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Nintendo’s Zelda Price Hike Opens Door for More Expensive Games

(Bloomberg) -- Nintendo Co.’s upcoming Zelda sequel will be pricier than the company’s other Switch games, clearing the way for more game makers to also lift their prices.

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The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will cost $69.99 when it’s released in the US on May 12, $10 more than usual for new titles by Nintendo. The move, which matches premium pricing by console rivals Sony Group Corp. and Microsoft Corp., may presage wider increases as it helps normalize the greater upfront cost.

Game studios across the world, including Nintendo’s home Japanese market, have been desperate to hike prices — as the expense of producing games has ratcheted up with higher player expectations for quality and content — but none were willing to do so first. Nintendo’s decision with the new Zelda is likely to be welcomed by its peers.

“The mood is there, especially outside Japan, to raise software prices,” Koei Tecmo Holdings Co. Chief Financial Officer Kenjiro Asano said at a Jan. 30 earnings briefing. But his company didn’t “want to be one of the first to raise the price,” he added.

Capcom Co. CFO Kenkichi Nomura and Gree Inc. Senior Vice President Yuta Maeda expressed similar sentiments when discussing their most recent quarterly results. Both see a widely-shared desire within the industry to raise prices in order to offset increased headcount and spending to create new content.

A Nintendo spokesman confirmed the new Zelda game will be the most expensive first-party title from the company other than deluxe editions with extras thrown in. The company will continue to set prices appropriate for each game, he said.

“If there is one game that allows Nintendo to test the waters, it’s this one,” Tokyo-based industry analyst Serkan Toto said on Thursday. “The $10 price increase will not only cancel out lost purchases from users who skip the game but indeed lead to larger sales overall.”

The earlier Breath of the Wild installment in the Zelda franchise was the Switch’s signature launch title and helped the console succeed. Nintendo had sold 29 million copies of the game and 123 million Switch consoles at the end of 2022.

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