Square Enix has become notorious for charging exceptionally high prices for its mobile games - just look at its Ł19.99 / $29 Final Fantasy Dimensions and Ł32 / $44 Demons' Score - but the publisher insists that its games offer high quality experiences worthy of their audacious prices.
In a recent interview with Kotaku, Square Enix defended this practice stating, "Each game is priced individually and evaluated based on the type of game, depth and overall experience it provides for players. Some of our higher priced titles offer more than 60 plus hours of game time with rich storylines, high quality graphics and challenging, diverse combat."
It also noted that these high prices are still cheaper than their original console versions. "We've reconfigured and optimised them for the mobile platform, releasing them at a lower price than their original console or handheld versions," said a Square spokesperson. "Square Enix does provide other casual titles in the lower price range, and as the market evolves, we'll take all different price points into consideration on a game-by-game basis."
While these games may be cheaper than their source material, they're still much higher than what western gamers are used to paying for mobile games.
Square admitted that this was the case and has tried to adapt its game design to better suite this model. Its Guardian Cross was a free-to-play title and the publisher's only game among the 200 top-grossing apps on the iTunes store.
"We are aware that the market in North America is accustomed to the lower priced or free to play games. Guardian Cross was our first significant title to utilize the free-to-play pricing model and we've been very happy with the community reaction to the title. The gameplay lent itself very well to the free-to-play pricing model"
"Moving forward, we're looking forward to the challenge of utilizing our strengths in creativity, world-building, and gameplay mechanics and matching those with a pricing model that are consistent with the market and provides players with a sense of overall value."
Regarding the Ł19.99 Final Fantasy Dimensions, Square seemed satisfied with its optional episodic payment structure that allows players to try the prologue for free, then pay for the full game in increments.
"If players did not want to invest the time and energy into completing the game, they were able to make that decision at no cost. However, if they wanted to experience the full game, they could either purchase the chapters individually as they progressed or as a bulk download at a reduced cost."
Furthermore, Square felt strongly about the game's quality warranting its high price tag. "We're very proud of the game and feel that is has the same high quality of a console or handheld platform title."
Elsewhere in the interview, when asked about universal compatibility - which the $20 The World Ends With You doesn't feature - Square said, "Depending on the device, some games may or may not be universally compatible. Moving forward, we plan to do our best to accommodate games that are universally compatible."
Ultimately, it sounds like Square Enix is amendable to the idea of adapting to a different model, but its pricing scheme is still out of whack.