Nintendo adopts digital release for 3DS and Wii U titles

Nintendo published titles will appear on shelves and online on release

Nintendo's investor briefing revealed that from August Nintendo-published titles will get simultaneous digital and physical retail releases on 3DS.

Nintendo's Wii U titles will follow the same model when the console launches, expected to be later this year.

"For our digital business to grow drastically, it is imperative for us to expand the exposure of the digital download products to potential consumers," said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.

"Starting from [New Super Mario Bros. 2], the company will offer the software titles that Nintendo itself publishes in both packaged and digital download formats so that our consumers can choose the way to purchase them."

Digital versions of games on 3DS will appear on the Nintendo eShop, and via codes from physical retailers. Crucially Nintendo will not set recommended retail prices for the codes, allowing traders to set their own.

Yesterday Nintendo released its full year financial report for the period ending March 31, 2012. The results revealed the company's first annual loss.

Related stories

Switch targets Japan's TV-less youth

One explanation for PS4's soft performance in Japan is low ownership of HDTVs among young people. Is Switch the answer?

By Rob Fahey

Nintendo Switch to ship 2 million for March

CEO Tatsumi Kimishima says details on price and specs will come next year, system is not a replacement for 3DS

By Brendan Sinclair

Latest comments (6)

Jamie Read 3D Artist, Neon Play Ltd4 years ago
It's good to see Nintendo adopting digital finally. Hopefully this is a good sign of things to come with the Wii U and the Nintendo Network.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 4 years ago
Nice to see this move but obviously the success depends completely on release timing and price. Personally, for the 3DS I'd much rather buy a digital copy as 1)Second hand Nintendo handheld games keep at a high price as they are harder to damage, 2)I want to be able to take my library with me.

Looking forward to hearing how 3rd parties are going to do this in June.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
"Crucially Nintendo will not set recommended retail prices for the codes, allowing traders to set their own."

I want to see how this plays out. Cartridges for DS/3DS cost like $13 to manufacture, so there's a ton of cost being cut out before one even factors packaging and shipping costs. If Nintendo sets their prices to retailers at around or just over what they normally keep for themselves as profit, there would be a huge potential margin for retailers, which would be a strong incentive to push digital sales. Although they'll probably take a sizable chunk of the extra potential profit, which will still leave a bunch for retailers. Retailers will also be more able to offer competitive prices.

Now I'd like to see Nintendo support independent game development. The studio model is leading to a lot of rehashed ideas because they're the "safer" investments. Many independent game developers try to innovate or create something different, or even just make throwbacks to the old "Nintendo hard" games a lot of us played when we were younger. That would be a strong fit for Nintendo.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (6)
Jack Lee4 years ago
I would be surprised if they (Nintendo) didn't keep a higher margin for themselves on digital codes. I could see a small decrease in wholesale cost to vendor (down to $30 from $35 or something... to be honest I have no idea what retailer prices for these things are) to make the codes more attractive and have everyone make more money, but I don't see Nintendo completely passing up an opportunity to increase their profits, especially after they scared their investors so badly with that last financial release.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
You're really accurate on that estimate, and that is true about wanting to up their profits. Hopefully wholesale cost will still come down enough that stores would rather push digital sales to make the extra profit than try to stifle them because they'll lose revenue in the long run. An extra $5 per sale for retailers would be pretty substantial over a physical copy, and Nintendo would still be making probably $10 more per sale than before. I'd actually like to see the developers take more of a cut in this case as well.

A large enough company like Gamestop might shy away from selling the redeem codes because they know that they'll lose used sales in the long run, so they have to see it as profitable enough. Then, consumers are going to want something to make a digital copy seem worth it (I'd be in the group that wants the box and manual), so retail would have to discount a digital copy from the MSRP of a physical copy. If Gamestop sold a digital copy for the same price as a physical copy, I doubt many people would buy it. Even if they sold digital copies at the price of a used physical copy, people might not buy it since used in good condition still offers something tangible.

This is going to be a cool experiment to watch.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 4 years ago
I was thinking that this was more in response to how high people find the prices on the 3DS. It gives an opportunity to reduce the prices without adjusting budgets too much.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.