As a hardcore gamer interested in a broad range of genres and games, both AAA and Indie, no matter whether they are on mobile, PC or console platforms, I buy a lot of games. I do this despite the fact that I don’t have a lot of money, and that my backlog is becoming nothing short of ludicrous. I am able to do this because I can reliably count on games becoming less expensive over time. Instead of paying $59.99 for one game, I tend to buy anywhere from 3 to 30 games for that price, depending on the Indie Bundles. And with services like PlayStaton Plus, sometimes I get the games on my wish list—such as Dragon’s Crown—for free! I’ve learned that if I can wait a few months or even a year, I can get that game I wanted for a small fraction of its original MSRP, assuming I have to pay for it at all… unless it is a Nintendo game. Nintendo games cost full price.
I noticed a pattern on my Amazon wish list recently: It’s full of Nintendo games! Many of these games are relatively new, such as Hyrule Warriors, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Bayonetta 2, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Mario Kart 8. I kept an eye on all of these games over the Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales events, and none of them were significantly discounted. There were some “buy one get one 50% off” type deals, but there were no major straightforward discounts on individual products that I noticed. This may not be a surprise considering how new they are, but meanwhile, from my PC wish list, I was able to get Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor—a game that only released at the end of September—for $19.99 (it was $24.99 for consoles)! It was less than two months since release the day I bought it. And on consoles, Destiny was $29.98 for PlayStation 4 and Assassin’s Creed Unity was $25.00 on Xbox One.
But let’s put aside the most recent Wii U games for now, and look instead at some older titles. I looked up New Super Mario Bros. U on Amazon just minutes ago. Despite being over two years old, New Super Mario Bros. U has never received a permanent price drop. As of the time of this writing, it is on sale for the not so low price of $50.99. I just don’t get it! By now this game should have had a permanent price cut to $29.99 or $19.99, and been discounted further for the sales events! $50.99? C’mon, Nintendo! I want to buy your games; I really do! But, damn, that’s an expensive old game. New Super Mario Bros. 2? $26.99 ($3.00 off)! Last year’s Super Mario 3D World? $56.99! Pikmin 3? $68.99! That’s more than the MSRP! Where are the price cuts, Nintendo?
Now I suppose this is the part where business strategy comes in to play. That certainly isn’t my area of expertise, but I imagine if Pikmin 3 is so in demand that every copy available at MSRP or less has sold out—and remember, this is over a year since its release date—then Nintendo must be doing something right. Somehow, they are maintaining the value of their products better than any of their competitors. Maybe they are manufacturing fewer copies of games to keep them pricey, maybe they are just being stubborn about price cuts, or maybe they’re just failing to realize that they can reach a much larger audience if they lower their prices. Personally I think the cost of Wii U software is one of the reasons the other platforms are more compelling to consumers.
The story is much the same for the 3DS. Tomodachi Life, Fantasy Life, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon are all still full price. At least Paper Mario: Sticker Star is down to $19.93, but after two years since release, that still doesn’t seem cheap enough. And I’ve had Cave Story 3D on my wish list for years now, and it seems to just get more and more expensive (currently $114.99 for a new copy)!
The end result of all this is that I own very few modern Nintendo games compared to all of my other game libraries. There is no shortage of games that I am interested in, but I’m not going to pay $56.99 for Super Mario 3D World when for the same amount of money I could keep an eye out for sales and get Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor ($19.99), Batman: Arkham Origins ($4.99), Transistor ($9.99), LEGO Batman 2 DC Super Heroes ($3.74), The Lego Movie Videogame ($3.74) and still have $14.54 left over to buy a few Indie bundles or discounted season passes for Middle Earth and Batman. What would you rather have?
Nintendo games are too expensive.