PocketGamer got to chat with Gameloft's vice president of worldwide publishing Gonzague de Vallois at last week's Mobile World Congress, and he paints a pretty grim picture for small developers and small games on the iPhone. When the platform first started out, he says, gamers were happy with casual games put together by small teams, but as gamers' tastes are maturing and developers are getting better at utilizing the hardware, "there is already immense pressure on the prices but there is room for premium games at a premium price on the iPhone."
Case in point is EA -- its premium games are selling very well, and even when they're not, the company has learned how to make them profitable with well-timed sales. de Vallois does want to keep prices higher than 99 cents, and he says about EA's sale that Gameloft wasn't "that happy with the Christmas promotion because it was backed by Apple and they highlighted it on their store worldwide." Instead of simply dropping prices, de Vallois advocates finding new ways to make games profitable. "We try new models. There are new opportunities emerging with iOS to try, and you can expect more of these trials from us. You will see freemium, free to play, in-app purchase -- you will see the types of new models coming to our games this year."
Gameloft already started doing that -- its Sacred Odyssey action RPG is a free download that serves as a trial version, with a $6.99 in-app purchase to open up the rest of the content. We'll likely see more experiments from them in the future, as well as more premium content aimed towards a more experienced iOS gaming audience. It'll be interesting to see how this platform develops further -- devs both big and small are starting to put together very viable strategies for selling their games.