Can Nintendo’s Cheaper Video Games Help It Compete?

Mario and the Nintendo Selects games.

Source: Nintendo

It’s clear that Nintendo has been struggling in recent years. After all, the Wii U — despite having lots of great games — is failing badly enough that Nintendo is already launching a new console well before either of its competitors have any reason to consider such a move. One thing Nintendo could do to make its offerings more appealing would be to offer price discounts on its older games, a common practice in the industry, but one the company has shied away from in the past. But with a new program called Nintendo Selects, it’s doing just that.

Nintendo has selected 12 games on Wii, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS to bring from a suggested retail price between $40 – $60 down to $20 each. Here’s the lineup.

Wii U

  • Super Mario 3D World
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
  • Pikmin 3
  • NES Remix Pack

Nintendo 3DS

  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
  • Yoshi’s New Island
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
  • Mario Party: Island Tour


  • Super Mario Galaxy 2
  • Animal Crossing: City Folk
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns
  • Super Mario All-Stars

What’s baffling is that Nintendo hasn’t been doing this all along. Just about every other video game publisher does it. They put out a game at a standard retail price, and then gradually bring the price down to $20 or lower as the months and years go by.

By contrast, Nintendo tends to keep its games at their launch price until they go out of print — at which point resellers inevitably hike the prices up even higher.

On the plus side, this tactic gives the impression that Nintendo games are more valuable than other games. Apple operates in a similar manner, by rarely dropping prices or putting its items on sale, giving its products an air of superiority. But Apple does drop its prices on older products when a new model comes out. Nintendo generally doesn’t, with games like Fire Emblem: Awakening still retailing for $50 even after its sequel is out.

Why Nintendo keeps its game prices high is anyone’s guess. It’s also unclear how it chose the games for the Nintendo Selects lineup. Plenty of other Nintendo games could benefit from price drops, including Super Mario Bros. U and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, both of which sell at or near their debut prices years after release.

Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad in Super Mario 3D World.

Source: Nintendo

It’s also unclear if Nintendo will continue bringing older titles into the Nintendo Selects program. As the company moves on to the NX console, it would be great if all of the highly regarded Wii U games were readily available to anyone who wanted them at a reasonable price.

Even still, the Nintendo Selects program is an example of the company being flexible with how it operates. Its business practices for the past half dozen years haven’t been successful. The Wii U is in a distant third place in the current console race, and the 3DS hasn’t sold nearly as well as its predecessor. It’s time for a change.

The Nintendo Selects program shows that the company is trying new things. And if even half of the crazy rumors we’ve heard about the NX are true, it’s clear that Nintendo is starting to branch out. That’s a good thing, both for Nintendo and for the fans.

Follow Chris on Twitter @_chrislreed
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