Android Games App Portal? (Anyone Know Android App Sales Info?)

Any idea where Android App sales are heading to? Yesterday’s poll about Android development got surprisingly high numbers.

Android phones were selling faster than iPhones (at least before iPhone 4.0, not sure what’s the newest numbers).

Anyone smelling potential for Android Games (only) App portal? (I am, although I bet there already are portals like that)

Just thinking out loud.

Spotify For Indie Games… Subscription Model? (Part 3)

Earlier I looked Kongregate for new indie games. Also forums announcements. And nowadays occasionally check out Steam’s “indie games” list. There are some places where to get indie games – like indie xmas calendar that got tens of games right away.

I’ve now heard these both things about subscription: “subscription model won’t work” and “it would work”. I have bit mixed feelings about this, but whenever in doubt I start thinking of World of Warcraft. That game is running on subscription model (sure, it’s old as hell) and there’s other providers (like tv channels) that uses the same model pretty successfully.

So, why it wouldn’t work for indie games?

I can spot a few reasons.

Indie games are small fish
Big fishes are all about casual gaming, or facebook gaming. Saying “indie game” brings me the image of zombie shooter.

Eh.

Well, you get the point. Casual games are different beast and indie games are often some sort of shooters (zombies, aliens…) or something bit different. And this means there’s less players.

I’m wondering that does it make sense to have this “indie portal” or indie games service?

Last Christmas, there sure was tons of developers (as those 70+ comments prove) who wanted to promote their stuff. So my gut feeling is that there would be developers interested in this.

But would there be gamers interested too?

Would I pay $10 per mo to get play any indie game I’d want? That’s a bit biased question since I don’t play much games… but I would guess that even for research purposes that could be useful. It might be fun to check new games, play them a bit and then switch to new indie games.

Comments?

This is the third and last post about this spotify indie games portal thing for at least a few days. Tomorrow and next week will feature something else.

Spotify For Indie Games…? (Part 2 out of N)

Yesterday’s post about spotify for games detailed some of the ideas I had for this system. I want to openly think more about this. I’m seeing some challenges:

Technical issues?
I really like spotify: you can download the music to your computer (when you have subscribed to the service) and there aren’t too big copy protection issues there. So far I’ve managed to use the thing offline as well. So, naturally I would like that this spotify for indie game portal/service/thing would be as easy to use. No hassle playing.

I would think that probably some sort of “wrapper/launcher” software should be in use (thinking similar to Steam for example). There you could find & launch games and get recommendations and all that stuff. I don’t know what would be good technology for this. I have no doubts that it wouldn’t be possible.

Another alternative could be use of website, and play games in your browser. Games would be packed & played via browser (using a plugin). I’m thinking pjio.com here.

Getting developers in
My gut feeling is that if the system would think developers first and give the major part of the cake to them, I think there could be decent amount of developers & games that would get in the system. I also think promoting the system is to developers is not going to be the major issue.

Payment processing
With some experience on payment processing with developers and affiliates, I think this part of the system could be somewhat tricky. I don’t know how, but the system would definitely need automated tracking for payments, then list for example paypal info for each developer and then somehow (not sure if this is even possible) automatically or (more likely) with as little manual work as possible the payment could be sent monthly to developers. I’m smelling some issues here, but not too big ones.

Free version?
Spotify offers free version, but I’m not sure how well this would work in the gaming industry. Perhaps instead of showing ads, you could play demo versions for free. Not sure if this would be a good solution, but I feel that letting players play totally free, and show (annoying) ads wouldn’t work as well as it does in spotify. I might be wrong.

Anyway, the free/demo version thing should be planned & tested properly. I guess benchmarking competitors (Onlive and others) could help in this.

Getting gamers to join
And then there would be of course the trickiest part: getting gamers to actually buy something. It would require enough games, and then probably tons of promotion to get the ball moving. I’m not sure if this would require outside funding or investor (or kickstarter… or whatnot), but I don’t think is totally impossible thing to first get enuf donuts for promoting the thing, and then eventually get gamers to join. And when more gamers join, the more developers join and the snowball effect starts to kick in.

Other issues
These aren’t the only things to take care. There’s also legal issues/contracts with each party. Then there’s servers and their handling. Different platforms and so on. Probably some more.

Why say these things out loud – shouldn’t I like keep these business secrets hidden!?
Possibly… but then I wouldn’t get the ball moving.

I think this concept is a pretty good itself. But, getting from “idea” to “fully established portal” takes a bit more than writing couple of thoughts on paper.

Like said, I’m thinking out loud.

More thoughts on this? If AAA thing is somewhat covered (in several countries), and possibly more companies joining the movement… I’m pondering how well could indie/casual type of portal solution work.

What do you see as the biggest challenges? How well could this work in your opinion?

Would you be interested?

Indies Need to Pay Attention When Somebody Says: “[Insert Platform Here] Market Is Dead/Crowded/Saturated”

Have you heard any of the following statements:

  • “PC gaming is dying”
  • “iPhone app market is saturated”
  • “Casual games market is too crowded”

I bet you have.

When I start thinking these statements, I feel that indies (those brave solo wolves that travel the snowy mountains without hope to see anything to eat, figuratively speaking) need to pay attention. The indie developers, when they hear “something is dying/crowded/saturated – no point trying going there any more” they know that now it’s the time to consider this market. (If the statement is really true)

Let’s pretend for example that “PC gaming is dying”it’s not, but let’s pretend it would be). Then it would suggest that Big Corporations will stop doing stuff for this platform. Wouldn’t that be a totally good news for indies then? More room for indies. Better start making PC games then eh?

iPhone app market saturated? Well, couldn’t this mean that the clone wars have been started and everybody is doing the same fart applications? I’d say an innovative approach and good marketing could do wonders. Pricing premium for your game (when others are thinking of lowering their game prices due tough competition) might do wonders.

Wherever there’s a dead corpse, vultures will do just fine.

How Much Games Should Cost, What You Think?

My post about $2.99 price point got me thinking of what kind of prices I’m willing to pay for games. I’m looking at my Steam list since the end of 2007 and here’s the prices for the games I’ve purchased via Steam:

  • $12.14
  • $36.54
  • $60.99
  • $60.99
  • $12.07 (9.99 eur)
  • $18.11 (14.99 eur)
  • Free
  • $2.52 (2.09 eur)
  • $12.07 (9.99 eur)
  • $24.15 (19.99 eur)

I marked bold those games that I’ve completed or which are something I’ve spent time playing (Mainly Half-life 2 mods and Garry’s mod is on that list as well). I marked italic those that I purchased for 98% research purposes (Garry’s mod goes in this category too).

As you can see, there’s couple of games in the higher end ($60ish) – games which I nowadays hardly ever touch. Cannot actually remember when I last played either one.

Couple of games (10 to 20 eur) were purchased mainly for research (and I only tested these like few times to see how they work and all that).

And then there’s couple of 10ish eur (bit over $10) games which I’ve actually played recently.

In fact, from this chart it looks to me that I’m willing to spend some money for games (up to $61), but the games I really enjoy fall in the lower end (around $10).

Starting to think of it… somehow that $10 sounds a good price point. Ten bucks is something I can throw in a small game, and I know I don’t necessarily need to spend tons of time (as a slightly busy dad my time has become even more precious…) so those small games actually work quite well. If the price goes to $20 or $30, I might actually not do the purchase. Not sure if it’s because of the price, or whether it also means that I need to spend time playing these games (since I think they probably last longer than those $2 or $12 games)… and of course the barrier to spend $10 is few times smaller than spending $30.

At that price point perhaps I don’t care too much if the game isn’t that fun. And if the game is good, then perhaps I get a nice surprise (as in “oh, this was good! and only ten bucks”). And $10 games I get to buy double more games than with $20.

I know I can waste that $20 by buying couple of subway meals and I can get rid of $20 by buying some shit… but somehow the “ten bucks” feels good.

This doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t pay more (or less) for games that I think are good. It simply reflects that somehow I feel good about that $10 price tag.

I know in this matter we are probably going to get a very twisted poll results from a game developer audience, but let’s ask anyway.

How much you’d like games to cost?

[poll id=34]

There’s smaller and bigger games and naturally this means there’s variation for how much I want to pay for games. But… let’s keep it simple, let’s take one price tag. You are free to comment your vote.

What Would a 2.99 Price Point Do To Casual Games?

I’m asking because Big Fish Games just let me know about the Catch of the Week: which basically means they have an expiring offer for a game that costs only $2.99.

I’m sitting here in front of my computer and thinking:

“What these “weekly deals” will do for casual games?”

Maybe these and other deals slowly but unsteadily mean that other portals will start doing the same. And when everybody is doing weekly deals, it won’t last long for others to start do weekend deals. And then daily deals.

And soon the expensive $6.99 turns into $5.99. Then $2.99. Soon iPhone games will cost more.

Who knows when eventually casual games also start doing micropayments and “selling extra content” inside games. (For $0.99 to $2.99 per package).

Your thoughts?

Okay, Social Platform Might Replace Something…

On my provoking last blog post I pondered that social platform will expand the gaming market: players who have never played anything, will join the ranks and play Facebook games. I stated that FB would not replace anything though: people who play their World of Warcrafts keep doing that.

It didn’t take long to jtrencsenyi to point out that there’s already 3D realtime shooter in Facebook… which sort of took the carpet under my feet.

The morele of the story, I will admit that yeh, when more games become browser based and work realtime (like, real competitors to Left 4 Dead or whatnot) then there’s chances that FB gaming replaces something. Those Farmville clones will never stop any Fifa ’10 player to from playing virtual football. (Maybe).

But… when? The Paintball game there uses Unity. So yeh, when there’s decent option for browser based gaming (like Unity does) and when there’s more than 1 realtime game to play there… then there’s some chances that some gaming might go to that direction.

But morally I was right.

The Reason Why Social Games Will Never Replace Anything

I have a poll here:

[poll id=32]
(Define “playing” as you want, “short testing” is not “playing” in my books)

And by the look of results, everybody and their mom will notice that no game developer really plays these games. Okay, there will be some odd sheeps that play these games but 89%* of the developers will think like whadda heck are these social players thinking. FB games won’t replace their playing habits.

*Fact that will reveal itself after we see some replies on that above poll

I’ve tested some facebook games. Tried Mafia Wars. Tried Farmville. Maybe tried something else I cannot remember. Stopped playing every single of them. They were no fun (to me). Pretty much the only browser based game I’ve ever played more than “just tested” is Urban Dead (among Werewolf) and here I’m slowly getting to my point.

The reason why I think social games will never replace anything is pretty simple. It’s a different market. The people who play WoW or the people who play fast paced games… or strategy games or any anti-social games will keep doing that.

A quick look on Farmville makes it easy. It’s just not my thing. If I want to play a match of let’s say Left 4 Dead, I don’t seek to use facebook. FB games are not realtime. The people who play hardcore games won’t touch FB games. FB gamers hardly will touch hardcore games.

I believe FB and these social games are expanding the market. Maybe some MUDders will join the fun (since you can have those type of games in Facebook) but I think this is mainly about expanding the market, not replacing it.

And… the few people who play FB games are doing this on their work days, so the only thing Facebook games are replacing is “work time” that turns into “playing time”.

But of course I know shit about this whole non anti-social gaming so take my word as a grain of salt.

As always.

Okay… So What Am I Supposed To Do With Facebook?

Alright, so now I have some Facebook friends who can poke me. That’s of course very nice and everything… but could like somebody tell me how can game developers benefit from this platform?

Here’s some things on top of my head:

  • Creating Facebook applications and benefit from the viral aspect. Those into browser-based games can leverage the viral aspects of FB and can spam their friends. That’s “nice”.
  • As a “discussion forum” alternative. Instead of setting up big boards, one can create a game page in facebook and start creating a community around it.
  • Then… I can… uh. What else can I do?

How you use Facebook?

Update:
Here’s some more suggestions from you guys:

  • Use it to import RSS feed to my Facebook Notes (thanks Jerrac)
  • Great networking tool (according to Jake, thanks)
  • Events: you might get invited to events via Facebook. (thanks again Jake)

Have You Done Micropayments (In Games)

I realized that I’ve used micropayments only in one game, but could think of doing them more in games when the system is “done right”. What’s your take on micropayments? Have you purchased some stuff inside games?

I think there’s several issues to be handled, and not saying that I’m expert on micropayments (heck, like said, just done that like in one game), but here’s my list:

  • Purchasing should happen “with just one click” if possible. This means that “wallets” systems help this for sure. Whether it’s Xbox live credits or Facebook credits or PS3 wallet, but there needs to be something that saves the buyer from typing credit card details over and over again.
  • The purchased stuff should feel fair. If it feels like you are being a ripped off (“you have to buy this gadget, otherwise you suck in this game”) or if the purchase doesn’t bring some visible benefit (“your hunting skill just improved 2% – yeh we know it doesn’t matter”) the buyer doesn’t feel good.
  • Purchase should expand the game if possible. This is again me just dreaming but I feel that purchases that somehow expand the game (“okay, you just unlocked the Gnome race, sure you can do just fine by playing Human race, but Gnomes are cool with their beards and all – so why not give ‘em a go?”). If it keeps the game balanced, but adds something extra, then me thinks it’s a good candidate for a stuff that players want to purchase.
  • Right price. (That doesn’t automatically mean “cheap”)

But heck, what do I know.

Let’s hear your voice. Let me know if you’d (micro)purchased anything inside games and what elements there were aiding you to take the step. Does my list make any sense?