News Article

Digital Makes Up 14% of Key Nintendo Franchise Sales

Posted by James Newton

The figures are in

Nintendo does not release sale statistics for its digital content, leaving us with no real idea of how the company's download sales are doing. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime did give away one intriguing nugget of information in a recent interview with Time, however:

The packaged content gets all the buzz and the noise, but in the last 12 months when you look at all of our key franchises — so Mario, Zelda and Pokémon — 14% of all of those transactions are happening on the digital side of the business.

Fils-Aime doesn't clarify how that percentage is calculated — whether by value or volume, though we'll wager it's volume — but here's the release lists for Mario, Zelda and Pokémon over the last 12 months:

Retail Releases

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Super Mario 3D Land
Mario Sports Mix
Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Pokémon Rumble Blast
Pokémon Black and White

Digital Releases

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Mario's Picross
Super Mario Land
Mario Party 2
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX

There are older titles available both at retail and for download too, but in the past year the ratio of retail releases to digital is 7:5 in favour of retail. By comparison, the ratio of retail sales to digital sales is to 6:1, which suggests success isn't just about getting more content on the virtual store fronts: raising awareness and making digital purchases easy also play a part.

Of course, if the 14% is calculated by sales instead of value then free downloads Pokédex 3D and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition could contribute significantly towards that percentage.

For a market that's increasingly shifting to digital distribution, 14% out of Nintendo's core franchise sales is a drop in the ocean: considering Super Mario 3D Land sold 500,000 units in three weeks, the digital sales equivalent would be 70,000 sales. Likewise, Skyward Sword's 530,000 sales theoretically equates to 74,200 downloads of older Zelda games.

The revelation that 86% of Nintendo's franchises are sold at retail probably won't surprise anyone, but what do you make of the 14% digital figure, and how do you think Nintendo should increase it?


From the web

User Comments (21)



Geonjaha said:

Well we all want some good download software from the eShop, but when all they offer is GB games of course their sales will climb...
I'm not suprised by the 14% - if anything I was expecting higher.



SpaceKappa said:

I'd say another "Nintendo Life Favorites" section in the eShop should do the trick.



Slapshot said:

I want to say that the last numbers I saw with Sony and Microsoft put their Digital Sales vs Retail Sales in the 40% Digital and 60% Retail range. Now that retail games are releasing on those platforms at a discounted rate, I expect that number to start to climb even higher over the next year.

Digital sales bring in tons of revenue and Nintendo is missing out on easy money with their lackluster online store(s).



NintyMan said:

I think that this isn't so much Nintendo not pushing the eShop enough but people just buying more retail games than downloadable games.

When you think about the average person, not a "hardcore" Nintendo gamer, they probably don't care for playing old games like Super Mario Land 2 or Link's Awakening. The main reason why people download Virtual Console games is because they are either fans that never played the game or they are fans that are familar with it and want to play it again on the 3DS.

Nintendo's still doing just great without huge digital sales. Actually, it'd be pretty bad if they equaled those retail games listed above because who would want old games to fare better than new ones?



Slapshot said:

@NintyFan But what if Nintendo was developing new Nintendo games for their downloadable services? Wouldn't you buy a new 2D sidescrolling Mario or Metroid game?

It's not exactly about what Nintendo is doing, it's more of what their not doing instead. Nintendo could generate more digital sales than any of it's competitors, but they don't strive for it. If Super Mario 3D Land can sell 500,000 copies at retail, imagine what a New Super Mario Land (speculated name of course) would sale on the digital front?



Ren said:

yeah. Missed opportunity. People buy Mario and Zelda because they're good games and Nintendo designs great stuff; no one cares if it's digital or retail. IF digital was truly a priority they could develop more major releases for download, cool nintendo 'apps', achievments, games with online play, and actually advertise them and offer demos and gift games to new users. The sales would roll in; they just aren't doing it, and they'll have to to stay relevant. I can't get on a bus or train without bumping into sony/360 game advertising (chicago) but I have NEVER seen a Nintendo add (except Wiifit). where is it?
Put one NEW 2d mario game on WiiWare, advertise it like the retail ones and watch every single person with a wii buy it. (big savings on production). they never did, never took it seriously.
think about it.
New super Mario wii could have really been a fully 2d download game priced at about $20 and everyone on earth would have bought it (with simplified cartoon graphic style). The online purchase is arguably even more secure than the disc of it that was copied and had more ROM downloads than any game ever, which hurt sales.
I know that's not their business model but it works if it's taken seriously. When you learn to focus on a separate line of download titles that are smaller with shorter dev time and less production cost it means more purchases faster. it also leaves opportunities for more levels, content and features for long term cash-in that the consumer also loves. Nintendo loves the old model of one Huge game at a time because it works, but when it doesn't it fails hard. Gotta put some of those eggs in another basket.



Nintendo3DSLife said:

ok cool well on eshop,i care for gbc games to be there and other stuff 4 eshop and bout the 3ds games,ok cool nuthn else 2 say.



TeeJay said:

Want to boost digital sales? Release games people care about. Yeah yeah, I know what you guys will say. "Look at this game and this game and this game! People care about those!" Sure, there are a couple good releases, but the rest are trash. We need more games that are actually good!



Link-Hero said:

If Nintendo actually advertises their downloadable services, then those numbers would double or even triple the amount.

The reason why XBL and PSN are doing so well is because Microsoft and Sony advertise them. Most people don't look up the web searching for video game news, so they learn about those services from places like TV commercials and other advertisements. Even if you put something right in their faces, they will ignore it and not try it out until someone tells them what it is.

We probably wouldn't be in such drought with the VC, WiiWare, and the EShop if Nintendo put in their time and advertise them.



Shworange said:

Seriously! Nintendo should hire teams dedicated to releasing a lot more digital only proprietary titles! I understand the line they walk. Too much, and you'll overkill your characters. It just seems too little right now. Also, the games featured every month are often the same games over and over again, simply placed in different menus. It needs to be easier to view older dsi ware games without having to filter search for them. The average person is not going to do that. At least, have a "what's old is new" section. Feature the first 20 dsi ware games, and the next week feature 21 to 40, and so on. Repeat this cycle when it completes. Regardless, something need to be done. Also, how about new videos to purchase? Halloween ended over a month ago!!!!



SLiM said:

Demos and sales, as well as more games to choose from would greatly increase the revenue generated by their digital store.



FluttershyGuy said:

I would like to think that Reggie hyping those numbers means he grasps the potential value in releasing more digital content. Which, in turn, could lead to more VC!



alLabouTandroiD said:

I think there’s no big hope for the Dsi-Shop anymore. On the Wii Ninty could only make some more money with releasing more VC games. Added online would interest more people in the VC games and if you can easily transport them to the WiiU there’s no reason not to start with that right now.
For DSiWare it would surely help if it were handled like 3DS Ware or 3DS VC games instead of being restricted to a small number of games on your system and all the micromanagement that comes with it.

The eShop is a quite big step in the right direction. It seems that games are being advertised to 3DS owners on a regular basis now.
I think there are more opportunities to make people visit the eShop though. While the program to get Kid Icarus for free is great there could be small, free downloads for SM3DL and MK7 on the eShop. When you downloaded ‘em you’re directly greeted with a link to another eShop game you might like and don’t have yet.
Or they offer a free app in the vein of Personal Trainer: Walking (aka Walk with me! Do you know your walking routine?) and port it to the 3DS. In my opinion the pedometer is the main casual feature of the 3DS and could interest quite some people.

@NintyFan (9.) and @Slapshot (10.): While you’re ideas are great and I would love to see remakes or new games in the vein of Metroid 2, SMB2 and Zelda 2 I couldn’t help but be amazed by the quality of NSMBW. I doubt they would reach the same greatness with a downloadable game. I don’t know if an episodic game would feel good either.

Lastly from an old comment of mine:

  • Have as many demos as possible. This is the best way to convince people that they want the full game.
  • Give it all that you've got. There are a lot of people that can't stand the monochromatic GamBoy games anymore. If there was an option to play these games with the palettes the GameBoy Color or the GBA offered it would most likely mean more sales.
  • Enable wireless multiplayer play for every VC game that originally had a multiplayer option. I'd download a lot more of these if they had multiplayer options.
  • Start releasing VC games of the platforms that already have been announced (Game Gear and TurboGrafx-16). Otherwise people might give up on the 3DS’s VC because they think there’ll never be games in colour.
  • I'm sure GBA and SNES games would sell very well in the eShop.
  • We already know that NES games can be bought in the eShop one day. I've got quite some NES games on the Wii's VC and won't pay the same price for them in the eShop again. I would think about spending some cents per game for being able to play it on my 3DS though. Or i'd spend about 20 € if i could play all of my Wii's VC games on my 3DS and maybe vice-versa. Think about it as some kind of reversed GameBoy Player.
  • I cannot understand why us owners of a credit-card have to put more credit on our accounts than we need at the moment. Let us pay only for the game we want please!

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