News Article

Talking Point: eShop Card Delay Proves Nintendo Still Doesn't Get It

Posted by James Newton

Why the wait?

The Nintendo 3DS eShop was supposed to be available at the console's launch, but was delayed by nearly three months. It promised to improve on the company's so-far lacklustre efforts at building a digital presence for itself, but until recently it's struggled to impress, with one of the main problems being a total lack of payment cards at retail in Europe.

When the eShop launched in early June the news that existing Nintendo Points cards wouldn't be valid in the 3DS eShop puzzled many, but Nintendo promised that 3DS digital payment cards would be available by the end of that month. While this may have been the case in North America, it's taken until now for them to arrive in Europe and Australia.

In mid-August we reported that the 3DS eShop cards had made it to the UK, followed a week later by Australian cards, and now they’re slowly filtering out across continental Europe, some months after they were first promised. You'd think such a momentous occasion – people actually being able to buy games from the digital store – would be accompanied by an official announcement from Nintendo, but no information has been forthcoming; the cards just “appeared”. It's likely that this is down to Nintendo of Japan's position in charge of all European digital transactions: Nintendo of Europe seems to have been left in the dark.

What's even more puzzling is where the cards are available: in the UK they're out in newsagent WHSmith and supermarkets including ASDA and Sainsbury's, but are nowhere to be seen on shelves at GAME, Gamestation or HMV. At a time when Sony and Microsoft are exploring new avenues of selling their digital content in stores, including generating DLC redeem codes at the till point, Nintendo is playing catch-up trying to get its electronic activation cards in specialist retailers.

Whatever the reason, it's taken so long for the cards to reach stores – and subsequently consumers – it speaks of an unsettling lack of understanding at the heart of Nintendo's download business. Without these cards, your only option to add funds is via a credit or debit card, something that – understandably – many 3DS owners simply don't have, and there'll be plenty of parents reluctant to hand over their digital details. Hosting a download store for two months without giving many of your customers the means to purchase goods is like opening a real shop with no tills: even if the merchandise looks attractive, it's the crucial checkout stage that's missing.

Now the cards are out there, they've come at a time when many eShop users can look forward to a bounty of free games, as the 3DS Ambassador programme launches on 1st September. While the free downloads may work as loss leaders, getting people to enter the eShop for the games and purchasing something else while they're there, if 10 free NES games are the most compelling reason to enter a digital store then – cards or no cards – something has to change.

Has the delayed release of the eShop payment cards affected you? Do you think this issue reflects wider problems in Nintendo’s download business? Let us know in the comments below.

From the web

User Comments (71)



Corbs said:

I don't think I ever remember a more pathetic effort from Nintendo for one of their game systems in all the years I've been playing their games as the one for the 3DS. I hope they turn this one around, but with things like this still happening, I'm not so sure anymore.



ToadFan said:

For NA & JP there were here in Late June, so it's really only NoE fault. :3



Ark said:

One solution is to buy a pre-paid MasterCard credit card to use on the eShop. I'm not sure if this is an option for other areas of the world, but I'd like to think that there are similar equivalents elsewhere. It's not any better or worse than a traditional eShop card, I believe. I haven't seen a single eShop card here in Canada yet.

Of course, I'd like to think that they could get these cards out there and make them as common as MS Points, or PSN cash. How are your customers supposed to easily purchase your merchandise if it's too confusing or difficult to get currency?



nothankyou said:

I actually bought a Nintendo Points card thinking it would work on my 3DS.
20 bucks down the crapper. Thanks, Nintendo.



kitroplious said:

I filled out an application for a prepaid/reloadable Visa Card because I couldn't wait any longer for the eshop cards. These prepaid cards can be done at Citizen's Bank or Vancity.



Tacoboy said:

I just don't understand why we can't just use Nintendo Points Cards. Also, I wish they released 3DS cards in varying amounts. It's easier for me to pay 10 to 15 dollars at a time. Besides, a lot of the content on the Eshop isn't that expensive.



Rockmirth said:

wow did is really bad. N should really get this thing going if they want to profit.



Superducky said:


You can't blame Nintendo for that. They were very clear that the points cards would not work on the 3DS, and nowhere on the card or in the eShop does it say it will work on the 3DS.



FonistofCruxis said:

I found it very annoying that eshop cards weren't available at the start as I would've downloaded something off the eshop the week it launch if the eshop cards were out at the time like they should've been but now that they are I'll get one soon even though Asda and Sainsburys aren't the supermarkets that my family usually goes to, I'll go there just for an eshop card and WHSmith isn't an option as they no longer sell video games at the WHSmith we go to but really they should be available at stores like GAME, Gamestation and HMV.



bezerker99 said:

I have a credit card and a debit card thus I never drive to a store and purchase these "cards". I don't like paying for gas or sales tax so it's a Win Win situation just staying at home and givin' Nintendo my digits directly.



edhe said:

Correct me if I'm wrong (I tried to check, but the eShop is currently down), but the most moronic thing about the eShop is that if you decide to pay through a debit card, you can only buy in preset increments, and with games costing amounts like £5.40, you're always left with pennies you can't spend on anything unless you keep banking and spending until finally the residual amounts add up to something you can buy a game with.

It's an ADD sufferer's worst nightmare, I'd imagine, though while I'm not afflicted by it, it's still annoying.

Is this how Nintendo are doing things, because to be honest, due to the extortionate markup we suffer in the UK (Zelda is 5.99 dollars in America, and 5.40 pounds in the UK!. That is not the current exchange rate), I've yet to buy anything from the eShop.



daznsaz said:

i think its noe dragging their feet. when it said credit card i was worried.but tried my normal cash card and it worked ok.chip and pin works for most things.but noe havent supplied an ambassador check tool either



Raylax said:

Doesn't affect me, since I use a debit card. It does seem like a major foot-in-the-mouth from Nintendo, given everything else about the eShop is head and shoulders above both their previous online stores (although being punched in the face with every purchase would be better than the DSi Shop)... there had to be something they'd screw up on, lol.

"It's likely that this is down to Nintendo of Japan's position in charge of all European digital transactions." Indeed, and it seems a very bad move to still not allow NoE/NoA complete control over their markets - I doubt NoJ can fully understand the European market. But it's not that surprising coming from a typically protective Japanese company.



Will-75 said:

It's not affected me, you can use a credit card, your bank debit, etc,... Seems to me Nintendo is doing alot for gamers at this point in time with the 3DS, the Wii-U, new games coming out for Wii, the 3DS, the DS, their online shops, not to mention the software coming out for the systems [ Wii-3DS ] is top of the line games, I think people need to give Nintendo a break I don't see Sony or Microsoft doing as much...



Cipher said:

It doesn't affect me personally since I have a Visa debit card, but I used to rely on Wii Points cards when I first got a Wii, so I can understand people being frustrated over the lack of Nintendo eShop prepaid cards.

As far as I'm aware, Nintendo Company Ltd. has no control over North America's digital transactions - it's been said on occasion that both NOA and NOE now have dedicated eShop divisions - so I don't see that they would have control over European digital transactions. I'd put this down to NOE.

Nintendo eShop itself, I think, is great. I have no problems with it. But I do think NOE needs a swift kick in the nobblers to get the prepaid cards out, because they need to be out now.

Another mistake NOE has made and will learn from. With any luck, Wii U will use the Nintendo eShop platform and we won't have to worry about this again come next Christmas.



edhe said:

£5.40 is the equivalent of $8.80 by the way. And that's before tax.

Would you pay $8.80 for Zelda - Link's Awakening DX?

That's crazy, unless the prices are arbitrarily set by Nintendo of Japan.



Pokefanmum82 said:

i finally got a prepaid mastercard because i'm sick of waiting for Nintendo to get the eShop cards out. But you think they would have had this out when the eShop launched. Not everyone has credit cards though and debit cards are not an option here for the eshop. Nintendo needs to have them out by the end of the year or they are going to have a lot of disappointed people



edhe said:


What if you could pay the equivalent of £3.68 if only you had the good fortune to be born in America? Would you rather that price?



NESguy94 said:

I just use my debit card. It gets the job done and I don't have to pay taxes twice.



Sneaker13 said:

I think it's absolutely ridiculous. Big fail on Nintendo's part. Thankfully I've been using 3VCash since the launch (a prepaid creditd card).



OldBoy said:

FAIL!! Not much else to say really. Personally I'm not too fussed , I have a debit card that works fine plus I don't see myself downloading that much thanks to the high prices of most games in the UK!! Its annoying for those people who do rely on such cards though and I cannot think of a good reason why this has been the case, utter,utter rubbish.
As I always say ,it's a good job Nintendo make amazing consoles and games because as a business they fail big sometimes



Cipher said:

@edhe I go into a shop and buy a bar of chocolate for £1.20. Whilst eating the bar of chocolate, my mum says to me "you know, if you lived in America, that'd only cost you 80p." What do I care? I got the chocolate. I'm enjoying the chocolate. Nummy nummy.

Yes, of course I would have preferred to pay 40p less, but I'm not complaining. I enjoyed the product. If every game I bought from eShop was marred with the thought of "damn, I wish this cost as little as it does in North America", I wouldn't enjoy the eShop experience, or even playing the game, as much.

Besides, it doesn't just apply to downloadable games. It applies to retail titles and hardware as well - and many other things in life besides video games. The cost of living in America is considerably lower than it is in the UK, and I don't think NOE taking £1.80 off the price of a game is going to make paying the rent or my car insurance any easier for me.

tl;dr - Yes, of course, but I'm more than happy to pay £5.40.



SilentHunter382 said:

They been in Ireland for the past 3 - 4 weeks? Whats odd is that they are not in GAME and the other video game store in England but they are selling them in gamestop in Ireland?



TingLz said:

@edhe: Exchange rates don't mean squat when pricing stuff within a territory. You think you're paying a lot? Look at how much Australia and New Zealand pay for their games.



SpaceKappa said:

@edhe That's been my problem... I added money to buy Link's Awakening DX, and it left me THIRTY CENTS SHORT of buying Super Mario Land with the remainder. It's frustrating, for sure.



edhe said:

@Cipher So you are resigned to the fact you have to pay more than Americans for things. The sweet analogy is convenient, because the ratio is so small, as to render it moot. Of course I wouldn't care if I have to pay 40p more for some sweets.

But when you scale it up a bit (in regards to games or consoles), it gets a bit more noticeable.



Kid_A said:

The shop itself is great and it already has an impressive library of games. But this card situation is indeed ridiculous. Nintendo needs to step it up.



Hardy83 said:

For the people complaining about Canada not getting them, don't worry. We get everything last. I mean EVERYTHING.
If it's in the states, expect it 6-12 months later.



BenAV said:

I just got myself a Debit MasterCard and bought games with that.
Problem solved.



Chris720 said:

There's no eShop cards down in my area, checked my local Sainsbury's and even they don't have them either and looked at me with bewilderment as I asked if they had any eShop cards.

Nintendo are being really slow paced in this area, whether the eShop is good or not the lack of eShop cards around most of the world when the eShop launched is pretty pathetic. And with no word that they were getting released, your still left in the dark... pretty poor efforts from Nintendo so far.



Odnetnin said:

Good thing games on the eShop are awesome because the 3DS has had the most pathetic online support I've ever seen.



Token_Girl said:

Europeans pay more for games, but they make more too. The UK minimum wage is £5.93 which equals $9.67/hr. In the US, the minimum wage is $7.25/hr. You're paying more for things, but only because you have more money to buy things with in the first place (ok, it's more complicated than that, but the above example does demonstrate why it's not fair to compare economies by exchange rates alone).



edhe said:

This article could probably explain more about it than I could. In hindsight, we probably do pay more for things generally, but it has little to do with National Minimum Wage.

It's unlikely to change, and despite my original post, I wasn't going to outright boycot the eShop, and even then, my other gripe was the foolish way in which you are bullied into buying points in cards in 5, 10 or 15 pound increments, yet the prices invite having useless amounts of credit on your 3DS.

More so than on the Wii or DSi, where, woe betide, after making some purchases, you find yourself with a useless 100 points on your account that you can't use unless you buy points(or earn them from the Nintendo Club if you are in Europe).



Monkeh said:

Nintendo would've already gotten more money from me had they released the cards right away. Now I might not end up buying games I otherwise might have bought thinking: 'ah what the heck I have nothing to play right now, so let's buy this'.

Bad Ninty, I thought you said something about handling online well this time.. well so much for that!



RedYoshi999 said:

It did affect me. I had to buy a prepaid Visa card to use on the eShop and when I entered my details, the damn thing rejected it! It also took the money off my card and didnt return it for 8 days. But for some reason the other I tried it and it worked! So I finally downloaded what I wanted.



MetroidMasher17 said:

What the flippin' heck, Nintendo?! I am not affected by this problem, as I live in the U.S. of A. But if I couldn't buy my Virtual Console games due to a massive brain fart, I would be veeeeeery angry. I can imagine how I would react if Metroid II came out and I couldn't buy it. (I am not the owner of a credit card)

I agree with others in that Nintendo as a whole isn't taking the whole online thing seriously. For one, the irregular update times, like the eShop update. Instead of saying "The eShop update will be available June 6th at 8:00 PM PST", they said the evening of June 6th. It ended up coming online at like 9:37 PM. Completely irresponsible. I should have a set time to download things, not have to keep refreshing until I get lucky.

But, still, eShop > DSi Shop.



ianmage1 said:

I've seen Eshop cards at every gamestop in my area. I'm surprised that nobody else is finding any!



Supremeist said:

@54 Where are you?
And I haven't seen any yet. Quite a disappointment by Nintendo to wait so long to release the cards.



Bankai said:

@edhe. In Japan, a can of Coke from a vending machine costs 100 yen (factoring in average wages etc, that's the equivilent of $1 in the US).

With that in mind, I hope you plan on never buying another can of Coke from Coca-Cola UK, because they're clearly gouging you.

I'll never understand why people do that exchange rate comparison thing. It's like they believe conditions and the economy is the same in the UK/ whereever as it is in the US, and that's just silly.

Move to Zimbabwe and try and buy a Nintendo console. See how much it costs you then.



doomgc said:

Kind of sad. NOthing here in Canada. I do really love the 3ds and the shop. The best DS IMO. But, they seem to take a bad turn and have difficulties to keep on the right track. anyway...



armoredghor said:

I think this whole article is on false premises. The average 3DS owner isn't to young to have a debit card. besides it's just another complainer that's gonna complain.



SmaMan said:

And they wonder why they had their first quarterly loss this past month...



edhe said:

@56. Jeez, here we go with the Patronisation Train. I get it. We have to pay more, and we have to put up with it.



ThumperUK said:

Yeah we do pay more for goods in the UK but we do have free healthcare via the NHS. I'd be dead if I lived in the US, but here I don't have to worry about going to my GP or to the hospital. All countries have their good and bad points, at least in the UK we know that if we fall ill we don't have to worry about paying extortionate costs for doctors or drugs, or have to fight with Insurance companies.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Great article, James and huge props for that masterful, contextual and thought-provoking closing. Which I wholeheartedly agree with by the way.

I’m not affected by the delay since I've got a free credit card i didn't get for shopping Ninty's shops. But i have to say Nintendo really has to work hard on the situation now. Every potential customer must easily know where to get these cards or they should be made available everywhere you can or could get Wii / Nintendo Points.
I could imagine that some retailers refuse to sell the new and old cards now. Some time ago i’ve seen them for nearly ½ the price of their value. I think retailers are bound to make a loss at that price and I can’t blame them for blaming Ninty. While this may have been the reason to make new cards (kind of like a new brand to have more confidence in) i don’t see the mainstream running out to buy many yet.

And I can totally understand third parties who are not making new eShop titles yet because a considerable amount of their potential customers just can’t easily get any online cash. And since less eShop titles equals less interest in the eShop itself there’s another potential downward spiral here.

All in all I just hope Nintendo realizes they better live up to all their announcements and promises.

I could go on about the fact that DSiWare – storage is handled badly and differently to VC or eShop titles but since it doesn’t have anything to do with the cash cards this is not the place to do so.



Joco84 said:

it's a case of so many fires for nintendo to put out, they've can't put them all out at once.
complete sh!t show from nintendo as far as the 3DS launch has been concerned. they rushed in to get it out before the PS Vita but they just weren't ready - now us early adopters are ultimately paying the price!



JDO said:

Everyone in the UK, Canada and haven't missed anything with the eshop cards being delayed. The total lack of actual 3DS support in the eshop has been a huge disappointment.



alLabouTandroiD said:

@MetroidMasher17 (53.): I'd also like it if they communicated the concrete time when new stuff will be available. But they might be too worried about server overload if all people came to the shop the same time.
And you could set your own time to download after all. When you're saying "i'm downloading them on June 7th" you most likely won't have any problems.



komicturtle said:

Did anyone know- there is a Nintendo of Canada? :3

No, but seriously- it's not all of Nintendo. Just NoE it seems. Them cards have been out here in the states a month before eShop opened up. So, NoA is ahead and does get it

And it could also be whoever makes dem cards. Fast Card does the eShop and Nintendo Points card. Might not really be Nintendo directly after all...



Henmii said:

"Has the delayed release of the eShop payment cards affected you?"

Luckily not! I still have to buy a 3DS. By the time I'll do that, I expect that the shops do have the cards!

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...