If you've noticed, there are a few Nintendo Switch games that are more expensive than their platform counterparts. The game with the highest visibility has been Rime from Tequila Works, a game coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch. The Switch version costs $39.99, while the others cost $29.99. So what's the deal?
Rime publisher Grey Box pointed to the proprietary cost of the Nintendo Switch cartridges as the reason.
"We set prices for our products based on the costs of development and publishing for each specific platform," said a Grey Box spokesperson when asked about the additional price hike. The company has declined to say more.
Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime demurred on the issue, when asked about the difference in price between some Switch games and their counterparts on other platforms. He said pricing is up to the developer and publisher.
"We don't make that pricing decision," he said on a Facebook stream. "When you see those differences in prices, call up that third-party publisher and ask them."
Eurogamer is reporting that both statements are true. The cost of making a physical Nintendo Switch game is higher than that of a Blu-Ray for an Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or PC game. That costs goes even higher as you move up the list in cart sizes - 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB and 32GB - with the latter costing way more. You can bring those costs down with a higher print run, but indies don't really have that option.
Developers and publishers do determine the prices of their games, but it seems that Nintendo's rules are getting in the way. Eurogamer reports that Nintendo policy is that physical and digital versions have to cost the same. This is apparently to appease brick-and-mortar retailers and it's why many indie developers are Nintendo eShop only.
Currently, Rime is one of the few games where we can see the effects of these problems in action. Has-Been Heroes, Puyo Puyo Tetris, and Binding of Issac: Afterbirth+ are Switch physical releases as well. With Has-Been Heroes, the physical and retail prices are the same. With Puyo Puyo Tetris, the physical release is more expensive, but the reason for that could be the inclusion of the physical keychains coming with every copy.
Binding of Issac: Afterbirth+ is available on other platforms, but requires buying Rebirth, Afterbirth, and Afterbirth+ in a bundle. The Steam bundle costs $5 cheaper than the $39.99 asking price of the Switch version, with no discounts.
As the Switch continues on, we'll see how Nintendo and its indies handle the situation moving forward.