Last week, indie developer Tequila Works found itself in a bit of a controversy over the upcoming Switch-release of their game Rime. When the title arrives on Nintendo’s new system, it will cost $10 more on Switch than it will on other platforms. The developer’s rationale was a bit hard to follow, but now it seems that the system’s cartridge format could be to blame.
According to a rumor that originated from Eurogamer, the cost of each Switch cartridge varies based on the size of the game, and its print run. Developers can’t simply charge less for a digital version, because Nintendo mandates the same price on the eShop in order to keep retailers like GameStop happy. If Eurogamer’s conclusion is correct, this could be potentially problematic for smaller developers in particular.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t other options available. Developers can always choose to offer their titles as eShop exclusives. While that might not be the most ideal situation for those that prefer physical releases, it would allow smaller developers to keep costs the same between formats. It should also be pointed out that Limited Run Games, a company that specializes in physical releases for indie titles, has expressed a lot of interest in Switch. Since their releases tend to arrive after games have already been released digitally (and since they directly target collectors), this might enable indie developers to release games at a cheaper price digitally and then sell a more expensive version directly to collectors down the line.
At this time, it should be remembered that this is simply a rumor. Even if this proves to be true, costs tend to decrease during a console’s lifespan. Hopefully this won’t prove to be an issue for the system as time goes on.