The one thing that I really love about our “bonus” podcasts is the fact that we only talk to people who fire from the hip: no boilerplate, no scripting, and no dodging. Game Revolution had the same kind of dialogue with an industry figure at Develop. In its conversation with Fish Labs CEO Michael Schade, you get the sense that he’s an unfiltered and passionate type of dude. He has a lot to offer as a result, especially when it comes to pricing models on the App Store, and as you’d assume by looking up Galaxy on Fire [$9.99 / Lite] on iTunes, he’s not a fan of the “race to the bottom.”

It’s not really fair to toss a headline up there and just move on, but the interview does revolve around “premium” price tags. Schade wants a premium $10 market on the App Store because he thinks developers of high-end games deserve it and consumers actually want it.

His answer when GR asks about the definition of a premium game and the part Apple could play in that:

“Every time I bring that to the table Apple asks the same question. I’d say it could be completely editorial, they decide what they think is premium – that’d be good enough for me, we’d just need to try hard enough to meet their internal premium criteria. I would appreciate if there was a floor price, and my gut’s feeling is that it should be $9.99 because that’s the lowest price for pay-per-play that I’ve seen on Steam for instance.

There are good 2D games, really good 2D games that are being sold for 9.99 Euros, so if you go $9.99 it’s even lower than that. So I think that’s the premium price. If somebody’s not willing to pay 10 bucks for a game on a platform he paid 800 bucks for, then that’s not premium.”

His stance against the myth that if games are cheaper, users will buy more games:

“I think the consumer is cleverer than that, they realize that if you pay just 59p for a game, you can’t expect the same experience as if you paid £5.99. Especially if your target group is more in the traditional hardcore gaming space, these guys are coming from a different price point anyway, and I closely follow discussions on forums where people discuss “what can you expect from a game that’s only 59p?”

“So if this category is targeted, and marketed at, I think it would be very successful. To a certain degree, it’s kind of a surprise that Apple have premium products, for a premium audience but don’t have a premium category for premium content, I think it’s a natural fit.”

If you’re into Schade, we heartily suggest you go check out the rest of the interview, which is laden with candor and even some talk on Android. Turns out that, despite the OS’ massive reach, developers aren’t really making money on the platform. Piracy, among other things, are big issues.

Again, it’s neat to see this kind of talk from a bigwig. We should bring him on the show sometime, eh?

[Via Game Revolution]

  • Anthony M

    I love my iPhone no doubt, but quite a bit of my gaming with this device is a few minutes here, a few minutes there etc. I am OK with a few really good titles being 10 bucks a pop but most people are not going to want to spend that much on touch screen phone based games. Even if the games are really good. Not talking about us die hards that come to this site all the time. Also once a few of the good games sell for 10 won't be long before that turns into 12-15. Just look at Live Arcade for an example of that. For that much money I will want to play the game on a device that has buttons.

    • Pickleninja

      But what does that have to do with you shoving carrots up your pooper?

  • Howard Sayles

    The market drives the prices not the developers. As Nintendo are finding out to their cost. If you want $9.99 for your game go and develop for them and see how long you last.

    • Anonymous

      The price dictates the quality of the game most of the time. The ratio of crap to quality games heavily leans toward the crap. Sure there are some outrageous values. Just not a whole lot of them. iOS is a proven contender and there are over 100 million iDevices capable of playing games on the 3GS graphical level. 3DS has only sold like 3 million so that's not a good comparison.

      Besides, a lot of games are freemium. You pay a buck for the title screen and the rest cost extra. Some people wind up spending a whole lot of money on those games.

      • Howard Sayles

        Today I downloaded iPhone 'Bejeweled 2' for free. It isn't free because it is a poor game. It is free because the competition in the iOS market is so great. By being free it builds much needed momentum and the all important positive comments (with recent date stamps) on the App store. The iPhone has changed hand held gaming forever thank goodness. Hey I bought the Atari Lynx!!

  • Lucas

    Well, apple often feature games and create special sections such as "great games for ipad 2" or "gorgeous games"... users just go there and check what's in, if they dig it they buy it. I don't think we need a premium category, it'd be very difficult to keep up and much more if it is normal people judging whether a game gets in or not... I have seen fantastic 2D games (infeCCt, for example) that sell for nothing and are much better than other premium 2D titles like world of goo (and this is my opinion here... which is different than the next guy probably) selling for a higher price.

  • syipisa

    apple should show top-paid-apps-lists for more each price tier

    • Jtm6667

      I like that idea. It reminds me of steam with sections like: "Games under $10", "Games under $20", etc... It would help stop really good premium priced games sinking to the bottom like they have concreate shoes.

  • JedX1X

    I'll gladly pay top dollar for great games with a lot of development time behind them. Dead Space, Galaxy on Fire 2 HD, Infinity Blade, Chaos Rings, Real Racing 2, Epoch, and March of Heroes are all worth a high price because they're all premium games.

    • precV

      I'd like to add that I was able to get Dead Space HD for 0.99, Infinity Blade for 2.99, and Chaos Rings HD for 4.99. I knew it would happen so I waited patiently for the price drop. And it did. As I said in another post here. Premium games are not worth the full, high price. Why? Because either they or their competition will drop the price. There is no shortage of inexpensive quality games on the App Store. Furthermore, the market is setting the real *value* of so-called premium games, not the individual developers, and certainly not the individual buyers who are convincing themselves "it's worth it because it's a premium game". That being said, I agree everybody decides what their individual and personal threshold for making an app purchase is. I just don't think that always equates to the actual value.

  • Oranges&Lemons

    I think that if a developer has spent double the time in producing a quality game then there has to be an incentive for him to do so. For example Cut the Rope is a great game, of that there is no doubt. However so is Galaxy on Fire 2. Now it's obvoius at a glance that Galaxy On Fire 2 will have probably taken at least 4 or 5 times longer in developement than Cut the Rope with a much bigger developement team. Now as much as I would like something for nothing I understand that if a developer invests a huge resource into developing a quality title then they need to charge a little more to to recoup their investment and make a profit to enable them to carry on producing more quality titles with more immersive gameplay.
    For me on a personal note, I am happy to pay more for something with a more content than a game I would only pay 69p for. I would just be a little more selective on what I spent more money on but I welcome the oportunity to buy higher quality titles at a higher price that reflects the production cost!

    • UmbraVir

      Yes, but you also have to consider what the minds of the general public are thinking.

      To meet the revenue worth the production costs + time, you need to set the price right in order to rake in a good profit. However, due to the mindset that iOS games are meant to be cheap, it is doubtful that many will put forward a hefty ten dollars whereas Cut the Rope demands a measly dollar.

      When you compare ten dollars to one, it seems like too big of a rift. 

      I feel as though five dollars would be sufficient in getting a lot more customers as opposed to ten dollars. 

      But I also feel like ten dollars is also a hefty price on any iOS title as well. A good portion of the iTunes App Store consumers aren't older than eighteen. By this, I'm alluding to the fact that many do not own credit cards, or any way to get credit onto their account. This makes them use iTunes gift cards which are usually purchased in amounts of 15$ per card. If you compare getting 3 big title games on the iPhone(2 cards) as opposed to 30- also very good- small arcade games, the big titles in perception don't seem very appealing.

    • precV

      If the only way to get a high-quality title was to pay extra because you have no options, I might follow your logic. But...there is no shortage of high quality titles at low prices. And these low-priced titles have the highest level of production. It's not just Cut the Rope type game that are selling for 0.99. You just need to know how to be a smart shopper on the App Store. Impatience is not a friend when buying iOS games.

      Also, the developer's incentive in this market, the App Store market, is to sell more copies. That is how it works. You can try to apply logic from other retail and e-commerce models, but the reality is that the App Store has become a market that works on volume, not perceived quality. It doesn't seem fair at times, but that is what it has become. I don't see this ever reversing itself. And I doubt Apple would try and reverse it.

  • Sanuku

    Michael Schade is right about the Prize Tag and i am saying this even i believe that their upcoming "Galaxy on Fire 2 HD" is a rip-off and that they should rethink again what they are starting with this and how the iOS Community might treat them after this Release.

  • Anthony M

    10 dollars is cheap for a good game. I just feel that if in the future a lot of the real good games come out at 10 dollars will 15 dollars be just right around the corner? And once 10-15 dollar games are the norm for real good titles will we see games like Dead Space for 6.99 ever again? And even a big spender like me is not going to buy all that many of them. If I am spending that much money it will be on one of my consoles most of the time, not for a device where I am playing a game while sitting on the bowl or during commercial breaks.

    To be honest I doubt their will be a huge market for 10-15 dollar games on the iOS platform or Android. There are 50 billion time waster games for 2-5 dollars or less that will occupy most gamers time when using their phones as a game platform. You just don't have that on the PSP or DS. You can buy 6 or 7 pretty decent 4-6 month old iOS games for 15 dollars with the way the prices drop on most of these games. Heck you can buy 10 time waster type games and there are a metric F-ton of real good ones available for 99 cents. I don't mind a premium section with 10 dollar games, I just hope it doesn't end up where every game that used to be priced at 6.99 or less ends up in the 10 dollar premium section for the first 2 months or so of their existence.

  • bomber

    Apple doesn't want high-price apps, they want to sell many devices. Customers don't want a high price either. Developers need to adjust to the market and stop dreaming of up-front high prices when the whole market is changing.
    About premium market: there is already a whole section on the App Store fully dedicated to apps hand-picked by Apple.

  • precV

    Quote:  “I think the consumer is cleverer than that, they realize that if you
    pay just 59p for a game, you can’t expect the same experience as if you
    paid £5.99."

    Mr. Schade is in denial. There are plenty of amazing experiences available at the lowest pricing level in the App Store. True, some are only available during a sale, but It's gotten to the point where I just don't feel the need to buy anything above, hmm, $2.99. 90% of the iOS games I buy are 0.99. And I buy a lot. If they were $9.99, I wouldn't pull the trigger. A 0.99 sale is better than no sale. Don't try to spin that fact into something else.

    With regards to the App Store pricing: The cat is already out of the bag, so to speak. The market pricing is in place. There's no going back up. Can you imagine Walmart trying to become a higher-end department store? Not a perfect analogy, but I hope you get my point.

    My backlog of iOS games is ridiculous. Mr. Schade, I will wait for your games to drop in price to 0.99. If they don't, sorry, there will be something else there to occupy my time. On iOS and other platforms. If I *really* feel desperate for a deeper game experience, I will bring my PSP, DS, or, soon, my PS Vita, with me. I also have an extensive Steam library on my gaming laptop. As I said, there will always be options for me.

    • Asd

      This post is spot on. The devs that say these things on record are desperately trying to inflate the market. Sorry guys, but pandora's box has been opened. You can't start demanding heavy cash for games that are only marginally better than some of the 99c gems. And as long as the 99c(59p) gems keep coming, people will keep buying.

      We all know that the games will drop in price. So we will wait. They might nab a few impatient people, but the masses jump on board at 99c.

  • Asd

    Every single dev on the appstore KNOWS that 99c is the impulse price point. People will buy the game even just to see how it plays at that point. As soon as you start going above $5, people will shy away, pirate, spend their money elsewhere.

    Some devs can try to do the blockbuster AAA thing on mobile platforms... and they'll find out that their IPs don't stretch a tenth as far as a simple title like angry birds, tiny wings, etc.

    If you want to tap the mobile market, 99c is how you do it. There is an easy way to learn this, and there is a hard way to learn this.

    • Mike

      Square enix, the guy who made mission europa, and the man behind the only real western rpg called avadon, sure do not.

  • Anonymous

    nice talk dev, nice one. couldn't say it  better. one day people with 99c minded will surely understand this. if they don't buy the game at greater price point then its just not for'll always find your 9.99 market here at the appstore.
    9.99 for 1000 vs 99c for a million audience its your choice, but i guess somebody should stand up against this myth on the appstore and I'm glad you're one of them.

  • Aer2

    i liked my galaxy on fire 2, got it at $7 i think, back in the day, then even bought the 2 addons.

    as nice as the game is and as much as i liked it, i don't think i got my money's worth, and its definitely not a 'premium' game.   maybe if the story lasted for more than 3 or 4 hours...

    to me personally, i get a lot more bang/$ from most of the 0.99 titles than any of the handful of higher priced apps.  after realizing this a while ago, i don't bother with any 'full priced' app, just add it to my wait list and spend my money on the other developers that are releasing 0.99/1.99/2.99 gold.

    • Robin Ashe

      Yeah, GoF had almost no value, you had a story that was basically the tutorial and then just ran around doing set missions with no goal. GoF2 was barely better, and the way the enemise scaled really ruined any sense of immersion. That and you automatically get thrust into the story without having to do anything for it. In Escape Velocity if you wanted to throw your hat in with the rebels you'd need to spend hours running missions, getting combat experience fighting off pirates, upgrading your ships, and then attacking the Confeds and immediately having to face some cruisers when you jump into their systems. At that point, you get the rebel story line. GoF felt something maybe like Freelancer, but not even on the level of Wing Commander: Privateer.

  • Mike

    Do you guys think the iPad could ever get real and deep games like starcraft or final fantasy 0? What is keeping thowe "real" devs from making or porting them over? Why are we not seeying more call ofduty zombie maps at all? If you guys think its better to have cheao games, how qre we ever going to see those types of support or have dedicated handhelds replaced? Do you guys sriously expect the iPad to compete with and beat Vita as a gaming platfom if you guys cant even pay $10 for a game? All it would take is $10 and you would be saving hundreds ofdollars from buying vita and $40 or so per game savings still. I mean its only psychological that you xant see yourself gaming heavily on an idevice. In theory the experience could be just as great (esp on the ipads largedisplay and screen size) than a vita or 3ds. Its only software and prices that the difference lies not hardware. Hardware isnjust as capable (esp on ipad with an icade) as the vita.

    • Lakeshore

      Hardware? The iPad 2 beefs up 3.5/4 of what the Vita does the only reading being is the initial and used up cores 2vs4. The iPad 2 and future iPhone and devices will undoubtedly show you the gaming revolution just as the iPhone 3GS did (which took 2 years for developers to start using it's core power)

  • Mike

    Also, why are you gusy insulting this dev and his efforts when square enix has and continues to charge $18 for their games. $10 is nothing comoared to that or any adult with a job. Heck, judging by the orifibal ds, its not much for kids or parents either because original ds games, even c ooking mana or brain age, cost $30.

  • Mike

    What would be cool is if games would come out for multiole systems including the iPad at the same price and content. I mean why dont devs make a mutiplatform release for the iapd along with the ds and psp versions simulatenously? Like all those lego starwars games or first person shooters (call of duty, battlefield etc.).

  • Mike

    Have any of you guys played the original steel batallion? Well a sequel is coming out:

    And it requires... KINECT of all things.

    I once had the opportunity to play the original (just once, which isn’t really playing Steel Battalion, but whatevs).

    On one hand, 40 buttons with actual functionality is pretty ridiculous for a video game. On the other hand, it’s nothing compared to, say, the cockpit of a late-20th-century jetliner, and when the thing is all set up, it’s not so big.

  • Macaroon

     The trouble is, who is the one who's going to decide 'this game, yes, THIS game is definitely a premium title, it deserves a premium price'. I mean, what constitutes a premium game on the app store? Where's the quality assurance stamp that we see on every Nintendo game box? I 'm not sure I would trust a Premium category on the app store to be frank. Up until recently, I would have said that FF Tactics would sit squarely in that premium bracket (they certainly charged for it), and yet look at it, it's a garbled mess!

  • Mike

    Thats because square and capxom and everyone else doesnt take the app store as a platform seriously. Swuare only hires recent grads and interns to port games to ios such as fftactics.

  • Spazzing

    Has anyone played gof to the end... I have and it took me just over 3 to 4 hours..that is not a premium game nor should it be sold as one. If you want to charge a premium price better make sure the games not just a few boring travel to z to collect x missions. I ws disappointed at seeing the end credits I thought I was just getting into the game, only had chance to buy 1 ship and it was all over.

    • UmbraVir

      GoF was way too short, though I suppose the devs expect you to do free world exploring more than the story line.

      • Robin Ashe

        The exploring wasn't compelling in itself, and there weren't later story lines to unlock.

  • Mike

    Avadon is though and whats funny is seeying mac and pc zealots complain about it only being $10 on the iPad all over forums.

  • Mike

    Avadon is though and whats funny is seeying mac and pc zealots complain about it only being $10 on the iPad all over forums.

  • Hyr1972

    No great premium games for 99cents? Really? Well, I got Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden, Order and Chaos Online, Asphalt 6, NOVA2, Dungeon Hunter 2, Spiderman Total Mayhem, Street Fighter 4, Street Fighter 4 Volt, Hero of Sparta 2 and Orion for 99 cents each.

    And also Dungeon Raid, Sword of Fargoal, Sad Princess, BattleHearts, quite a lot of grinder KRPGs, and also some EA games for 99cents each too. I even collected quite a number of old good and premium titles when they hit the zero dollar free mark for a limited promotional time - e.g. Ash.

    At last count, I have over 700 titles, of which I have only limited space and time on my 32GB iphone 4 to load and play.

    Oh, I did look up GOF2 because I'm a HUGE WC/Privateer fan. But unfortunately, GOF2 is NOT a even GOOD game to play, IMO, after I've tested it on my friend's phone (a bigger huge WC/Privateer fan than me. He's extremely disappointed about it's poor quality gameplay). Sorry. But I won't even bother downloading and installing on my phone. Waste of my precious bandwidth time and limited storage space.

  • Arthur Madalson M.P.

    There are just loads of great puzzle games now for the android. Angry Birds, Slice It, Cut The Rope or Bubble Life