An Attempt at an Economic Consideration of Having a Nintendo Switch in the House

Buying a gaming console will always be on the unnecessary side of purchases. Think of this post as just more considerations in this purchase, with an attempt to quantify what you would get out of a Nintendo Switch.

This is not a onetime purchase

Cost structure wise, this is the one thing that Basta sa Bahay would like to emphasize. You’ll start with the unit itself which has the following variants:

  • Nintendo Switch Lite (₱9,795): Cannot be connected to a TV
  • Nintendo Switch (₱15,250.00): The regular model. Version 2 is the latest model with better battery life and less heating.
  • Nintendo Switch OLED (₱22,995): Processing hardware is the same as the regular model but has a better display.

The OLED becomes worth it when you spend a lot of time playing your Switch handheld, but also play it on the TV (docked mode). I own the regular model, but will also freely admit that handheld, the OLED does make a big difference. However, I play my Switch docked, and like quite a number of people, never felt compelled to upgrade to the OLED version. Regardless of the model, the Nintendo Switch is quite the investment.

That aside, buying games is what will make the Switch almost have a “maintenance” cost component to it. But to be more precise, I can’t imagine getting the most out of the Switch without playing its iconic games, and there are a lot. Your average Switch game will cost around ₱1,800. And this considers buying AAA games that are totally worth it (think of the exclusive Legend of Zelda’s Breath of the Wild that after all these years still goes for ₱2,650), and your amazing indie games (which can go less than a ₱1k). The computation over 5 years buying 1 game a quarter is estimated at ₱12,812.50 annually and ₱51,250 for the total 5 years. At the end of the article, we’ll compare this to other forms of entertainment.

PC and cellphone gaming is generally cheaper

Because your experience will always be compared to the very common experience of the Switch of having played at least one of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, or Breath of the Wild, or Super Smash Brothers, in an uncommonly very biased opinion of Basta sa Bahay, it detracts from your enjoyment of the Nintendo Switch to not have tried at least one of these. Put simply, playing the greats, though pricey, is the best way to get the most out of it.

This is in stark contrast to what it’s like on a PC or your mobile. For the PC, one need only look on Steam to find great free-to-play games. Just think about how DOTA or CS:GO entail no buying cost (let’s exclude skins). Or how for ₱251 you can play Stardew Valley. On your cellphone, the latest of Genshin Impact or Mobile Legends again don’t cost anything to buy. And because the experiences of having a cellphone or a PC are more widespread than buying a Switch, Playstation or Xbox, there’s not one quintessential experience to compare with. You can be perfectly happy just playing DOTA, Pokemon Go, or Genshin Impact despite not having played a Triple A Game like Horizon Zero Dawn or Red Dead Redemption.

Console gaming is also put at a premium. I'll discuss just games, but also consider that peripherals and subscriptions are all more expensive for consoles the Switch, Playstation and xbox. Games that are available cross platform are more expensive on the Switch. The physical copy of Stardew Valley is ₱1,700 compared to ₱251 for the digital PC purchase. You'll find that same high price for Hades on the Switch, while the digital PC purchase is just ₱380.

And you add to that that PC’s and cellphone are multi-use. There’s no getting away with, you can spend less and be just happy to be a PC or mobile gamer.

Getting the most out of a Switch and avoiding pitfalls

But if you do choose to get a console, particularly a Switch, you just want to get the most out of it.

  • Play the iconic, and when it suits your taste, even exclusive games. You can’t get away from the psychology that you enjoy it more because of exclusivity. Iconic games have the added bonus of later then sharing the same love with other people. The iconic games also have great discussions that can enhance your enjoyment.
  • At the same time, explore indie games.
  • Play with your friends and family. I’ve had a ton of fun playing multiplayer, and it’s what the Switch was also made for.
  • Play demos when available: I can’t emphasize enough that one of the pitfalls is buying a game you won’t play, and demos are great ways to test it out.
  • Buy one game at a time: You avoid the pressure of having to get through your library.

The value of owning a Switch via comparison to alternatives

Finally, it's difficult to quantify the value in a non-monetary way, but one approach that may help is to compare it to alternatives.

  • A 2-day local trip: The annual cost is comparable to one trip for one person. I discussed this with a friend, and I asserted that while gaming may seem so small, it can have comparable enriching experiences due to the stories and immersive worlds of some games.
  • Sports: Considering a ₱300 trip to the venue once a week, this is ₱15,600 (this does not include equipment). A bit more expensive, but it's hard to beat sports since you get health benefits. You'll also tip further for team sports due to the social element. 
  • A movie for 42 weeks of the year:  I would argue for gaming in this case since movies are often passive.
As psychology will attest, experiences give better satisfaction than buying things. Basically, seeing a couch will give diminishing satisfaction because you see it everyday. Experiences are relived, and a reliving good memories brings almost the same happiness according to studies. A good game is an experience, as you will see in many gaming forums. For example, people will often say that they would pay to experience the first panoramic view of Breath of the Wild for the first time again. I still get chills thinking about Hollow Knight. In the end, enriching experiences are worth it, and if gaming is it for you, go ahead.

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