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Report: Switch cartridges to blame for higher game prices

Report: Switch cartridges to blame for higher game prices

March 13, 2017 | By Alissa McAloon

March 13, 2017 | By Alissa McAloon
More: Console/PC, Indie, Production

A handful of games are being listed as more expensive to purchase for Nintendo’s freshly released Switch console than for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Neither the developers nor Nintendo have fully explained the pricing discrepancy, but Eurogamer reports that the Switch’s physical game cartridges themselves might be to blame. 

Paying close attention to both the experiences of other developers and Nintendo’s own comments on indie support are both incredibly important for those interested in creating a game for the Switch, and this situation is no different.

While specifics about these pricing discrepancies are still somewhat unclear, Eurogamer highlights some issues developers may want to keep in mind as they set their eyes on Nintendo's latest console.

Ultimately, it seems to boil down to the fact that Switch game cards cost more to make than the Blu-ray discs favored by the PS4 and Xbox One. Beyond even that, the capacity of the cart and the volume of the order can further impact the price to release a game physically on the Switch.

Those game cartridges come in 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB capacities, and bigger cartridges will naturally cost more to manufacture. So the size of your game is one thing to consider when thinking about a physical Switch release, but Eurogamer reports that the size of each individual print run could impact manufacturing prices, which becomes a cost-raising issue for developers that don’t expect to move large volumes of physical copies. 

The simple answer to the high manufacturing costs problem would be to raise the price for physical copies and keep the digital price as-is, but this is easier said than done. 

Eurogamer reports that Nintendo requires both physical and digital versions of games to remain the same price in order to keep game retailers happy, since any price discrepancy could potentially discourage players from purchasing the game in-store. So, when faced with a physical release that will cost more on only one console, some developers have opted to raise the price of the game on that one platform to compensate. 

Of the developers it spoke to, Eurogamer said some were planning a digital-only release in an effort to sidestep this issue entirely. Snake Pass creator Sumo Digital is one such developer.

“We have no issue keeping the price the same across all platforms digitally,” explained Sumo COO Paul Porter. “Indeed, it was important to us that people wouldn't be penalized by which platform they decided to purchase.”

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