Ustwo: Premium games are not dead

The maker of smartphone hit Monument Valley has said that premium gaming lives on, despite the pressures of free-to-play and piracy.

Studio Ustwo yesterday revealed that 95 per cent of installations of the game on Android were not paid for and 60 per cent on iOS.

We’ve had this for many years now, analysts saying free is the future and there’ll be no more paid games,” the game’s producer Dan Gray told Re/code. And every year, there continue to be a number of premium games that do very well for themselves. That area of the marketplace is not dead yet.

We’ve nowhere near made the amount of money that a lot of top free-to-play games would, but then again we have relatively low overhead. Monument Valley was made with only eight people. We had no advertising spend. We’re confident we can make premium games work in the future, and we’re confident we can outdo what we did with Monument Valley next year and the year after that.”

Gray also discussed the decision to make the game a premium release on Android.

Are we crazy for releasing a premium game [on Google Play]?” he added. Our thoughts on that were that there’s lots of Android players that really resent being treated like second-class citizens, given a different game than what their Apple counterparts have been given. We made the decision to have parity across both platforms, which we stand by, and we’d like that to continue in the future.”

The developer also wanted against thinking of piracy as directly correlating to lost sales as the majority of those users probably wouldn’t have bought the game anyway”, adding that some of those users have recommended the game to friends who maybe aren’t as tech-savvy as they are”, meaning that piracy effectively equates to free marketing.

Gray went on to touch upon the one-star review furore that hit the game following the release of its paid content last year.

We had an offhand tweet, and it blew up, and we became the catalyst to a larger conversation,” Gray explained. That quickly changed, and we got thousands of five-star reviews and a few hundred one-star reviews. It’s what I like to call a storm in a teacup. People continued to talk about it when it was no longer an issue.”

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