While some have raised their eyebrows at the initial cost of the Nintendo Switch itself, its the price of physical software which has been perhaps the most surprising. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild set the pace with its $60 / £60 price tag, but it was Konami’s Super Bomberman R which really got chins wagging; should a Bomberman game really cost 50 bucks in 2017, even if it’s a good one?
So why is this the case? Our friends over at Eurogamer have the most logical take: those disgusting-tasting Switch games cost more because the cards themselves are more expensive to produce than the cheap-and-cheerful Blu-ray discs used on the PS4, Xbox One and PC. According to Eurogamer, Switch cards come in a wide range of capacities – 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB and 32GB – and as you might imagine, the larger the size, the more the card costs to physically make.
That covers the cost rise for boxed titles, but what about digital games on the eShop which have no physical production costs to factor in? Why isn’t the Switch version of RiME £30 when purchased digitally, like the other versions?
There’s a fairly logical explanation there, too. Nintendo – like so many other platform holders – isn’t quite ready to cut ties with physical stores just yet and therefore forces developers to price-match the boxed and digital versions of their games. So if Super Bomberman R has a physical price point of $50 (to cover the costs of manufacture) then the digital edition has to cost exactly the same – otherwise, what’s the incentive for high street stores to stock Switch games?
This means that developers and publishers who are keen to give players the option of a physical and digital release are finding themselves being attacked for high price points – so offering a boxed copy could actually be seen as a negative. As Eurogamer points out, Sumo Digital’s Snake Pass is the same price on Switch as it is on every other format it’s launching on – and that’s because it’s a download-only release.
As time goes on and the cost of manufacturing Switch game cards drops we should hopefully see the typical RRP settle down to normal levels, possibly even giving us parity with Xbox One and PS4 discs. Even so, it shows the kind of quandary that your typical publisher finds themselves in these days; do you opt for a dual release to give your game added gravitas but lose potential sales due to the high price, or go download-only and miss out on retail exposure but hit the market at the right price point?
Which would you prefer? Let us know with a comment.