Nintendo Russia General Manager Responds to Backlash Surrounding Local Office

He reveals the reasons for high prices for the region and comments on other controversial topics

The head of Nintendo of Russia, Yasha Haddaji, has agreed to answer some questions regarding the work of the local office in the interview with GameMag. We’ve gathered the most important bits of Yasha’s comments about the ongoing Nintendo of Russia controversy.

About the pricing

The price of each Nintendo product in Russia is calculated with a specific equation. There is a base purchase price for games, consoles, and accessories that is set by Nintendo of Europe. In addition to that, there are 5-15% National tax, an exchange difference, shipment price, additional fees and distributor’s margin.

Even the exchange difference is dictated by Nintendo of Europe, as they ask for analytics’ exchange forecast from several specialized companies.

Nintendo Russia General Manager Responds to Backlash Surrounding Local Office-1
Yasha Haddaji

That’s how recommended retail prices are defined. However, Nintendo of Russia only suggests them to local retailers — they are free to set their own pricing based on what they think works best for each item.

It’s actually easier for the Russian office to keep low prices for consoles and games, than for accessories. That’s because they can order exclusive batches of consoles and games for Russia without predefined prices. Thanks to that, the price for Fire Emblem: Three Houses in Russia, for example, is only 3 749 rubles (€53), while the German price for the same game is 4 255 rubles (€60).

It’s pointless to compare the Russian prices to the USA, Haddaji says, as Nintendo of Russia pricing strategy is based on European prices.

The office makes big purchases for their region every 6 months, so Russian players can expect to see lower prices by the end of the year — if analytics’ forecasts will be favorable for the Ruble. But the latest purchase was made with the Ruble to Euro exchange rate 76 in mind, even though it’s currently only 70.5.

Why Russian eShop prices are higher than retail

That’s because the Russian eShop region is completely regulated by a special eShop department of the German office. Nintendo of Russia has no say in these decisions, Yasha Haddaji points out.

Just like that, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild still costs terrifying 5 249 rubles ($84 or €75) in Russian eShop without any DLCs compared to $60 in the US eShop, while the physical copy is priced for 3 299 rubles ($52 or €46). If you compare that to the prices of Amazon Germany for the same game — 5 000 rubles (€70) for a digital code and 4 680 rubles (€66) for a retail copy — it’s clear that Russia currently has the lowest game prices thanks to the local office’s work.

Obviously, Nintendo only sets prices for the games that it distributes itself. So if Capcom decided to set a very high price for Devil May Cry in the Russian eShop, there’s nothing that the company can do about it.

Events

Russian Nintendo fans often bring up the fact that there are almost no events hosted in the country. The only exception is the annual Level Up Days in Moscow.

In response to that, Yasha Haddaji has promised that local Level Up Days will be held in 17 cities across the country. Visitors will be able to participate or watch Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Splatoon 2 and other games’ tournaments where they can win new games for Nintendo Switch. There will also be demo Switch units.

Here’s the video from the most recent Level Up Days Moscow event:

Unfortunately, only Level Up Days Moscow and Saint-Petersburg will showcase titles that are not out yet. The reason for that is because special people from the German office have to observe such events — there are only two such specialists in Russia.

The lack of localization

Another weak point of Nintendo of Russia is the lack of localization in many big titles. Yasha claims that the list of languages the title will be translated into is decided early in the development. From that point, the number of languages is usually only get cut to fasten the development cycle and costs on the testing.

Even if Nintendo of Russia specifically asks foreign studios to consider a Russian localization, that often doesn’t work out. Reasonably, such decisions are often dictated by how well studio’s games perform in each region.

On the other hand, games made by Nintendo themselves usually have as many languages as possible — because of that each Mario game has a Russian language option, even a niche game Super Mario Party.

To give you an understanding of the current localization situation in Russia, here is the list of games that will have a Russian version:

  • Astral Chain;
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening;
  • Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020;
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

And here are games that will be available only in English and other languages:

  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order;
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses;
  • Pokemon Sword и Pokemon Shield;
  • Luigi’s Mansion 3.

The lack of Pokemon activity

Nintendo Russia General Manager Responds to Backlash Surrounding Local Office-2
The Pokemon TV Series and movies are constantly on air on Russian TV Channel 2x2

Yasha has revealed that Nintendo of Russia invested tons of money in Pokemon tournaments, advertisement, TV promo, and other stuff to promote the series in Russia and get a localization in the upcoming game. Despite that and a huge install base, Pokemon Company has refused to translate Pokemon Sword & Shield. Because of that, Nintendo of Russia has repurposed its funding for other promising projects.

The shocking truth is that Nintendo of Russia negotiated with Pokemon Company about the localization for six years and they still refused. Instead, the Chinese language was added to the game. Before all of this, Pokemon GO official launch in Russia happened 2 years after the game’s worldwide release.

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All this information points to the fact that Nintendo of Russia probably isn’t trying to ruin Russian Nintendo fans’ experience after all. The problems with the pricing, localization and other issues require a much more global solution.