Wait, what? Infinity Blade? How can a franchise of games that exists solely on the iOS platform be more profitable than Gears of War? According to Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, it’s all in relation to number of years in development compared with bottom line revenue.
“The most profitable game we’ve ever made, in terms of man years invested versus revenue, is actually Infinity Blade. It’s more profitable than Gears of War.”
With that fact in mind, Mr. Sweeney was also quoted in saying how mobile, free-to-play games is the direction that the industry as a whole is headed towards. He even states that Epic specifically has been “very very surprised to see how fast smartphone and tablet devices are improving.” The iPad 3, according to early reports, is approaching the same performance capacity and speed as current generation consoles. This along with the drastically lower cost and time spent creating your average console game has made smartphone and tablet games an attractive direction to go for many studios.
“Nowadays the high end of the game business is in these console games. Activision invests almost $100 million per year in Call of Duty.”
How realistic is it to expect iOS games to overtake console games? In my humble opinion, it’s not very likely. There will always be a huge demand to have some sort of physical controller in your hands to play games on a big screen TV or monitor. The way they are distributed can and most certainly will however. Mr. Sweeney also made mention of physical discs becoming archaic in the near future which is hard to argue with when you look at the history of music sales transitioning from CDs to digital downloads. Movies have also been gradually going in this direction with the success of services like Netflix and Hulu. Even books have become somewhat of a rarity with tablet devices like the Amazon Kindle taking their place.
As far as game developers should be concerned, it is most certainly worth investing in the iOS market considering its rapid success and growth technologically. Electronic Arts is a good example of a company that jumped on board this “gravy train” early. Smaller studios like Rovio and Chillingo have shown how it can be done right for someone just getting their feet wet in the industry. With all that in mind, there is an audience for games on this type of platform much like how console gamers have theirs. As long as you’re not aiming to overtake one or the other then there is success to be had no matter which system you build for.