Game companies have continually struggled with the concept of maintaining the value of their products. Games suffer from much of the same problems that electronics do where only the latest is seen as the greatest, and thus, the most valuable. Once the game in question is out for a set period of time and other games enter the market, they are quickly tossed aside and game companies are left in a situation where they need to spur further interests. Companies typically employ the same old tired hand that any company would use to spur interest in their product:
- Have a sale
- Reduce prices
- Advertise more
These all operate on the same basic principle, the product is what it is and as it ages it will decrease in value by simply being older than the new products being released. To compensate for this, the previously mentioned tactics are employed. But all those tactics seek to accept the idea that the value of the game can only go down over time, and there is no wait to maintain this.
Some game developers have bucked this trend, such as CD Projekt Red and Capcom, finding success by continually providing content.
…The first method, best exemplified by The Witcher 3 and most Nintendo titles is the idea of maintaining value. In the case of The Witcher 3, CD Projekt Red sought to extend the value of Witcher 3 by providing small consistent updates to the game. This served the game in two main ways:
Provided Free Marketing
Maintained the Value of the Game
….because the updates were free and well reported, it added consistent value to the game. Where many games a month or two out from release would already start discounting their product, The Witcher 3 did not have to because its perceived value was maintained through its free DLC. If you were a consumer and opted to wait, you gained more value by playing the game later with all the free DLC. This has the same effect from a consumer standpoint as reducing the price. When free content is added, more value is added…
Nintendo has taken a similar approach when it has come to their online games. Both ARMS and Splatoon 2 have seen and still see updates continually, adding value throughout the entire process. If you are a player and are purchasing the game initially, you have the benefit of playing the game earlier. If you are a player who purchases the game later, you have the benefit of playing a game with more content. In both scenarios, the content is being used to maintain value, even if it is at a different point in time.
However, these practices typically don’t extend to single player games and they have the nature of being largely digital in nature. But Nintendo has introduced a tactic that has been largely used with smaller publishers to bolster the value of their physical releases, but instead, using it to maintain value, not to create an initial increase in the value of a game. Adding additional physical content to their physical releases and branding them as such.
Companies such as NIS American, Xseed, and even Sega have all published titles that have sought to increase the value of their physical releases by adding additional items.
Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory is an upcoming Nintendo Switch title that NIS America is publishing. The game retails for $39.99, but NIS America has created the Exemplary Edition. This includes not only the game, but an art book, soundtrack, pin, and a special collectors edition box, bringing the value of the purchase up to $59.99. Other publishers have included special items as an incentive for buying the game at launch, for example when Sega launched Yakuza 0, they created a Business Edition. At no extra price, but requiring a pre-order, it would include a stainless steel business card holder in addition to the game. In each of these scenarios, publishers are including additional physical content in an effort to boost the value of the product. However, this only works during the initial launch as they are only made available then and don’t add any additional content afterward.
Nintendo has come up to a solution to this problem, that not only appeals to their desire to maintain their games value (since Nintendo games rarely drop in price) but also accepts that fact that games do lose some value the older they get. If you as a company are unwilling to drop the price and is a title that doesn’t traditionally support content being added after launch, then there is one only option; starter editions. Nintendo has recently started a new trend with some of its games by releasing what they have termed as starter editions.
Starter editions serve as a method for Nintendo to increase the value of their games by not dropping their prices. Nintendo is always concerned about its brands and how they are perceived. Making sure that they still sell at full price is an essential part of that perception. However as games age in the immediate future, they decrease in value. Instead of decreasing the price, Nintendo can simply re-release the game at a later date with an added set of items such as a guide and other items, while also keeping the price the same. Using this method Nintendo can check all the boxes they are seeking to check, maintaining the value of the game without lowering the price.
As the push for digital only grows stronger and stronger with each passing day, it’s important to remember the value in physical items and releases. Many companies leave the physical editions of their games to essentially rot and devalue the game as a whole. After all, why would you buy a digital version of a game when a physical one will be swiftly discounted? But with the efforts of companies in creating and maintaining value through new and additional physical content, that disparity between physical and digital value will greatly shrink in addition to adding value to those who are early and late adopters, making it a far easier proposal to pay full price for a title.