Indies under greater pressure as scores of high-profile games get price cut

Publishing elite join $0.99 App Store race

Capcom, Sega and Namco have each sunk the price of their iPhone games just days after EA and Gameloft announced similar sales ploys.

The move will add further grief to indie iPhone developers who, hitherto, distinguished themselves favourably from the big publishers with low price points.

But now the publishing world is moving in on that space with key, and likely to be repeated, seasonal discount offers.

The entire Capcom catalogue – featuring the likes of Dead Rising Mobile, Street Fighter, Phoenix Wright and Resident Evil 4 – is being sold at $0.99 each.

UK shoppers too can take advantage. Phoenix Wright, a game recently sold on the Nintendo DS for £25, is available today at £0.59.

Sega too is cutting the price of its games. Titles such as Ecco the Dolphin, Virtua Fighter 2 and Super Monkey Ball are each available at $0.99 for a limited time.

Numerous Namco games have undergone price cuts, with a few as low as $0.99.

French mobile publisher Gameloft this week reduced the price of 13 App Store games to $0.99 until Valentine’s Day.

The day prior, in a move that instigated the publishers’ sweeping price cuts, EA had reduced the cost of 27 of its own iPhone and iPad games.

The publishers, all major players in the mobile games market, could force other companies to make the same seasonal discount deals in order to remain competitive.

In the run up to Christmas, EA employed the same tactic where the increasingly digital publisher slashed iPhone game prices to $0.99 and £0.99 in the US and Britain.

That previous deal got EA closer than any other company to holding a monopoly on the App Store charts.

Days before Christmas EA had seven of its titles ranked in the Paid Games Top Ten. Only Angry Birds had a similar presence on Apple’s games chart.

The fierce cost-cutting has angered a number of indie game developers competing in the space, some of which believe a low price-point once distinguished them favourably from the publishing giants.

Ray Sharma, founder of Canadian mobile developer XMG Studio, recently said at a panel discussion; “I think Electronic Arts really screwed the industry at Christmas time, and it’s unfortunate, because of what Apple did to support them.”

EA continues to talk up the importance of digital entertainment for the future of the business. Last week the firm reported losses of $322 million for the final three months of 2010, though its mobile division generated $59 million.

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