Nintendo finally showed its hand this week, revealing the much-rumoured re-release of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy in a triple pack called Super Mario 3D All-Stars. This is excellent news, and it’s great to see these fantastic games make it onto Switch. Even if Super Mario Galaxy 2 is missing for some reason, which is a real shame, because it’s probably the best of the bunch. No doubt it will make its way onto Switch at some point, but it seems strange to leave it out of this compilation. Could they not fit all four games on one cartridge? Who knows.
But then there’s this cynical nonsense about Super Mario 3D All-Stars being a limited release. Only finite numbers of the physical version will be available, and the digital version will be pulled from sale in March 2021.
But why, though? The obvious reason is that Nintendo simply wants to drive up demand for the game, causing consumers to rush towards a purchase in fear of missing out. I’ve even been tempted myself – I’m not particularly interested in getting Super Mario 3D All-Stars, seeing as I’ve finished all these games already and don’t necessarily want to play through them again, but I also don’t want to miss out on owning a piece of gaming history. I hovered over the preorder button, then came to my senses. This is just a cynical marketing exercise, and I don’t want to be a part of it.
Doing limited runs makes sense sometimes, like in cases where indie games with niche appeal get a small run of physical versions. That market is small, and it wouldn’t make economic sense to do huge print runs. But Super Mario 3D All-Stars is Nintendo’s main Christmas game, with huge widespread appeal. The only explanation for limiting its numbers is greed: manipulating people into buying it for fear of missing their chance. Yet it would have been a massive hit anyway. And as a result of this artificial scarcity, nefarious scalpers are already already selling their preorders of the game for more than double its RRP. Genuine fans face missing out on owning a copy because of profiteers. But don’t blame the scalpers for this situation, blame Nintendo.
Nintendo is the richest company in Japan, and has just had a phenomenal year of sales owing to the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons and massive demand for its console during the coronavirus lockdown. It doesn’t need the money. But limiting the availability of some of its most popular games makes the company look greedy.
Even worse, it makes Nintendo look mean. And that’s a troubling fit for the sunshine-happy house of Mario.