Do prices matter for iPhone games? (poll)

What's the most you're willing to pay for a game that plays on the small screen? Is it 99 cents? A couple bucks? Or does it depend on the game?

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a cheapskate. (I even have a blog that says so.) Needless to say, when it comes to buying games for my iPhone, I tend to choose titles that are free or supercheap.

In fact, my buying habits work like this: If a game I want costs 99 cents, I'll usually grab it without a second thought. If it's $1.99 or $2.99, I'll sometimes pull the trigger, though not without some hesitation. Anything that costs more, I rarely pony up for it.

Am I alone in this regard? To find out, I created this poll. Cast your vote, then read on for more discussion.

I suspect most people will choose, "It depends on the game." And, sure enough, some games offer relatively limited replay value, and therefore should be priced lower than games you're likely to play endlessly.

On the other hand, why should I balk at spending, $5 for an iPhone game that's every bit as good as a $50 PlayStation game? (PlayStation 2, anyway.) I'll drop five bucks for a Starbucks coffee and cookie, which last all of 10 minutes, but not on a game I might play for weeks. Why?

Maybe it's because I'm spoiled by all the great freebies, like Tap Tap Revenge 3, Unblock Me, and Traffic Rush. Or perhaps there's less perceived value in a game that runs on such a small screen.

In the App Store's early days, it wasn't uncommon for marquis games (like Super Monkey Ball) to debut at $9.99, and that's still true--though many high-profile titles start much lower. Witness the recent arrival of The Simpsons Arcade, which I fully expected to cost at least $7.99--but instead came in at $4.99.

Games that fetch premium prices upon their debut almost always drop in price a short while later. 2XL's ATV Offroad, for instance, had a sticker price of $7.99 as recently as October; however, it is currently selling for just $1.99.

All this begs the question: What's a fair price for an iPhone/iPod Touch game? And what's the most you're willing to pay for one? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter--in the comments, of course.