Rather than simply discount its digital games like every other video game platform, Nintendo is running a new Switch promotion where players can purchase special vouchers that can then be traded in for new games, turning the entire process into a convoluted mini-game of its own.
They’re called Nintendo Switch Game Vouchers, and the way they work is that you pay Nintendo $100 in exchange for a pair of vouchers. These vouchers can then be redeemed for a select list of games that include stuff as old as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild, which released when the Switch launched over two years ago, and as new as Super Mario Maker 2, which doesn’t release until June 28.
If you use the vouchers on two games that are both priced at $60 a piece, you’re technically saving $10 on each. But the discount is locked to a flat, $100 point downpayment, so you can’t get a similar discount for cheaper games like Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido, which already costs $50. Because the eligible $60 games include older titles like Mario Kart Deluxe 8 and ARMS, the vouchers feel like a contrived half-measure for Nintendo to offer discounts without simply marking games down over time. The voucher won’t even get you all of the DLC at a discount, either—only the base game.
And did I mention that the promotion is only for Switch Online subscribers? Even if you only play offline games like Kirby Star Allies and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, you won’t have the opportunity to save money on them unless you pay for the monthly subscription.
It might seem like I’m unnecessarily raining on Switch players’ parade here, but compare Nintendo’s limited-time vouchers to what you can do any day on the PlayStation or Microsoft Stores. God of War, which is only one year old, only costs $40 on PSN. Horizon Zero Dawn, which came out just a week before Breath of the Wild, is only $20. And that includes the game’s DLC. The Sea of Thieves: Anniversary Edition, which includes the latest expansion, is only $50 on Xbox One. And both PlayStation Plus and Xbox Game Pass offer upfront discounts on select games, rather than tying them to a coupon system. There aren’t any hoops you have to jump through to buy the games at those prices either. That’s just what they cost.
The vouchers themselves aren’t a bad thing. If you know you’re going to want Super Mario Maker 2 and one of Nintendo’s other eligible releases, you will save money. Of course, Nintendo could also just discount its games like every other publisher instead of making you invest $100 in a voucher system, but that wouldn’t be the Nintendo we know and love.