Square Enix has never been one to cave into market demand. While the most average games spiral around the $1-$5 range in the mobile marketplaces, the Japanese RPG giant continues to charge anywhere from $18-$44 for the most expensive in its line up. Not surprisingly, iOS and Android users are unimpressed with Square Enix's pricing plans, and not a single expensive game finds itself on the top 200 sales charts.
$30 for Final Fantasy Dimensions, a chapter based JRPG made up to look like an old school SNES Final Fantasy game. $44 for all the content to Demon's Score, officially making it more than a 3Ds game. $20 for a five year port of The World Ends With You, and $18 for a fifteen-year-old port of Final Fantasy Tactics. Something doesn't quite add up right.
However, the company refuses to budge on their position, labeling the market as "evolving," which in Square Enix's arrogance could means "waiting for everyone else to catch up." Little do they comprehend that the iOS and Android markets are heading in the opposite direction and thriving on cheap games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope.
In a strange interview with Kotaku, Jason Schreier put a Square Enix of Japan representative under the Q&A grindstone to get some answers as to why Square Enix won't play ball nicely with everyone else.
"The mobile marketplace is maturing and frequently changing. As the devices increase in capability, the quality of gaming experiences we provide increases as well. Each game is priced individually and evaluated based on the type of game, depth and overall experience it provides for players. Some of our higher priced titles offer more than 60+ hours of game time with rich storylines, high quality graphics and challenging, diverse combat."
So, Square Enix holds their games in a much higher regard than others do. I don't especially blame them; Final Fantasy Tactics and The World Ends With You are two of my favorite games the company has ever developed. However, in the iPhone market, I can get just as much enjoyment out of a $3 option like Rebirth of Fortune on my short commute to work, and in fact, it's much more in line with the whole "time wasting" viewpoint of iPhone games.
I expect there is a lot of Japanese mentality somewhere hiding in Square Enix's reasoning. In Japan, gamers are charged way more for their games than Americans are, but they don't complain because there are not that many other options to turn to. However, Americans don't sit idly by and support forced inflation by a company bullying their way into a new market. There's a totally different attitude towards gaming companies between the two countries, and the iOS, being mostly made of Americans, is territory Square Enix still has yet to wrap its big head around.
It's a bizarre interview with a lot of question dodging and fun little quips like this. Give it a read.
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