Smurfs’ Village, not Angry Birds, is changing mobile landscape

Posted: July 18, 2011 in Online games business

article from gamesindustry.biz July 2011

Behaviour Interactive CEO Remi Racine believes that a single game is changing the mobile market, and it’s not the one that most people think.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz from the company’s Montreal studio, Racine singled out Beeline Interactive’s controversial Smurf’s Village as both the most innovative and profitable mobile game on release.

“Everybody is talking about Angry Birds, but the game, to me, that is changing the market is Smurfs’ Village,” he said. “Smurfs’ Village is outstanding.”

“I’d be curious to see who is making the most money between Angry Birds and Smurfs’ Village. When you look at the charts it’s always among the top three of four grossing games of the last seven or eight months. It’s always there. Angry Birds is in the top ten, but Smurf is in the top three. It’s amazing.”

Smurfs’ Village is free to download, but features an in-app purchasing system that allows players to spend large sums of money on “smurfberries”, the in-game currency, in just a few clicks. The cheapest quantity of smurfberries costs £2.99, more than most apps, while a “wheelbarrow” is priced at £34.99.

Beeline Interactive, a subsidiary of Capcom, came under scrutiny earlier this year after the Washington Post broke the story of an 8-year old girl, Madison Kay, who unwittingly spent $1,400 on smurfberries.

The child’s mother, Stephanie Kay, accused the game of “preying on children”, prompting US congressman Edward Markey to write a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC responded by promising that it would, “look closely at the current industry practice with respect to the marketing and delivery of these types of applications.”

Following numerous complaints from angry parents, Apple placed a warning on the game’s iTunes listing. Beeline Interactive also introduced a cap on in-game purchases in May, limiting players to 5 transactions every 15 minutes.

Racine declined to comment on whether Behaviour Interactive had a similar game to Smurfs’ Village in development, but claimed that the freemium model will eventually become the dominant pricing structure in the mobile sector.

“About 30 or 40 percent of the top grossing games are freemium based,” he said. “It’s the new way.”

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