Friday, March 11, 2011

Article Re:"The Frustrating Fiscal Resilience of Nintendo Games"

If you don't remember how these "Article Re:" pieces work, or it's your first time seeing them, then this is me responding to another article I saw somewhere else on the internet, like I did in the other Article Re:.

Today's Article Re: is actually an article promoting one of the site users comments, so it might not fully represent the views of the staff over at, but one of them thought it was worth promoting, so I think it's safe to assume someone thought this guy hit a nail on the head.

Today's article is also really short, so I don't feel it's necessary to break it up at all:
What's up with the pricing of Wii games? My family got a Wii this past Christmas, and so I've been looking to play some 1st party Nintendo games, but they're insanely overpriced. Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out three years ago and a copy of the game is an average of $45. Super Mario Galaxy, which came out about three and a half years ago, is $40. Twilight Princess, which came out four and a half years ago, is $40 dollars. I'm guessing the demand is still fairly high for these games, and so the best idea that I can come up with is that Nintendo is keeping the supply limited in order to jack up the prices, but why? These games have been out forever. Why can't they let the people who waited this long and still want a copy their game buy it without paying nearly full price? I'm a broke college student. I don't have the money to buy games new, so I usually wait until the price drops, but with Nintendo, that NEVER happens. It's quite frustrating.
Again, this is not coming from a hired journalist (or at least they aren't hired by Kotaku), so there are some smaller details that I could pick at, such as how they open with a comment about the pricing of Wii games, when this person only means to comment on first-party Wii games in which only some of them have the prices they object to. I'll go ahead and say that I think that this is a bad opinion, as their reasons are poor, or maybe it's more appropriate to say they didn't expound on their thoughts enough. This person starts by calling games like Super Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess, or Super Smash Bros. Brawl "insanely overpriced". In all cases, the reasoning is that they aren't new games. This person doesn't name or hint that there are other similar games that simply offer a better value at a comparable price, they just suggest that age has made these games worth less than when they launched.

This is not the first time I've heard this complaint, and it's not the first time I thought it was poorly reasoned. Price dropping as time elapses is something we just expect out of many forms of mass market entertainment, but does it inherently make sense? To me, no, it doesn't. When we're talking about hardware, it usually gets cheaper to make the product, or another product comes along that accomplishes the same thing and offers more at maybe the same price or less, so it makes sense for the older hardware to drop in price to keep selling well. But for entertainment, from movies, television shows, video games, music, podcasts that aren't free (does such a thing exist? [it does]), to books (paperback, audio, or digital) it's almost unanimous that they drop in price as time passes, and not as a "better" product comes along.

Don't get me wrong, I love price-dropping and it has a definite place and reasoning. Namely, it's an attempt to get money from the people that weren't willing to buy it at it's original price. Or maybe the next lower price, or the next lower price, hopefully so on until one has gotten the money of everyone that wants it that has the conscious not to steal the product in question. I hear it so often in the video game focused podcasts I listen to; people that want to play a game on some level, but don't think it's worth it at it's launch price. They expect the price drop, so they're willing to wait. Is it a better game with a lower price? I can't think of a situation where the answer is "yes". That's an important part of why I object to this person's "insanely overpriced" comment. Either you mean you don't think the price is worth it instead, or you're saying the games were overpriced right from the beginning. For the three he specified, I'd say you'd have to be making an attempt to troll the supporters of the Wii at the risk of deflating your perceived intelligence to support the second theory.

I have no problem with someone that believes the price doesn't match the value they think they will get out of a game and they simply don't buy it. But this notion that one is entitled to a lower price because they wait? I can't support that. As I assume is the case with the Nintendo games with an MSRP at or near the price they had at their launch, if a game is still selling well, if there's no alternative at a lower price, I don't think there's any motivation for a business to drop the price.

Maybe I'm not cutting this person enough slack. They did say they only just bought a Wii less than four months ago. Assuming this person was a son or daughter of this family that bought the wii, this person probably wasn't paying attention to Wii game prices at all before. Nintendo is really the only one to do this, so even though they have been doing it for at least 6 years with first-party games, about 4 years with all of their system's digital games and applications, I imagine it's a very unpleasant shock (or "quite frustrating") for someone that just avoided information on a company's products. I was out looking at some more PSP game prices, and I was very pleasantly shocked to see the prices of some really highly rated 360 games. Not because they were rated highly, but because it feels like they didn't release long ago at all.

I've said in passing that I think the gaming industry could stand to drop the starting prices of software from where they are now ($60 to $50), by maybe $10 to $30 all around. If the industry could stop the expectation of price drops, then I think it could be just as profitable (if not more so) with a price model tens of dollars lower than it currently is that never really drops in price. With lower prices, more gamers are willing to buy in, more non-gamers are willing to jump into gaming, and renting and piracy doesn't seem as attractive. Number don't lie, and millions of people are absolutely willing to buy many games at $50 or $60, so I imagine such a price shift won't happen for many years, barring some crash in the industry to cause a "change or die" situation.

I've said my two cents, but you probably have your own change to throw at the topic since prices effect most gamers. I'd love to hear about it in the comments.


  1. I actually think Nintendo is waiting to introduce the "Player's Choice" line of Wii games, when they release their next console.

    It will be a huge way to keep the Wii software sales going, and keep the Wii selling at a lower price, while still making Nintendo profit.

  2. I kind of agree with coffee where Nintendo will introduce a Player's Choice line in the future. However, it feels that Nintendo of America should have released that line up with the Japanese "Player's Choice" line up but, if I remember correctly, that line up is exclusively for third-party games.

  3. Huh. I never considered releasing a cheaper "player's choice" line for the Wii with the release of Nintendo's next home-console, but that makes a lot of sense. Especially if it plays Wii games.