Silicon Knights' Denis Dyack has criticized the mobile gaming market, stating that 17,000 "Fart" applications and an average gross of $700 per title could do harm to the game industry as a whole.
“As an example, my understanding is that there are 17,000 fart apps right now," he said. "Those are more fart apps than anyone could possibly ever consume. What that does ... when you start having performance oversupply, it accelerates the commoditization that drives the value of games down. EEDAR did a talk at a conference where they said the gross average for an iOS game -- gross, not net -- was $700. I can guarantee you that a company like ours and most people cannot survive on a $700 gross.
"So what’s happening is you have a lot of people going into this hoping that they’re going to get this smash hit like Angry Birds ... And I’m not saying there aren’t quality games on the iOS, because there are; there are some good games there, but there’s so much performance oversupply and so much commoditization, that it actually is affecting, in my opinion, the industry in a very negative way."
I agree that the saturation of mobile apps can be ludicrous -- any successful game is quickly copied by a dozen other so-called developers -- but I feel that consumers do a great job of implementing their own quality control. Moreso than in the retail market. Genuinely good iOS games, for example, tend to become smash hits. Indie developers have a better chance against major publishers, and rip-offs or low quality titles are generally given poor reviews and sell badly.
Contrary to what Dyack suggests, I think the mobile app market is perfectly healthy, and superior to retail in at least one way. Rather than having a small amount of rich men in business suits (some of which don't even like games) determine what titles are successful, everybody has a chance to get noticed, and the consumers ultimately decide what games live and die. At least as far as iOS goes, I think direct customer control is having a rather positive influence.
That might not be a nice thing for the suits, but I think it's pretty good for the rest of us.