Last summer, most of the world was surprised to see a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Nintendo Switch bundle releasing in Russia and nowhere else – to this day, it still hasn't reached other markets. What was seen as a one-time oddity, though, has turned out to be the start of a whole line-up of Russian-exclusive bundles. Over the course of 2017, Nintendo RU has released The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and LEGO City: Undercover hardware packs, and, as Russian news outlet WiiU.pro reports, another one has unexpectedly appeared on the shelves in the region – this time, customers can get Nintendo Switch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and ARMS, all in one sweet discounted package.
The latest bundle costs 26 990 Russian rubles, saving around 2 900 rubles (~€42) compared to purchasing all the items in the set individually. Notably, each game comes on a physical Game Card, as all these Russian bundles are essentially a solus Nintendo Switch pack combined with a standard retail game by means of a cardboard sleeve.
Exclusive purchasing options aren't the only way Nintendo’s Russian division wants to introduce the Switch to a new and largely untapped audience. Last week, it published a new TV commercial for Super Mario Odyssey. Nintendo decided that appealing to the inner child of every Russian would be the most effective way of marketing the game (by using Soviet-style flats and army barracks as backdrops, of course - a year of military service is still compulsory in the country for all male citizens aged between 18 and 27), marking the first time it has produced an ad specifically for Russia, instead of translating a European one.
The attention this particular market is getting lately does make you wonder: why has Nintendo decided now to double down in Russia? To answer this question, we need to keep in mind the peculiar history of Russian gaming landscape, formed by the Iron Curtain in the 1980s, economic and cultural crises of 1990s, and Nintendo not really treating the country seriously in the noughties.
Aside from few odd partnerships with local distributors, the worldwide-known game company showed nominal interest at best until 2012, when the official Russian branch was opened. "The main reason we are opening the Nintendo branch in Russia is to increase the brand awareness”, said Yasha Haddaji, CEO of Nintendo RU in his first interview to the Russian media. "To increase" is quite an understatement, as Nintendo basically had to introduce the entire country to all Super Mario games after the very first one, and promote the fact that Pokémon did not in fact originate from a cartoon series. Franchises like The Legend of Zelda and Donkey Kong were still considered niche in Russia despite being phenomena elsewhere.
The sales figures were also far from being satisfactory. "When I became a NoE representative in Russia in October 2011, only 700 Nintendo 3DS units were sold in the country," Mr. Haddaji said in a 2014 interview. While not quite as shocking, the fact that only 100,000 Wii consoles had been sold in the whole of Russia wasn’t exactly encouraging, either – especially in a country with a population of over 144 million people.
Over the course of next few years, Nintendo RU was seemingly trying its best to capture the new audience while pleasing its small but loyal circle of Nintendo faithful – from opening its own online store just in time for Wii U’s launch to sponsoring the StreetPass meet-ups all over the country through the Nintendo Guardians program. Alas, branching out in a new territory with the underperforming Wii U as a flagship product was hardly going to be easy. The relationships with Russia’s most popular retailers fell apart within the first year of its business; on top of that, the ruble crash of 2014 ate up all the profits made during the peak year of the platform.
As Nintendo was preparing to send off the Wii U in 2016, its already shaky presence in Russia as wound down further; it got to the point where even the box covers stopped being localised for the region – considering that Nintendo of Europe was translating them long before the branch’s opening, that’s quite an indicator. Given this background, it's perhaps easier for an outsider to see how dramatic the change has been since the Switch arrived; Nintendo is attacking the Russian market with renewed enthusiasm and vigour.
However, from my perspective as a Russian Nintendo fan, the most important move was producing a full Russian translation for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, making it the first Zelda game to have one. Nintendo games being translated to Russian isn’t a novelty, as the practice dates to Mario Kart 7, but plenty of people were quite upset at Nintendo spending the localisation effort mostly on highly-accessible titles while omitting most text-heavy games – unless they happen to have Mario in them, for some reason. Seeing a pipe dream of every Russian Nintendo fan coming true, followed by virtually every Nintendo Switch exclusive being available in my native language (Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is the notable but sole omission thus far), made me forget about the time when the future looked grim for the fan base.
One of the main driving forces for Nintendo’s popularity is undoubtedly the fan base its has spent decades nurturing, but in Russia, it doesn’t yet have the luxury of brand power. The key word is “yet”, and it’s great to see Nintendo RU being as committed as we've ever seen, despite somewhat missing the right time five years ago. We hope the plans for the country extend way further than we can visualise at this point – Nintendo being strong in one of the world's biggest countries can only bode well for the future of the company in general.
The more the merrier I say.
About time too
Back in the Soviet era they have SNES ?!? I higly doubt.
The more Nintendo love in the world, the closer we grow together ^^
Surprised they didn't lean on Puyo Puyo Tetris more, what with Tetris being designed by a Russian and the game being so closely associated with Nintendo ...
Btw, Russia using Standard British Age rating 0+, 6+, 12+, 16+, 18+ ?
Here in Brazil we were left behind!
It's also worth noting that the relationship between Russia and Japan has not been exactly an easy one since the beginning of the 20th century, despite good relations in the past. Afaik, there was never any peace treaty signed after WWII and there are ongoing disputes about islands and natural ressources, like fishing rights, to this day. Hence, I image that for the longest time, the climate for business ventures in Russia was not exactly ideal.
Mario looks like Stalin , coinkidink ?
Wish that Nintendo noticed Poland some day with just a Polish subtitles to games like Zelda, Xenoblade etc. I'm doing fine with english one but my father struggles with those and it gives him no fun to play games with no understaning. It's sad to watch him like this since he was the one who showed me Zelda back when I was 3 years old. Shame, Nintendo :,(
Russians really like video games.
That much I've learned.
@Hikingguy It was a part of a "blast to the past" booth where they demoed SNES Classic. They've also set up other prop interiors (like an airplane) to show the portable aspect of Nintendo Switch.
I seen this new bundle yesterday, I didn't think you'd report it or make a feature out of it. The Russian eShop can sometimes be good for picking up cheaper versions of games than elsewhere.
FAKE NEWS! The Russians coerced you into writing this!
@Hikingguy It was a themed stand at Comic Con, designed to look like an old-fashioned Russian living room
@Anti-Matter There's no age rating in Russia. They call it Russian roulette, you never know what age rating you're getting with your game, maybe it's 3+, maybe it's 18+, it's always a surprise!
Who gives a toss? 😉
I saw Mario Kart 8 Deluxe rated 0+, Super Mario Odyssey rated 6+.
@Anti-Matter Story of Seasons and Fire Emblem are rated 18+ in Russia.
This was a really i interesting read! Its funny how Western focused much of the Nintendo reporting is (with the obvious exception of Japan). I'd love to know how Nintendo is doing in other continents.
I also wonder how much their expansion into Russia will mirror how Nintendo decides to tackle the chinese market when the time finally comes.
How could Story of Seasons rated 18+ ?!
@Anti-Matter don't play it man. It's full of sinful acts
It's interesting when you think about it: back in the 80s, when kids in America were playing NES, electronics barely even existed in the Soviet Union. They had to queue up to buy simple things like a chair and had to wait for months to be delivered. Now they are almost as civilised as first world countries.
All hailed Capitalism. 💰💲💵🤑
I'm no expert but I thought one of the problems with Russia (much like China) is all the pirates over there.
Well I have a Russian friend, and he never really played Mario. I don't think he knew much or anything about him..... He was just a PC gamer because that's all that they mostly had, so hearing this, I hope that Nintendo does really well.
I too want to hear stories of other countries, I can't wait to have Nintendo not just be popular in USA and Japan, but everywhere else. They seem to really care about giving everyone something, which is Great! I love how they avoid politics, they just want fun, not matter what other countries think about Japan.
Are same sex relations possible in stardew valley in Russia
I knew Story of Seasons was rated CERO A / Everyone / PEGI 3.
Don't be so Sarcastic !
That's Rude to me !
And yet nothing for the Middle East region although it’s a big market out there especially Saudi Arabia
@Anti-Matter oh sorry. I never played it but I heard it from someone who heard it from someone who watched it on you tube.
Wow, that ad was super good, propos to Nintendo Russia
Good. The world needs more Nintendo. Just like the world needs more cowbell.
I just want to know whether Puyo Puyo Tetris was released there yet, and how it was received if it was.
@Anti-Matter We don't use 0+ and 6+, we have 3, 7, 12, 16, 18 in the UK
Grats to Russians for their good taste in gaming......now about the UK charts. This is an ongoing sadness
I was expecting this to happen. I’m expecting them to slowly push there way into all BRIC markets with probably China next. Nintendo offers a unique proposition, which should make it easier to infiltrate those markets than Sony or Microsoft.
@thiz Emm, what does Rainbow road have to do with being gay? I think you went too far
Btw what do you mean illegal? Is there a law in Russia that forbid someone to be gay?
Question: Did Nintendo's lack of presence in Russia all these years mean that the SNES, N64, Gamecube etc. had to be acquired through the gray market? If so it's interesting to see Nintendo tacitly recognize that fact in this ad.
Side note: I always love the way Russian announcers/radio ads sound, even though I have no idea what they're saying.
And now that Nintendo has a renewed interest in Russia, it may be time for them to take seriously that country with nearly ten times the number of people: INDIA.
@roboshort I was thinking this but apparently that wont happen anytime soon in China if the recent news is to be believed (more to do with the difference in market preference there), Nintendo is to release their content as a software developer on the nvidia shield in Chinese exclusively in an attempt to make inroads in that market. Maybe one day there will be a robust Chinese gaming economy that can rival other nations, but id think by then it will be Nintendo's next gen console to really make an impact on China, if that were to happen at all.
China lifted the ban on consoles but not on many of the games that accompany them, even Sony has a very small presence in China mainly because of this issue, and Sony likes to plant its flag on ever bit of rock with humans living on it this planet has to offer.
This further asserts my theory that Nintendo is bent on taking over the planet...one system at a time. It's nice to see that they're making a genuine effort with Russia.
Please no more Mario Odyssey language updates! We have lost enough memory-space already!
In the meantime, English (Canada) is set to 12h format and F on the Switch haha.
Finally, years of propaganda bootlegs being pushed aside.
@Razer Yeah. It might take a year or two for Nintendo to get seriously into China, but I think since the Chinese mostly play smart phone and PC games, Nintendo could appeal to a largely untapped sector of the market. The problem for Sony is that the PS4 doesn't really offer much that PCs don't. Nintendo will have to have a well-thought out plan first, though.
Russia?? Who knows.
I know I can be annoying but Russia IS the biggest country in the world. Saying it is ONE of the biggest tends to refer it in a top five position rather than THE top position.
I know in this business regions are usually prioritise over countries so it is easy to cross match the two, so it is understandable.
That’s it. No more annoying post. Promise.
In Soviet Russia you don’t get Switch, Switch gets you!
With the Switch, being how it is, they can reach every country in the whole world! Or almost, well... It's such a good idea, full of good games, fun, and for every type of person.
They just need to low the prices a little bit...
@Hotfusion I guess it depends on what metric “biggest” is measured against. Landmass is certainly 1, but by economic activity and population it is bottom half of the top ten.
I work in Moscow.
It is true. Nintendo Russia is doing a great job here.
I have been to three Nintendo events--Switch opening night where they had a huge hall, gave away prizes and let everyone play Switch the games.
There was another one for the 2DS XL launch. Same thing, Switch games and 2DS games. And a big Splatoon tourni.
They had a similar, but smaller event at Russia Comic Con.
The main problem is that the Switch is not affordable for people living outside big cities. 22,000 rubles is a lot for some people--and even some people's monthly salary.
I wrote on another site, but on the metro here I see people playing Switches. I was in the shop the other day and people were buying them. There were ads in the metro here and some shops still have Mario Odyssey ads up.
I know that for the WII, people would have friends traveling abroad pick one up. That may just be due how much it cost. There are retro shops in Moscow that sell SNES, SEGA, NES, GameCube, etc. I am assuming that there was a market, but a small one. Nintendo was just never popular here.
If i understand correctly - yea. )
Lol biggest countries.
Congratulations on your land mass.
Interesting article. I wonder what the brand standing is like for Sony, Microsoft, Disney, adidas and other western businesses?
Russia has a rep for producing very bright coders and mathematicians I’d have thought this would breed a healthy gaming scene? I know precious little about it and so would welcome a follow up piece in due course.
@KIRO from what I read, PC gaming is the predominant platform in Russia. Also piracy is rampant there.
In Mother Russia, you don't play Nintendo... Nintendo plays YOU!
@Anti-Matter it's the russian rating system
@CorvoRevo in what timeline was the SNES released in the soviet era?
Well, it is not the Soviet period or the 1990's anymore. Many, if not all Western brands are present in Russia. Disney, Microsoft and Sony products can be bought just like in the West. We use PC here, go see Disney films, buy all the toys from those films, have PS3, PS4, Sony TVs, phone, etc.
This article is "interesting" not because Russia is some strange ("other") place but because it is a market that was always niche for Nintendo. I live in Moscow, it is like London+Manhattan.
@KIRO From a layman's perspective, all the brands you've mentioned are doing well in Russia in general, just like in any other European country. However, they've started their business in Russia way before Nintendo. For example, Sony has opened its branch in early 2000s (and had the benefit of a brand recognition being built by a grey market of 1990s) while Microsoft's trade relationships date all the way back to Soviet Union.
I'd say the companies which focus on services and digital content are the ones which do struggle to compete against local companies and basic piracy. Netflix, Amazon, even Uber to some extent... huge corporations elsewhere, they are niche at best in Russia, pushed away by Russian entities which were quick enough to adopt the idea in the country. Just like Baidu and Alibaba in China, basically.
There was no peace treaty signed in general. Not just concerning Russia or Japan. There is the "Zwei-plus-Vier"-Contract (don't know how you'd call that in English) but that's a whole different thing. So technically we're still in a state of war but not openly – or something.
But I don't think Japan has a "grudge" against Russia. Russia is at least the only one of the victorious powers that acknowledged their guilt for the outbreak of the war. Because it wasn't just one country and then all went to hell. There are multiple factors that play into it. Of course "nobody" wants to talk about it.
But this is about video games... so... pay no attention and move on.^^
Being a Russian and an avid Nintendo gamer, I can assure you it's been a very strange relationship that's getting better thanks to Yasha and his team (met him in person, a very dedicated person).
The "problem" with Nintendo has always been piracy. It's not the initial price of the hardware, it's price of the games that limits Nintendo products popularity. You see, for PC Steam has regional prices for Russia, so absolutely legit games are dirt cheap, even more so on their sales. Console makers do not. This alone puts the PC in a very advantageous position.
Traditionally, the console with easiest piracy ruled. Thus Sony got great foothold with the PSOne and the PS2. The PS3 was a tougher sell, but there came sales, the PSN Plus and second-hand disks. Much of the same can be said about the PS4. Xbox was on fire with the 360 and its pirated disks, but the One sells badly: too little exclusives, and cross-platform titles are dirt cheap on Steam.
As for Nintendo, the GBA and the DS were relatively popular, but the DS was overshadowed by the PSP: Sony got a huge fanbase and yes, easy piracy with better presentation for most games. The 3DS was first eclipsed by the Vita, but with Sony abandoning it rather soon and smartphone gaming failing as a concept, the heads gradually turned to the 3DS. And yes again, it got hacked by that time. The Switch is taken seriously, and is considered the only proper portable platform. You finally have no problem finding the actual console and games at big retailers and online (the thing unheard of previously), big releases arrive timely even on physical media. The biggest issue is game prices - the main audience for gaming are still school and university students and young adults. They don't have enough income for launch-day prices. 30+ guys who do, like me, are the minority. Yet the ad is aimed at us: you played NES knock-offs when you were a kid in the 90-s, the DS in the 00s, now all those characters are back. But "grown-up" titles are a must to sell it to 30+ guys like me with a PS4 under their TVs. Skyrim, Doom, LA Noir and Bayonetta helped a lot, Nintendo franchises except Mario and Pokemon are still too niche and are considered "childish".
@ylitvinenko wow, who says you don’t learn anything on a gaming forum? Thanks for dropping your knowledge , really interesting.
Now if only Nintendo could finally come back to Brazil!
Nintendo should consider Indonesia as next game market.
How could Nintendo didn't consider Indonesia existence after they use so Indonesian theme from this song.
That was song from Lost Kingdom part 2.
When i heard that song for the first time, i was surprised because the music felt sooooo..... Javanese !
The flute, the gamelan sound, the melody....
Like i have ever heard from Traditional Javanese Restaurant or Javanese Resorts.
"except Mario and Pokemon are still too niche and are considered "childish".
So What if Mario and Pokemon are "Childish" ??
I'm 33 years old guy but ADORE Kiddie and CUTE games like both of them.
i adore Pokemon too, but not every 30+ gamer wants to buy and play kiddie games like Kirby and Rayman all over again if he doesn't got kids. Many turn to PS4 for more mature titles.
The low value of the local currency would be an issue too. A Nintendo system could be worth a month's salary. Even today, I was in Ukraine recently and everything is 50% to 80% cheaper than the USA equivalent.
Russia is still a dangerous and unstable country with rampant corruption(The US shares the corruption, but lacks the instability). I don't blame Nintendo being hesitant or cautious with Russia.
That said, I am glad the comrades are getting a chance to enjoy the fun that is Nintendo.
@MrDarkmark You need to understand that, after the USSR's collapse, the interiors didn't become as modern-looking as the one in the West all of sudden. People were still learning about Western culture and approach to design, and besides, a lot of people just didn't have enough money to remodel their houses.
The interiors are probably the most accurate part of the ad, to be honest.
Russians are gamers too. Let the Capitalists in!
@ibis_87 would you say alot of Russians might not be able to afford these very high prices on Switch Hardware, accessories and games? Not to mention the Eshop games are also higher than its competitors. Heck I'm not Russian and I can't afford Switch right now. So I scrape to buy used 3ds and Wii titles. I've actually been able to get some great gaming for very low prices.
This was a really interesting article - and the comments underneath were even more interesting. Good to hear about gamers in what, to often blinkered westerners, are not traditional markets.
In fact Russia geographically is not only one of the biggest, but actually the biggest country in the world. I know education is not mandatory in all countries, so this one you get for free.
And what about Mexico?
Kimishima goes where there's business to be made !
@Gaeus Well, that may depend on what you define as a peace treaty, but in fact, there were numerous treaties signed between formerly Allied states and so-called Axis states. Just take the Paris Peace Treaties for example. There were also bilateral treaties signed in the aftermath of the war, e.g. between Germany, which btw fully acknowledges having waged a war of aggression to the point of building it's very constitution around the prevention of the very same scenario, and Poland in 1970 and after the fall of the iron curtain in 1991.
Also, as you point out the, the "Zwei-plus-Vier Vertrag" was and still is the defacto peace treaty for Europe. To my knowledge there are no territorial disputes left between e.g. France and Germany, or Germany and Poland - or really any neighbouring states. Thus the situation is different from situation in the Sea of Japan, where disputes are ongoing to this day.
I wouldn't say it doesn't matter, because this not just about videogames, it's about business - big business in fact. But even if were only about videogames, this matters a GREAT deal, esp. these days. Videogames are cultural products and in this day and age, cultural is being used systemically for nationalist purpuses. Cultural purity and 'western corruption" for example, are hardly new concepts of course, but in recent years - at least that is my feeling - they have seen a resurgence of sorts in certain parts of the world. I know it sounds silly, but there have been backlashes against Japan in China, based on the popularity of Japanese porn and porn idols in that region.
It's not hard to imagine that there are nationalist forces in Russia and elsewhere, who have little interest in seeing neither Microsoft nor Sony or Nintendo dominating the free time of their kids and young adults. As any product of culture, videogames transport ideas, some of which are not necessarily deemed good or worthwhile by some powers-that-be. True, traditional media like books and music have always been more suspect in this regard, and thus have been subject to censorship since their inception, but no one in his right mind would argue today that videogames are 'neutral' products, free of inherent ideas and values.
Trump must be happy.
@Anti-Matter Haha, yeah I thought of you when I heard that music!
Of course you're probably the only Indonesian Nintendo gamer I, or most here, have ever known....which probably explains why Indonesia doesn't have it's own localization division Same with most of the small island nations of Asia Pacific.....such small areas and relatively low populations are hard to justify the vast expense of individual versions for, especially when most of the population that would actually buy it already knows another language they localize it into already. So many languages in the world, it just wouldn't do to translate all of them!
@MrDarkmark Pretty much. Imagine a socialist country entering a rampant capitalism all of sudden, to the rejoice of those who wanted to get as much money as humanly possible, no matter how many lives are going to be broken. Combine that with a sense of your homeland literally falling apart, and you'll get a huge economic and cultural crisis which peaked in 1998.
@Anti-Matter, I was talking about PERCEPTION, not the actual games. Think of it as an image of flagship Nintendo for the general gaming public. Definitely not my own opinion.
@Windy. It's more complicated. In a word - no, the Switch is NOT a Mercedes Benz in terms of price here. Part of the problem is that people are still not completely used to the concept of paying for software - piracy was so rampant even 7-10 years ago, that very few people realized games also consume part of their budget. It was a "pay for the hardware - play games for free" concept. Than, the audience - those who play most are not ready to fork out $60. Those who are don't play that much.
@ibis_87 It's not a Mercedes Benz, but still outside Moscow and St. Petersburg in a smaller town like mine it's a month's salary for good 50% of the people. And 1/5th of the salary for one game. Ninty really needs to aim for lower prices. You've mentioned Steam; another great example may be Apple. Apple Music is 169 rubles, which is about 3 bucks compared to 10 in the USA. Those guys get regional approach.
I've got a stack of a hundred or more pirated PC games from late 90s-2000s, but can't remember the time I bought the last one. Starting with budget jewel cases in early aughts and then great digital deals, PC piracy is basically gone (at least among my friends). That shows there's a way if publishers are willing to work. Let's hope Nintendo works something out, I would love to see it succeed here in Russia.
Well, I started gaming on the PC back in the early nineties. I got a Famiclone for my sixth birthday, and thus Bomberman, Duck Hunt and Contra entered my life.
Since then, I've amassed a boxful of pirated and genuine Famicom carts, worked that Famiclone to death, got another one, bought a Super Famiclone and am now collecting a second box for SFC carts.
In the interim I bought a DSi, a PSP, a Wii, a 3DS, each with tons of games, but each time a crisis hit - be it in 1998, 2008 or 2014, console game prices went up while Steam's stayed sane. And now I'm 31 and I can't afford to let Switch take a bite out of my family budget, because a brand-new AAA game on PC will set me back a couple thousand Rubles at best (~$30), maybe less with smart couponning/promotion/pre-order discounts, while a Switch game costs twice that. I've long since moved to getting my 3DS games used off eBay or on discount days on the eShop - Nintendo is probably the only console maker that doesn't give Russia regional pricing boons.
The trick is, which really revived PC gaming in the early oughties, is when the game publisher must choose - do they want to sell the games at $30 but see the stock move or offer them at $60 and watch as people pirate their stuff while hardware sales flag because you can't pirate for this console? Dropping prices to compete with the mass-produced cheap bootlegs of twenty years ago was what helped 1C and Buka cement their hold on the PC gaming market, wresting control from for-money pirates. These days, only for-free pirates are left. Sony's decision to make a cheap budget PSP, the E-1008, made it sell like hot cakes, along with cheap reprints of various reliable sellers like football and racing games. I hope Ninty will do the same eventually.
I still want to get a Switch though, because Shin Megami Tensei V won't play itself, I already skipped the WiiU and Tokyo Mirage Sessions (good riddance on the WiiU, sure, but TMS may not get ported forward?), and I don't want to miss out on more demon-gathering goodness. That, and my 3DS is worse off than my DSi by this point, its age is showing. I need a new spiffy console unmarred by being dropped on the asphalt, snowed on or taken to where "cell reception" sounds like an STI.
@ibis_87 I had heard that a longtime ago.
@Heavyarms55 You know what they say, don't judge a book by its cover. Especially when that cover is being read by the press. Just because some American news network like CNN or NBC said that "Ruskies are bad and corrupted because reasons, don't go there" doesn't mean that all 140 million people are some grumpy commies who don't know what fun is. We don't do that for some reason, and neither should you.
@KruToy_MooDuck Funny how you tell me not to make generalizations, while making plenty about me. I don't watch CNN or MSNBC. Nor do I think regular Russian people are any different than regular Americans, Japanese, Germans, Egyptians, etc. But the Russian government is a dangerous, untrustworthy entity. And it is a fact that anti-Putin politicians and reporters often end up in jail or dead.
Not that America or the UK are perfect places either, far from it. Especially America if you aren't a wealthy white man...
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