$60 Games Endangered: Doom & Gloom from Epic's Mike Capps

Matt Barton's picture

Mike Capps, president of Epic Games, has grave doubts about the games industry as we know it--specifically, he's worried that the ubiquity and popularity of cheap iOS apps are making it impossible to sell big-budget games (like the next Unreal): "If there’s anything that’s killing us it’s dollar apps,” he said. “How do you sell someone a $60 game that’s really worth it? They’re used to 99¢. As I said, it's an uncertain time in the industry. But it's an exciting time for whoever picks the right path and wins." My take on it? Boo f**** hoo.

There's so much wrong with Capps' statements that I don't know where to begin. Perhaps I should start with the simple observation that a game's "value" has nothing to do with how much money it took to develop it. You can spend millions and end up with a crap-fest that isn't worth a damn dollar. These guys are spending tens of millions of dollars polishing their turds. Indies, on the other hand, can't fall back on pretty graphics and have to actually design a game worth playing.

It's like there's some kind of mental insanity going on at the top of the industry. The meetings must go something like this: "We gotta push more polygons. We gotta get that FPS up. We gotta have cut scenes that are like movie trailers." Then some dumbass in the back raises his hand: "What about the gameplay? Isn't this just the same game we've been shipping for ten years?" Who let that idiot out of his cubicle???

Now there's perhaps something to be said for budget games interfering with big budget titles. That's why we saw the great videogame crash in 83/84, as you'll recall. David Crane summed up nicely--Dad can buy the kids one Activision game for $60, or eight rip-offs and clones lying in bargain bins for $20. Dad's gonna be the hero!

If I'm going to pay $60 instead of $1 for a game, it needs to be $59 more valuable to me. Superior audiovisuals are worth, at best, $19. So that leaves me $40 in the hole. What would be worth that extra $40? Hmm...how about a fantastic (and big) single-player campaign? How about novel gameplay concepts and bigger skill trees? How about more terrain types and fun areas to explore? How about more characters who are fully developed and worth getting to know? How about more and better minigames? How about better dialog options, combat systems, customizable characters...

Oh, forget about that crap. We'll just make the explosions look 10% awesomer and the boobs 10% bouncier and everybody will be happy. What??? Sales our down??? Those damn pirates! I told you we needed tighter DRM. Oh, and those 99 cent apps are killing us...Boo hoo.

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Bill Loguidice
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Big games
Matt Barton wrote:

I haven't really explored the iPhone game library at all, so I can't really speak for anything but Angry Birds and Shadow Ranch. I've tried a few others that were free trials, but nothing has really blown my socks off yet. I'm curious about some of the big budget games for it.

Infinity Blade is a good example, as it's an original IP and highly critically acclaimed (I prefer playing it on the iPad, though). Naturally there have been plenty of things like RPGs and strategy games and what-not that are more than your typical casual fare, as well as several ports from other systems.

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Matt Barton
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Here's one I thought was

Here's one I thought was really neat: The Experiment (eXperience112). It has some issues, but I'll give them major props for taking such big risks with their design. I also got a big kick out of Casebook Episode III from New Zealand. They've got a really nice interface on those, though you'd better like crime scene stuff.

Of course, the Witcher series hails from Poland while the Gothic series comes from Germany.

Here's an interesting looking one from Brazil: Capoeira Legends. Can you imagine a major US developer taking on such a serious topic? Geez, they think copping Saving Private Ryan is some kinda huge leap forward.

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Matt Barton
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I made a pretty good search

I made a pretty good search of the store last night, Bill, and did come across Infinity Blade and a few others that looked pretty, uh, non-casual? Still nothing that leaps out at me other than the casuals, though, at least on the top 25-50 lists. I was very close last night to buying that penguin game. Come to think of it, I still haven't tried Jeff's Sword of Fargoal game. Should definitely give that a go.

It seems to me that anyone who loved the 90s era of gaming should find plenty to love on the app store, though. A lot of these games, such as Angry Birds, would have been right at home on the Amiga or ST.

I'm trying to learn XNA off and on in my spare time, which unfortunately only lets you make games for Windows phones (d'oh!!!). Still, I think if I do eventually get competent enough with it, I should be able to crossover and do some iPhone/iPad stuff without too much effort. On the other hand, by the time I finally get there, maybe Windows phones and tablets will dominate. :P

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Nathaniel Tolbert
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I have Sword of Fargoal....

I have Sword of Fargoal.... Only I don't think it's spelled Fargoal, I think it has an h in it somewhere. My copy is on the venerable Commodore 64.. Did they remake it for the iPhone and iPad? I wonder if it's as entertaining as the original?

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Bill Loguidice
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Review of Sword of Fargoal for the iPhone
Nathaniel Tolbert wrote:

I have Sword of Fargoal.... Only I don't think it's spelled Fargoal, I think it has an h in it somewhere. My copy is on the venerable Commodore 64.. Did they remake it for the iPhone and iPad? I wonder if it's as entertaining as the original?

Here you go: http://www.armchairarcade.com/neo/node/3072

There's an iPad version too, now. I don't have that one, but it's my understanding it's the same, just up-res'd.

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Bill Loguidice
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If you have an iPhone or

If you have an iPhone or iPad, hit up iTunes today because many EA games for both those platforms are on sale for .99, including Dead Space, Scrabble, FIFA, Madden, etc.!

EDIT: Android versions too!

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Matt Barton
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Wow, thanks, Bill. I picked

Wow, thanks, Bill. I picked up the Magic Marker game. I also see they have Dragon's Lair for 99 cents, too.

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Bill Loguidice
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.99 games
Matt Barton wrote:

Wow, thanks, Bill. I picked up the Magic Marker game. I also see they have Dragon's Lair for 99 cents, too.

I snagged a bunch of new iPad games, including Dead Space, Reckless Racing, Boggle, Max and the Magic Marker, Pictureka!, Risk and Scrabble. They're all great games, too, and for .99 you can't beat it. Christina is happy too because she of course gets to play them on her iPad as well (she particularly enjoys Scrabble).

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Nathaniel Tolbert
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Cool

Yeah, that sword of Fargoal looks like the one I have on my C64 with much better graphics. Pretty cool. Nice catch on the sale games as well. Scrabble is definitely a treat for those that have it.

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Bill Loguidice
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Scrabble for iPad
Nathaniel Tolbert wrote:

Yeah, that sword of Fargoal looks like the one I have on my C64 with much better graphics. Pretty cool. Nice catch on the sale games as well. Scrabble is definitely a treat for those that have it.

Yeah, and the local network play is cool. Christina and I can play each other over wi-fi or Bluetooth, and of course on each of our iPad's, there's our own view of the board and our tiles. The other neat feature is that if we wanted to play on one iPad, we could use our respective iPhone's to display our tilesets. Now THAT'S cool.

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