When retail games hit the 3DS eShop in August, they'll cost around the same as they do in stores, a practice many believe is counter-intuitive: without the costs of physical manufacturing and distribution, digital games sidestep many costs. But Nintendo president Satoru Iwata disagrees, claiming download games have a different value: having them with you at all times.
Iwata spoke to investors about the decision to set the same suggested retail price (SRP) for retail games, whether bought in stores or downloaded. Defending the software's inherent value, Iwata said:
Different people value different things. If we said, “This is the only proposal we will make so you have to take it,” it would be a problem as there would be no options for the consumers to choose from. On the contrary, what I explained today is that we are proposing the two formats of sales mechanisms from which our consumers can make their own choices. The needs of society shall be determined by the choices to be made by the consumers.
It's not just Nintendo management that feels this way — Iwata says other software publishers have told him their thoughts on the matter, with vastly differing opinions:
We do not hold such a premise that digitally distributed software has less value. In fact, as we have discussed this with a number of software publishers around the world, we have found that their opinions are completely divided on the topic of the price points of the digital distribution of packaged software. Some publishers believe that the digital versions should be cheaper while others insist that both versions must be set at exactly the same price. So, it is not only Nintendo’s idea. Each publisher has various ideas on this point and, among them, Nintendo is now offering both versions at the same price point (the same suggested retail price).
Retailers will still be able to set the prices for the digital games they sell in-store via redeem codes — a system similar to that implemented by Game and GameStop around the world — but Nintendo's official stance is a game shouldn't cost you any less just because it's a download.