Extra: Stop Teeing Off About Mario Golf’s DLC

On April 23, 2014 by Jason Rechtman

Extra: Stop Teeing Off About Mario Golf's DLC

Yesterday morning, Nintendo dropped a bit of news that led to many debates across the Internet: the 3DS’s upcoming Mario Golf: World Tour will feature day one downloadable content. Starting on the game’s May 2 launch date and continuing over the following eight weeks, Nintendo will release three content packs for $5.99 a piece. Each will feature two new 18-hole courses and a new playable character. Or, if you prefer, you can buy all of them upfront for $14.99 as part of a season pass. In the eyes of many gamers, Nintendo is committing two cardinal sins with this announcement: day one DLC and the dreaded season pass. Many lamented how this would be the beginning of the end for fair Nintendo pricing and complained that Nintendo is going back on its word of ensuring a full experience when you buy a game at retail. In reality, however, nothing has really changed.

Perhaps the single biggest issue that many gamers had with World Tour’s DLC is that they feel they will not get a full Mario Golf experience when purchasing the game. To their credit, the concerns are justified. In the past, many publishers who launched DLC alongside a new game often left content out of the game in order to require separate paid downloads, yet still charged full price for the game itself. Nintendo is not doing this at all. On its own, World Tour will offer more courses than any previous Mario Golf game: a total of ten courses with 126 different holes. For comparison, the original Mario Golf for Nintendo 64 included eight courses, while GameCube favorite Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour came with seven courses. Both handheld Mario Golf games, on Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance, each only provided six courses in all. If anything, World Tour is bucking a slow downward trend in courses by offering ten right out of the box.

World Tour's DLC will range from the relatively normal (left) to the celestial (right).

Mario Golf: World Tour’s DLC courses will range from the relatively normal (left) to the celestial (right).

Of course, you could still argue that if Nintendo is able to release at least one two-course DLC pack alongside the game on May 2, those courses should have just been included on the cartridge. You may feel you’re not getting the full game you deserve. Well, conveniently enough, Nintendo is not asking you to buy at a full game price. While the standard MSRP of new first-party 3DS games is $39.99, Nintendo will be offering Mario Golf: World Tour for only $29.99. If you choose to buy all the DLC through the game’s season pass, you will end up paying a total of $44.98, only five dollars more than a normal 3DS game. And with those extra five dollars, you now get all ten courses with 126 holes, plus an additional six courses with 108 holes. In other words, for five dollars more than a standard 3DS game, you will still get more courses than the original N64 Mario Golf and Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour combined.

The one mistake Nintendo did make was calling the three-pack DLC bundle a “season pass.” Nintendo may have simply chosen this name as a reference to country club passes that last an entire golf season (this is a golf game, after all), but it’s still understandable that the term may alienate gamers because of how other publishers have mishandled their own passes. Yet regardless of what you call it, the concept is nothing new for Nintendo. For World Tour, buying a season pass provides a discount upfront if you commit to buying all three DLC packs. Instead of paying $17.97, you only pay $14.99 (and get Gold Mario as a bonus playable character). If this sounds familiar, it’s because Nintendo has done it before – just without the “season pass” name. For fellow 3DS title Fire Emblem: Awakening, Nintendo let players purchase packs of DLC in advance. Each pack contained three episodes, which were released over time and cost $2.50 each. The bundle option let players buy entire packs upfront for a discounted rate of $6, even before all the content was actually available. This is identical to the DLC strategy Nintendo is using with Mario Golf, only without a polarizing name attached to it. Similarly, Nintendo has previously offered discounted DLC bundles in everything from StreetPass Plaza to New Super Mario Bros. 2.

Fire Emblem: Awakening offered pay-in-advance DLC featuring classic characters (left). New Super Mario Bros. 2 also included DLC packs.

Nintendo is no stranger to DLC as demonstrated by Fire Emblem: Awakening (left) and New Super Mario Bros. 2 (right).

When all of this is taken into consideration, it becomes clear that Nintendo is actually offering a robust amount of content for a very reasonable price with Mario Golf: World Tour. The bigger question is why. World Tour could have easily sold for $40 with DLC released at a later date, yet Nintendo instead chose to offer a discount on the core game and immediately sell DLC as add-ons. It’s likely this is just the latest in a series of flexible pricing experiments that Nintendo Global President Satoru Iwata told investors the company will try, following a string of recent releases such as Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball (a game that essentially acts as a menu to buy more games) and Steel Diver: Sub Wars (Nintendo’s first full-fledged foray into free-to-play). Depending on how Mario Golf: World Tour does, we wouldn’t be surprised to see future Nintendo games available for less upfront with various expansions and extras available as separate downloads, all totaling the prices we already pay today. In the meantime, we’ll be hitting the links with a couple of Italian plumbers.

Leave a Reply