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Why does Mario Bros. cost $8 on the Nintendo Switch eShop?

Is this a bad deal?

Arcade Archives Mario Bros. - Mario and Luigi with Shellcreepers Nintendo/Hamster Corp.
Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Nintendo Switch owners can now buy the first game in the console’s Arcade Archives series, Mario Bros., from the eShop. Mario Bros., the first Mario game ever, was originally released in arcades in the summer of 1983. Playing it on your Switch in 2017 will set you back $7.99.

If that price seems high to you, you’re not alone. A thread on the Nintendo Switch subreddit about today’s Mario Bros. release currently has more than 175 comments, with many people expressing astonishment at the idea of paying $7.99 for a 34-year-old game. So what’s the deal?

First, know where to direct your ire. Nintendo isn’t actually selling Arcade Archives Mario Bros. — the game was published by Hamster Corp., the Japanese company that also produces the “ACA NeoGeo” series of Neo Geo ports. ACA NeoGeo titles cost $7.99 on Switch as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as do Hamster’s existing Arcade Archives games on PS4. Since Hamster is the publisher of the Switch’s Arcade Archives titles, it’s likely that Hamster is the entity that’s setting the price for them.

It’s true that Nintendo’s arcade classics — which were released in the early- to mid-1980s — are 10 or more years older than many of the Neo Geo games that Hamster has revived for modern consoles. But again, Hamster already charges $7.99 a pop for PS4 Arcade Archives titles, such as 1985’s Twinbee and 1986’s Bubble Bobble. By this point, the publisher has released enough of these ports that it probably wouldn’t be charging that much if the games weren’t selling at that price.

Secondly, you might be complaining about the price of Arcade Archives Mario Bros. because regular ol’ Mario Bros. is already available on the Virtual Console for Nintendo 3DS, Wii and Wii U for just $4.99. However, each of those releases is a modern port of the 1986 NES version of Mario Bros. — not its 1983 arcade debut. Arcade machines were more powerful than home consoles in those days, so the NES version is an inferior port of the arcade original. If you want to play the best version of Mario Bros. — if you want to experience it as its developers intended it to be experienced — buying the Arcade Archives release for $7.99 is the easiest way to do that in 2017.

We’ve reached out to Nintendo and Hamster with additional questions about the Switch’s Arcade Archives line, including whether the rest of the games will also cost $7.99. We’ll update this article with any information we receive.

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