Why Are Nintendo Games So Expensive? (It’s Shocking!)

As a gamer, I bet you wondered why Nintendo games are so expensive and hold so much value even when they’re years old? I’ve noticed this myself and decided to do some research out of curiosity to inform people just like you.

Nintendo games are expensive because of the game cartridges cost way more than blue-ray discs, Nintendo decades of consistency, and the exclusivity of Nintendo games only being playable on Nintendo consoles which brings the prices up.

Breath Of The Wild is still around $52 on Amazon and the only way this happens is with Nintendos decades of gaming consistency that truly cements its brand as Video game royalty. I will go into more detail into all the points and truly analyze Nintendo as a company and what exactly makes it so special.

Why Are Nintendo Cartridges So Expensive?

Nintendo cartridges being very expensive to produce is a key reason why Nintendo games are so expensive. Unlike Nintendos competitors Playstation and Microsoft who use blue-ray discs, Nintendo uses cartridges of between 1- 32 gigabytes. With a disc whether you burn 6GB or 50GB to a blue-ray, the processing costs stay relatively the same. This isn’t the same with Nintendo.

Cartridges get more expensive the higher memory you need for storage and as reported by Polygon Nintendo Switch cartridges can be “around 60% more expensive than Blue-ray discs used by other consoles”. So the higher the storage the higher the production costs and therefore less money to be made. Third-party games just HAVE to be more expensive on the switch as otherwise, the developers wouldn’t make any money.

Third-party Nintendo Switch games are often cursed by the ‘Switch tax’ as shown in this article by Destructoid as Switch physical copies are around $10 more expensive because of the requirement of a cartridge as opposed to a disc. If a game cartridge is more than 32 GB it is very expensive to produce and third-party developers have to think twice before developing it on the Switch.

Now you might ask yourself “I just buy all my games online why does this affect me”? well, it does affect you as it affects retailers. This isn’t an issue just for Nintendo as all affect all gaming publishers & retailers with the ever-increasing trend of non-physical gaming.

If you’re a retailer what is the incentive of stocking a game in your store if in several months it will just become discounted and your physical copies are too expensive to sell? If Nintendo and other publishers still want to stock their games at retail stores they need to keep the physical and downloadable price as close as possible which is why Nintendo prices are so consistent. However, there are other bigger reasons why Nintendo games are so expensive.

Nintendos Has The Best Exclusives In Gaming

The biggest reason why Nintendos games are so expensive? It is simple as you NEED a Nintendo console in order to play a Nintendo game. For example, take a game like Grand Theft Auto IV which is still one of the best games of this generation. How many consoles can you play this game on? According to Wikipedia, it’s 5. How many similar games to Grand Theft Auto 5 can you play? TOO many to count.

How many consoles can you play Super Smash Bros Ultimate on? Only ONE, the Nintendo Switch which is the sole reason why I bought a Switch whilst living in China as I simply HAD to play this game. How many other consoles have exclusives where is it worth it to buy a console just for that game?

Yes, you could argue PlayStation does compete with Nintendo and this generation it has phenomenal exclusives in the form of Uncharted 4, God Of War etc and you might be right. However, there is NOTHING like a Mario game and NOTHING like a Zelda game and this is proven by the following statistics of Switch attachment rates.

Percentage of Switch Owners Who Owned These Games In January 2018

  • Zelda The Breath Of The Wild(55%)
  • Super Mario Odessy (60%)
  • Mario Kart 8(50%)

These statistics perfectly demonstrate why Nintendo can keep the prices so high it’s because they can! These statistics are 11 months after the Switch was released and over half of all owners own Super Mario! PS4 might have excellent exclusives but I can guarantee the statistics are not comparable with these. You buy a Switch just for games like this and I’m living proof of this as these statistics likely would only have increased since Jan 2018 with exclusives like Fire Emblem, Three Houses and Super Smash Bros Ultimate.

Also, big AAA Nintendo titles simply don’t come out too often compared to seasonal games like Fifa or Call Of Duty who’s prices sharply fall whenever a newer, brighter sequel comes out. Nintendo prides itself on the Nintendo seal of quality and the games take years and years of careful meticulous production to produce.

Nintendo games are timeless and interest or demand will never go down for these classic titles, so why should the price?

The last AAA Zelda game Skywards sword released 6 years before Breath Of The World, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 released 7 years before Odessy in 2010. These games take a long to make and therefore it makes sense the games still hold a lot of value despite years after they release; as even if you buy one 2 years after release you still have around 4-6 years before the sequel comes out.

However one of the biggest reason is the Nintendo seal of quality behind ever true Nintendo game.

Nintendo Official Seal Of Quality

Compared to Microsoft & Sony Nintendo has been in the gaming industry for more than 30 years and this is a quote from the official Nintendo website “. Since 1983, when it launched the Nintendo Entertainment System™, Nintendo has sold more than 4.’7 billion video games and more than 750 million hardware units globally This has created games that are beyond iconic and has formed generations of fans who love their games and have a certain expectation of Nintendo games and the quality they represent

Other gaming companies simply cannot compete with this level of brand trust and royalty and it’s a big reason why Nintendo can afford to keep their prices so high. Parents now in their 30s are buying Nintendo games because they remember what it was like to play Ocarina Of Time when they were a kid so seeing Link in Breath Of The Wild makes them so nostalgic as Nintendo has a permanent place in their hearts.

Nintendo is the gaming industries Disney and operates in a very similar business model. Disney routinely locks your favourite movies into a ‘vault’ meaning they only sell a specific number of copies before releasing them after time periods such as a 10 year anniversary. The supply is dramatically decreased and therefore the price off these movies go up.

Nintendo operates on a similar platform as both companies are deeply aware of the heart pulling nostalgia they operate on. Certain consumers would have been playing Mario for most of they’re life and Nintendo perfectly knows this which is why the prices don’t need to fall as the demand will be very high all the time. Whilst Nintendo doesn’t go as far as locking the games into a ‘Nintendo vault’ the comparisons are still quite interesting. Check out a deeper look into the Disney vault and you will see what I mean.

Nintendo has always prided itself on quality and they rarely release any games unfinished with game bugs at launch. I actually cannot remember ever experiencing bugs in a Nintendo game and if they happen they don’t happen frequently. A quote from the late Nintendo President Satoru Iwata perfectly shows this.

‘We make platforms designed to demonstrate high value of high-quality video game software

Nintendo stresses on absolute quality and this reflected by the popular video game scoring website Metacritic. Where Nintendo in a weak year is the fourth video game company via critical reception with an average score of 76.4 for games released in 2018. Nintendo was 2nd in 2017 as the most popular released such as Breath Of The Wild and Mario Odessy were released during that year.

Nintendo games being so nostalgic also makes them collectables as people are likely to hold on to them and never sell them. I know this myself as I have a collection of Resident Evil games on the Gamecube and despite needing the money I will likely never sell them.


So How To Save Money On Nintendo Exclusives?

So despite Nintendo exclusives being so expensive how actually do you get a smacking deal and save your hard-earned cash? I will tell you exactly how to do it.

Make Use Of Nintendo Points

Every time you make an eShop purchase you will automatically get points that can be traded in to purchase DLC and games from the eShop store. Nintendo makes the most money via purchasing directly from its eShop so it makes sense this is incentivised. You can actually earn points directly from your physical games which you can do via the main menu which is explained in the video below.

Although these points DO have an expiry date which is 1 year from acquiring so make sure to use these points before this data, every $6000 you spent is roughly $60 in Nintendo points which might seem insignificant but remember it’s free money so you might as well use it as every little helps.


Make Use Of eShop/Online Retailer Sales

Whilst the Nintendo eShop doesn’t have Sales as the level of Steam sales are often on mostly for indie titles but AAA Nintendo titles sometimes so on sale. Look for seasonal sales like during Black Friday to get the very best deals for your exclusive games and check extensively on sites like eBay and Craiglist when someone doesn’t necessarily know the value of Nintendo games and is looking for a quick buck.

Check out this subreddit https://www.reddit.com/r/NintendoSwitchDeals/ that is constantly updated with the latest Nintendo Switch console deals and games and everything Nintendo Switch related!

How To Make Money With Nintendo Games

One big plug for Nintendo exclusives as for all the previously mentioned reasons they always retain a LOT of there value meaning you can still sell them for a hefty sum even years after purchasing! I know this myself as I sold a DS copy of Mario & Luigi partners in time which is a 14-year-old game for around $30!

Make use of sites like Craigslist and eBay and maximise your selling auctions to get the very best price possible for your Nintendo games. Check out this handy guide on getting the most of your eBay auctions so you never get shortchanged!

Why Does Nintendo Use Cartridges Instead Of Discs?

As mentioned earlier you might ask so why doesn’t Nintendo incentivise retailers & developers and make their game on discs so they are easy to mass-produce and therefore everyone will earn more money? There are specific reasons why Nintendo doesn’t do this.

Firstly the cartridge which is really an SD card is better than a blue-ray disc. It will always read faster than a Disc and is more resistant to getting damaged as you don’t need to worry about scratched discs.. It is far harder to pirate than a disc and blue-ray burners were created roughly the same time as discs were created so you can see Nintendos viewpoint.

Nintendo has always taken a heart line stance against piracy as every Nintendo Switch is encrypted with a client certificate in the ‘“trustZone’ core of every switch“which is unique and if your Switch is dedicated playing a pirated game you will be forever banned from playing online!

Portability is another reason as a CD reader would make the Switch significantly more chunky and one of the big premises of the console is it’s the adaptability of being both portable and a home console. A Switch is actually shorter than a Blue-ray and as people play the Switch in motion this could have significant problems with a CD reader.

Although you could lay the device flat just having an SD reader makes the simple far less complicated and faster/ better in general. You also save time as both the Switches competitors the PS4 & Xbox One need to install games to the hard drive to improve speed and performance. The Switch could do this but the SDCard is fast enough to make this not necessary.

Although 32 GB is not much for a game as a lot of games now are shipped on double-sided Blue-ray DVDs allowing for at least 50GB of data, which is a reason Switch games are limited in size. However, Nintendo has proven time and time again that smaller cartridges are possible for even massive games and this is perfectly demonstrated by the Witcher 3 one of the best RPG’s of all time is available on the Switch with all downloads with only a single 32 GB cartridge of storage.

Nintendo are a very intelligent company and clearly choosing cartirdes over discs despite the shortcomings is a calculated decision and clearly it is still working for them,