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:
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?