Published on April 4th, 2018 | by Ben Rueter0
Nintendo Doesn’t Need To Cut Prices But It Couldn’t Hurt, Right?
If you’re buying a Switch today chances are that you might be picking up Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, which is a Wii U port, for the full price of $59.99 USD. It one of the many titles in Nintendo’s catalog that show that its first party titles rarely devalue over the years.
It’s something that makes Nintendo a bit unique compared to the competition. When I bought a Xbox One just more than a year after it released, I was able to buy one of their marquee franchises, Halo: Master Chief Collection, at a discounted price.
When Super Smash Bros. Melee was released in 1999 the price didn’t drop until 2003 when Nintendo re-released the game as part of their “Player’s Choice” games. It was later bundled with the Gamecube near the end of the console’s lifespan. A more recent example is Pokemon Black, which released in 2010. It hasn’t dropped a penny from it’s $41 price tag. Compare that to Halo 5 (2015) and Uncharted 4 (2016), which are available for new at $29.
This isn’t to say that Nintendo never drops prices, but the frugal side of me has always wondered why Nintendo is slower to cut game prices compared to their competition.
Basic economics would show that discounts happen because demand at the original price goes down. The seller can try to lower the price to reach an equilibrium. It could be as simple as Nintendo doesn’t usually have a reason to drop game prices. And when it does, you’re probably buying a stinker.
Nintendo has built a cult of personality around their first party titles. I can’t think of someone who buys a Nintendo console and his/her first game purchase isn’t a Mario or Zelda title. It’s testament to Nintendo’s ability to create evergreen titles with each console release. Nintendo has a deep catalog of first party offerings that won’t be appearing anywhere else.
In order to play Mario, you need a Nintendo console, plain and simple.
Those first party titles are worth more to Nintendo than their competition. The Playstation 4 and the Xbox One are part of a large machine that’s making TVs, tablet, phones, etc. With Nintendo, it’s mostly just games.
Nintendo is also not competing with PC, Microsoft and Sony on a game unit-to-unit basis. With the frequency of Steam Sales, Sony and Microsoft are forced to compete with their own sale buragges.
Where it becomes a bit of an annoyance is when you see Nintendo porting Wii U titles to the Switch with the DLC. The labor involved in the work after the initial release via DLC and patches does add value to the original product. I respect that, but when you see Sony and Microsoft doing a similar thing at a lower price, it’s hard not to want Nintendo to do the same. Look at Halo: Master Chief Collection, or the Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection. Both at least are half the price of a full game.
At the moment, these Wii U titles have already been ported to Switch: Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2 and Pokken Tournament DX. None are discounted. Next month Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze will release, which is another Wii U port. Nintendo has begun porting so many top selling Wii U titles that people are speculating that the next Smash Brothers will be a Wii U port. Though, I think this is unlikely.
At this point, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Nintendo has always operated as a very conservative company. I guess I’ve gotten comfortable with the fact that Nintendo plays by its own rules. Maybe I shouldn’t always expect a discount.