The Unfortunate Reason Multiplatform Nintendo Switch Games Cost More Than On Other Consoles – Forbes
Yesterday, Rockstar announced a new remaster of LA Noire which was coming to PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, marking their first foray into Nintendo’s new console.
But in the wake of the news, fans noticed something odd. While in Rockstar’s store, the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game cost $40, the Switch version cost $50.
This is not the first time this has happened, as a few indie games have cost around $10 more on the Switch in the past, but this is significant because this is a big title from a major studio where Nintendo players are at a flat-out disadvantage with their version costing more.
So what’s going on? This time, like the other times, it has to do with Nintendo’s decision to use cartridges on the Switch. The result? Higher costs for publishers, which are then often pushed directly to consumers in order to make sure margins are worthwhile.
Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmed went into more detail about this on Twitter yesterday:
“If a publisher wants to put a game on a 32GB cart on Switch it costs 60% more for them then it would for a 50GB Blu-Ray on PS4/XB1. Your game needs to be less than 8GB (because 8GB carts are cheaper) if you want to make the same margin as PS4/XB1 Blu-Ray disc.”
LA Noire is a larger game, so it won’t fit on an 8 GB cartridge and requires a larger, pricier 32 GB one instead. That, combined with other costs like platform fees and packaging costs, means that we arrive at a place where a Switch game just costs $10 more than its rivals on other systems using Blu-rays.
The obvious solution would be to offer the game as a digital download instead to avoid these costs, but the Switch’s hard drive is too small for that to be an option for many games, LA Noire included. And if you do want to have both digital and physical games, even if one is cheaper, there usually needs to be price parity so that physical retails aren’t left out in the cold with dramatically more expensive games.
But the final situation is no less weird where some Switch games will cost more than their rivals on Microsoft/Sony’s systems. We have not seen this happen that often to date, usually only with ultra-cost-conscious indie titles, because the X1/PS4/Switch don’t actually share that many titles that are released across all three platforms. But if that was the case, for larger, AAA titles especially, this price disparity would probably still be there.
This isn’t a huge deal as the system has been out for six months and this has only happened a handful of times, but if the Switch did manage to land more multiplatform titles in time, it’s certainly not a great look to be the system where games cost $10 more. Some publishers may choose to eat this cost, but with margins the way they are, it’s easy to see why they’re not particularly eager to do that.
It’s an interesting, annoying issue, but the Switch will probably be just fine regardless.