Tema: Pricing of Japanese games (mainly cartridge era)
(Originally posted this in Gamengai forum. Posting here because there could be potential discussion with members here too)
This is an interesting aspect of Japanese games I've always found. Unlike in the West where most new releases are generally the same price, in Japan its seemingly just free reign on whatever the fuck a company wants to charge on something. Having a look at all the databases of older stuff recently, its interesting just comparing various stuff.
Famicom games in the earlier years were generally all in the 4000-5000 yen range, then there were the FDS games which were all about 3000, then in the late 80's and early 90's cartridge games were suddenly upwards of 5000 or 6000 yen, with some getting in the 9000 range.
Of course Koei are their own beast altogether, with their strategy games on any console or computer going for about 12,000 yen give or take. How they got away with this I have no idea.
For Megadrive, it seems mostly first party Sega stuff was about 5000, then third party games anywhere from 5000 to about 9000.
Super Famicom prices I was surprised by, because about every game, even the Nintendo ones, were around 8000-9000 yen, with quite a few games breaking the 10,000 mark too, with some stuff reaching the Koei prices (Ys 5 was 12,800). Also for some fucked up reason, Bomberman 4 was 7777 yen, and there was some shogi game by Seta that was 14,800!!
Japanese releases of Western games on the SFC (not necessarily the MD) also are all usually more expensive than the average releases, with stuff like Indiana Jones, Super Star Wars, Judge Dredd, True Lies, Star Gate and Warlock all being about 11000 yen. What the fuck is the reason for this?
Of course I am interested in action stuff mainly, so I quickly looked over SFC and MD action games to see what the most expensive was. I only did this quickly so there is probably stuff I missed, but the most expensive (Japanese!) developed action game for SFC I saw was Majyuuou for 10,800 yen, and Contra The Hard Corps on MD for 9000 yen.
So, back in the old cartridge era, what exactly were the factors that went into pricing for a game in Japan? Of course there is meg size for a cart which if higher is more expensive to manufacture, but when comparing most of the games it seemingly didn't even matter for the pricing, with plenty of higher-meg cart games being released cheaper than other lower meg games. Apart from Koei who must have just though of themselves as developing hardcore strategy games mainly for adults and therefore charging more, did the pricing for other companies just depend on perhaps the hype a game had or niche it was marketed to? Maybe if a game was expected to sell less copies they just jacked the price up and made it a more niche game for the people they know are going to buy it? (which is guess is pretty much Koei's case anyway, but even with their stupid prices they surely they achieved more mainstream success than most other companies)
For modern stuff, the current Japanese PC game market (now mostly porn of course) is full of games all around the 10,000 yen mark (PC releases have always been the most expensive in Japan, no idea why). I don't really know about Japanese pricing on modern console stuff like 360 and ps3 though.