Is Porting BioShock to iOS a Waste of Time?
by Gabe Carey
The short answer? Probably.
I’m going to start by saying this: in the past, I’ve been called every variant of “fanboy” in the book. I’ve been a Nintendo fanboy, an Xbox fanboy, a PlayStation fanboy, a PC fanboy — and most recently, I’ve been called out as a “Vita fanboy”, even by some of my co-workers here at the site. So let’s set something straight before I head off into the abyss of controversy that’s sure to follow the publication of this post. I am none of those things. I’m a fanboy of video games, and what some people fail to realize is this: without those who actively pursue the preservation of traditional-styled video games, I highly doubt the PS4 would have passed 9 million in sales last month or that the Xbox One would be the fastest-selling console of all-time. It’s time to start helping out the dedicated handheld console space.
Console and PC gaming advocates — the “hardcore” gamers per se — have given mobile gaming a bad reputation, maybe even unfairly so. I don’t own an iPad, but I also don’t see the problem in playing games on one and I even enjoy playing simple games, like Game Dev Tycoon, on my Windows tablet. Given the nature of the mobile gaming ecosystem, however, is porting a game like BioShock to iOS really justified? Obviously, 2K has some market statistics locked up in their corporate headquarters that I’m unaware of — that we’re all unaware of. The last time I checked, paid apps were on the decline, with a few notable exceptions. Towards the end of last year, the endlessly successful Minecraft was the only top-grossing paid iOS game. Right now, however, they’re all free-to-play. The revenue for these games is generated entirely by in-game purchases, an unpopular business model in the console and PC gaming spaces. iOS consumers don’t mind buying in-game content as long as the base game is free of charge. Console and PC gamers, however, would rather pay a one-time fee for unlimited access to a specific game.
This is the business model that BioShock was developed for, being a console and PC game itself. If it were to go portable, most would imagine it to hit PS Vita, Nvidia Shield, or 3DS, where people still continue to purchase games. BioShock for iOS isn’t going to be hindered by in-game purchases, however. No, according to IGN, it’s going to be priced between $10 -$20. With the constant decline of paid apps on the App Store, is the port going to sell any more than it would on Vita, or is this a waste of time and resources for 2K? I’m assuming it didn’t take much work to port the PC version of the game, with the settings knocked nearly all the way down, to iPhone 5+ and iPad 4 devices, but then again, BioShock would have more exposure on Vita (assuming 3DS isn’t powerful enough to run the game and factoring in that the Nvidia Shield has an even lower install base than Vita).
There are roughly 7 million PS Vita consoles in the wild and according to Sony at E3 2013, Vita owners on average had purchased more than 10 games. At the time, that would have made Vita the console with the largest attach rate. I believe it. I play a crucial role in several PS Vita Facebook groups in which these communities of gamers will buy nearly anything that comes to their beloved handheld. I can’t say the same for myself, but since BioShock is one of my all-time favorites, I’d be willing to sacrifice 10 to $20 on a direct port of the iPad version. This may even be the plan after releasing the iOS version. Getting BioShock to a number of platforms would allow more people to experience the game and, in turn, fall in love with the franchise just as I did.
All in all, I’m cool with BioShock coming to iOS. I won’t play it, but that’s only because I’m not willing to pay $600+ for a game I’ve already experienced multiple times. But hey, bring it to a platform I already own (Vita) and I’ll buy it again. After asking other community members in the PlayStation Vita-Nation Facebook group, many of them felt the same way, which is evident in the screenshots below.
What do you think? Am I insane for speculating that BioShock won’t actually sell that well on iOS or am I more insane for thinking sales might be more prosperous on Vita? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Image Source: Imgbase.info
Gabe Carey is editor-in-chief at B-TEN.
The Festivus season is jam-packed with games this year.
You can follow him on Twitter @Thats_Bullogna.
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