At least as they pertain to digital versions of big-name retail games.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has explained why its digital games are not less expensive than their boxed counterparts, which must be manufactured on discs and shipped to retailers.
"Although the mainstream idea regarding the digital business in the industry before we actually started selling software in both digital and packaged formats last year was that the digital version should or must be priced lower than its packaged counterpart, we decided that, since the contents are the same, the company would offer the software at the same price, be it the packaged version or the digital version," Iwata said during a recent investor Q&A session.
Iwata explained that this price parity is the result of Nintendo wanting to make sure the company's software, released digitally, is not devalued compared to the boxed product.
"This is because we want consumers to value software as highly as possible and because we have been trying to heighten the value of our software whenever we produce it," he said.Credit GameSpot
Even though Iwata was speaking purely in regards to Nintendo, I think the same philosophy can easily be applied to everyone else. After all, price parity between retail and digital versions of games is nothing new. You occasionally see a 10% discount on certain games for pre-ordering the download version (or in the case of Steam, such discounts for launch week), but on the whole, it's standard practice to make them cost the same as their retail counterparts. Which is totally fair. You don't want digital copies of games to seem inferior in some way. Won't help get anyone on board with the eventual all-digital future if there's a perceived lesser value in them.
The kicker is that, if they did discount them, it could create more incentive buy digitally. We've already seen that happen countless times with the annual Steam sales, so it clearly works. The question, then, I suppose, is whether that would diminish their overall profits in the long-run, since everyone could, in theory, just wait for sales and not buy them immediately upon release. Already hear that Steam games quite often, so it's not out of the question.
On a side-note, the 60-character limit on topic titles is really making it difficult to be descriptive. So annoying.