When RiME developer Tequila Works announced that their game would be coming to the Nintendo Switch, there was a lot to be happy about. However, when Tequila Works announced that RiME would cost $39.99 on the Nintendo, things changed. The reason being that on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One the same game would be costing $29.99.
The reason, development and manufacturing costs. The Nintendo Switch cartridges cost more to manufacture than a BluRay or DVD costs to print. Plus that bitter after taste of the Nintendo Switch carts isn’t free.
Then there is the costs associated with 1st Party certification, something which all games go through to be released on consoles. That is added to by the licensing costs the 1st Party holders have on the system. These two items are also why you tend to see a price difference between PC and console versions as PC has no first party or certification process, just the retailer, tax, distribution etc cut of the sale.
So why doesn’t Tequila Works make it so that the physical game costs more and let the digital version of the game cost less? Well, that comes down to the market share of digital and physical retail. Physical copies of games still account for a large percentage of a games’ sales. As we have previously covered, physical retail stores like GameStop, GAME, EB Games and Amazon to name a few, don’t like it when you offer a digital version of a game for less. So much so that they often reduce shelf space for other games you might be looking to sell if you tried it.
So for a publisher to sell their game cheaper digitally than it can be offer for in physical format, the retailers would push back to make sure it doesn’t happen again and to send a message to other publishers.
You could, of course, get around this by only offering a game digitally like Sumo Digital is going with Snake Pass and will cost $20 on all platforms, but then you miss out on the physical sales market.
Nintendo also hasn’t helped the cause as they are passing the manufacturing costs onto the publishers who in turn bump up their prices. Nintendo should be looking to aid publishers, after all, it was their choice to pick cartridges over discs.