Nintendo Switch games are too expensive, but they make perfect sense

Nintendo Switch games are too expensive, but they make perfect sense

When The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword launched for the Nintendo Wii back in 2011, the motion-controlled adventure was priced at $49.99. This week, Nintendo announced a remastered version of the game for the Switch: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, priced at $59.99, adding a dollar to the price tag for every year that’s passed since the original game’s release.

Everyone dislikes this. In fact, it feels wrong. Nintendo’s competitors, like Sony, routinely and permanently drop prices for big-budget AAA games. God of War for PS4 launched in April 2018 for $59.99, but by October the price was permanently lowered to just $39.99. Today, it costs under $20. Marvel’s Spider-Man was released that same year and was given a similar $20 price drop in February 2019. Xbox, PlayStation and PC game releases often see big price drops within the first year, or not long after. It feels like an industry standard practice. As buyers, we’ve come to expect it, and that expectation makes Nintendo’s consistently high prices feel jarring. Like Nintendo is being unfair.

Nintendo fans everywhere let out a quiet sigh of resignation. Skyward Sword, a 10-year-old Wii game, is more expensive than it was when it first came out a decade ago — and it’s going to stay expensive, because first-party Nintendo Switch games almost never get price drops. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a port of a Nintendo Wii U game that launched in 2017, still sells for full price almost four years later. Super Mario Odyssey does too, as well as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Party, and New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.

But Nintendo isn’t being unfair. It’s just following our lead — because as much as we’d like to pay less for the Nintendo Switch versions of reissued Wii U games, we don’t. We pay full price, and continue to pay full price, no matter how old the games are.

To put that in perspective, one of the PlayStation 4’s best-selling games, God of War, had sold an estimated 12 million copies by June 2019, and is Amazon’s 23rd best-selling PS4 game. PlayStation had to cut its price to keep buyers interested in Kratos; meanwhile, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has been selling in record numbers at full price since launch.

As usual, math and economics ruin everything. According to Nintendo’s latest fiscal earnings report, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has sold over 33 million copies since launch — earning Nintendo a potentially staggering windfall. And the game is still a top seller: It’s still the fifth-best-selling game on the Nintendo Switch eShop and to this day is Amazon’s ninth-best-selling Nintendo Switch game.

Nintendo games are expensive. Everyone Hates it. And yet Nintendo has no reason to drop prices — it’s selling more copies of its games than its competitors and making more money on each copy sold.

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