Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata says cheaper digital games could hurt the value people put on big franchises like Mario and Pokemon
You may have noticed that Nintendo has been making a push into digital distribution of its games this generation, with a large portion of its 3DS and Wii U library being made available for purchase through its online eShop. While you may think that digital distribution = no manufacturing/shipping costs, so therefore cheaper games, all of the digital games available on Nintendo's online stores are priced exactly the same as their retail counterparts. Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata explains that making the digital versions of games cheaper could potentially devalue them when compared to their boxed versions.
"[Digital games aren't cheaper] because we want consumers to value software as highly as possible and because we have been trying to heighten the value of our software whenever we produce it," Iwata said during an investor Q&A, adding "We decided that, since the contents are the same, the company would offer the software at the same price, be it the packaged version or the digital version."
He said that people have come to expect that big name Nintendo franchises such as Mario and Pokemon will be well "worth the price" before even purchasing them, announcing that sales for titles such as Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon and Pokemon X and Y have been very strong for both their respective digital and retail versions.
Iwata did conceed that he was open to the concept of lower price points for digital games if the game in question is a new IP, or a franchise with well-known characters, but new gameplay features. Examples of this already happening include the Mario Vs. Donkey Kong franchise, and Dillon's Rolling Western.
"For these titles, if we take the ordinary approach of selling the packaged software, the software might not reach its full sales potential, and even when we are able to create something interesting, the games often can just fade away without being noticed by consumers," Iwata said.