Infinity Blade was more profitable for Epic Games than Gears of War
In a recent interview Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney talked a lot about the freemium model, convergence, and in particular how successful they've been in mobile.
If you're not familiar, Gears of War is a massively popular shooting game franchise on console which originally launched in 2006 and spawned multiple sequels. The latest title sold 3 million copies in its opening week, beating out the previous two games. As of September 2011, the whole series has grossed over $1 billion.
iOS has been eating the lunch of traditional portable gaming consoles for some time now, but the new iPad has started steering towards competing with consoles, primarily by way of comparison of the Retina display's resolution with standard HD TVs. Even though the processing power and storage space of the iPad and iPhone currently limits what can be done in iOS games, those are limits that even AAA developers like Epic are willing to work around if they can enjoy higher profits than their console titles. Of course Infinity Blade is the exception rather than the rule, but it proves mobile can be at least as profitable for game developers as other platforms.
Sweeney's interview revolved a lot around the Unreal Engine which they created and has a prominent position in the mobile sphere, and provides a clear transition path for developers moving from PC and consoles. Sweeney was largely supportive of the freemium model, and expects that all games will at some point in the future be distributed globally and digitally.
If Epic can make more money on Infinity Blade than Gears of War, is this a signal that other big-name developers should switch gears to mobile? If so, does iPhone and iPad stand any chance of becoming a more popular gaming platform than PCs or consoles, regardless of technical limitations?
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Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.
I don't think mobile gaming and console gaming have to be a one or the other sort of decision for game companies though. In the end they want to make games available to all users.
But I can see how that would be right. Crazy to think about though.
It is in terms of man years invested. He is only saying that if you see the total time devoted to the development of each game then Infinity Blade was more profitable for each day spent on development, not in absolute terms.
If game A took a year to make and brought in profits of $1 Billion it is far more profitable (in these terms) than game B that brought in $3 Billion but took four years to make.
For Unreal Engine 3, the company spent 4 years building Gears of War and the technology at same time, and put major effort into early adoption of new platform features
Epic should be applauded for their efforts in making a portable game engine, but the question you ask those other developers cannot really be answered as long as the mobile development gets a free ride on the shoulders of the console work.