Earlier today, PocketGamer.biz aired an article rumoring the creation of a “premium games” category on the App Store, open only to select large publishers, where games will sell for $19.99. After some additional research, we can confirm that premium games are indeed in the offing, although we still don’t know when.
A publisher representative told us (on condition of anonymity) that Apple is prepping its major partners to produce “PSP-quality” games for the new category, and that the $19.99 price point is accurate.
When we asked what Apple meant by “PSP-quality,” our source indicated that premium games are likely to have much larger file sizes than most of the games we’ve been seeing; Apple also wants the section to attract prominent franchises that publishers have been reluctant to bring to the platform thus far.
Meanwhile, non-premium games will continue as before. “We’re not going to bring our best stuff out when games like iShoot own the App Store and are making hundreds of thousands of dollars,” our source remarked. “If people want to buy [lower-quality, less expensive] games, that’s fine, but we’ll be able to make money this way.”
We had thought that Apple must have something in the works to combat the Games section’s race to the bottom, which has surely damaged its revenues and is rendering the App Store practically unmanageable. The premium games section is probably the most direct path to the goal. It appears that Apple is coming to acknowledge that it must become a real platform manager, if it truly wants to take on Sony and Nintendo.
However, questions remain: which companies get into the exclusive club, and under what criteria? Will big IP be enough, or will quality play a role too? If so, who’s going to judge–the same people that have been running the App Store in such a seemingly arbitrary fashion to this point? And, most importantly, will Apple start publishing its own premium games? Nobody knows.