Seeing Sonic the Hedgehog and Street Fighter at the top of iOS’ paid charts this week triggered a warm, nostalgic reaction for me. It almost makes you wonder why Capcom and Sega seem willing to forfeit their relationship with the next generation of mobile gamers to companies like Angry Birds-maker Rovio by pricing themselves out of the market with their most beloved intellectual property.
In any case, Streetfighter and Sonic the Hedgehog have climbed up to be the 3rd and 8th paid apps respectively in the U.S. because both of their parent companies Capcom and Sega have slashed prices in order to raise money for victims of Japan’s earthquake.
Capcom is selling Streetfighter IV at $0.99 instead of its normal $4.99 until March 22. The game popped from its normal ranking in the low hundreds to near the top of the paid charts; it’s now the seventh-highest grossing game from 117th in the U.S. the day before the sale. Capcom’s U.S. mobile division is no stranger to the free-to-play model. It’s been able to deliver some of iOS’s most lucrative titles like Smurfs’ Village, which monetize through virtual currency. Street Fighter IV offers some in-app purchases like different costumes for fighters Chun Li or Ryu.
Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog saw a similar pop; it usually ranks between 300 and 400 on the paid charts. On the grossing charts, Sonic the Hedgehog rose from a touch lower than 200th place to 10th place after its price fell to $1.99.
A couple of other gaming companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Popcap Games said today that it’s cutting the prices of its iPhone titles including Bejeweled, Bookworm, Chuzzle, Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies to $0.99, while the iPad versions of these games will go to $1.99. It doesn’t appear to have produced a change in the rankings yet; Bejeweled is still at 16 in the U.S. right now. Zynga also started a flash fundraising campaign that raised at least $1 million in 36 hours for earthquake victims.