A Market of Woe
Like most folks, I turn to my phone to help pass the time. I don't carry around my DS and my laptop's battery is good for about 20 seconds without being tethered to a wall-outlet, so my phone becomes the default timewaster when I'm out and about. Usually, this involves mundane texting of contacts, random questions to Google's txt-based search service, and an occasional clearing of my voicemail. But games hardly ever come into the equation.
That's because my phone is a four-year-old relic. It is one of the lingering pre-iPhone creations, representative of a bygone era where phone-based marketplaces (known to modern man as "App Stores") were savage lands of wordy textual descriptors. Usability was second-fiddle for the chance of making a quick buck. Does anyone know if the version of Guitar Hero: World Tour in the Verizon store is any good? I don’t see how anyone could, considering the infoblurb sounds like something taken from a marketing release. How could anyone resist taking a $6.99 leap of faith on a game for unlimited uses? (Unlimited! that's, like, forevertime!). Just make sure you don't upgrade your phone anytime soon -- games are tied to your hardware and don't carry over. Sorry.
Perhaps the price of ownership is too rich for your blood? Verizon's considerate enough to offer a subscription-based plan. $3.50 a month, renewable from your phone. Just think of it as renting the application. (additional charges may apply)
It's odd to think that this was ever considered a viable sales model, and it's a bit humbling to think that this was the trajectory that phone-based stores were on: closed systems, tyrannically dictated by carriers, designed to squeeze precious dollars from an unwary subscriber base. I have a sneaking suspicion that the games marketplace on my phone is little more than a pump-n-dump of tie-ins and impulse buys. Metal Gear Solid, G.I. Joe and Avatar all have offerings, but god only knows if these are rhythm games, sidescrollers, or first person shooters.
Or it could just be a monumental case of hubris. Anyone with the stones to charge $8.00 for [b]Tetris[/b] is either a financial shark or an insane idiot.
I'm not eager to find out, either way.
I’ve only purchased one game from my phone’s store – a Chose Your Own Adventure romp through high school that, surprisingly, included weekly DLC. It wasn’t anything revolutionary, but it was a perfect diversion and had a large enough backlog of scenarios that I felt the $5.00 I spent on it was well wasted.
And then, in 2008, I was advised to perform a “free update” of the game. Miraculously, I lost the license to the 2007 edition of the game and was instead provided with a sneak peek of the new and awesome 2008 iteration. I could purchase the ’08 version of the game for the low, low price of $8.00. What a bargain! I’ve been wary of paying for anything on the thing since.
It’s enough to make a guy take up reading again.