Given the rising popularity of the 99-cent app and the free-to-play game genre, it seems logical that publishers of triple-A games would do everything in their power to keep prices as low as possible. Obviously, nobody should expect to walk away with Super Mario 3D Land for $10 on launch day, but it’s in the best interests of games sold at retail to stay at a low price point.
As it happens, the era of the high-priced retail game is not over and done with quite yet. Capcom’s Resident Evil Revelations for the Nintendo 3DS will cost around $50 USD when it launches in February 2012, which is approximately $10 above the average suggested retail price for a Nintendo 3DS game.
Earlier, Capcom confirmed to Kotaku that the higher price for Revelations isn’t because the game is bundled with the 3DS Expansion Slide Pad; that’s still sold separately. Instead, the high cost of entry can be attributed to the fact that Revelations is supposedly “a true console experience on a handheld device.” Revelations, according to a spokesperson for Capcom, is so packed with features that the game requires a 4 GB card, and all that memory drives up the cost of production and publication.
It’s a fair declaration, though it brings back memories of gaming’s more expensive days. Remember when some cartridge-based offerings, including Final Fantasy III for the Super Nintendo and Phantasy Star IV for the Sega Genesis, required so much memory that they cost close to $100 USD?
Fortunately, the price for Revelations won’t climb to such lofty heights, though the $50 tag has gamers concerned, nonetheless. Questions have been raised on online communities, including, “What if this sets a standard for Nintendo 3DS game prices just because we all caved and paid an extra $10 for Relevations?”
That won’t happen. Capcom believes Resident Evil fans will pay a little extra for Revelations, and they probably will. If the game is excellent and truly packed with content worth re-visiting, those fans will be placated and will feel that the price of admission was worthwhile. Whether or not they’ll pay that much again is another question.
What about everyone else?” Given its cost, Revelations is going to stick out from the rest of the 3DS’s library, and not in a flattering way. As a Resident Evil game, Revelations will find its way home. As an impulse buy, however, the game will be overlooked in favor of cheaper fare.
Doubtlessly Capcom knows this, and would prefer for established Resident Evil fans to pay a little extra for a polished title versus scaling back and making the game more financially appealing to random GameStop passers-by.
That doesn’t mean Capcom’s business plan is fool-proof. Revelations may well be a “console experience on a handheld device,” but if that’s the case, why not just put it on a console, where the $50 price tag wouldn’t raise any questions? Also, the Nintendo 3DS needs as many high-quality titles that it can get its hands on, but the success of Nintendo’s handhelds has never ridden the ability to create an experience equatable to what you’d find on a console. Super Mario 3D Land fully utilizes the 3DS’s 3D screen. Tetris suited the original Game Boy’s screen perfectly, and went on to become one of the most popular games of all time. Similarly, the earliest Pokemon games utilized short, squat sprites and focused its gameplay around trading creatures via the Game Boy’s link cable. Finally, there’s a whole App Store brimming with the truth about small games: though people still enjoy meaty portable fare, we primarily latch onto cheap apps that pass the time at a bus stop.
In other words, Capcom has the right to charge what it wants for its games. Fans will undoubtedly play and enjoy Resident Evil Revelations. However, Capcom should also keep in mind that we don’t necessarily want a console experience from our handhelds–that’s why we have consoles and PCs. One $50 3DS game won’t initiate a pricing apocalypse, but if that game turns out to be substandard, people will start asking questions. And if more than one $50 game makes its way onto shelves, people will start asking a lot more questions.