The latest hubbub in the iOS RPGaming world is the upcoming release of Final Fantasy Dimensions, specifically with regards to its unique pricing structure. Episodic by design, Dimensions will feature a free prologue as well as a relatively inexpensive first chapter priced at $2.99. I say 'relative' as each subsequent chapter is set to cost $6.99, with the entire set adding up to the hefty price of $28.99. As you can imagine, this aggressive price strategy has been met with a less-than-favorable reaction among fans, but why exactly do they feel that way? What will it mean for the mobile gaming industry in the future?
Many mobile RPGamers and Final Fantasy fans have been quick to put down the asking price of Final Fantasy Dimensions as, "Ridiculous." To be honest, this response kind of threw me off at first. In my mind, a brand new Final Fantasy release at $29 seems like a fairly decent deal. Maybe the game's platform deserves some consideration through. Unlike the PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS - where publishers can usually get away with $30-40 games - mobile gamers have become accustomed to their game purchases not exceeding $5.99. Sure, Square Enix has released iOS titles before at comparatively unreasonable prices ($15.99 for a version of Final Fantasy Tactics devoid of multiplayer comes to mind), but this is the first highly-priced mobile game they're hocking that isn't an iOS port of a previously released classic.
Interestingly enough, when I asked the same people who were against the game's current mobile pricing model if they would consider buying the title on a PSP for the same price, the answer was a resounding yes. Final Fantasy Dimensions is clearly a new entry in the series that pays homage to its roots and supposedly has an upwards of 50 hours of gameplay, so it stands to reason that people arenít upset on the price based on the content - they're upset that alternative content on the mobile market is comparatively cheaper. This is a mentality that I totally get (after all, very few of us have enough disposable income to purchase a title without considering its price), but should we really be predicating our price expectations on a game's platform over its actual quality?
Your response to this question will be completely subjective, but could have long-term implications for how things are priced on mobile platforms in the future. Right now, Square Enix is the only company attempting to use brand recognition to charge a premium on mobile content. I'm sure many other mobile content producers will be keeping an eye on Final Fantasy Dimensions' sales figures in order to determine whether they should experiment with other pricing models as well. You never know - if we all run out to buy Dimensions, Infinity Blade III might cost $15.99 upon release and/or be broken into episodic content. The challenging thing about this situation is that whether we support the game or not, we lose. We can choose to not buy the game, hurting the chances of Square Enix releasing another original Final Fantasy like this in North America again, or we can pay a premium and possibly shake up the mobile market's current pricing structure. I can't say what you should do as a consumer, but I like to support good games whenever I can - even if that means worse prices in the future.