The Mario collection is a middle finger Nintendo gets away with | Column

This week Nintendo announced several Mario-games in collections to celebrate the iconic plumber’s 35th birthday. It is particularly striking that a number of those games are only available in limited editions for a limited time.

There is Super Mario 3D All-Stars, a collection that finally brings the timeless classics Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy to the Switch. In addition to the lack of superior Super Mario Galaxy 2, there is one more remarkable thing: the collection, of course a regular purchase for the average Nintendo gamer, will only be available in limited editions from September 18 to the end of March 2021. Both physical and digital the game cannot be officially purchased after that.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars isn’t the only Mario game to meet that fate. Super Mario Bros. 35, a battle royale-esque version of Super Mario Bros., can only be played until the end of March via a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Also the special edition of the Game & Watch with Super Mario Bros. it comes out in a limited edition and is no longer for sale after March.

Back in the vault

It’s not new: Nintendo did this much earlier, for example with the rare Zelda collection for the GameCube and a re-release of Super Mario All-Stars on the Wii. But this time it stands out even more because the company even creates scarcity for it digital Products. Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Super Mario Bros. 35 can only be downloaded until the end of March. That while it is a breeze for Nintendo to create an innumerable amount of download codes for the games.

Something else is going on here. Nintendo seems to be creating a kind of ‘Disney Vault’, or rather: a ‘Nintendo Vault’. Disney Home Entertainment released several Disney cartoons for many years for short periods, after which the company discontinued production. Then Disney put the cartoon in question back in the ‘vault’ – aka the safe – until the next re-release.

Since there is not an infinite amount of copies of Super Mario 3D All-Stars available, the game does not lose any value.

Premium (prices)

Have companies like Disney and Nintendo gone crazy? Why would they stop producing a game (or cartoon) while it continues to sell well? This has everything to do with the image that both companies want to create and maintain. Both companies want to be ‘premium’ brands. Nintendo and Disney products are of high quality and are always in demand: that’s the trend. It is therefore not the intention that coveted games or films remain in the shops in large numbers. When empty shelves can be seen, the average consumer sees how popular a product is. These are basic lessons that the average marketer is fed up with.

Such a Vault method has another nice side effect: premium products keep their premium prices. Since there is not an infinite amount of copies of Super Mario 3D All-Stars available, the game does not lose any value. In fact, should there be too few copies, the value will only increase. Psychologically, games like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine will always feel valuable as a result – they will continue to be associated with premium prices. When they become part of a new collection in years to come, consumers will once again pay the full price without blinking their eyes.

Nintendo may still release the games separately digitally on the Switch eShop after March 2021, but you can count on it that you will pay more than if you buy them in one package. Again, it’s a smart way to save more money from what are basically fun dressed ROM dumps.

Middle finger

It is not in the least friendly towards the consumer, but companies are not there to keep us friendly. It’s part of their strategy. If you follow the industry and the way Nintendo has been positioning itself for years, you almost have to respect the way Nintendo positions the most customer-unfriendly strategies as assets to their image.

As a gamer, it feels like a fat middle finger is being raised at you. Offering a game digitally for a limited time is creating the most extreme form of artificial scarcity, because it would not cost Nintendo any extra effort to continue to offer Super Mario 3D All-Stars on the Switch eShop after March 2021. Offering a special physical collection only temporarily is one thing, but digitally? That is the extreme.

You and I can jump high or low, but that doesn’t change the following: most of us are really looking forward to Super Mario 3D All-Stars and will do everything we can to buy it. We hardly care about the price in advance. We know that the collection is only for sale temporarily, so we are ready with our wallets, without giving it much thought. Just the way Nintendo (and any other commercial company) likes it. As said: it has been so taken off the pot that I respect it.

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