Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser was asked during a recent interview why some popular Nintendo games are only being sold for a limited time. His answer? “[T]his is a celebration.”
Earlier this year, Nintendo released Super Mario 3D All-Stars to coincide with the 35th anniversary of the original Super Mario Bros. for the NES. The collection ported Super Marios 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy to the Switch for $60, but it also came with a major caveat: fans would only be able to purchase it until March 31, 2021. It was a confusing move that seemed modeled on something like Disney’s past vault system which would limit the sale of older movies to create scarcity and drive up their value. It sucks, especially for anyone who might pick up a Switch after March 31.
“Yeah, I think I use a simple word: celebration,” Bowser told Polygon when asked about the decision. “It just—this is a celebration of Mario’s 35th anniversary. And we wanted to celebrate in unique and different ways, and we’ve done that through games like Super Mario 3D All-Stars, or we will be doing that through future releases, such as Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury.”
He went on:
There are various ways that we’re celebrating Mario’s 35th. And with some of these titles, we felt it was an opportunity to release them for a limited period of time. They’ve done very, very well. Super Mario 3D All-Stars has sold over 2.6 million units in the U.S. alone. And so clearly, consumers have been able to jump in and enjoy that. And it’s not strategy that we’re going to be using widely, but it’s one we thought was very unique for the actual anniversary.
Based on the 2.6 million copies sold, the strategy seems to have worked out alright for Nintendo. The company is taking a similar approach with Super Mario Bros. 35, the free Switch Online battle royale platformer, and Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light, the $6 port of the original game that had previously only been released in Japan. Nintendo leaned on the “celebration” line when asked about that purchase deadline as well.
“Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light is the first Fire Emblem game in the beloved franchise, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary through March 2021,” a spokesperson for Nintendo told Kotaku back in October. “We are excited to offer the game localized in English for the first time to commemorate the occasion.” Coincidently, March is also when Nintendo’s fiscal year ends. Fire Emblem’s actual anniversary ends in April.
Polygon’s Russ Frushtick followed-up during his interview to try to get a real answer, but the Nintendo of America boss didn’t bite.
“Yeah, at this point, the decision was really made around that celebration feature and aspect,” Bowser said. “I can’t speak to plans beyond the the end of March.”