A few weeks ago, Nintendo announced that the next Zelda release, Tears of the Kingdom, will be priced at $69.99 — and fans groused about the price increase, even though new Triple-A titles for console games have been around $60 since the 1990s, which is an awfully good run.
Most of us older gamers can recall games retailing above $70 (in 1990s dollars, no less) in the SNES era, so it’s not like this is without precedence. And with the high inflation we’ve had in the post-pandemic period, it was probably to be expected. It’s really remarkable that prices for flagship triple-A new releases has remained at $60 for so long. Of course, switching from cartridge to optical disc media helped keep prices down for a long time.
Yesterday, Nintendo released Metroid Prime Remastered, a re-release of a GameCube game that was new in 2002, and rapidly sold out of physical copies of the game everywhere priced at $39.99, which can now be found on eBay for $70-100.
Apparently a huge number of people accidentally bought copies of the game that they don’t need, and are now selling them because they can’t return them at the store for some reason. Weirdly, they are getting more reselling the game than they paid at the store.
You can still buy a digital download version of the game for the retail price of $39.99 if you don’t want to get scalped, and given that modern games always require downloading of updates, it’s debatable whether physical media copies really make sense anymore.
So apparently, $70 is too much to pay for a brand new game in a flagship franchise, but $100 is reasonable to pay for a remastered classic from 20 years ago that you could have gotten for $40. Makes sense.
Clearly, fans are willing to pay more for the games they want than Nintendo has been charging. Nintendo has been leaving a lot of money on the table. Allowing this gap to exist created the opportunity where scalpers can swoop in and buy up all available copies of a game in order to re-set the price point and sell it at whatever price the market will bear, for mad profit.
Perhaps it’s time for a large increase in the retail price. If the market is bearing these prices, surely it’s the people who made the game who should be reaping these profits, not whoever slept in the parking lot the night before.
Could Nintendo charge $120-140 for new releases? That would be in line with what the price was for games in the 1990s, adjusted for inflation. And it’s in line with what scalpers can get away with for highly anticipated, high demand releases. Maybe they should. Grab-a dat coin, Mario.