News Article

Nintendo Considering Retail Downloads on 3DS and Wii U

Posted by James Newton

That'd be handy

Nintendo has the infrastructure in place to allow full retail games to be downloaded to 3DS, but is still considering when and if to deploy it.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed at an investor briefing that Wii U will also share the same infrastructure — impressive considering Wii U uses 25GB discs — but the company is not yet decided whether it'll bypass retail or not:

For the digital sales of the content, we are also considering the future possibility of digital distribution of packaged software, which is often referred to as “software download sales.” This concept was built into the design of the Nintendo 3DS, and we already have the necessary infrastructure. We will prepare the same infrastructure for the Wii U. However, we have not decided the concrete timing of when we will start it. The decision must be made by taking into consideration such factors as the relationship with the wholesalers and retailers, and the best way to be embraced by consumers, as well as the environment surrounding the market and consumers, such as the required memory capacity on consumers’ SD memory cards. However, as an option for the future, the significance of this business field will increase.

Would you prefer to download all your 3DS games or are you happy picking up boxed copies for the foreseeable future?


From the web

User Comments (100)



Ernest_The_Crab said:

Well for convenience sake it would be a nice option for it. Though seeing as how the 3DS runs on wireless connection without an ethernet solution downloads could take a while.

I can see it working well for the Wii U though.

Storage would probably be another issue unless they patch the 3DS to use more high end SD cards.



Raptor78 said:

I think the Resident Evil demo was of a significant size and hasnt had any download issue and DS games are much smaller by that standard, so retail DS games and smaller 3DS titles shouldnt have any problems being sold through the eShop.
Its all down to Nintendo and wether they think its worth it...
mabey a classic (budget) range without the need of any retail carts, im sure there is a couple of titles they could shift that way like 'steel diver' hmmmm.



Lunapplebloom said:

I prefer my games to be physically boxed copies, but but being able to download would be interesting.



James said:

@Raptor78 IIRC Resi demo is 147MB and 3DS games can go up to 4GB (Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D comes on a 4GB cart at least),

Great idea about the budget range though: I'd like to see Nintendo sell retail titles for download at ~£10 to get some people to buy the things



Martyn said:

They could also use this to release niche titles which originally might not make it to certain regions. Would be a cheaper option and less risky than retail, and more chance of people picking them up as a impulse download if they're cheaper than they would be on a retail release.
Already did similar with the Wii's Virtual Console + the Hanabi Festival and all, releasing (old) titles digitallly which weren't released before.
The convience factor would also be a plus. Buy 32GB card. Fit 10+ full retail games, all your 3DSWare/Virtual Console/Demos, and more.

Pretty exciting news anyway.



JimLad said:

Everyone will be doing it in not too long, time to make a start now.
This will make games cheaper for everyone. I doubt for one minute Nintendo will reduce the price of their titles in download form, but third parties will have space to do so and hopefully lower prices will mean more exposure for the lesser known games.
A rating system and demos would also help.



shadowkaby said:

I usually prefer all my games to come in mint, boxed condition, mainly because I'm from the era of having "fun with the box". I love to read the manual, look at some of the undisclosed art inside them, and usually the manuals offer interesting back-stories/information the game doesn't really showcase up front. Sadly, with the advent of the "recyclable" boxes, the manuals are virtually nonexistent, and those that do contain them offer 3 pages of english text, and the rest repeated in foreign languages. That been said, I wouldn't mind downloading these games, so long as Nintendo kept records of them so that I could easily re-download them for later use!



Azooooz said:

If only they can offer Nintendo cards around the world, especially in middle east, then it is a good option for those who don't want to go to shops buying physical box.



SilentHunter382 said:

Its a great idea if someone is looking for a game that is very hard to find and it is available for download for both the 3ds or WiiU.



Gameday said:

I think it would be nice if you could do either. Buy the retail game and then put a code into your system that comes with the game and it would give you an option to down the game or something along those terms.



shadowAOD said:

For the love of god PLEASE

you have no idea how stupid it is to travel a long distance
just to get the game you want



Raptor78 said:

@ James
Oh, I know that Residnet EVil and Snake Eater are huge and that there would be no way of downloading them even using background downloads. lol
It was the fact that the Cooking Mama 4 demo seemed so tiny which leads me to believe that some 3DS games would still be of a similar size to mabey larger DS games which easily fit on carts upto 128MB. I probably imagine some of those early UBIsoft games not be be too large either based on some of their quality. lol

Just checked some card sizes and these look like they could sell as full retail downloads...

128MB Card
Bust-A-Move Universe (Square Enix)
Cubic Ninja (Ubisoft)
PilotWings Resort (Nintendo)

256MB Card
Dream Trigger 3D (Bandai Namco)
Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters (WB Games)
Rayman 3D (Ubisoft)
Steel Diver (Nintendo)
Super Monkey Ball 3D (Sega)
Tetris Axis (Nintendo)
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars (Ubisoft)

... PilotWings Resort would make a great budget title



thedanman64 said:

It would cetainly be handy. My only concern is the pricing. Playstation Store sells downloadable versions of packaged games for a stupidly inflated price. Driver: San Francisco sells for £58 on there and Infamous 2 is priced at £50.

If nintendo want to make all their games downloadable, then it should at least make the price equal to it's retail versions



WiiLovePeace said:

Yay, I'd love to be able to buy retail Wii U & 3DS games over teh internets & play them straight after they've finished downloading, as long as it has sales & stuff & the prices aren't higher than at retail.



PinkSpider said:

I would love to have the option to buy games online as i hate carrying tiny cartridges around with me, its a portable device and i dont want to be taking half a dozen cartridges with me on holiday or a long trip. Hopefully there would be an option to download the game for free if u have bought it at retail price.



AbuJaffer said:

I'd love this. I know it's a very random reason, but one of the biggest reasons I would love a Vita is the downloadable PSP/Vita games. It may not seem like much, but to me that's the biggest downloadable step Nintendo could make. Imagine having SSFIV, Mario Kart 7, the next Pokemon game, etc. all available on your SD card... I drool at the mere prospect of such a possibility.



ETLN said:

The Wii U really should have an internal hard drive, its really going to limit the digital side significantly if it doesn't. How are we suppose to store DLC for games such as Call of Duty etc on a SD card? Not to mention a 32GB SD card is pretty expensive currently, an internal hard drive of a much larger size would be much cheaper. Nintendo should really do what sony have done with the PS3 and allow a normal SATA 2.5" drive to work, even just having a slot so the consumer can put one in themselves would be a wise idea. That way it cuts the cost down on Nintendo's part as well and gives the user the choice if they decide a SD card is not big enough for their needs. Of course USB external HDD support would be the other way to go which according to nintendo has stated it supports them.



kyuubikid213 said:

I would like it if this was possible. I mean, it pretty much already is...

Elite Forces Unit 77 was a retail DS game, but now you can buy it as DSiWare... So why not do the same with retail 3DS titles.

It'd be like a PSP... Yeah it would take a while, but the game you would get would be worth it. However, I wouldn't want this feature region locked. I would like to be able to get awesome games from UK and JP that aren't released in NA.



taffy said:

I can't understand why they haven't added retail DS titles to Nintendo E-shop. But Nintendo have a habit of promising things and not delivering. I still remember Reggie at e3 2006 talking about WiiConnect24 saying "Imagine you switch off your Wii only to comeback and find Dowloadable content already installed".... Yeah that worked well didn't it? Don't get me wrong I love Nintendo but when it comes to these things I now have a "wait and see" approach.



Hejiru said:

I would download Animal Crossing 3DS and Pokemon 3DS. Those are the sort of games that you want to have on the menu all the time, since you play them every-ish day. Wish I could've done that with Nintendogs...



Raptor78 said:

Nintendogs + Cats 512MB... isnt that around 4000 blocks... doesnt seem that bad really, but at a standard wifi speed it would have to be a background download.



JustAnotherUser said:

I'm going to break the 'norn' and say that I don't like this idea.
Prices will never likely go down and and we have no physical box, manual, cartridge, Club Nintendo code, etc.
I'm sure they will have them still, but in digital form.
Plus think of what this will do to the second hand game market. (It can be both good and bad)

Maybe it's just me as I like buying physical things.
Also on another completely contrasting note... I think it's a good idea to do it with DS games.



Shworange said:

Enter the Nintendo cloud! If they're doing this, they need to do it right. They need to allow us to backup save files and games via cloud storage.



FonistofCruxis said:

I'd rather just buy them at retail as I like having physical copies of games with the boxart and manual. I'd rather just download vc games and games made to be downloadable like Wiiware, DSiware and 3DSware.



SkywardLink98 said:

Not with Wii U, no one would pay an extra $25 to get more memory to hold 1 game. Though if the Wii U had a cloud then that would be different...
The 3DS though... I dunno the demo for resident evil is over 10,000 blocks and if I have to pay $15 to get an SD card to hold 1 game, than I'm not gonna support it. If they want to do this they'll have to launch some sort of a cloud.



StarDust4Ever said:

DS games and GBA games could be added to the e-shop with virtually no overhead. I want to D-load Super Mario Sunshine on my Wii-U.



Nintonic said:

Well there is one big problem: Not all people have internet... So I would
suggest to have both box and download.

As for the download yeah! Those tiny games can get lost and storing them on the 3ds would be so efficient.



blackknight77 said:

I'd love to see them offer some harder to find DS titles as downloads. Big Brain Academy comes to mind.



NintyMan said:

I would like for physical and downloaded copies to coexist as options, but in my case, I would probably prefer getting the physical copy. Still, it's nice that Nintendo would be willing to do this. If the 3DS already has the capacity to do it, then I don't see a problem. All they would have to do is get into good terms with stores and block piracy.



aaronsullivan said:

Sooner the better on this. I'll spend money on an extra hard drive or large SD card for my Wii U if necessary. Removable media and boxes take up physical space, if I can cram it into a tiny space with no drawbacks, I'll do it.

On the negative side, this will eventually mean no used games market, although that would be a long way off. Also, retailers could backlash against this big time. In the short term I don't think it effect them too dramatically. Most people would still buy the retail versions.

(Seems like Nintendo is preparing in advance well enough that there could even be a hard drive solution for those that want it. I give it a 50/50 chance.)



aaronsullivan said:

Other commenters have great ideas: Cloud storage of games so you can download and delete whenever you feel like it when there are storage space concerns.

Rare and imported games available even when the numbers aren't there for physical releases. Same goes for Gamecube games and Wii games.

Prices that are just a bit lower to encourage downloading vs. retail (not likely!)

That would be a massive undertaking for Nintendo, but Nintendo does seem much more committed to online services this time around.



Spoony_Tech said:

Space is really the only issue here. All companies stand to make more money off a download system. Not to mention it would be easier to patch a download copy. I for one would like this option however Nintendo needs to offer a bigger memory expansion. Either by system memory or giving us a larger memory card. I don't feel like spending even more money on a massive amount of memory. That all adds to system cost. I've expanded my memory to an 8G but I fear that in a years time that will also get used up.



Rapadash6 said:

I really do prefer tangable, boxed games myself, but few could argue that digital distribution isn't the future, and it's nice to see that Nintendo is preparing for it.



SLiM said:

@Hejiru I completely agree. I find myself constantly swapping in Animal Crossing: City Folk and then swapping it out for the next game. Animal Crossing 3DS would be a great game to launch retail downloads with.



famestephy09 said:

I think Boxed copies are better. The memory space required to that would mean more money spent on higher GB for the SD card. But maybe select titles. Though Playstation 3 does it i never had a problem with memory space but then again my Playstation has a lot more memory space then my 3DS. Its a hard topic to go about.



Raptor78 said:

@aaronsullivan "On the negative side, this will eventually mean no used games market, although that would be a long way off. Also, retailers could backlash against this big time. In the short term I don't think it effect them too dramatically. Most people would still buy the retail versions."

Retailers like "GAME" in the UK are welcoming downloadable games with open arms as it means they can shift games via Top Up cards.
GAME are even one of the partners of ONLIVE in europe selling the cloud based gaming system set top boxes and even going to be exclusivly selling the top-up cards when they go on sale.
Top Up cards means less dedicated shop floor space and no problem returns etc... whereas the shop can continue its focus on selling the hardware etc...



Hardy83 said:

As much as I think this would be amazing, Nintendo doesn't allow sales, they don't use promos. They just throw up a game and leave it.

So games like Pilotwings will be thrown up at $40 and stay that price.

Unless Nintendo changes it's mind on sale prices, but you know me. lol I just expect Nintendo to fail at every turn when it comes to online stuff.

I hope they prove me wrong, I really do. We'll see.



Kyloctopus said:

I would probably never use it, it's not much of a hastle to walk to EB Games or Walmart to get a game.



19Robb92 said:

I hope that would mean I'd have the option to download a game I already own as a cartridge for free? Sine, you know, I own it..

I wouldn't mind having all my content on the SD card memory at all. As long as it's still as smooth as using the cartridge.



Ryno said:

Yuck, digital downloads. If you can't hold it, you don't own it.

For those people who think it will be cheaper as a download title you are crazy! Just look at what full retail games go for on PSN compared to the price at the store.



koops330 said:

its a nice thought and might be good for people as a whole but I wouldn't use it I would rather have a physical copy of a game then a digital



komicturtle said:

Haha,I knew it was possible

I'd probably download Smash Bros 3DS only, since I definitely want that game with me at all times. As for price- the plastic boxes, paper and printing probably cost $1 or less. The most maybe $2.

I can see these retail games selling for $5-$10 than you would if you bought the physical copy, since 3DS cards are the reason for it's price (Memory inside it, content and all).

Who said eShop has a lousy limit?



Sam_Loser2 said:

NOOOOOO! I do not like the idea at all. If it's downloaded, you don't own the game you own a mere license. I'd also run out of space quickly I imagine. It would be one step closer to phasing out hard copies of games anywhere (and I like to buy used every now and again) and even worse that leads to a possible subscription-only kind of play style. The subscription pricing is the reason I don't play MMO's, and I would be devastated it that is what home/handheld gaming would cost me.



john2468 said:

The games better finish downloading in 5 minutes. If they don't, then I don't think Ninty should go with their plan



Geonjaha said:

I would love to just be able to download them. I leave Mario Kart 7 in my 3DS all the time now, and the main reason I wont go back to Nintendogs or Super Mario 3D Land for short plays is that I cant be bothered to keep changing the game cards. Lazy - but true. :3



Chris720 said:

That would be pretty cool. Especially if they're budget titles, for example, Pilotwings. After so many months out on sale they can go for a cheaper price on the eShop to be downloaded.

But I prefer having the actual cart/disc than having everything digitalized... but I have to admit, it sure would be handy swapping from Pilotwings to Steel Diver on the fly rather than changing carts around.



Azikira said:

I like getting physical copies personally, but there's no harm in releasing digital versions of games. In fact, it may help gamers snag more obscure titles like Devil Survivor Overclocked without paying $80+.



Linkuini said:

Heck no! If I get another demo the size of the RE one, I'll need another SD card. At some point, it would be just like having a bunch of game cards, but I'd have to label them myself.



pariah164 said:

As much as I like physical copies, this would be great for niche titles that are hard to find after two, three months after release, I.E. Atlus and NISA games.



Martyn said:

..Are people seriously complaining about running out of space on the included SD Card?
Buy a 32GB card, they're really cheap nowadays. Be sorted for pretty much ever. That'd fit 10+ retail title, and probably all the 3DSware/Virtual Console titles you'd end up purchasing for a long time!




I think Digital Downloads are a good option to have, however I love buying Nintendo games in their cases and would probably continue to do so, unless the Wii U came with a substantial hard drive and the games were cheaper without the boxes.



ArcanaXVI said:

I'm actually quite happy with my retail purchases. I like my hard copies, and the boxes and instruction booklets hold a certain sentiment for me.



Ashflow said:

I think that if you buy the retail version, you should have the option to download it as well, while only buying the downloadable version would be slightly cheaper. Downloads would have the advantage of being cheaper, while physical copies would have the advantage of options. Win/Win.



Hokori said:

I want a way to transfer the data from my DS/3DS Cards and turn them into digital formats



bonesy91 said:

after owning the PS3 for a while now and 3DS both. I would love the idea of Digital downloads only (even though before I was highly against it)

it actually works as a bonus protection for your games too. Say there was a fire and you only had time to grab one thing of your gaming collection. All you would have to do is grab the system and your good.

Lol though highly unlikely you would actually grab a piece of hardware while your house was slowly catching on fire. But eh. Just a thought.



Shock_Tart said:

why didnt they think of this with the nintendo e shop? its basically the same thing. all they have to do is add full retail games to the shop channel.



WolfRamHeart said:

Personally, I prefer physical copies over digital ones. If Nintendo does decide to do this then I hope that the Wii U includes a good sized hard drive. Cloud-based storage would also be a great option if they decided to go that route. Another thing Nintendo needs to do with it's digital releases is have sales like Microsoft and Sony do on their XBL Marketplace/PSN Store.



motang said:

I hope this means the Wii U would have a hard drive in it, atleast 150GB if not 250GB!



LordTendoboy said:


Digital games are also more convenient in that you don't have to worry about scratched discs, dead disc drives, disc-read errrors, etc.

As long as we have all our games available through cloud storage or an account system, I'm all for digital distribution.



DoctorWho said:

I definitely prefer physical copies only. Mainly for the sake of having a collection on the shelf. Plus it eliminates the issue of having to free up space on an SD card rather than having to delete certain titles once you want to try another one. I've embraced digital distribution a lot more over the years and have come to like it, but it would be nice to see them achieve a balance rather than go down the all or nothing route. The demos are definitely a terrific idea, but they are very large downloads which is very concerning for the full versions. I'm definitely all for physical releases. But, I like the idea of digital distribution for 3DS in terms of DLC, demos, fan made maps & missions for multiplayer and even smaller scale, independent titles for download where budget may not allow for a physical release.



super-nintendo said:

I could see DS games coming first like Pokemon Black or NSMB DS. I would download those and for 3DS maybe MK7 cause I'm always online wiith that tiitle. I prefer boxed games. But the option leads to more sales.



Martyn said:

@motang wii u offers support for external USB hard drives. that means you can have 2000GB or 3000GB if you want!



Urbanhispanic said:

I'd like to have all options available to me. I can see buying digital versions of full games and then downloading them into the 3DS or Wii U and at the same time, going to a store and buying a boxed version as well.




Nintendo please get with the times I know you hate DLC trust me I do to but the other benofits out way the negatives.



NocturnalYoshi said:

It is a convenient option, but I would personally prefer to buy it in a package from retailers. It should be an option, but I really think that they should keep in business with the retailers.



Undead_terror said:

reasons why this is good:
1)put it on a sd card(redownloadable)
2)if you want a game but its not at a store near you and you dont want to go on ebay
#)not always having to hold on to game cards!



Undead_terror said:

reasons why this is good:
1)put it on a sd card(redownloadable)
2)if you want a game but its not at a store near you and you dont want to go on ebay
3)not always having to hold on to game cards!



JusticeColde said:

This is a bad idea for one thing....a really bad idea. There are a lot a factors that go into making this thing fall flat fast. There are a number of countries that do not have the best internet speeds. Take, for example, the United States. There are whole counties and states that do not have internet at all. There was a writer on who wrote an article on how he couldn't do his job because the area he moved to had no internet; he was broke for a month. Also, satellite internet is not that good. It is like DSL 2000 if you can say it like that.

Hard drive and card issues serve as others reasons against having only downloadable games. I personally can't afford a 3000GB hard drive or a 32-GB SD card. Heck, I had a problem trying to get a 2 GB card for my VC games.

Personally, I like having physical copies. I may keep my discs in a CD wallet, but I still keep the original cases to show, "Hey, I bought these games. I bought them when they ere out." That's just me. Also, I do not see what's so hard about looking on eBay or Amazon or just going to a store and getting a game. (And, yeah, I had problems trying to find games that they don't have in stores. Try for example, the King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga and the Samurai Shodown Anthology.)

Also, isn't it likely that someone could just go crazy and force us to pay a subscription in order to play the games we already bought...digitally?



DarkEdi said:

First they need to do a well excecuted Wii VC and then we can talk about retail downloads.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Price is the most deciding factor for me here. I've got problems not having a box for anything that's more expensive than 20 €. That includes the total value of episodic and DLC-heavy games as well. Don't necessarily need the cart though. Box and manual would suffice if the release totally depends on it.
The option to aditionally download a game you've purchased on a cartridge would be great though.



bricabrac said:

Only boxed copies. If I pay for something I like to have it in physical form. As for me games are items, not services.



Martyn said:

If your internet isn't fast enough or you have no access at all, buy the game in shop.
If you buy the digital version and download it, you'll still be able to play it even if you move to somewhere with no internet.

In europe, 3DS games retail for around 40 euro. A 32GB Class 10 (highest speed) card is less than 30 euro, there's absolutely no excuses for "i can't afford an SD card" especially as this future proofs you. (Especially after spending $200 or euro on the console, at least)



saikun said:

They could release games like 6, 12 or 18 months old with a price cut. That would totally spice up the sales ^_^



Henmii said:

I will always prefer a visible card/disc, but it could be handy for games you cannot find at most retail-shops. Though it must be cheaper then a visible card/disc.

3ds is out of the question in my opinion, since the files will be GIGANTIC! Fills up a SD-card very quickly! The pretty short Resident evil revelations demo was already over 1000 memory blocks!



realar said:

If we're gonna download games, we'll need a bigger SD card on the next 3DS iteration.



fabbemannen said:

I rather have boxes, but older games would be nice to have downloadable (GBA-NDS).
How about some N64-games perhaps?



Cygoku said:

The way I see, if you buy the reatail game, you could be entitled to download it's digital copy. Just like you can download a digital of your bluray movie from iTunes and WMP with a download code. Still it needs a way to let older version of retail sales to be able to download the digiteal copy. I so want my SM3DL in SD and MK7 in the slot!



Drawdler said:

What @100. said. As long as these things are optional I'm all for them... Due to memory constraints, lack available service for downloaded releases and lack of Internet etc. Also it would be rather pointless having a card/disk slot and not being able to use them. If they are ever going to do this, save it for next generation or something at least.

Leave A Comment

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