Michel Guillemot, founder and CEO of Gameloft, has criticised the mobile app strategy of rival EA Mobile in the run-up to Christmas 2010, specifically its decision to slash the prices of its products available via Apple’s App Store, games publication IGN reports. EA cut the price of more than 70 games to US$0.99, including its premium titles, representing a discount of up to 90 percent over standard pricing in some cases. This enabled it to secure the top spots before the App Store ranking process was frozen for the holiday period, meaning any new (and existing) owners of iOS devices were met with a games chart dominated by EA Games. Guillemot notes “there is a high uncertainty for the future anytime somebody can steal the market at Christmas.”
In IGN’s interview with the Gameloft head, it was suggested that EA’s high-profile actions could lead to further price erosion in the mobile games industry, which will lead to a “good enough” mentality, where developers opt not to invest heavily in further innovations due to the limited returns available. Guillemot argues that this is “harder on small companies,” which do not have the scale to compete with larger publishing houses which are better able to fund the development of low-cost titles.
Gameloft has had some notable success in the mobile games industry in its own right, stating in September 2010 that it has had 20 million paid downloads from the App Store since its launch in July 2008. The company has also been named as one of the top cross-store mobile app developers. However, it has not been immune from criticism itself. Some observers have noted that its titles are clearly derivative of products from other companies on other platforms. In the IGN interview, Guillemot notes that “The video game industry has always played around a limited number of themes. There is maybe one new idea a year.” And the company has also been hit with fulfilment problems in its direct-to-consumer Android app business, following its decision to limit its engagement with Android Market.