Battle Academy on iPad outsells PC by 5 to 125 Feb 2013 0
Sometimes I think I'm tilting at windmills advocating for hardcore game experiences on mobile devices on when it seems like the market's greatest rewards are reserved for freemium quasi-games. The top of the App Store charts is perennially populated with nigh-identical endless runners and iso-decos like Pixel People while more involved games like Ravenmark and Organ Trail struggle to get noticed. So I couldn't help be feel a little vindicated when I saw Slitherine's boast that Battle Academy for iPad has outsold its PC predecessor by a factor of 5:1.
SimHQ ran an interview a couple of days ago with JD and Iain McNeil, the father/son duo at the head of Slitherine/Matrix Group who sell iPad wargame Battle Academy at an unheard-of App Store price point of $20. When I interviewed JD last year, he was confident in his strategy but didn't yet have numbers to back up his moxie. Here's what he told SimHQ's Fred Williams last week:
I can tell you that we are outselling PC versions of our games on iOS at a factor exceeding 5:1, even at higher prices than the average app.
Five to one. McNeil isn't saying how many copies that is, but Slitherine/Matrix is a big shop with dozens of employees in multiple offices around the world -- not an organization that can afford waste time with a game that doesn't keep the lights on. Clearly, Battle Academy has pulled down enough profit that they're still bullish about iPad, and they're full steam ahead with Legion and Panzer Corps, and a new Battle Academy expansion.
I frequently talk to devs who are afraid that the future will be dominated by freemium and that the market for hardcore, enthusiast gaming will be restricted to PC. If we believe this number -- and I do -- it explodes a lot of the conventional wisdom about the nature of the App Store gaming market: You don't have to be freemium to turn a profit. You don't need to ever put your app on sale, either. You don't have make overt appeals to casual gamers or kids. You can get widespread notice without being featured by Apple. Is it easy? Clearly not. But Battle Academy shows that it's possible.
Of course the highest-grossing games on the App Store this year and for all time will be casual titles with broad appeal. There's nothing wrong with the flood of casual games: they're just a sign that gaming is growing as a hobby. But if a $20 turn-based wargame can be a sales success on iOS, then there's more hope for hardcore gaming on mobile than most people realize.