Iwata defends Nintendo’s download pricing

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has defended plans to price digital versions of 3DS and Wii U games in line with their boxed counterparts, claiming digital and packaged software have the same intrinsic value.

Responding to a question during a Q&A session following the the Japanese company's financial results briefing last week, Iwata said that he felt consumers saw value in different things, and should have options to choose from.

"When I think about it as one of the consumers… I find the value in being able to store a number of software titles in a hardware system and being able to bring them with me wherever I go and, therefore, I may choose this option," Iwata explained.

"[Nintendo does] not hold such a premise that digitally distributed software has less value."

While the question of exactly where value lies in any game purchase is an important one, we're not sure a handful of loose 3DS cartridges would present much of a challenge to most rucksacks. And the fact that Nintendo's digital downloads will be locked to a single system, rather than shareable like physical carts, arguably decreases their value.

Iwata went on to acknowledge the divisive nature of the subject, highlighting the differing positions of publishers that Nintendo has discussed it with.

"Some publishers believe that the digital versions should be cheaper while others insist that both versions must be set at exactly the same price," he says. "So, it is not only Nintendo’s idea. 

"Each publisher has various ideas on this point and, among them, Nintendo is now offering both versions at the same price point."

The questioner also raised concerns over retailers' possible need to discount digital software purchased from them using codes in the face of consumers feeling an unboxed version was overpriced. 

While Iwata wouldn't be drawn on details of wholesale price ratio or suggested retail prices, he cited the reduced inventory risks as mitigation for any changes in their margins.

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