Logo_on_whiteHello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, your destination for all things mobile RPG. In addition to the other kinds of articles you'll find under this banner, I'll also occasionally be writing not about specific games, but about a topic connected to mobile RPGs. This week is one such installment. We're taking a look at an interesting phenomenon that has started to occur with increasing regularity in the Japanese gaming market. Mobile gaming has long since overtaken the other gaming markets in Japan, and the result is that a lot of the most popular modern gaming IPs have their origins in the mobile market. We're all used to seeing cherished old console franchises trotted out wearing free-to-play skins on mobile, but in Japan, the opposite case is beginning to happen. This article will take a look at some of the most famous examples, with a little extra analysis on the sales performance of those games and the possible motivations behind creating them.

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There are no two ways about it: the console market is in a real pinch in Japan. But that's not a new thing. Signs of a market downturn in home consoles were perceptible in the region as early as the PlayStation 2 era, when the console and its software sales cooled down a lot quicker than it did in other regions. The Nintendo Wii rode a wave of goodwill off the back of the Nintendo DS, with a pinch of Nintendo nostalgia helping it along, but that burst proved to be short-lived. Since then, the console market has just sort of limped along. Neither the Wii nor the PlayStation 3 could manage even 70% of the sales of the Super Famicom, let alone the booming sales of Nintendo's 8-bit Famicom or Sony's first two PlayStation consoles. The Wii U couldn't even pass the SEGA Megadrive's total, and the PlayStation 4 only recently nudged ahead of the Gamecube's total. We won't even talk about Microsoft's dismal fortunes with their Xbox consoles. With some luck, the first-place console in Japan this generation might be able to outsell the SEGA Saturn's total. Maybe.

While the console market was falling, the already-healthy handheld market was soaring. The Game Boy had already been the highest-selling gaming device in the history of the country, but it would soon be topped by the stunning success of the Nintendo DS. The PSP, which was seen by many around the world as a sales dud, ended up with a total within a stone's throw of those of the PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2. In fact, the PSP is currently the sixth best-selling piece of gaming hardware of all-time in Japan, and it seems very unlikely to be unseated in the future. If you ever find yourself wondering where Japanese developers went during the PS3/360/Wii generation, the answer is that they were focusing on the 50+ million domestic handheld owners rather than the 20+ million domestic console owners. Handheld gaming has always resonated well with Japan, which is not terribly surprising given much of the country's reliance on train travel and the relatively smaller living spaces.

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Similarly, mobile gaming caught on quite quickly in Japan. While North Americans were fussing around with variants of Snake and other simple games, the Japanese were enjoying new Final Fantasy mobile games, ports of classic Super Famicom games like ActRaiser, and other such efforts. The rise of smartphones had a similarly potent effect on the mobile gaming market in Japan as it did everywhere else, but unlike in other regions, many Japanese publishers already had teams put together and games budgeted. It took a couple of years to really get cooking, but once it did, smartphone gaming absolutely exploded in Japan.

Unfortunately, that had a predictable effect on the handheld market. Nintendo's 3DS had a rocky start but has pulled itself to a respectable total, currently sitting in the position of third place in the highest-selling game devices of all-time in Japan. Even as successful as it has been, the 3DS's sales are down 50% from its predecessor. The drop from the PSP to the PlayStation Vita was even more precipitous. While the Vita has been more successful in Japan than it has been elsewhere, it's unlikely that it will sell even a third of what its pappy did by the time it's put out to pasture. That said, the handheld market still represents nearly 30 million players in Japan, which is certainly not a market you want to ignore.

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But let's swing back to smartphones for a second. In the early days, the playing field was dominated by the usual names, more or less carrying on as they had been elsewhere. Lots of premium games from popular franchises, handheld-like downgraded ports, and the odd original title from household names like Konami, Capcom, and Square Enix. By now, these companies had their routines down to something of a science, but I believe it was precisely that complacency that left them scrambling when the mobile market made its heavy pivot towards free-to-play. Perhaps underestimating the appeal of such payment models, the console giants kept on sipping their drinks as the premium house burnt around them. This left the burgeoning free-to-play market to relatively fresh faces, many of whom had migrated over from browser games and social networks. Some, like DeNA Mobage, licensed existing brands to help give their efforts a little extra appeal, but most of these publishers had to start from scratch.

It took a little while, but some of these new brands caught on in a very big way. You would be hard-pressed to find a young Japanese person who hasn't at least heard of GungHo's Puzzle & Dragons or Mixi/XFLING's Monster Strike. Cygames has had lightning strike twice, first with Rage of Bahamut and again with Granblue Fantasy. Even some old faces have found success under new names, with games like Terra Battle from Mistwalker, the studio founded by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. The old kings like Square Enix, SEGA, and Capcom are left trying to play catch-up with these new kids, finding more stability and safety in their traditional markets. But you know, no one in Japan is ignoring mobile. It's too big to ignore. There's money on the table waiting to be made. Even Nintendo sees that.

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Here's the thing, though. For those companies who have built themselves up in the mobile market, those 30 million handheld owners are also money on the table waiting to be made. The lucrative kids demographic is gaining access to smart devices at an earlier age all the time, but there are still plenty of children whose parents understandably don't want to put a $500-1000 supercomputer in the sticky hands of a grade-schooler. Why wouldn't those kids like Puzzle & Dragons just as much as anyone else? But simply porting the games over directly is of questionable value. The 3DS (and the Vita) weren't really built for microtransactions in the same way smartphone apps are. Anyone who has played Pokemon Shuffle on both mobile and 3DS can tell you what a pain in the neck the latter can be if you're making semi-frequent purchases. Plus, the handheld market still shows reasonable support for full-priced retail games. So why not do as the Romans do?

I'm not surprised it was GungHo that took the first step. I've talked a lot about the big mobile successes coming from publishers with little prior experience in the traditional gaming market, but that doesn't quite fit when we're talking about GungHo. The company is relatively new and has its roots in social networking, but its 2004 partnership with (and eventual acquisition of) Game Arts added a lot of experience in the traditional gaming market to GungHo's pool. So when GungHo revealed at a fan festival in May of 2013 that Puzzle & Dragons would be getting a 3DS spin-off, it seemed like less of a shock and more of an inevitability.

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Titled Puzzle & Dragons Z, the game released in Japan on December 12th, 2013. It's an interesting example of how one might change a game built entirely around monetization through microtransactions into a full-priced, done-in-one experience. GungHo basically took the puzzle combat and team-building mechanics and dropped them into a Pokemon-inspired RPG. They also adopted the mobile version's method of portraying dungeons, so you won't be doing much exploring. The infamous gacha random draw system for getting new monsters has been largely removed, with enemy drops picking up the slack. Things like daily dungeons and events are handled through a separate NPC, and on the whole, it's a lot easier to build up and evolve your party. The story is pretty dull, and you can tell they were angling for a multimedia thing with the inclusion of an "adorable" sidekick monster. It's also kind of easy. One gets the impression that the game was designed for very young kids, without much of a budget put into it. That's fair. It's not like anyone knew how it would go.

It went very well, though. The game ended up selling over 1.5 million copies in Japan, which is quite impressive for a 3DS game without any prior base on the platform. Now, that's spit in the bucket compared to the money the mobile version brings in, but it's not bad money on its own, and there are a few other benefits to the game's existence, besides. Around this time, the first real rival to Puzzle & Dragons hit mobiles in Japan. Monster Strike had the weight of veteran Capcom director Yoshiki Okamoto and Mixi, Japan's own homegrown answer to Facebook, behind it. The game came out of the gates hard and still maintains a high ranking in the Japanese App Store more than three years later. Unlike GungHo, Mixi hadn't done any console games before, but I'm quite sure they noticed the success of Puzzle & Dragons Z as well as anyone did.

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Before we get to Mixi's effort, though, we have to go back to GungHo again. The mobile version of Puzzle & Dragons was no stranger to cross-promotions and collaborations, having played host to characters like Batman, the Angry Birds, Cloud Strife and Sephiroth, and more over the years. For their 3DS follow-up, they went for one of the biggest team-ups of all: Super Mario himself. While Puzzle & Dragons Z had been a success, I suspect GungHo had hoped for it to catch on in a more sustained way. It was set up like an RPG and sold like most of them do, with concentrated sales in the first few weeks and a massive drop-off after. The announcement of Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Edition in early 2015 felt like a reply to that.

Initially released in Japan on April 29th, 2015, Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Edition cuts away much of the extra fluff found in Puzzle & Dragons Z, leaving a stage-based experience that focused on the strengths of the original game. The whole thing was draped in a New Super Mario Bros. aesthetic, with the recruitable characters all being drawn from the Mario universe. Unfortunately, they didn't draw terribly deeply. Nintendo seems to be shy about using content from the various Mario RPGs, and it's too bad because this game really could have used a greater variety of enemies and characters. It's also bizarrely difficult. Unless you're a real pro at shuffling pieces around, you probably won't reach the end of the game. You might not even get halfway there. As before, the gacha elements are almost entirely out, with random drops and items from question blocks greasing the gears instead.

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While Japanese players had to buy these games separately, the rest of the world got a bundle with both Puzzle & Dragons 3DS games for one low price. Released on May 22, 2015, it remains the only instance of this sort of game getting a worldwide release. Puzzle & Dragons Z got a lively localization that makes it a bit more enjoyable for older players, while Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Edition stayed more or less as-is. While GungHo was probably hoping to reach a wider audience from these releases, neither the stand-alone Japanese Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Edition nor the overseas bundle sold all that well. We could speculate for days as to why, but I think the product wasn't a good fit for the platform or the audience it was aimed at. If I want to play straight-up Puzzle & Dragons, it's far easier to do that on my phone. Plus, I get a much greater variety of characters and a massive, nearly never-ending amount of content, all for the price of free. Even Mario can't make up for that, especially if he's too busy smacking me in the head with a claw hammer to make sure I'm having fun.

Later in 2015, Mixi finally tossed its hat into the 3DS ring with the release of Monster Strike for 3DS. Part of a media blitz that also involved an anime, Monster Strike 3DS is a relatively high budget game compared to GungHo's efforts. With full 3D graphics, plenty of areas you can walk around and explore in, and a design sense that owes more to Persona than Pokemon, it feels like the game is aimed at a slightly older crowd. Like Puzzle & Dragons, it largely carries over its battle and party building mechanics without many changes. It even retains its gacha system, though you obviously can't pay real money to get the needed currency. Japanese retailers must have been expecting big things, because the game shipped one million copies at launch. It sold through about half of those in the first week, but the fact that I was able to pick up a sealed copy of the game for under $9.99 suggests that the rest of those copies didn't move quite so well. Still, selling several hundred-thousand is nothing to sneeze at, particularly for a company that had literally no prior experience in that end of the business.

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For GungHo's next 3DS release of Puzzle & Dragons, they went back to what had worked for them with Puzzle & Dragons Z. Channeling Pokemon even harder, Puzzle & Dragons X released on July 28th, 2016 in two versions, Medal of the Gods and Medal of the Dragon. This time, GungHo changed quite a few things in the conversion. The basic rules are the same, but your character takes a much more active role in the battles. There's some real exploration, and the game is presented in polygonal graphics rather than sprites. It feels like a much bigger and more confident effort from GungHo, and is easily the best of the bunch that I've talked about here. Unfortunately, though the quality of the game is high, the sales didn't correspond. The first week of sales for the game were less than a fifth of the first game's, which makes me wonder if GungHo is going to bother doing another one of these. I suspect the Switch is going to be more microtransaction-friendly, so they might just put the mobile version on there and call it a day. I suppose we'll see.

Before you think the idea is being packed in, however, I have to point to two very big future projects along similar lines. In August of 2016, Cygames announced that they would be working with the amazing Platinum Games to create Granblue Fantasy Project Re: Link, a full-scale console game set in the world of the popular social RPG. With the talent involved, I have faith it will actually release and probably be at least a decent game. I'm not so sure about the next one. Mistwalker announced quite some time ago that they were making a console game based on Terra Battle, but we haven't seen much out of it so far, and news has been sparse. It's apparently still happening, but who knows when we'll see it and what form it will be in.

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Now, it's obviously nice for these publishers to earn some extra money, but as I mentioned earlier, the revenue potential on these releases is considerably smaller than what the mobile versions bring in. So why even make them? Wouldn't it be better to invest that effort in a new free-to-play mobile game, or even just expanded content for the existing ones? There are lots of possible reasons for these releases beyond the up-front sales, I think.

First of all, it helps spread the brand out to new eyes. As Nintendo is finding out, giving people a taste of a franchise can often lead them right back to the source for more. I'm sure plenty of kids who played Puzzle & Dragons Z on their 3DS machines three years ago have moved on to the mobile version. These games also often serve the role of helping to prop up a multimedia blitz, letting fans of the TV show or comics see the characters go on new adventures. It's quite common in Japan for toys, games, and TV shows to hit nearly simultaneously, and companies like Level-5 (Yo-Kai Watch, Inazuma Eleven) have made small fortunes from successes along this line.

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These games are also a great way of reaching a younger audience who might not have access to a smart device yet. Maybe you can't sell them IAP, but a customer is a customer, and they're likely to migrate to the real version when they can. The existence of these games also serves as a shield for criticisms about targeting young people with IAP-heavy brands. If your kid is excited about Monster Strike but you don't feel it's ethical to get them hooked on a free-to-play game, you can buy them a complete package for their handheld without any of that messy stuff. This has become important over the last several years as the Japanese government has taken an increasing interest in the idea of regulating social RPGs. Releasing a handful of more traditionally-structured games is something of a show of good faith. It also scoops up customers who might have been interested in the concept but are opposed to microtransaction monetization models for whatever reasons.

Finally, it simply might be a matter of pride. Mobile gaming is great, but I know I've personally talked with a number of small developers who feel like their games are more "real" when they launch them on consoles. Of those that I've spoken with, the few that manage to get a physical release through efforts like Limited Run Games feel a certain sort of beaming pride at seeing the actual physical copy of their game sitting on a shelf. I wouldn't be surprised if at least part of the purpose of these spin-offs is as a sort of vanity project.

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It's worth mentioning, however, that outside of the maybe-existent Terra Battle, all of the games I've talked about are based on the absolute cream of the crop of mobile earners. It's doubtful that lesser-known brands could meet with similar success by following this road. It's also hard not to notice that the sales trajectory across these games is moving downwards. That could be due to the age of the 3DS, as it is certainly reaching its twilight years. But it might also be due to the fact that most families have so many smart devices that even the younger kids can probably get their hands on a hand-me-down capable of playing the free-to-play versions of the games. Only time will tell the story.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this look at the other side of the coin. We all know the feeling when a popular console brand is changed into a free-to-play title. It makes me wonder, though. If kids who spent the last few years playing the mobile Puzzle & Dragons are given the 3DS version, do they feel a similar sort of shock? Are they dismayed by the lack of virtually infinite content and events? Do they miss the gacha pulls, and the thrill that comes from getting a windfall of precious premium currency? I guess I'll have to ask around and do a follow-up sometime.

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I'll wrap things up this week by calling attention to the first RPG Reload Play-Along, which is entering its final week. It's been an even bigger success than I had hoped, and it's been amazing watching players of all skill levels and familiarity with Final Fantasy coming together to enjoy the game. There's still time for you to start and maybe even finish, so drop in on the thread and get going! The February RPG Reload Play-Along will be announced next week in the RPG Reload, so you'd better start sharpening your swords. I don't have any clever dice-rolling gimmicks for this next game, so I hope the popularity of the January Play-Along doesn't cast too long of a shadow over the next. Please remember, the RPG Reload column is only possible through the generous support of our Patreon backers. If you can, and you feel we're worth it, please head on over to our page and subscribe.

To all you brave Reloaders, thanks for reading, and see you next week!

Next Week's Reload: The February RPG Reload Play-Along

  • Lickzy

    Great read. Thanks Shaun

  • walmartpolice

    Really sad to hear that about puzzle and dragon X.

    Nothing like putting in 500% more effort and getting a fifth of the payment.

  • HelperMonkey

    Interesting window on a market I'm totally ignorant of.
    I honestly had no awareness of the degree that things had shifted from console to handheld to mobile over there.
    Makes me even more curious about how things will play out with the Switch.

    • OrangutanKungfu

      Kind of explains the Switch, doesn't it? Nintendo sells way more handheld systems, but doesn't want to lose the cache of a home console. It's a very neat idea - classic Nintendo.

  • Michal Hochmajer

    "If kids who spent the last few years playing the mobile Puzzle & Dragons are given the 3DS version, do they feel a similar sort of shock? Are they dismayed by the lack of virtually infinite content and events? Do they miss the gacha pulls, and the thrill that comes from getting a windfall of precious premium currency?"

    I don't think, kids are thinking this way.

    Small kid 5 - 8? has no borders and don't understand concept of addiction. Just wants everything now! Doesn't matter, if it is paid or not, it contains ads or whatsoever. They will never pay for anything, at this age. So conflict starts, when you will not give them what they want. Sister's kids (twins) work exactly like that.

    Kid 8 - 13? has some social limits but still don't fully understand concept of addiction. They will barely pay for anything, at this age too. Sister's older kid is working same way.

    Kid 13 - 18? know almost everything necessary for living. So if they want something, they will achieve it. If they don't have money to achieve it, they will either gain money or steal the thing. Highly depends on society, you are living in and opportunity.

    I can talk about first two groups right off the bat. Give them something to play (paid game), they are happy. Else? They play anything F2P. ANYTHING! Doesn't matter what. Only merit is, what they want right now! If I give to younger twin boys princess in pink dress as main heroine they will play it. If I give older one (girl) tanks to play, she will be playing them too. No shock whatsoever! They are enjoying time playing by my side, but until you will give them money or buy them specific thing, they don't mind crappy games.

    Disclaimer: No harm caused during this research on any kid (nor family members neither randomly selected around).

    One last thing I want to talk about. What is wrong about nowadays f2p games? We all know it, but it is good idea to remember!

    Luckily, three games of the same brand were released past years, so it was great opportunity to research (2 years of playing).

    Record keeper - surprisingly well made game mechanics, strong story background(all ff stories), terrible weapon gatcha

    Brave exvius - very typical F2P game in every way

    Mobius - Great graphics, simplistic game system, expensive upfront monetization

    Thanks to Shaun's articles, I've found my way to Final Fantasy universe and it is main reason, why I've tested those F2P derivates.
    I did play only ff10, Tactics and few hours of 13 before.
    I can talk hours about these games and what went wrong/right. But conclusion will be more simple.
    I've purchased Final Fantasy 6 after playing all mentioned above (classic and f2p). Despite knowing story (wiki, record keeper, Shaun's articles), visiting FF6 world just blew my mind in almost every way! Would prefer original sprites a bit, but animations saves it!
    Here, You have it!

    Have you ever seen such influential and deep f2p game? World of Warcraft? Hearthstone? Maybe, if you like blunt uniformity, endless grinding (no, i am not talking about few hours of grinding in total in ff 6 to beat kefka’s tower 🙂 ), mass often toxic communities...

    Also.
    Whole f2p concept as longevity is misunderstood. It is exact opposite! Easier to make, easier to kill (EMEK)! No real depth (despite in store description). Game design in these games is built around EMEK system. Stamina system and bonuses (attach people to only one product). Amount of same content (just for sake of having something to play).
    Monetization system is shady, because you don't see, how far it can go (in game currency, amount of content, longevity)!
    F2P developers are no longer making worlds/games, they are making monetization systems (no matter how famous names are behind). But it isn't developers fault, without doing so, they can't make games at all nowadays. It is purely business decision.
    Traditional upfront paying system fails in long run and it is expensive to keep interest in the game. So, what to do?
    Hybrid systems like adding ads or free to download with paying for the rest of the game are barely working (actually, it takes under nowadays market conditions worse of the both worlds).

    I was thinking about this long time and here I put my two cents in.
    I know drawbacks (especially at the beginning).

    phase 1:
    Make App "ONE" with adds to taste what you offer. Just tiny portion, exchangable content, sort of continuous tech demo.

    phase 2:
    Make App "SECOND", sort of hub, which will contain all your games/specific type of games and will be offered for one buck monthly.
    This should work exactly as music nowadays. For offline gaming, i will download what i want (trip, work travel etc.). But on cheap monthly subscription model (1 buck).

    Ideal situation:
    phase 1
    1-3 developers have great idea. They will create tiny portion of the game (app ONE) in their spare time. No rush here, just showing what you are capable of, attract some attention, gather reactions and maybe build community. Remember what I wrote about kids and what they play? If this project looks viable, you can continue making new content in spare time as long as you want (ads brings some money). Just switch content from time to time in App ONE. Yes this is exactly what F2P market is doing, except monetisation system.
    If you ever reach point, where enough people is interested in the game, and you have enough content...

    phase 2
    Offer all your content in app SECOND for 1 buck monthly. You already can build narrative game from your content? Good. Not only that, but you have all the worlds time to shape it. Depends on income, but you can add new content same way as in phase 1, or you can shape what you already have. With such an approach, you can also outsource content depend on actual income, if possible/neccesary. And you will be maximally flexible. You have also direct feedback. People will not be paying for little that often, but over time, when your game is worthy, they will come back. Two/four times per year? Why would they come back? Because your library in app ONE and SECOND is changing/growing/improving over time.

    If all small developers do that, it will cause revolution in mobile game industry.

    As free gamer, i will have access to certain amount of free content from different sources (solves kids approach).

    As paying gamer, i will be playing things I want for a cheap price and directly support developer which I think is worthy/trusted (solves problem of gamers who love their 60 bucks old games as we usually play these from time to time over years, but older games are not playable on new systems).

    As indie developer, i will benefit in many different ways (this whole system is built upon idea of indie).

    As app store, no mess with billion different games as one developer = two games. Better organization. Introducing more like developer then game itself.

    As big publishers, there is no real benefit out of it, but it is potential obstacle for others.

    Maybe it doesn't seem, but it is pretty self correcting system. I think, if we start today, in less then 9 years, f2p games disappear completely and at the end, only really best developers will stay.
    With this system, DEVELOPERS will be focusing on making game design again. Not business design. It should also potentially deter big business.
    I am not saying, it is possible to achieve this immediately, but we can consider this as future way of things. There are drawbacks same as nowadays, but have some counter parts which are missing today.

    Read up to here? Welcome in my tiny mad world. 🙂

    • curtisrshideler

      I'm a big Final Fantasy fan as well. And thanks to my mobile devices, I'm finally playing the classics. But I've also tried the F2P games. The lack of a finished, solid product along with the stamina and shallowness leave me disappointed when I play those F2P titles. Heck, I had more fun with FF All the Bravest. $60 of fun because it's offline and I have it all on my devices. But if Square-Enix never made another premium mobile game and only F2P or subscription-based from here on out, I probably wouldn't spend another dollar on their games. I'd rather play what I have and emulate the oldies that they won't offer. Having a self-contained, offline experience that I can adventure through is part of the joy in experiencing games on mobile for me. Without that, it almost feels too temporary, and thus meaningless to even spend much time or money on it.

    • HelperMonkey

      I read all of that, Michal! And I agree with a lot of your thoughts.
      One problem with a subscription model for games is that the AppStore itself isn't really set up for it. Apple doesn't grant or rescind access to an app based on continued payment. So a subscription based game, or a kind of "game hub" as you suggest, would likely have to be an app that streamed content from a remote server. That's probably achievable, but it's complicated. And especially so for a small developer.
      Of course, many music services do this with a collection of independent artists, and they can distribute payment to specific artists as appropriate to the business they generate. So maybe at some point there will be a similar service for games on mobile, where the app/service/host could distribute revenue to multiple developers based on hours played of a given game.
      It's definitely a problem that deserves thought, because there are a lot of us who value self-contained game experiences and the various creative contributions of indie developers, but the current mobile market is just not fertile enough ground to make those efforts reliably profitable.

      • Michal Hochmajer

        I agree. Own server isn't solution (money, time, worldwide access etc.), neither renting servers (per data cost is expensive as hell, considering of saving/access your whole library of games). So, we are certainly not there yet. But.

        1. Apple already allows subscription for apps/games.
        2. Apple allows On Demand Resources (content is on apple servers)

        I know that On Demand Resources is only temporary and that's where Apple can change everything. Plenty people yell that Apple is doing poorly or against gamers etc. And I have plenty to say against Apples work/support. But imagine if Apple change one little thing.

        On Demand Resources become normal server for developers. Just download additional content in your app from appstore and subscription model to one your app. Voila.

        Streaming services solves nothing (will end exactly like publisher/developer relationship). I was considering a lot of things and as I mentioned this system is primarly focused on creating good environment for small/medium independent teams and gamers/appstore. Even merging smaller team will inevitable lead only to developer/publisher relationship. But in such environment, bad developer move can be punished fast.

      • HelperMonkey

        It always seems that with some of the best options and ideas for improving things it ultimately comes down to crossing our fingers and hoping that Apple actually, seriously decides to take an interest in iOS as a gaming platform.

      • Michal Hochmajer

        I don't think, that only Apple is at fault here.

        Honestly? I will be probably very short on the budget side this year, but I am considering Nintendo Switch just because of games (no rush, fire emblem will be released around 2018).

  • curtisrshideler

    Great, fresh look at the market. Really puts into perspective how much of an older gaming mindset I have as a guy in his thirties. It is nice having the disposable income to buy many things that I want when I want them. But it's also nice being able to refrain from spending. When it comes to F2P, it's so much easier to not care about the game, characters, etc. A decade from now, I won't remember or care much about that lead guy in Möbius FF. But I'll forever be able to recite the tale of Zidane and his troupe. I hope to expose my kids to the latter someday and limit their intake of the former... even if just for my wallet's sake.

  • RHess00

    Nice article Shaun. Very interesting to see how things differ in Japan.

  • Thiago

    This was a good article, but I was expecting it was about something completely different: freemium games on mobiles that had premium spin-offs ON MOBILE. But I don't such a thing exists? (Yet?)