There are all kinds of ways to make your product look more appealing to consumers. New packaging, sales, ads, the list goes on. Nintendo has found an interesting one to try on their Japanese store, as Japanese site Hachima points out.
On the left, we have Splatoon, and on the right Dragon Quest X. The former is up for 5,700 yen, while the latter is 4,104 yen. As Kotaku explains, the characters to the right of each price – the ones in parentheses – mean “tax not included” and “tax included,” respectively. Depending on your point of view, that either makes Dragon Quest X look about 300 yen more expensive or Splatoon about 450 yen cheaper.
On official game company sites, prices tend to be written without tax included. If it’s legal to do so, why wouldn’t you make your product look a few dollars cheaper? And sure, it does say whether or not the tax is included – they’re not lying. But it’s still a pretty shady practice, and despite the note on each game, it’s been proven time and time again that lower prices make a difference. There’s a reason game are $59.99 and not $60, and I promise it’s not because the publishers think we deserve that extra penny.
If Nintendo’s reputation with third party publishers wasn’t bad enough, this kind of tactic doesn’t help. Nintendo is clearly prioritizing their own content over others. This is despite the fact that it’s through their own shop. They’d be getting a cut either way, and they’d have people using their system to play games either way. So why make the differentiation? Nintendo has had a difficult time breaking into digital marketplaces. They’ve continually sold systems without enough memory and have had trouble keeping pace with Microsoft, Sony and, of course, PC and mobile gaming, and this seems like another instance of it.