The Office of the United States Trade Representative announced on Tuesday that a ten percent tax on video games and other such consumer electronics has been delayed until December 15th. According to President Trump, the reason for this is to prevent the tariffs from having a negative impact on the holiday shopping season.
Another round of tariffs from Trump’s escalating trade war with China goes into effect on September 1st, but following the news on Tuesday, this won’t affect gaming consoles like the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4. In a press release, the USTR said “As part of USTR’s public comment and hearing process, it was determined that the tariff should be delayed to December 15 for certain articles. Products in this group include, for example, cell phones, laptop computers, video game consoles, certain toys, computer monitors, and certain items of footwear and clothing.”
When asked about the delays, Trump said “Just in case they might have an impact on people, what we’ve done is we’ve delayed it so that they won’t be relevant to the Christmas shopping season.”
Fall season and the holidays is when most new major titles come out in the video game market, and also when most console developers see an uptick in sales of their particular consoles. It was back in June when Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all sent a joint letter to the USTR, claiming that the proposed tariffs on consoles would result in “a ripple effect of harm that extends throughout the video game ecosystem.” Allegedly, said tariffs would cost consumers around $840 million.
Last November, Reggie Fils-Aime, the then president of Nintendo of America said that the holiday season was crucial in the company’s aim of selling 20 million new Switches. They ended up selling 9.41 million units during that time period, but with these proposed tariffs in effect, that would have costed the customers who bought those Switches an additional $282 million overall.
While this all sounds very bad and unwanted for the gaming economy, this isn’t the first time Trump has pushed back tariffs that were supposed to occur, particularly on electronics like gaming consoles and smartphones. The original round of tariffs, announced in May and supposed to take effect in June initially, got pushed back as trade talks with China continued. Now, we have this round of tariffs getting pushed back as well. That being the case, it’s pretty debatable as to whether or not these proposed tariffs on video game consoles will ever come to pass at all, or if they’ll just continue to be delayed until the point that they never occur.