Does the iPod Touch Threaten Publishers and Cheapen Gaming?

One of the criticisms laid at the door of many of the world’s biggest game publishers has been their failure to take both the iPhone and iPod Touch seriously, with all too many “old school” outfits taking far too long to bring their biggest franchises to the App Store. Now, all that appears to be changing.

With EA releasing the likes of Madden and FIFA, two of the biggest franchises on the planet, on the App Store this year, some analysts have performed a complete 180 in recent weeks. Wedbush Morgan Securities’ Michael Pachter in particular claimed that the big publishers releasing their titles on the App Store “cheapens gaming.”

‘I think the publishers are completely lame on this, I think they have it wrong,’ Pachter told Gametrailer.com’s Bonus Round in an interview that was transcribed by Edge.

‘EA’s chasing it because they think it’s an opportunity. I think the iPod Touch is the most dangerous thing that ever happened to the publishers, ever, and they don’t get it for two reasons. One, if you put Madden on the iPod Touch for $10, you just cheapen the value of Madden. Whether it’s the same experience or not, and it’s not, why would I ever spend $60 for Madden if I can get it for $10 on my iPod Touch?’

According to Pachter, gamers won’t be able to differentiate between the version of Madden on the App Store and the version they might pick up for their Xbox 360 or PS3, and will turn to the cheaper version and ignore the console releases. This is despite the latest Madden having already sold over 2.4 million units on the three big consoles in North America alone, according to estimates.

‘It’s a serious threat to pricing,’ Pachter continued, ‘and once people start to look at this as a substitute for the DS for smaller kids, for 12 and unders, then you’re going to train a whole generation of 12 and unders that this is a perfectly acceptable gaming experience at that low price point.

“I think that we all started playing arcade games because we’re a little bit older, but all the 20 year old kids playing games now started playing on the GBA and you work your way up, and if you start with an iPod Touch I’m not sure they do work their way up,” Pachter said. “I think Apple intends to capture that audience and keep them. It’s dangerous and I’m not a big fan of it from a publisher perspective.’

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