It’s no surprise to many that mobile gaming is over-saturated and stale. The new medium of gaming isn’t even a decade old, yet we’ve found a few genres dominate the market. But within all these genres is a feature that some would call a step backwards in game development – microtransactions.
This feature became a huge trend among mobile gaming which soon spread all across the market. It’s even been implemented in many PC games such as League of Legends and Team Fortress 2. Though it could be said that the purchases only affect the aesthetics and thus aren’t a requirement to enjoy the game; unlike many mobile games where progress can be increased exponentially from spending real money.
But most would be surprised when the explosion of microtransactions became popular as far back as 2011, when the mobile analytic and advertising company Flurry decided to compare the “premium vs freemium” models of mobile gaming. “Premium simply means charging for the download (e.g., $0.99). Freemium describes the free-to-play model, where the game is given away for free, and then the consumer can purchase virtual currency and/or virtual goods through in-app-purchases. Tracking over 90,000 apps with its analytics service, Flurry can measure the amount of revenue generated per ranked position in the App Store top grossing category.” The results discovered made companies look at mobile gaming as a quick way to make a quick buck and a large amount generic and copies games flooded the market.
Apple, the largest mobile gaming service to date, decided to take a step in a different direction on Thursday. A new category was added to the App Store highlighting games that would previously have been considered “premium” by Flurry. The “Pay Once & Play” model takes a step towards showcasing games that don’t feature any microtransactions. No gems, donuts, diamonds, gold, or any other form of premium currency available from in-game purchasing aren’t to be found in these games.
This category can be found in the iTunes Stone and further separates games into three subsections: Recent Releases, Blockbuster Games, and App Store Originals. A few titles familiar to gamers show up in Blockbuster Games; such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, Goat Simulator, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Seeing games beloved by console and PC players available to the arguably more casual mobile and tablet market shows that there’s a demand for people to sit down and play a game as if they would any other gaming device.
As more games are introduced to the Pay Once & Play the mobile market could likely see an increase in the demand for more substantial and longer games. It’s entirely possible that if this growth of mobile gaming continue it could rival handheld gaming giant Nintendo – but as of now we have only seen a step taken off the current path. We will not know where it leads but it looks like the future of mobile gaming is brighter than what it was a year ago.
What do you think about this? Is this section dedicated to games where you pay once and play forever, including the AAA games of past generations, a good move on Apple’s part? Or are they trying to cater a demand that, frankly, might not even be there? Talk about it in the comments below!