Just about anyone with access to electricity is carrying a video game console in their pockets today. No, I’m not talking about the GameBoy Micro or one of those weird LCD screen-thingies you’d find at a dodgy Joburg fleamarket, but rather that phone that you happen to spend a chunk of your salary on each month as you pay if off.
Smartphones have seen an amazing leap in the power to portability ratio these days, with hardware that can easily replicate some decent visuals with a few neat ideas. It’s a platform that video game developers cannot ignore, with even Nintendo jumping into the fray with the announcement of an iOS Super Mario game.
And for the last couple of years, smartphones have been home to many smaller games from other publishers ranging from Ubisoft to Capcom. One developer and publisher that wants to do more with the platform however? Square Enix, who are looking towards mobile devices as a more substantial way of doing business in the future.
“Currently, the global market for smart device games is dominated by F2P (free to play) games, and the market for premium games that players pay to purchase is practically nonexistent,” Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda said in an annual report PDF via NeoGAF and GameSpot.
However, our group has for some time been offering premium games for smart devices, including brand-new titles. When viewed across the group, these offerings represent a considerable volume of earnings.
Initial development costs for both F2P and premium games are roughly the same as or even higher than those for new games for dedicated handheld game machines,” he said. “In other words, the level of investment required cannot be considered low risk. The risk involved in F2P games is even higher than for premium games because of the need to spend on ongoing operational and additional development efforts.
But the obvious takeaway here? That mobile games have quickly commandeered a slice of the market that was usually reserved for handheld titles:
Continuing the comparison with dedicated handheld game machines, we note that significant advances have been made in both the specs and operability of smart devices and that this evolution is likely to continue unabated. Moreover, smart devices have a much greater installed base globally than dedicated handheld game machines. The smartphone-native generation already sees smart devices as all-in-one game consoles.
For these reasons, it makes sense for game manufacturers such as ourselves to supply games that we have traditionally developed for dedicated handheld game machines not only for such consoles but also for multipurpose smart devices.
So what kind of games would Square Enix dip into for a deeper focus on smartphones? According to Matsuda, it’s time to take a look at some of the RPGs which made Square Enix a force to be reckoned with:
By releasing new RPGs not only for dedicated handheld game machines but also for smart devices, we hope to develop the premium game market into a pillar of our business on a par with the F2P market. In so doing, we believe that we can enrich the portable game market in the broader sense in order to respond to a variety of customer needs.
Look, when you’ve got a market that has hundreds of millions of potential consumers, you can’t ignore those numbers. The double-edged sword here however is that people would rather spend a few bucks on a cup of coffee than they would on a game. Likewise, developers these days are struggling to get these games noticed without having to resort to some freemium trickery.
Final Fantasy: All The Bravest rings a few bells. Less of that then in the future please, Square Enix. After all, I’d gladly pay a few bucks for games that are more like recent offerings such as Hitman Go. And Sleeping Dogs Pork Bun Simulator.
Last Updated: September 26, 2016