Thanks to the design decisions made by Nintendo in the development of its new Switch console, the game industry is seeing a problem it hasn’t seen in two decades: the cost of manufacturing game cartridges versus that of manufacturing optical disks.
This doesn’t matter so much for big games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but it does for mid-range stuff. GamesIndustry gets into the weeds on this with a look at the upcoming game from Tequila Works, Rime, which costs $10 more on the Switch than it does on other consoles due to the cost.
Further complicating this is that Nintendo, like its competitors, has a policy requiring that games in its eShop be priced the same as their physical counterparts – a concession made to keep the still-necessary retailers happy.
GamesIndustry notes that some developers have considered giving games Switch-exclusive features to offset the price difference, but gamers tend to be completionists, platform-loyal, and often entitled. The reaction to platform-exclusive features in games has often been negative.
A digital-only future, but not by choice
At a risk of losing possible customers, then, Switch devs are unintentionally being pushed toward digital-only releases, which allow for them to price their games competitively with other platforms. Nintendo already has problems courting third-party developers. In fact, those problems began when Nintendo refused to budge from cartridges for the sake of the increased capacity of CDs on the Nintendo 64.
GamesIndustry also notes that if developers indeed are pushed toward a digital-only release – or even skipping the Switch altogether as a result of these complications – that means less games on the shelf at retail and less offerings for consumers to persuade them to pick up the system. In other words, no one wins here.
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