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Monday, March 28, 2016

Gaming on a Budget on the eShop

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - A mix of knowing the sales, and of good ol' conservatism. And finance knowledge.

I was given a really interesting request by Nandin Lopez. In effect, it's asking how to conserve your budget for the Nintendo eShop, what to get, and how to resist ruining your allotted money spend. 

He gave an example of saving money in his eShop account for the upcoming, very soon release of a localised MOTHER 3. But suddenly, you can buy Pokémon Blue on the eShop! What do you do? Spend the money you want to save for MOTHER 3? Or keep the money in your account just so you can be ready for MOTHER 3?

If you were me, you wouldn't have this problem because you would have a bank account and would use your debit card to refill your Nintendo eShop balance whenever you want or need to. I only buy Nintendo eShop card codes just to give away as KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program prizes — your last opportunity to WIN a $10 Nintendo eShop code ends in two days as of publishing, by the way.

There is a concept within finance (boring, I know) called the “time value of money”. Basically, it's the idea that a dollar is worth more in the present than in the future. There's a lot of reasons for this, such as the general inflationary trend of dollars (you will have less purchasing power as time goes on) and that the earlier you invest your money, the more times it can compound with interest (if you deposit $100 for 20 years and it grows at 2% interest every year, you get more money than if you waited 5 years, then deposited that $100 for 15 years to grow at 2% interest annually).

Future Value Calculator Schedule
You're screwing yourself $14 by doing nothing for 5 years. Loser.
You too can play around — with the Future Value Calculator!

The purchasing power part may not potentially apply here, depending on your relationship to your eShop account. Why? 

...Because game prices don't rise with inflation. That is, Pokémon Blue is $10 on the eShop in 2016. It will probably stay at $10 forever (you and I both know it won't go on sale), until the eShop closes down for whatever reason. If you put in $20 into the eShop today and don't touch it, that $20 will stay $20 forever. You will always be able to buy the equivalent of two Pokémon Blue copies.

Based on that, I can't say whether it's financially smart or not to splurge now or save the money already in the eShop account. I will say that trapping money in your eShop account (once it's in there, you can't refund it) worsens your financial situation overall. You can't use that money for any other purpose, like allowing it to grow by investing it. Since the eShop account is interest-free, it doesn't really do you any good to keep money in there. Unless you believe you cannot grow your money faster than inflation (meaning, you believe your purchasing power will fall every year and you can't find any way to prevent that), and all you want to spend money on is videogames. THEN keep your money in the eShop account.

But there's always ways to out-pace inflation, so you shouldn't think that.

That said, when it comes to REFILLING your eShop account, it will cost more money (purchasing power) for you to do that in the future than in the present. That's because your dollars are worth more now, so they can buy more now. That means you need less dollars to buy an eShop code now than years from now. Put another way, in 2016 dollars, your dollar is worth one dollar. In 2020, that dollar might only be worth fifty cents in 2016 dollars (that'd be a YUGE amount of inflation, appropriate for a YUGE president!), so you'll need twenty 2020 one dollar bills to buy the equivalent good. Even if the eShop card will stay static in price, you can use dollars to buy other things in life, which will fluctuate in price according to inflation. So there's an opportunity cost.

This is all a long way to say that you should evaluate your overall financial situation and goals, and that I can't answer everything for you. If you have good places to invest your money, keep it in there and refill your eShop account as needed. Otherwise, the best time to put money into your Nintendo eShop account is right now. If you deplete that eShop balance in a month and still don't have any good place to keep your money, refill your eShop balance right away. Quick, before your dollars become weaker and weaker!

As for how to best spend your money? Depends what you like. If you're a bargain-hunter, you should be using Steam instead because things are always on sale for dirt cheap then be sure to check out Nintendo's eShop page at least once a week, or a source that will tell you sales as they happen.

Resident Evil 20th anniversary sale Nintendo eShop Revelations The Mercenaries 3D
You want to get a good deal on the eShop? 75% off all available Resident Evil titles until tomorrow!

KoopaTV will sometimes tell you about sales, too. Though, I have a bias towards only telling you about when Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games are on sale and not much else.

Whatever. I did mention post-Halloween sales for candy, so does that get me enough variation to be Fair & Balanced?

If you don't want to spend your eShop money, then you can enact parental controls on your 3DS and lock you out of spending your balance until you take parental controls off. Or you can just have a strong will.

Practise your urge not to impulsively buy things by walking through grocery stores with a shopping list. If you buy anything not on that list, you fail. Be especially careful for the areas around the cash register that are filled with gossip magazines for women and candy for children. From what I can tell, there's male privilege when grocery-shopping. (Not while gaming, though.)

Also, play through free-to-play garbage like Nintendo Badge Arcade. If you can make it through playing that virtual casino without being convinced to spend money, then you've developed some kind of financial self-control!

Treat impulse purchases like free-to-play micro-transaction solicitations and reject them.

By the way, if you followed KoopaTV regularly, you would not have considered Pokémon Blue to be a surprise release on the eShop. We knew about it back in November! You can plan ahead with that much time horizon. So read KoopaTV every day. It'll save you money, apparently.

I hope this article was insightful for you, Nandin. And anyone else reading.

If you have any questions about any of the points raised in this article, feel free to ask them and Ludwig will explain things more. ...He hates talking about finance, though. Request anything else besides finance (and rumours) talk on KoopaTV's Requests page!

Taking advantage of great deals like Humble Bundle is a great way to stretch your dollar, but you can't use your eShop funds for it.
But man, aren't those Ace Attorney sales really something?
You better have enough money for when MOTHER 3 will be out...


  1. ... I just buy everything on the eshop...

    I think I may have a problem...

    1. You're probably not as bad as WaluigiBag.

      I think he has an endless supply of money. He's always buying new games and I have no idea how many of them he actually plays.

      That's another thing: If you don't buy new games until you finish the ones you already have, you'll save a lot of money.

    2. Yeah, I've been trying to do that. I finished Azure Striker Gunvolt and Affordable Space Adventures recently... but now I'm stuck trying to 100% Hyrule Warriors again. ;-;

  2. Buying an Advance Wars game right away is always a good investment.

    1. Is this true?

      Advance Wars right now is $8 on the Wii U, out 2014. When it came out on the Game Boy Advance in 2001, it was $30, right?

      If I put in 2001 you purchased an item for $30, then in 2014 it would cost $40.12.

      BUT it's now only costing $8.

    2. Advance Wars is a worthy purchase no matter when it is bought or how much its price was in either the past or the future.

    3. Woah it's Inkling Boy.

      It may be a worthy purchase, but not a good investment.

    4. I have the whole humanoid Inkling plush set now.

      Well it would invest for a future for the AW series.

    5. Woah, it's Inkling Girl!

      You can also try writing a check to Intelligent Systems with Advance Wars in the memo!

  3. "If you can make it through playing that virtual casino without being convinced to spend money, then you've developed some kind of financial self-control!"

    I didn't realize how prepared I was for the digital economy until reading this sentence!

    Also, I kind of realized something when reading the section between the Resident Evil and financial interest screenshots: Since the dollar would be more common by 2020, wouldn't games also be more expensive (to properly fund the game developers)? For example, in 2020, a game would cost $80, which would make the $35 in the account to cost less than 50% for a new game instead of around 66%, like right now.

    Finance is confusing (however, I don't find it all that boring...). Anyway, thanks for this thought-provoking article, I actually bought an eShop card at the moment because of this!

    1. Games SHOULD be more expensive. However, game prices tend not to rise with inflation. At least, historically.

      PlayStation 2 games were $49.99, as were GameCube games. Now PlayStation 4 games and Wii U games are $59.99.

      However, $49.99 in 2001 is supposed to be $66.97 right now. So games are under-priced.

      This is not accounting for the fact that BUDGETS for AAA games have risen FASTER than inflation.

      What does THAT mean?

      It means that games are much cheaper to buy and much more expensive to make than 15 years ago.

      This is why the game industry pricing model is broken, and why so many developers are looking to micro-transactions and DLC. Games SHOULD be costing $69.99 now, or even more. But those prices don't look attractive to consumers because most consumers don't even know inflation is going on, or don't think about it.

      So they keep the prices at $59.99 and then nickel & dime you after you buy the game to get the rest of the money they should be charging.

      Consider inflation to be a hidden tax.

      If you want to go way back, the MSRP of many NES games was also $49.99. $49.99 in 1985 money is $110.16 in today's money, just to demonstrate how static game prices tend to be and how they do not reflect the true costs.


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