When developer Stoic announced that The Banner Saga was in development for iOS and Android tablets, it became one of an increasing number of developers to port their full games to mobile platforms. But Stoic also learned one important thing in its work, especially as it collaborated with Apple: mobile gamers tend to be reluctant to spend any money.
Talking to Polygon, founders Arnie Jorgensen and John Watson discussed how the team always aimed to bring the game to iOS, but the environment turned out to be too volatile. As a result, the studio decided to begin with the PC. Watson explained, "For this game, we felt like it was sort of a niche genre. We felt like our core audience was on PC, on Steam, so there's that.
"[People will] spend $600 on an iPad, and $4 on a coffee, drop $20 on lunch, but when it comes to spending four or five dollars on a game, it's this life-altering decision."
"On the other side of the coin, shipping a game on iOS was a big question mark. Are people going to buy it? I don't know. How much can we sell it for? Not very much. We saw it as a bigger risk; what if we spent a year or two years making this, put it out on iOS, and we were just sunk? It just felt like Steam was a better fit for this — not a ‘better fit,' really, but more of a slam dunk."
And now, seven months after the game's release on the PC, the developer has the stability and security to port it to tablets. But it's not a cheap project, and so The Banner Saga will cost money. The biggest question is, then, how much will it cost? This is a problem that Stoic has struggled with during the game's development.
In fact, both Apple and Stoic have grown frustrated with the increasing reticence of mobile gamers to spend any money. Stoic's discussions with Apple have revealed that the tech giant is working hard to overcome this trend. Watson said, "Apple is frustrated, along with everybody else, about the mentality that's gone rampant in mobile app markets, where people don't want to pay anything. They think that four dollars is an exorbitant amount to pay for a game, which is very illogical considering most people's lifestyles. They'll spend $600 on an iPad, and $4 on a coffee, drop $20 on lunch, but when it comes to spending four or five dollars on a game, it's this life-altering decision. I'm frustrated with that too."
He continues, "Apple clearly knows this, and I think they're hoping developers are going to be using that on iPad Air, because it can push it now. So they're telling us to go higher-end with our game. We're still making those decisions."
The Banner Saga launches on iOS and Android tablets this summer. We thought the PC version was good, and you can read our review here. Recently, Stoic also mentioned that the game may come to consoles and the PlayStation Vita at a later date.