£49 games and the Nintendo Switch
Something has worried me ever since the Nintendo Switch was announced. It is this. Nintendo will find it hard to convince me that paying £49 for a game on their system represents good value. “Oh!” You shriek, “Just because it is a console that can be played on the go doesn’t mean it is less valuable to the consumer or the industry. You’re prolly just a AAA snob.”
Here’s an analogy… Let’s say that you work in the car industry. Your company makes great software for braking systems and you sell that software to G-Wiz to put in their brand new low horse-powered micro car. Unfortunately, the G-Wiz can not get to a high enough speed to justify the use of your new brake system, but the McLaren F1 can make full use of it so you sell it to the high powered McLaren at the same price. The owners of the G-wiz are getting the same software, but will never be able to use it at the same level as the McLaren. Nintendo are trying to sell their games for the Switch as if they are running on a McLaren but they’re not, they are the G-Wiz.
It appears to me that any games being sold on the Switch that were released on other platforms will never be at the same level of performance that they reached on the consoles or PC’s they were originally designed to be played. So, why are people expected to pay the same price for them? You may argue, that the Nintendo Switch is a console first and a handheld second and that “The portability it provides will make up for the shortfall on technical proficiency.” That is possibly correct. However, shouldn’t that be factored into the price of the console itself and not individual software sales?
Let’s look at the price, £279. At £279 it is more expensive than the basic PS4 and basic Xbox One consoles. MORE EXPENSIVE while being technically inferior in every measurable way. Yes, the PS4 and Xbox One are sold “at a loss” but they make that money back on the software sales. Nintendo Switch isn’t being sold at a loss and is still the same price as these technologically superior consoles despite having inferior hardware.
Nintendo, in classic Nintendo form, are trying to have their cake and eat it and I believe that this has hurt it.
Games developed in-house and exclusive to the Switch will have no comparative yardstick on which to measure other consoles. Those games will have extra pressure on them to prove that Nintendo can still create great games. Since Nintendo’s Mario Kart 8 is being pre-purchased at £49 they will have to pull out all the stops to convince the world that £49 for a game on a technically inferior device is worth it.
What I am saying is, If Nintendo chooses to release Skyrim, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+, Setsuna and all other multiplatform games at the same price as other console and PC versions with very little or no improvements on previous releases, why would I buy it on a Switch? Just to be able to play it on a bus? Not me.