開發者談高價付費遊戲的市場容量和不容樂觀的現狀

本文原作者:James Batchelor 譯者遊戲邦ciel chen

這個主題之前在我們的手遊時訊專欄已經有過討論,但對此的討論仍舊在繼續:真的有可能在移動手遊端找到高收費遊戲的成功之路嗎?

正如今年早些時候討論過的那樣,有很多給人印象深刻的遊戲都以合理的低價位在智能手機設備上售賣——這種價位已經低得有些威脅到了開發者爲這個遊戲所付出的價值了——然而工作室面對的是一羣對這樣的價位都有些猶疑不決、難以相信的用戶。

Monument Valley(from gamesindustry.biz)

Monument Valley(from gamesindustry.biz)

在Apple和Google的APP Store都爭相爲高價獨立遊戲提供着更好的曝光度,而且他們發佈時用到“必備遊戲”字眼時更能激發用戶對這些遊戲的興趣。但是Ben Cousins(前EA和DeNA的CEO,現爲瑞典開發團隊The Outsiders的共同創始人)說現在已經太遲了:如今手遊形勢的發展已經全部往F2P方向蔓延了。

他告訴GamesIndustry.biz說:“問題不在於沒有高質量的高價遊戲可以玩或者人們對這些遊戲不太瞭解,而是在於如果人們在稍微有一款像樣的免費手遊可以選,就不會想去買或者沒有時間玩這些高價遊戲。”

“這跟遊戲本身並沒有太大關係,更多的是消費者身處在一個各種大型遊戲皆免費的遊戲市場裏是如何看待這些遊戲的。高價遊戲的最大阻礙就是那些製作精良的免費遊戲,它們高度優化了遊戲體驗並且每天通過廣告就能盈利數百萬美元。這簡直是一道無法跨越的鴻溝。”

Apple和Google在佈置他們的商店首頁上都下了大工夫,在免費遊戲這樣的競爭對手旁邊大力宣傳新發高價遊戲,他們似乎覺得這樣的突出強調來確保其高價遊戲能被高度聚焦就能解決所有問題了。不過,Cousins勸道:工作室團隊還是別依賴App Store的聚光功能了。

他承認:“最近幾年確實有好多高調宣傳的高價遊戲效益不錯,像《紀念碑谷》就是一款最好的例子。因此開發者們假設這就是決定性因素了——然而其實原因是更加帶隨機性色彩的,就好像剛好產品適應了當時的市場或符合了產品質量這樣。”

“在2012年到2013年是有這麼一段時間,app store的推薦對手遊的成功具有深遠的影響——不論是高價手遊還是免費手遊都是如此。但是隨着時間的流逝,我認爲現在我們正處在鋪天蓋地的廣告時代以及用戶高度參與的時代,它們已將遠遠地將app store的推薦影響力甩在了身後。高價遊戲已經再也不受特寫推薦的影響了,我曾經看到過一款普通的超低價的額外收費遊戲的一個驚人數據——儘管已經得到了良好的專題推薦但依舊沒有人爲這個遊戲買單——邁出四位數已經是極限了。”

他還繼續爲開發者設想——他們要對自己將要嘗試完成的事情有遠見,夠堅定:把遊戲以他們所認爲的合理價位賣出去、或者通過它賺一筆大錢。這兩者似乎都不算什麼選項——因爲現在能夠做到轉型併成長的成功營生只能在競爭日漸激烈的F2P遊戲市場——或者完全不同的的遊戲平臺上了。

“對於想通過高價遊戲小賺一筆的開發者來說這樣的市場肯定是有的,但是如果你想組成一個大於10人的團體事業,那想通過做高價收費遊戲來成功是基本不可能成功的。”

“如果你想在移動端做高價遊戲,想了解要在哪方面下功夫才能成功的話(這裏的成功不是指賺到的錢能讓兩個人過活幾個月這樣子),那我只能讓你還是去做個F2P遊戲或者乾脆把遊戲移到PC端去好了。這樣的情況已經持續兩三年,不算什麼新鮮事了。”

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It’s a topic that has already been debated in our Mobile Newsletter, but still the debate endures: is it possible to find success on mobile with a premium game?

As was discussed on our podcast earlier this year, there are plenty of impressive games available for smart devices with reasonably low price points – low enough to be in danger of undervaluing the developer’s work – but studios face a reluctant audience that is difficult to convince when it comes to spending money on that initial purchase.

The indie spaces on both the Apple and Google app stores arguably offer better exposure for premium-priced games, and there’s always the possibility the release of a must-have title could drive more interest in such apps. But Ben Cousins – former EA and DeNA exec, and now co-founder of Swedish dev The Outsiders – says it is too late: the tide has turned against anything but free-to-play games on mobile.

“The biggest barrier is the existence of very good quality freemium games. It’s pretty much impossible to overcome that”

“The issue isn’t that there aren’t quality premium games or that people don’t know about them,” he tells GamesIndustry.biz. “It’s that people don’t want to buy or don’t have time to play premium games if there is an even slightly decent free alternative.

“It’s not anything intrinsic in the games themselves, it’s more about how the consumer sees them sitting in the marketplace relative to freemium blockbusters. The biggest barrier is the existence of very good quality freemium games, highly optimised for engagement, and advertised to the tune of millions of dollars a day each. It’s pretty much impossible to overcome that.”

Both Apple and Google have gone to great lengths to better curate their storefronts, highlighting acclaimed new premium games alongside their freemium competitors, and the consensus among developers seems to be that securing a highly-coveted Featured spot will solve all their problems. But, much like Google itself, Cousins urges studios not to rely on this.

“There have been high-profile premium games in recent years that were featured and did well,” he concedes. “Monument Valley being a prime example. So devs assume that this was the determining factor, when really it was something more random like product fit for the marketplace at that time or product quality.

“There was a time around 2012 to 2013 where featuring on the app stores could have a huge impact on the success of a mobile games – either freemium or premium. But that time has passed and I think we are now deep into the era of heavy advertising and high engagement drowning out the effect of featuring. Premium titles are particularly unaffected by featuring, I have seen shocking data over the years where a mediocre poorly-priced premium game gets a good feature but does almost no business – four figures at best.”

He goes on to posit that developers need to think long and hard about what they’re trying to accomplish: delivering the game they envisage at a price they deem appropriate, or generating significant revenues from it. Both, it seems, are rarely an option. The levels of success that transform and grow businesses are now solely to be found in the increasingly competitive free-to-play market – or on another platform entirely.

“There’s always going to be a market for people who are okay making a few grand from a premium game,” says Cousins. “But if you want to build a business with more than 10 staff, it’s pretty much impossible to do that as a premium mobile game developer.

“If you are making a premium game on mobile and you want to know what to focus on to be successful – that is not just making enough money for two people to live on for a few months – the answer has to be to make a freemium game instead or move to PC dev. This has been the case for at least two to three years – it’s not a new situation.”(source:gamesindustry.biz