Hi. I have a question concerning price tags on the minis store. Now for the developers that port iPhone games to the PSP, why is the Mini version more expensive than the iPhone version? There exactly the same game and how are you able to price a game on the iPhone at 99 cents and not do the same for the PSP? Is is Sony's fault? Please let us know. Im just curious about this issue.
Serious question for PSP Mini developers(41 posts) (12 voices)
Well, for PSPminis you have to get proper dev kits and whatnot. and also you have to submit to the ratings boards.
It's been discussed here before, I'll echo some of my previous statements.
The most obvious reason is what raonak points out,
to develop for the Iphone, you can download the free developement kit, make a game, and pay 99$ to get it up on the appstore (I believe) (because they are 'apps' and not games, they can get away with not being rated by ESRB or PEGI).
Minis are different, the developement kits cost about $1500, and to get it rated by the ESRB (required to release the game in North America) is about $800 and I forget exactly how much it is to get it rated by PEGI (required to release the game pretty much everywhere else) but its not too different from the ESRB I believe.
and those are In addition to the costs of developing the game.
I'm pretty sure that is the reason for the launch prices of minis being so high (5.99-$10) as minis were meant to attract developers with next to no money, and I'm willing to bet that when they realized that their going to need to make almost $3000 just to cover the costs of getting one game out there, they priced it higher than the Iphone counter parts.
Flash to now, the games are a little cheaper (about half as much as they were on launch), but still expensive. Two additional reasons for this: 1. "the average game is more expensive than on the IOS on minis; we can get away with our game being more expensive than on the IOS because its not like by pricing it at $5 instead of 1$ we will be doing anything worse than the average developer is (they're all doing it too)."
2. Minis don't sell nearly enough as things on the Iphone, so to make an equal amount of money, Developers must price their games much higher on minis.
([sarcasm]what a solution! its not like making them cheap would help them sell....[/sarcasm])
Shazbots, I hope this small explanation of the possible reasons for this helps you understand why the Minis economy sucks. I also hope developers try to fix this, as its one of the things destroying Minis reputation (c'mon devs! you've gotta realize that when a game it a dollar, it makes it so much easier to recommend!).
Wow thanks that explains it all. Sony needs to change the politics of the Minis system. They will be better off if they summited the Minis as applications and not games to avoid the hefty fees by the ESRB. Only time will tell on how the minis program will evolve.
Carson, you're missing one key point: nobody actually wants to sell their games for a buck or less, even on the iOS App Store (the only possible exceptions being developers who know already that their games will sell a whole freaking lot--in which case they have incentive to price higher). If you're a developer with a tiny budget, and you have no idea whether people will buy your game even at a pittance (considering the huge amount of App Store competition also selling at a pittance), do you really want to price it so low that it turns out you don't make any money on it? The App Store's "Race to the Bottom" was a market movement driven by developer desperation in the face of an overwhelming amount of competition, along with 0 marketing budget ("Maybe if it's really cheap, it will sell?! Please let it work!"), rather than being an intentional move controlled by Apple. I consider App Store pricing to be a disaster in terms of what it did for people's valuation of intellectual property. I mean, really, a $5 game is already cheaper than a single lunch, but now it's considered expensive on the App Store.
Shazbots, I think you've misconstrued what Carson said. It is not that Sony was forced by some higher agency to offer Minis as games and not "apps"; Sony, as a major game industry participant, decided of its own will to require Minis to be rated. To do otherwise would have meant that Sony no longer believed in the game developer/publisher community that it was already a part of. Apple, a relative newcomer in gaming, just plays by its own rules and so doesn't require any external ratings. Bottom line, Sony will not remove the Minis ratings requirement unless they suddenly decide to stop requiring ratings on all PlayStation games, effectively snubbing the ESA and ESRB (and also sending a really, really bad message to American parents and Congress, by the way).
It's a shame a new 5$ game is now considered a high price game. Of course you have PS1 titles that are worth the same price (or slightly more) and with a lot more replay value...but they are old games and that's what happens : they sell for less.
Unfortunately mini developers cannot do a game to compete with FF VII in term of scope, so please do not judge mini game the equivalent of PS1 title because they are not.
As for the apple store, onmode-ky resumes it well : nobody actually wants to sell their games for a buck or less. It's just a market tendency within the store. And personnaly, I think it's bad overall. But of course that's my opinion.
Don't be greedy! :)
yes onmode-ky, you do seem to be right, the 99 cent apple games are really because its the only way to compete, and I guess it would be unfair to most developers to have to sell them at that price, it really seems impossible to be fair to the majority of developers while making the majority consumers feel like their always getting a good deal.
I suppose the ultimate solution, would be for the IOS games to be more expensive, but we all know its not going to happen, now that we've had a taste of gaming for a dollar, value has been redefined, even if its not fair to the devs, people will always think, "I can get this for a dollar, therefore, that for five, is a ripoff", and with that thought in mind is where my plea for cheap games comes from, I apologize for it, because it actually is unfair to the developers, but its hard not to think like that.
About the rating fees:
I really think that rather than abandoning the esrb (which isnt wise) people should urge them to give smaller developers a break on the hefty fees, would it really be so difficult to allow a simple $100 (or less) fee to games with no budget outside of the fee's of the Dev kit?
to my understanding, the games are rated by one of several people (with a great understanding of what to rate what), the dev's send them video's of the most inappropriate content, which imo shouldn't even take an hour to review (especially for smaller games), then the representative from the ESRB gives the company permission to use the appropriate logo on the game.
how long does that take? an hour or two? and the devs pay $800 for that? so the company makes.... more than enough money to get by, I assume. Why do they need to charge so much for minis, where the average game needs to get 400 sales to cover that (more after sony gets a cut of the revenue)
I'll chip in here if I may. :)
It's also worth pointing out that you're unable to monetise minis titles as you can on an iphone game. While a game can be 'given away' or priced very low on iphone, the developer is also able to target the people who really enjoy their game and earn some $$$ by encouraging them to buy in-game content that enriches their experience IF they wish to do so. This allows all free players to enjoy a game and maybe then mention it to friends who could then try the game and go on to become paying customers. This is NOT something that's supported by minis. In game ads are another area where devs can try and make money and where minis are unable to compete. These are two areas that I'd like to see down the line to help minis reach maturity and at least some kind of parity with the App Store - although I fear this shall forever remain a distant dream. ;)
Sadly, it's now very hard for anyone to think about creating games full time in the post-iphone DDL market in general without measures of these kinds, especially when you consider the pricing that's considered 'acceptable' out there. I've seen figures for all minis sales, and with VERY few exceptions, no one is making the big bucks, believe me! I guess I'm trying to say that the current minis prices are more about dev survival than they are about ripping anyone off. While this possibly isn't true in all cases (I'm not THAT naive!) I think most people charge what they do because they basically HAVE to. :(
I'd also like to echo the sentiment about people's expectations regarding 'value'. It's kind of sad that $5 is seen as a rip-off for people's hard work over a period of months of years these days. I'm a victim of this behaviour myself, believe me! I've probably paid for around 5 iphone games having downloaded around 100 - and a few years back I'd have paid for many more I think. These are hard times we're living in I guess, but the fact that content is now perceived as essentially valueless doesn't help - another lovely 'gift' from iTunes/the App Store culture we now live in. </sarcasm>
Right, it's late and it's a school night, so off to bed I think! :)
I hope this post gives a little insight into why I think minis cost a little more, anyway.
*** Disclaimer: Everything expressed in this post is MY opinion and not necessarily that of Laughing Jackal. I am also very tired and may come across as grumpier than my default level of grumpiness. My opinion may very well change in the morning. ***
I don't really have anything new to add, except to say that I'm in agreement with the points raised by @evanac and @onmode-ky, in that the AppStore, thanks to the race to the bottom mentality of many of the earlier "poineers", have set a precedent that completely devalues the hard work of game *good* developers.
I don't think it's right to charge lots of minis, but nor do I think it's right that charging more than 0.99c is seen as a "rip-off". Personally, I think if a game is only *worth* 0.99c, it shouldn't even be released.
One other thing, it's easier for a iPhone game to "go viral". I've seen tweets by people I follow with high scores for games like Fruit Ninja and Canabalt. Being more connected in this way is a form of promotion that it not available to minis, thus, as @evanac says, the market is still smaller.
Well to is defense the Minis market is still the new kid on the block. But evanac your comment is dead on. Im one of those few people who DOES NOT download games for FREE off of some website, I actually pay for my games because I know how hard it is to make video games and how little this developers are appreciated for their efforts. The trend that Im seeing with the App store is alarming to say the least, the fact that video games are price so low is devaluing the game industry, 99 cents or $5 for a game is not right, how are developers suppose to survive on this price tags? By releasing a ton of games and hoping that at least one game sells well enough? Has the video industry lost its respect towards their profession? Is sad how good intentions always end up hurting everyone in the end.
All the important things have already been said, but I will also add that with all the iPhone ports that we are working on - for example Blimp: The Flying Adventures, we are always adding new features to the original games.
Blimp will have some improvements in graphics, new game modes, cut scenes, controls have been tweaked to be a perfect fit for PSP, etc to justify the higher price tag. Simply the Blimp you will be able to buy for PSP will be a much bigger and better package than the Blimp for iPhone.
That is our take on the higher price point.
I think that there are ways for you to make money from free games using the 'freemium' model I outlined in my last post (ergh, I hate that word though!).
At least I *hope* there are, or we're all doomed!! ;)
My biggest concern is for those who're more concerned with making a cool game than having the experience or interest or energy to pour into exploring how to make money in these new ways. ngmoco may lead the way is that field, but who's got the resources or inclination to follow them - and who even wants to? What happens to those guys? They are forced to remain hobbyists I guess... :(
Anyhow, here, in a nutshell, is my formula for success with minis (everybody listening?). Here goes:
minis + live updates + DLC + billable content x social network integration = Fixed
If this equation is ever acted upon by SCE then minis will be a viable alternative. What we really need is for minis to be a separate virtual platform that sits on top of PSN and is platform agnostic, allowing all these cool features to work on PSP/PS3/whatever-the-hell-other-Sony-platform-comes-along.
Now THAT would be cool...
...and I'll wake up any second. ;)
Sounds interesting. How are you distinguishing between 'live updates' and DLC?
In your model, how would you anticipate the commercialisation of social network integration working?
Live updates don't necessarily have to involve DLC. I was really referring to the ability for devs to update their game to adjust gameplay (e.g. Ace) or fix an issue (e.g. Vibes) in such a way that - the next time the user boots the game - the update will be automatically applied and the user won't have to have been told about it via the web, and then have to apply the update manually.
All that kind of stuff should be handled automatically so no players will miss out (as they currently risk doing with 'Ace Armstrong' (for example) if they aren't aware of the update that's coming).
DLC is just that: if a team wants to say thanks to the community for buying their game by adding extra items, levels, game modes, they should be able to. The difference between DLC and live updates is that with DLC its up to the player to choose to download (and maybe purchase if it's not free) this content. The live updates are out of the player's hands and are applied arbitrarily the next time they power the game up (e.g. as with XLBA titles).
Regarding social network integration, although there are ways for this to be monetised by using the network to link between players and encourage purchasing, that's all a bit sinister IMO. I'm more interested in the self-marketing opportunities this offers. If I am enjoying a game with FB/Twitter integration and I can tell my friends about it right away, as I am playing the game, I am far more likely to do so. I don't have to think of doing it later. Similarly, if I can rate a game actually within the game menus, I am more likely to do it (and how many people never rate downloaded games?).
These elements of S.N. interactivity really help raise product awareness and - hopefully - can make a game that bit more successful if it's a good title in the first place. Similarly, they can kill it stone dead if it's a stinker, but surely that's just as good for the community. Power to the people, and all that! ;)
Hope that clears things up. I have a DREAM, people!! ;)
Sadly, it'll almost certainly remain just that... :(
the update will be automatically applied and the user won't have to have been told about it via the web, and then have to apply the update manually.
Like Steam on the PC/Mac? Sounds good to me. I agree, autoupdating of games is something we really should have in this day & age. We take it for granted in the PC space but we really should have it on all internet-connected consoles as well.
Isnt that just what the PS3 does to update?
That's right, but I think this should apply to any game DL'd from the Store. Why should minis be the exception just because they're, well, 'mini'?
The excuse for not including any online feature in minis is always the cross platform issues experienced between PSP/PS3. I am proposing that these be eliminated by creating a virtual minis platform that sits between PSN and your console (be it PSP or PS3). That's right; I'm thinking BIG.
I am suggesting that SCEE/SCEA can future proof this minis venture of theirs and ensure a greater take up by gamers by including a full-blooded 'minis platform' that runs on both PSP and PS3 and allows for a kind of 'minis-parity' between both consoles.
Imagine it: multiplayer games between PSP and PS3 users, live updates, premium DLC, free add ons, bragging to your friends with new high scores, or prompting them to buy an awesome title via in-game Facebook integration, online leaderboards, etc.
This could really be something - it could allow the flexibility for lower price points or freemium games if devs were so inclined and, as Volcane said, basically work like a PSN Steam. It could be downloaded from the store or be included as part of a territory wide mandatory update to the XMB (bit less likely to happen).
This would also future-proof the minis/indie dev scene on PSN to some degree. If this platform ran on top of PSN as a stand alone which you could download and from there download/run/MP your minis titles, that would kick ass and allow the service as a whole to be lifted onto new consoles, improved as time passes, etc.
Ambitious I know, which is why it'll never happen! ;)
Blimey, that's at least two walls of text in a day. I will be getting in trouble with the boss at this rate... ;)
......You're the developer, right? The guy in contact with Sony?
GET them to do that!
If you want to start a petition, I'll sign! :)
In fact, I think everyone here would!
I've already asked, believe me! :)
This is the kind of thing that everyone who's thought to ask has raised with SCEE in the past and they're aware of the demand for a service of this type - BUT we have to bear a few things in mind:
First of all, SCE is a huge multinational corporation and I don't think SCEE can just go ahead and say: "we're going to build this new multi-console virtual platform to play and support indie games - that's cool with everyone, right?" without running it past SCEI first (and probably SCEA too, who don't really like minis IMO).
This sort of discussion takes TIME but is a conversation I'd at least like to try and prod into taking place.
Beyond that, they've then got to build the thing, a task which I don't envy anyone. Even MS haven't done this yet. The nearest thing I can think of is the App Store working on iPhone/iPad, but even that's not the full ticket.
Maybe MS will deal with this in part with the planned Zune compatibility with XBL, I don't know.
Unfortunately, neither of the examples above help us with creating a indie dev platform (minis based or otherwise).
Personally (as you may have already guessed) I believe that a stand-alone platform of this type - albeit one that runs on a particlarly hardware manufacturers machines - is where the future is, and the App Store is leading the way.
I believe we'll eventually see other platforms that use the internet as a mechanism through which they operate but which are essentially separate from it, safe and straight forward to use, allow for far more social network integration and shared participation/competition, and - crucially - are platform agnostic.
By all means I will raise this issue again with our AM at Sony but I think glaciers are capable of quicker movement than a company of SCE's size - even with all the will to help devs in the world... and Sony are probably the best console manufacturer when it comes to supporting devs, at least in my experience.
I would be surprised if they aren't already looking towards this kind of thing for the future - especially in light of Apple's success. Whether we'll see this in this hardware generation is another matter altogether.
Blimey, I really have been monopolising this topic/forum today! Maybe this is the kind of thing I should reserve for the LJ Blog?
I just don't know anymore!! ;)
That was a long post, so if the above makes any sense whatsoever I'll be ******* amazed! :)
Blimey, I really have been monopolising this topic/forum today! Maybe this is the kind of thing I should reserve for the LJ Blog?
I just don't know anymore!! ;)
Nah, you provide some pretty good insight.
You can go ahead and write a book on here.
I was particularly referring to the DLC thing, rather than social network integration,
the 'freemium' system of free games, and paid DLC that greatly expand upon the game is one that sounds particularly useful (at least get us some demos's).
A while ago I also mentioned that I would like to see a Super Gameboy approach taken with minis (but, that was a lie, I would actually REALLY like to see it happen.), where the mini would contain code 'hidden' from the psp (in other words, only the ps3's emulator could access it), to allow for things like dual analog controls for games that could use them (you know who you are!) (Age of Zombies, are you even listening?!), etc.
I say we really should urge sce to upgrade minis in the ways you describe,
and I know you say you have been, but I say we need to REALLY urge them.
Like, Idk, get a list of 1000 names of people who think it would improve the quality of the playstation platforms, I'll even make them up myself!
Or we could try actually finding them.
Either way, the more you talk about it, the more I want it to happen.
and using that logic, by now, I should REALLY want it to happen. ;D
@evanac : +1 like. Some UGC mechanisms would be awesome too.
Hopefully with the eventual announcement of the PSP2, they'll push minis as one of the main features.
That could also mean that the minis platform could get an overhawl. leaderboards, dlc, TROPHIES!
Everything has pretty much been said by @evanac and others.
Below is my bullet-point list of suggestions to Sony:
To make shopping more attractive:
- Have MediaGo prominently advertised on sony.com, playstation.com, mediago.com, and easier to install and manipulate. Have it feature PS3 contents as well.
- Make the Playstation Store contents web-browsable.
- Have a (more) regularly updated Top 100.
- Display screenshots and/or videos prominently when browsing games.
- Allow user comments (global, per language).
- Allow free demo versions (or time-limited demos).
To enhance the "minis" gaming experience and business model:
- Allow downloadable contents.
- Allow subscription-based and freemium models.
- Allow multiplayer games.
- Implement trophies, leaderboards, and social network integration.
- Implement a live update mechanism.
- Allow PS3-specific "minis" and hybrid "minis".
To make developers' life easier:
- Make development possible on production devices.
- Negotiate simpler and cheaper rating processes with PEGI and ESRB.
- Have only one submission and approval process with SCE for a worldwide release.
- Have a web-based interface for developers to manage their products: update store information, submit updates, change price, track sales, request promotion codes.
I am sure that Sony is already well aware of these possible improvements. As has been said, big corporations tend to move slowly, but I hope that some improvements will come along with the next generation of hardware.
Great suggestions Yan. I think Sony could definitely do more to improve (a) MediaGo and (b) promotion of PSN in general.
I would like to see some Steam-type improvements to PSN, such as cross-game chatting and persistant achievements.
I'm a big mod lover so I would also like to see much better support for community created content within the Sony ecosystem. Gravity Crash Portable (and PS3 version) did a great job regarding the publication and accessibility of custom levels (given the current restraints). I would love to see Sony make it much easier for developers to support custom content generation, publication, ratings & feedback.
I'm not a PSP mini developer (although I did aspire to a couple of months ago), but I am currently developing an original RPG for Android. That's why I still check this site often to monitor trends in portable games. And reading this thread (especially the earlier posts) makes my heart weep.
I'm seeing prices of $4.99, $5.99, and $6.99 and am worried about reaching break-even. It isn't like the old days of casual PC games where you can sell something for $20 and even if only 100 people buy it, at least you can survive the month. With the new iphone and XBLA ecosystem and $1 games, you HAVE to reach top of charts upon release otherwise you will sink to the bottom and will probably only get 20 bucks for all your efforts.
If all I wanted to do was make a farting zombie app, then I wouldn't care so much since I can crank something out in two weeks for $0 and laugh as it takes the charts by storm. But instead I'm spending about $6,000 of my own money for art assets just to make the game I've always wanted to make -- the kind of game that I cherished in my teenage years, the epic single player RPG. I know I'm foolish because I'll be competing with the successful Zenonia, all the PSOne classics, not to mention all the unauthorized playable ROMs of classic games. But it's just something that I just have to do in my lifetime and something I can be proud of even if nobody else cares.
I gave up on my wishful thinking for PSP minis development since that will occur cost of the additional $3,000 like what is mentioned. I also don't live in a country covered by the minis program, so will have to fly to one that does.
I mean people everywhere toss sales of 300,000 and up for all the hit games but they fail to recognize that the vast majority of non-hit titles may even fail to meet 5,000 sales. That is why it is absolutely crucial for me to reach break-even at at 1,000 sales or lower.
(And yes 6,000 is already really cheap for the amount of art assets I'm getting and the professionalism of the freelancers I'm working with). It's just so sad that while prices for basic commodies go up, the value for people's hard work -- whether labor or intellectual property -- go down.
I'm sorry that I turned this thread into my personal venting station (Hi, evanac!), but I just want to express an opinion of someone even more hobby-oriented than the majority of the Minis devs here. I've given up on wanting to make games for a living. But I will release that magnum opus next year even if I skip a couple of meals. I'm not going to disclose it yet, but I hope you will hear about it from other sources when the time comes.
Good suggestions all - Hopefully this will happen one day although, as you say, it will probably be on the next hardware iteration if it does happen.
Good for you - I admire your dedication and hope everything goes well. You're right about sales figures. With the current model (i.e. on iPhone), I fear it tends to be a case of smash hit or massive fail with nothing much to speak of in between. :(
Just wanted to wish you well with the RPG project! :-)
Perhaps the only way to have a commercial success with the Sony Minis program is to measure the return on investment across several titles. The initial investment in asset creation and other development costs required to create a new IP could be used to create (say) three games/episodes based upon that same content.
The first episode may be a loss leader when viewed on it's own, but is what is used to inform the community about the new IP and create an initial base of committed players. Ideally the revenue generated by the first title will be sufficient to cover the development costs of the second episode (which should be much lower than the first episode because largely the same assets are being used). The second & third episodes are the titles that build up the customer base. By the release of episode three then you'll (hopefully) start to generate actual revenue.
Or maybe another approach is to swallow your pride and produce one of those low brow mass appeal zombie farting apps that caters to the lowest common denominator. This wouldn't cost much to develop (in time, energy or money) but would stand a fair chance of generating a chunk of revenue that could be used to fund the development of the game that you really care about. If the zombie farting apps are reasonably trival to make then why not produce a new one every couple of months or so to keep topping up the funds? From a professional pride perspective, no one will remember "Zombie Fartoid #24" once you take the world by storm upon releasing your 'real' game. Also, no one said you had to use your real name when publishing "Zombie Farting Madness: The Revenge" :-)
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