The story of Let’s Build a Zoo is a tale of confusion, surprise, and deceivers. Something that reflects what it’s like to develop smaller games in this industry.
When the developers of Springloaded went to bed the night after the pre-orders were released, they couldn’t have imagined what they would wake up with in the morning. The next day, pre-order sales skyrocketed, a momentous occasion for any indie game developer. But there was just one catch: 85% of Nintendo Switch pre-order sales came from Argentina. Sounds a bit suspicious.
That’s when the developers realized they were in trouble. It turned out that people went to sites like eShop Prices to see where they could get the best deals on Nintendo games, and Let’s Build a Zoo featured heavily on all of them.
Mike Rose, the director of No More Robots who published Let’s Build a Zoo, tweeted, “Only 1000 people buy the game and we make less than $1 from each sale”. This could have been the end of a rather stirring storyline for everyone behind Let’s Build a Zoo, but as fate would have it, they had victory ahead of them.
Although we lost a ton of money to these scammers, “those super cheap sales in Argentina got us targeting more US players,” Rose tweeted, explaining that the Let’s Build a Zoo pre-orders were considered US sales and so it was put the game on the US bestseller charts.
After conquering the US eShop store, Let’s build a Zoo also made it onto the charts of the EU and Australian eShop boards. Fortunately, this revelation saved Let’s Build a Zoo from a major financial loss. But this success cannot be guaranteed for everyone.
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Region swapping is surprisingly easy if you want to see what prizes are available in other regions. All you have to do is go to the official Nintendo website, log in and change your region in the settings menu. It’s that simple. From the looks of it, Nintendo doesn’t seem to have any barriers or penalties for doing so either.
This means it’s incredibly easy for users to sidestep their country’s pricing in favor of cheaper options elsewhere. In this case, Argentia seems to have many of the best deals.
Let’s Build a Zoo scams
The region swap not only brought users a whopping discount, but also helped Let’s Build a Zoo succeed. But you shouldn’t take region switching as a favor for the developers.
It could well have resulted in the developers of “Let’s Build a Zoo” suffering a massive financial loss without receiving any funding as a result. If Nintendo didn’t have such a broad definition for the US market, Let’s Build a Zoo might not have received wider recognition from Argentine sales.
In the case of indie developers, they need all the support they can get. While this is a helpful hack to do every once in a while to get more expensive games cheaper. I wouldn’t suggest this as an option to do this all the time. Not if you want to support developers making amazing games that you want to play.