When it comes to mobile and browser gaming, it’s disheartening to hear someone say, “It costs what? No, I’m not paying for that.” Even if it’s $1, $2, up to $5, the response is wildly common. Considering there are so many free games out there or games masked as free-to-play, it’s not a surprising response. What surprises me more is the fact people don’t think twice about paying $5 for a disposable cup of Starbucks.
Sure, we can fault games like Candy Crush Saga for its monetization schemes, but when you consider the networking and updating they keep up, it’s not such a monstrous idea. I won’t talk about monopolizing on addictive behaviors, but it’s suffice to say that small in-app purchases dominate the market and have been proven to be very efficient and profitable. Indeed, there was a time when some guy/girl, an idea, and a computer turned into a mobile or browser game that was free and fun for everyone, but the call for the best of both worlds (free and fun) has come at a sincere cost to major developers of mobile and browser games.
Here’s the deal: those unwilling to properly purchase or participate in in-app purchases (IAP’s) and microtransactions constantly fail to understand the work behind that very reasonable price tag. Developing a mobile game that tops the iTunes and Google Play charts more often than not seriously requires an entire studio of people, meaning somewhere between five to twenty individuals. Consider ustwo‘s recent mega-hit Monument Valley. It’s a big feat for a small studio, and that’s the dream. But as in the fortunate case of recent Leo’s Fortune (excuse the pun) studios were behind the magic. Temple Run, Fruit Ninja—need I go on? These are studios aiming to stay in business, and they’re only getting bigger. A ‘Flappy Bird’ certainly don’t happen every day, even if their spin-offs do.
The time taken to build the game is only a small drop in a big pond for games that persist and offer constant updates. Consider the security upkeep necessary for your favorite mobile or browser game. With issues like Heartbleed hitting worldwide and right under our noses, offering your information can be scary at best, but these developers take special care to keep your info off the web, out of the grid, and only between you and them. Consider how your favorite gambling site or pay-to-play mobile/browser game handles security. It’s certainly no small issue. Castle Jackpot’s security page quotes they will “be carrying out substantial fraud checks, including but not limited to requesting scanned ID and sharing this information with fraud prevention agencies.” Now that’s time and money all in one place.
This is all a pretty big financial deal, considering these experts are full-time, salaried employees whose job is to bring those flashy games to your games folder. And for free, more often than not. The indie development scene has gained a lot of traction in recent years, and most of those developers do it just for love, charge nothing, and profit from in-game advertising. It’s just how the game is played. But most will have a price-tag and/or in-app purchases to keep themselves afloat. So next time you’re about to pick up a $60 console game, think twice about declining a $3 mobile/browser game, for the fact is, they’ve gotten cheaper and it’s our job to make sure they stay available!
Thanks for reading the Futurology & Technology section of Style Division. I have lots of exciting articles coming up about wearable technology, Uber taxi service and one of my all time heroes Ray Kurzweil so keep reading and stay stylish.