July 18th, 2013. A day that we will remember. A day that will go down in video game history and Nintendo lore. A day that the house of Mario finally recognized that Earthbound exists, and that people outside of Japan want to play the Mother franchise.
With very little warning and virtually no announcement, Earthbound was released onto the Nintendo eShop for $10. People were happy. They were celebrating in the Wii U subreddit:
"IT’S BEEN CONFIRMED! TO DOWNLOAD! AWAY!"
"At work…. About to throw up all over to go home."
Some were too happy to even form recognizable words:
But not everyone shared this jubilation. Some were, dare I say, angry. People wanted to know why the port of a Super Nintendo game costs $10. Other games, such as Super Mario World and Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, cost $7.99. Gamers are undoubtedly wondering what gives on the pricing: Why does Earthbound have such a premium price?
There are two reasons. First, Earthbound is a premium game. Not only will the cartridge run you a pretty penny if you’re able to even find one, but you’ll also need a Super Nintendo to play it. Until the 18th, there was no other legal alternative: It was buy the highly priced Super Nintendo version of the game or download a ROM. For you European readers, you didn’t even have that first option; the game was never even released in Europe until the Virtual Console version.
As for the second reason, this one will hurt longtime Nintendo fans: We should all be used to the company’s pricing structures. In fact, we should be incredibly thankful that Earthbound only costs $10. A lot of people are recognizing the fact that PlayStation 1 classics cost $6 on the PlayStation Network. That’s all fine and dandy, but that’s dealing with Sony’s pricing strategy.
Allow me to introduce you to Nintendo’s pricing strategy: “Do you like our game? Pay top dollar for it. Don’t want to? Too bad. “ Anyone who disagrees with this assessment should check out the prices of the following games:
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 (released in 2010) has an MSRP of $49.99
- Kirby’s Return to Dreamland (released in 2011) has an MSRP of $49.99
- Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (released in 2009) has an MSRP of $29.99 … for the Nintendo DS.
Any used Pokemon game for handhelds have a price tag of a lot.
Nintendo isn’t shy about selling their games at a premium price because they feel the gameplay is of a premium quality. Earthbound is no exception to this. But come on, people. I get that the Steam Summer Sale is currently going on and there’s plenty of deals to be had, but $10 for one of the best RPGs of all time is a steal. Go buy it, support the franchise, and let’s hope we see Mother 1 and Mother 3 get a local release.