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5. A quick scan of 3DS and Wii U first party game prices on Amazon reveals that practically every one of Nintendo’s games is more expensive in comparison to the competition. The Legends of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time 3D (on 3DS) still retails for £35.45 despite being 2.5 years old, and The Wonderful 101 (Wii U) still sells for £24.99 – despite the game not costing that much to make and also performing miserably at retail.
Compare this with Microsoft’s and Sony’s retail pricing strategies for their own blockbuster games, where Microsoft and Sony have both demonstrated that they are willing to drop the price of their blockbuster games to around £20 (Halo 4 and The Last of Us respectively) after 4-6 months of initial release. Not only do these retail price cutting measures ensure that their games receive a new lease of life in the marketplace, but the lowering of prices also plays a democratising role in ensuring that their games are available at a fair price that is suitable for all budgets.
Sony have also gone out of their way to release low budget titles at a great price-point, and examples of The Puppeteer and Tearaway releasing at £20 do some way in demonstrating the company’s commitment in catering for niche interests, as well as ensuring that their low budget titles are able to capture as large a market as possible.
But with retails sales increasingly affected by the online digital marketplace, it’s interesting to see both Microsoft and Sony ape Steam’s example by offering consumers cut-price digital sales. Sony presently have an excellent sale on it’s Final Fantasy catalogue, and Microsoft have also recently committed themselves to lowering digital game prices so as to be seen as being more competitive in an increasingly digital games arena.
Yet, despite Nintendo’s reputation as a world-leading software publishing powerhouse, their eShop prices are often described as being absurdly over-priced. In a market dominated by mobile phones, for which games cost no more than £2 on average, the average VC prices of retro NES (£4), SNES (£5.49) and N64 (£5.49) ROMS seems comparatively steep and highly disproportionate to what is already out in competing markets.
Despite Nintendo announcing a program designed to reward loyal customers, one can still however argue that Nintendo is out of touch with the marketplace, and that competing companies and products offer much cheaper gaming experiences that are of a far higher value proposition in comparison. Certainly, the issue of high prices has had an unhealthy impact on Nintendo’s reputation among the casual and hardcore gaming fraternity, with the company’s unyielding inflexibility in the face of public and market pressure resulting in it coming across as being greedy and not customer focused. And whilst these selling tactics may have worked in the past, in the age of digital distribution, Nintendo’s practices come across as being antiquated, with some arguing that these strategies are short-sighted (with regards to adjustable pricing) and are one of the principle reasons as to why the 3DS and Wii U have both sold below expectations, and why both have pitiful software attachment rates (2.95 and 3.62 respectively).
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