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Nintendo Prepares to Go Digital

Wii U to offer day one digital content.

It’s no secret that Nintendo didn’t have their best year financially speaking, but that doesn’t mean that the venerable gaming company is ready to go quietly into the night.  Speaking at their financial results meeting, Nintendo Global President Satoru Iwata shed some light on some key strategies concerning the Wii U.

After discussing financial numbers in the varying territories around the globe, Iwata turned the focus of his presentation to the Wii U.  There is no doubt that most curiosities with Nintendo lie with its upcoming console, and it was disclosed that Nintendo will show the Wii U’s final format and software details at this year’s E3.  Those looking for pricing and launch date details will likely have to wait though, as this information will not be made public at the highly anticipated expo, but rather sometime shortly afterwards – mimicking the announcement flow that Nintendo took with the 3DS.

The presentation then took a rather unexpected turn towards the idea of digital distribution with the revelation that starting with the recently announced New Super Mario Bros. 2, Nintendo will begin making both physical and digital versions of their games available to consumers. 

Consumers who wish to purchase a digital copy of the game will simply store it on their SD card to play.  In an attempt to prevent piracy, Nintendo will restrict these downloaded copies to the hardware that they were originally downloaded to.  This limitation may steer some consumers away from digital offerings and it was not disclosed if these digital copies would be made available at a discount or would mirror their physical counterparts in terms of pricing.

While publishers usually use digital distribution as a means of cutting out retailers, Nintendo “has decided to choose an approach in which [they] will ask [their] retailers to be proactively involved.” What this means is that while you can always enter your credit card information into the 3DS to download a game, you can also visit a local video game retailer and purchase a “16-digit software exchange code” that can be used to download the game instead.

With the launch of the Wii U, Nintendo will be offering both physical and digital versions of their games from day one.  While Nintendo has certainly dabbled in digital distribution before, starting with WiiWare and taking a more deliberate step with the 3DS eShop, this will be the first time that the company will be releasing full blown releases in both physical and digital format on a console.

With E3 right around the corner it is likely that we’ll hear a few more bits of information before the blowout that Nintendo has planned for the event.  How does Nintendo’s plan to digitally distribute their games sound to you?  Let us know what you think in the comments section below.



Joaquim Mira Media Manager

04/27/2012 at 10:53 AM

Not much of a fan of the digital distribution model, but if they lower the prices because there's no retailer, or shipping costs then I'm all for it. $30 tops. That's how much I'm willing to pay for a digital title.


04/27/2012 at 02:05 PM

It's cool they're trying it out and taking risks at least, and it's great they're giving you options to choose which versions you want. Before this I've always envisioned a caricature of "Nintendo" as some old Japanese guy with his arms crossed huffing at any ideas other people come up with, and just wants to do things his way or no way, and expects the praise and cash to roll in no matter what he does. Now that they're experimenting and branching out like this, it reminds me they are actual people at an actual business who care about having their jobs intact, want to see what works for them, and move the company forward so they can continue to succeed.

Matt McLennan Staff Alumnus

04/28/2012 at 06:29 PM

That was how they were in the Yamauchi days. Under Iwata, Nintendo has been coming out of their shell, but they have proven (and admitted) that they don't know how to do some things.

This service is not being run by Nintendo themselves. Whoever their partner is, they are helping them out a lot.

Its Valve, it has to be.

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