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Konno: 3DS Won't Compete with Mobile Gaming Prices

Posted by Trevor Chan

Project leader distinguishes the two separate markets

With development costs for 3DS software as much as triple that of DS games, does mobile gaming pose a threat to Nintendo's business plans? Following Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata's comments on mobile phone manufacturers and popular social utility networks at this year's Game Developers Conference, 3DS project leader Hideki Konno shares his thoughts on what Nintendo will or will not be competing with.

In an interview conducted by Gamasutra, Konno spoke about the many alternatives to the digital games provided by Nintendo's own download services:

So now in terms of one dollar games, or free games, or whatever that is out there in the market, I mean, really, we're not going to be competing with that... We're not going to try to match that; we're just going to continually strive to not just maintain, but increase, the quality of the entertainment that we're providing, and let it sort itself out. Again, we're not worried about competing at a price point level.

Believing that this is Sony, and Microsoft's opinion on the matter as well, Konno offers a high-production game like a Call of Duty title as an example of how the consumer will get what they pay for. If such a game was made available for a low purchase price, Konno admits he'd be excited but also skeptical:

I just don't think that you could make a game that's immersive and as big as, let's say Call of Duty, or any other large title, and sell it at that price point; it's just not possible... The only way that you're going to get a game at that price point is if it's a limited version with limited levels or something," he said. "They're going to have to reduce it to sell at that price. So that other game — because the content is valuable — it's still going to be a viable product at a higher price point.

Noting that if Nintendo released one of its big titles at a cheap price like say ¥100 JPY, the number of sales needed to make a return would be "insane". Recognising that mobile gaming is a different market to the one that Nintendo platforms are competing in, Konno addresses his hopes and wishes as a developer, and as a consumer:

As a game developer I've put my heart into what I create, and I'm hoping that what I'm putting out there is something that people will be engaged by and entertained by... And as a consumer, I want the same thing. If I go and I see a game that interests me and I think I want to play it, I don't mind the fact that I have to pay a reasonable price for it... I'm not trying to say that I think games on cell phones are a bad thing; I'm not trying to say that they're worthless, or have no value at all. I'm just saying that they're just different.

[via gamasutra.com]

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User Comments (15)

Bassman_Q

#1

Bassman_Q said:

Mobile games have been out for quite some time now. I don't think developers need to worry too much about their download services on consoles, as long as they don't expect the number of sales as mobile apps.

odd69

#3

odd69 said:

Im not gonna pay 50 bucks for a handheld game that's one thing for sure.Mobile games are cheap because they are just apps in disguise.

Azikira

#5

Azikira said:

You pretty much get what you pay for, except when you buy used games (that arent by EA) then you sometimes get a good deal at the sacrifice of it missing booklets, coming in fair to poor conditions, with or without a case.
New games FTW

LordTendoboy

#6

LordTendoboy said:

He makes some very valid points. You can't make a large scale game like Call of Duty or Gears of War and expect to make a profit by selling it for $2. Smaller games like Angry Birds or Cut the Rope I can understand, but with the pricing model of $1 up to $5, publishers still have to sell A LOT of copies in order to generate any significant profit.

You won't see a game like Heavy Rain on the App Store cause it doesn't make any economic sense. Like the above posters said, you get what you pay for. Dead Space is a rare exception, but not many publishers are willing to take that kind of risk. Most $1 games I've played on my iPod are worthless throwaway titles. Even many of the $5 ones (like Infinity Blade) are very shallow and repetitive. You get what you pay for, and the more expensive games ($20 or more) usually offer more value (more bang for your buck).

LordTendoboy

#7

LordTendoboy said:

@Azikira

He wasn't even talking about used games. He's comparing cheap App Store games to full-fledged console games. Until developers offer significant value that can rival console games (Dead Space is a good start) then the App Store will still be filled with throwaway titles.

odd69

#8

odd69 said:

Wasn't Zenonia also a mobile game at first? That was actually a good game,even though ive only tried the console version,but still If all mobile games were like that one it wouldn't feel so much like a app.

DarkLloyd

#9

DarkLloyd said:

well theres always digital service on the 3DS they can use to compete with mobile apps ?

ToneDeath

#12

ToneDeath said:

I've wondered for quite a long time why games are always so much more expensive than home video. Would it not expand the gaming audience even further if games were priced more like Blu-Ray films?

James

#13

James said:

@dimlylitmonkey I guess because games aren't released at the cinema, so films enjoy a first push at the cinema and then again when it's on DVD/Blu-ray. Games just get one big launch and that's really it.

Ren

#14

Ren said:

I'm with dimlylitmonkey. I always lamented the bloated price point of games. At least they've stayed in the 40-50 range (since the late 80's) when it was sooo rediculous to be paying that much, it's slightly more reasonable in todays market.
Still, historically, if games weren't so bloated and priced more like films, (A- titles at most $20-30 at retail launch), it would be a very different and probably larger market today. There is no excuse for the prices they run at.
There is no huge separate market push for home video sales, the initial release and success of a movie is itself the marketing for video and home release. Movie budgets are going down and games going up and the profit margins are starting to look similar.
Sure margins diminish at a smaller pricepoint, but the market expands fast when more people have access, that's what the Iphone has built it's success on from day one.
What happened to WiiWare despite what I consider a lot of great games? Little to no marketing and still high prices for what the user gets. If everyone got a couple free DL games with their console and the rest went for $5- $7 WW could have been a massive thing, but they dropped the ball.
The greatest games of all time are simply not worth $50. This and last generation of gamers just don't have the attention span that people used to. Any great game just gets boring after half an hour session and you want to play something else, but costs limit many consumers from owning more than one until they can rent or buy used. This has kept the market slim until only recently.
Why was the Wii such a big hit in successfully opening up the market? we all know why it REALLY was. It was cheap at launch (cheaper than blu-ray) and, arguably, offered "5" different, very interactive games included. Many of us enjoyed at least 1 or 2 of those and it made it all worth it until we could afford the $50 it costs to get anything else. Many consumers never even bought another game, because they don't value video games that way. It's the same as the NES/MarioBros/DuckHunt model of success. People like to have a "value" with interactive games, because unfortunately games still don't generally rival movies in their mature storytelling that's why they are still 'games' (GTA and Dead Space is not 'mature' at all; it's boy fantasy).

The games industry is still blinded by the idea that if they make just such an amazing experience on a big budget than people will flock to it for $50 and it will be a massive cash cow, but it's still rare; you can't plan for it, it's like 'viral videos'.

That market is still only limited to 'core' gamers and 'core' gamers do flock to those big games for certain massive franchises, but as a whole the industry shouldn't be relying on that model for trying to expand to a wider market, it's just ignorant of consumer spending.
A generally reduced pricepoint would encourage (or force) programming innovation, and vastly expand the market overall, and that's what the i0Ss' are doing, sadly enough. It's true the games are limited, but it still may be lowering the standard, so Nintendo may have to shift with it in the future if the games get bigger/better.

Arkaein

#15

Arkaein said:

@Kirk: I just checked, and Dead Space on the iPhone is $6.99. That's not really in the same ballpark as $0.99 and $1.99 games that seem to dominate the service.

$5-$10 is a reasonable price for decently large downloadable games because much of the difference between this price and typical retail pricing is made up by not having to share revenues with retailers and in some cases large publishers.

On the other hand with prices as low as $1, even if the developer got to keep everything it's still impossible to provide levels of content on par with retail releases.

@dimlylitmonkey: reducing prices will expand your audience, but there is a sweet spot in price that maximizes revenue which all developers and publishers try to find. Price too high and not enough people will buy the game. Price too low and everyone who wants the game will buy it, many of whom would have paid more, so you leave money on the table.

One of the problems with the game industry is that there are so many more games that are put out than movies nowadays, and games typically consume more time. In my own life, as an adult with a good paying job, I can tell you I never don't buy a game because of cost, but I've passed up lots of games because I don't have time to pay them. Dropping prices would save me money but it wouldn't get me to buy anymore games. For other people the situations is different, but even as a kid was willing to save up for one really good game instead of blowing money sooner on less expensive but also less compelling games or alternative entertainment.

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