it got ported to iPhone and iPod touch, though, the price was reduced to $10. This was inevitable: for Rockstar to even think about selling it on this platform, they couldn’t dare to ask for much more. $25? For a game? You’re kidding, right?
What’s even worse is the fact that the port has been enhanced in a number of ways. Just looking at a screenshot tells me that the graphics have been buffed. The iPhone version allows custom playlists, too. Even a flash-cart wouldn’t get you that on the DS. Beyond that, it’s more portable than it’s DS companion. When it comes to going places, even for the most hardcore of gamers among us, the pocket-hierarchy usually follows thus: Phone and Wallet-Keys-Mp3 Player-Handheld Console.
Even with those benefits aside, the price of the game is forced down simply by the platform it’s being sold upon. That really begs the question: How much is the game actually worth? How much is the experience worth? Is it $10? $20? $30?
What really irks me is the tendency of today’s youth and gamer culture to quickly flag things as being worth nothing. The second commenter from earlier is flatly telling the developers that their game should be worth 99¢, or maybe even nothing at all.
There’s no regard for the amount of time and energy that Hemisphere put into it. No thought given to the fact that there are countless games on the market demanding around twenty times as much. There’s no comparison between the price of the game and the price of a burger. Or a dinner. Or a movie. Or even other games.
There are some people out there that see the price tag and immediately turn away. There are some people out there that see any price tag and immediately turn away. It doesn’t matter if the game is your life’s work. It doesn’t matter if you have a family to support or bills to pay. The populace just can’t be bothered to give you any money for anything you do.
I think I’m going to watch a few reviews and see if I’ve got that $3.