Nintendo games are expensive. Almost every recent Nintendo Switch game, save for WarioWare: Get it Together!, has been $59.99. These games never get permanent price cuts. This means that these games either remain full price for years, or even become more expensive as they are no longer produced.
While the Nintendo Switch’s general success might warrant Nintendo to keep prices high, by doing so they are hurting their own business by being actively anti-consumer. Overall, it feels like Nintendo doesn’t put a lot of thought into their pricing.
New Games with Less Content
Nintendo’s new games are often released with minimal content at launch at expensive prices. Mario Strikers: Battle League launched with less characters, less stage options, less mechanics, and less depth than its predecessor Mario Strikers: Charged on the Wii. Nintendo Switch Sports launched with 6 sports, the same amount that launched with the original Wii Sports except this game is not a free pack in but a full $59.99 (not even mentioning that 3 of the 6 sports are returning, and one of the new sports is badminton which plays awfully similar to tennis). Mario Party Superstars only launched with 5 boards, which are all remakes, when every N64 Mario Party had at least 6. Despite this, all these games still launched for a full $59.99.
These games are launching incomplete, but are still being released at full price. While more content can be added for free with patches, this doesn’t excuse that we are being sold incomplete products for complete prices. Why are these Nintendo games getting more expensive while having way less content?
Premium Priced Ports
When Nintendo saw success with the Switch, they immediately began porting over the library from the Wii U. Games like Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Pokken Tournament, and many more eventually found their way onto Nintendo Switch. Almost every port released on Switch was released at a full priced $59.99.
These ports add minimal content. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze added an easy mode, Pokken Tournament added a few new characters, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker added 4 new stages. These ports don’t do enough to justify their large pricetag. In 2014, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker HD which brought with it a significant graphical overhaul, new quality of life additions, hard mode, and enhanced controls for $49.99. New Nintendo ports have made little effort to match Windwaker HD’s quality while charging more.
SOURCE: GameXplain on YouTube
As PlayStation exclusives get older, they get cheaper. Games like The Last of Us Part II, God of War, and Horizon: Zero Dawn, can all be found in a price range of roughly $20-$30. Nintendo Switch Exclusives do not get cheaper. Nintendo will generally do a couple sales throughout the year, but their games will never get permanent price drops. This leads to games like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze on Switch, a 4 year old port of an 8 year old game, to still be priced at $59.99.
Catching up for New Releases
This is a problem for a few reasons. Players who missed out on a game at launch might find that the game has actually gone up in price. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a great example of this. Given Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is coming out next month, Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition came out 2 years ago, and Pyra/Mythra were added to Super Smash Brothers Ultimate last year, interest in the Xenoblade Chronicles series is at an all time high. However, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 didn’t produce too many copies at launch. This means that finding even a used copy for less than $60 can be difficult. This isn’t an issue with PlayStation exclusives. Horizon Forbidden West came out earlier this year, and copies of Horizon Zero Dawn are being retailed for around $10-$20.
In the long run keeping games expensive probably loses Nintendo money. Releasing a new game in a franchise is great advertising for newer players who have never tried it before. I know players who want to try the older Xenoblade games but can’t because of the price point.
Reviving Interest in Dead Games
Nintendo is sitting on several Switch games that no one will buy for full price in 2022. There is no reason to buy games like Arms, 1-2 Switch, or Splatoon 2 in 2022. These games are no longer getting developer support and are rarely advertised by Nintendo; they are irrelevant. Why are they full price?
People would buy older games if they were given meaningful price cuts. Leaving them at full price only dissuades consumers. Not to mention that games like Arms and Splatoon 2 also require an online subscription to play. The barrier of entry for these dead, 5 year old, games is too high. Selling these games for $10-$20 could lead to more money than holding them at $50-$60, where no one will ever purchase them.
Nintendo and Anti-Consumer Business Practices
Nintendo isn’t exactly new to being anti-consumer. They take an active stance against fan games by issuing DMCA takedowns, despite these games being born from fan passion. They have continually tried to shut down competitive events, despite those events being free advertising for their products. Nintendo also has their retro game library and online services locked behind a subscription fee, despite these features being virtually unchanged from the Wii U era. These decisions are mind-boggling because they not only hurt the consumer, but also Nintendo themselves.
I love Nintendo games and I want to play them. However, Nintendo’s pricing is outrageous compared to the competition. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a great game, but there’s no reason for it to still be listed at $59.99 5 years later. Other great games on a similar scope from roughly the same time are all much cheaper. It’s the reason why I and many others skipped out on a lot of Nintendo Games this generation.
The Switch is often marketed as a console for everyone, but Nintendo’s pricing poses more of a barrier of entry than any other console. If you want to read more about Nintendo’s Anti-Consumer Business Practices then check out this article on Nintendo and Video Game Preservation!