So I talked about Resident Evil 0, 1 HD and RE4 coming to the Switch very soon on the podcast recently. I was pretty excited about it as I have been itching for a good horror game for a while. I’m a little less excited right now though. The prices have been revealed and Capcom is going all in on the Switch Tax.
What is the “Switch Tax”? Well for those of you that don’t pay super close attention to Nintendo news, the Switch Tax is this idea that games on Switch have a tendency to be more expensive. Sometimes this is justified, and other times it is definitely not.
So why the hell are developers charging more for Switch games than other platforms? there are a lot of reasons why a dev might do it. First off the Switch uses cartridges rather than optical media i.e. disks. This is essential for a portable system, optical media can run into lots of problems if your console gets bumped and jostled around. The issue is that cartridges are more expensive that optical. Therefore the publishers don’t want to lose money on the sale, and they pass the cost on to the customer.
I understand this, it doesn’t really bother me, but what does bother me is the idea that the digital version of the game is priced the same as the retail version of the game. Let’s talk about Resident Evil 0 as our example. That game is $20 on other platforms, while its $30 on the Switch. Okay, I get it you have to pay for the cartridges. But the issue that bothers me is the digital version of RE0 is also going to cost $30 on the eShop, and that’s just wrong.
Now it would be easy to blame Nintendo for this, after all they are the ones selling the cartridges to the publishers. I’d love it if Nintendo could lower the prices of the carts to make it cheaper for the end user, but perhaps they are already at their price floor on them. It would be easy to blame Capcom for this because they are setting the price of the game. However, with absolutely no evidence I get the feeling the blame rests somewhere else. Notably brick and mortar retailers. I’ve read articles in the past that have stated the places like GameStop will often require that publishers keep the digital price the same as the physical price or they will refuse to carry the game. I spoke about my problems with GameStop recently on an episode of Run Jump Stomp. Stuff like this is exactly what I was talking about.
While this may not be the case for this particular pricing issue, my gut tells me it is. I could be totally wrong though, perhaps the publisher wants to make sure something that costs them money i.e. Physical media sells faster than something that is essentially free for them to sell.
Edit – Fixed a typo where I referred to RE0 as RE4, Sorry.