Nintendo’s limited-time game releases are designed to fuel a fear of missing out and drive consumers to buy software re-releases which can be a tough sell.
That’s according to a new Vice report, which cites an anonymous development source who claimed to have knowledge of Nintendo’s strategy.
A group of industry figures spoke to the publication ahead of several Mario products and a Fire Emblem game being removed from sale on March 31, 2020. The Mario products in question were announced in September 2020 as part of the Nintendo mascot’s 35th birthday celebrations.
They include compilation package Super Mario 3D All-Stars (which includes re-releases of Mario titles 64, Sunshine and Galaxy), last-man-standing Switch Online game Super Mario 35, and Super Mario Bros. Game & Watch.
Recalling a private meeting with Nintendo, one anonymous developer who’s reportedly been involved with publishing several Switch games told Vice: “They have data that shows that re-releases of games tend to wither on wishlists. The manufactured FOMO [fear of missing out] helps them get those sales, or so they think.”
Futuresource Consulting gaming analyst Morris Garrard concurred. “This strategy is sure to create urgency amongst Switch users to purchase content and avoid missing out on the experience, fuelled also by the media attention the strategy is already garnering.
“Imposing these time restrictions is expected to aid these limited-edition games in cutting through the noise.”
The limited release strategy has been adopted by other entertainment companies in the past, most notably Disney.
Disney previously locked its past films in the “Disney Vault”, which was its way of ensuring strong sales and interest every time it re-released a movie.
For Nintendo, the strategy has seemingly been successful so far. Super Mario 3D All-Stars released in September 2020 and had sold 8.32 million units as of December 31.
To put the figure in perspective, the 10th best-selling Switch game of all-time as of December 2020 was New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe with 9.82 million sales.
Physical sales of Super Mario 3D All-Stars rocketed 236% in the UK last week ahead of the title’s removal from store shelves.
Nintendo will provide updated software sales data for the three months to March 2021 when it publishes its full-year financial results in May.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars will still be available digitally after March via retail download codes, Nintendo recently confirmed.
It’s also possible Nintendo will re-release the Mario 3D All-Stars games in another format at some point, possibly as separate digital products.
“Limited time releases like Super Mario 3D All-Stars could be Nintendo testing different market approaches to selling and marketing its content in a quickly changing landscape,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella told Vice. “Or the strategy could be part of a content plan that will see these titles be available in other ways. I simply don’t know.”