Editorial: “It’s like 50 DS games for the price of one!”

Howdy-do, Lusi-sprites. Such a lovely day here on Potato Island. The sun is shining, there is a refreshing breeze blowing in from the harbor, birds are singing in my garden –and I am stuck inside, slaving away at a keyboard for our malevolent tyrant Lusipurr. Sigh.

Before I hurried home to slave away for you people, I was at work, slaving away for “The Man” (as opposed to Lusi, who is “a man”). As I am rather lazy, I found myself eavesdropping on my coworkers, rather than actually doing my own work. If the title of this post has not given it away already, I heard him liken one of the iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) to a Nintendo DS. He actually said, I swear to the Great Potato, that they are like a Nintendo DS, except the games are so much cheaper. For the cost of one DS game, the customer could instead purchase 50 iOS games. Wow! My memory is a little fuzzy, but I am pretty sure there was some head-to-desk contact on my part when I overheard that.

No, this post is not about the value of cheap casual games, versus “real” games, like The Sims. That point is too obvious, and you have all figured out by now that comparing DS games to Apps is like comparing apples and oranges. I mean Apple computers and oranges, that is the level of difference we are talking about here. No no, instead I am wondering which is actually a better value for money. What do I obtain more enjoyment and hours of entertainment from, a single decent console game, or a few dozen cheap casual games?

For me the answer is, perhaps unsurpriisngly, a single decent console game. I will admit that if you compare the hours of enjoyment per dollar spent, the casual games actually would take the prize. I have sunk more hours of my life than dollars into games like Peggle and Bookworm, whereas I have many console games that might have cost $50 but I finished in 20 hours and have not cared to replay. However, the quality of my entertainment hours does need to be considered. Usually when I am playing some casual nonsense, I am also doing something else, whether it be listening to a podcast, chatting with friends, or commuting to and from work. When I play a decent console game, however, I am usually fully devoted to that game, it captures my entire attention and offers all of the amusement I could want at the moment. Admittedly, it was a close internal debate, because I really do enjoy some casual games as much as some console games, but those tend to be the exception that prove the rule for me.

My coworkers are idiots.


  1. unfortunately non-gamers simply don’t give enough of a damn about games to wholly devote themselves to a single game. it’s kinda the reason they’re not gamers. it’s not that casuals are dummer than core players, they just don’t as much about the quality so they’ll buy crap. all they want is a bit of a time sink. convincing a casual to buy Uncharted would be similar to trying to convince someone with no musical taste to listen to some of the works of Mendelssohn. even if you convince them their inability to care would prevent them from seeing how much better it is.

    and yes, the guy who said that is an idiot.

  2. The Sims isn’t a game.

    The best value proposition is a DS and a flash cart.

    The two platforms really are very different. iPhone games are obviously going to be more appealing for casuals, but the DS library seems a lot more substantial in general. That said, the iPhone can be a good platform for enjoying PC style games on the go, such as Sam & Max episodes as well as Monkey Island remakes and episodes. Also, Chaos Rings looks rather interesting.

  3. I just bought Crimson Gem Saga for my iPhone. The same Crimson Gem Saga one can get for like 5x the price on a PSP.

    Point, iPhone.

    It’s a perfectly capable gaming device, as long as touch controls are smartly implemented (CGS could use a little work, but is definitely playable). The best part is that turn-based RPGs are very suited for touch-based controls. Square even has a really good one that is an iPhone exclusive… and it costs way less, but is of comparable quality (except being more tailored for shorter sessions of gameplay).

  4. @Lane – hmm, touche iPhone. while we’re on the subject of decent of iPhone games have you heard of Zenonia and Zenonia 2? apparently it’s a very good top-down action RPG. I would have checked it out myself but it’s iPhone exclusive.

  5. @Lane: That is one thing the iPhone has thanks to the influx of casuals. It’s got a much more competitive economy. In all honesty, I could totally see putting up with decently-implemented touch controls if the game is 1/3 (or less) the price.

    @Ginia: For the most part, though, I agree with you. At this point, my gaming is much more limited by time than money. I’m looking for a game that will maximize my enjoyment/hour, not hours/dollar, and for me, I just don’t get that with casual games (again, not saying people can’t, it’s just my preference). I want a full start-to-finish narrative with my games. Doesn’t even have to be a good narrative, just something I’ll like.

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