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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Switch Tax Myth, and Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Apples to shoes, and subjective value.

I always figured that “apples to oranges” is a stupid expression because of course you should be able to directly compare apples vs. oranges. Apples vs. shoes is more complicated.

A pervasive myth is that games are more expensive on the Nintendo Switch than other platforms—dubbed “the Switch Tax”—and gamers that favour the Switch are being punished for their choice. The Switcher site did a study of this back in 2018 and found that price variations sometimes existed, but were all over the place. On average, Switch games were slightly more expensive than their Steam counterparts... but many times, it's an apples to shoes comparison.

Here's a particularly interesting example that just released on the Nintendo Switch last week: Devil May Cry 3. Very popular, classic action game from CAPCOM. CAPCOM hyped it up for several weeks before the release, and revealed that it's not just a high-definition version of Devil May Cry 3, but it's a SPECIAL EDITION with real-time weapon change, real-time style switching, and a local co-op Bloody Palace mode that didn't exist before. This special-ness is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch. Other consoles with Devil May Cry 3 also call it the SPECIAL EDITION, but they lack the features just put on the Switch. In other words, all Devil May Cry 3 remasters are special, but the Nintendo Switch Devil May Cry 3 remaster is more special than others.

Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition (Switch) is $20, and if you buy it, it also grants you codes to get Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 2 for $10 each. That's $40 for that whole trilogy.

Ah, so here's where the Switch Tax accusations come in, on two fronts:

  1. Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 2 are normally $20 each, and they've been out for a while.
  2. You can get the trilogy (Devil May Cry HD Collection) for $30 on PlayStation 4, Steam, and Xbox One, and for nearly two years now.

I believe both of these are quite acceptable for the publisher.

For one, if you really wanted Devil May Cry during the previous summer and not now, your time horizon needs are satisfied. This is why calling it a “Switch tax” is silly. Taxation is theft. Being able to satisfy your time horizon desires is one of the freedoms of a voluntary market economy. That's the opposite of theft. It's basically the equivalent of a sale, and if you want to tell me Nintendo gets the short end of that, go explain the sale that just happened two weeks ago that had a very advantageous price for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy on a Nintendo system compared to the others.

For two, instead of being saddled with a collection with games you don't want inflating the price (Devil May Cry 2), you can apply the discount as you wish and get what you actually want at an advantageous price (Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition). You may argue, why, that's still 2 games for $30 vs. 3 games for $30!

Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition Free Style Nintendo Switch Royalguard Swordmaster Gunslinger
Here's a .gif of Free Style, a feature made only possible on the Nintendo Switch.

However, as I just wrote, the Nintendo Switch version of Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition is better than the other versions. It's more rich in features, and the YouTube commenters who prefer other platforms are reaaaally wanting it on theirs and not just only Nintendo. This game also takes advantage of the inherent Nintendo Switch value proposition (play anywhere you'd like, how you'd like) that isn't possible on other platforms.

That additional value for you, the customer, warrants a slightly increased price. That's what the Switcher's study found, as well. A lot of the more expensive Switch versions had more content put into them. I don't consider that a “tax” at all. I consider it a point of pride!

It could've been cheeky to make this KoopaTV's Tax Day article for 2020, but... no, this sort of information shouldn't wait for a given day. Let Ludwig know in the comments if you still think you're getting ripped off for some reason. In a couple of days, someone's gonna get $10 from him in Nintendo eShop credit, so if anything, you should feel ripped...on? Ludwig apologises for the gif-maker having an enormous and uncompressed file size.

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