Saturday, October 06, 2012

Love my Final Fantasy!

My iPad is my console of choice. I like the portability and not being tied to (or tying up) the TV. I had a GameBoy Advance SP which I liked, but it's so tiny that some of the joy of the gaming experience is diminished just because the visual display is so small. I don't feel that way about my iPad. I don't feel like I am missing anything. And as more and more games are finding their way to this platform it really is becoming a better investment everyday. I write on it, email on it, text on it, watch TV on it, surf the web on it, play on it, read comics on it ... It's the most useful toy I have ever owned.

One of the things killing the iPad and Android Tablets as gaming platforms is the incredibly low price point set because of the way these games have evolved as cell-phone "novelties." The average iPad/Phone game probably sells for less than $5.00. Well, at that price you have to sell a lot of units to make back your development costs, especially on a 40+ hour epic scale JRPG like Final Fantasy. This has to impact the final quality of games available, and it also effects the kind of games that are produced.

SquareEnix has been experimenting with a pricing model that I really like, with Final Fantasy Dimensions and also Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. They sell the game in linear "chapters" to lessen the sting of the overall package. With "After Years," I bought the first chapter as downloadable Wiiware for about $5.00. I remember I was really excited about it and I wrote something about it in my blog. But, that wore thin for whatever reason after a few days, and I never finished the first chapter. With Final Fantasy Dimensions the first chapter (actually the prologue) was free. Now it was admittedly short, but it gave me enough of a "taste" for the game to make me realize that I was exactly the kind of old school RPG gamer audience that they were shooting for, and I wanted to see more. I bought Chapter 1 for $2.99 and played it through to the end. It was also pretty short, but I spend more than $2.99 on a hamburger and the game lasted a damn site longer than one of those.

The thing is, people reviewing the game in the App store are slamming it for it's $30+ final price tag (for all chapters) and I find that extremely disheartening. The tendency is to compare the game to cheaper games in the App store as if to say, cheaper is better. This is nonsense. If you have a paper airplane and a gas powered model plane, is the the paper airplane a better toy because it's cheaper? Games in the App store are going to have to pull down prices comparable to other gaming platforms if they are to compete with other gaming platforms in quality and content. SquareEnix is pushing the market in this direction and I for one applaud their efforts.

I spent $5.00 on "After Years" and only played for a few hours before deciding that it wasn't a game that I was enjoying. I spent $50.00 on Xenoblade Chronicles and only played for a few hours before deciding that it wasn't a game that I was enjoying. I played and enjoyed Final Fantasy Dimensions for free for a few hours. I decided that it was a game that I was enjoying and I paid $2.99 to play for a few more hours. Still having fun, I have dipped into my pocket again to buy Chapter 2. This one is $9.99 and promises to be three times longer than the previous chapters. That's cool. I have enjoyed myself so far.

I don't play many games through to completion. I get distracted or bored, or the game gets too hard or frustrating, or I just decide I don't like it. Whatever the reason, I start a lot of games, but finish very few. The pay-per-chapter model is brilliant. I only pay as long, and as much, as I play. If I manage to make it all the way through to the end of Final Fantasy Dimensions I will have paid, $33 for a game that I played for many hours from beginning to end. If I lose interest or get distracted before completing this chapter, I will have paid $13 for what has already amounted to several hours of enjoyment. That's a bargain compared to the $50 investment made in Xenoblade Chronicles that sits unplayed on my shelf after only a few hours.

Uh, I've been preaching much more than I planned to ... Sorry about that. Anyway, I am liking Final Fantasy Dimensions and hope to see more like it on my iPad in the near future.

Talk to you soon.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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