Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has revealed that New Super Mario Bros. 2 will be the first 3DS retail game to be available for download.
Iwata spoke to investors at a financial results briefing and said that with user eShop connectivity at a good level — as much as 70% of 3DS owners in Japan and the U.S. have connected to the internet — Nintendo has a "strong feeling" that its digital foundations have been laid out. He said:
In principle, starting from this software [New Super Mario Bros. 2], the company will offer the software titles that Nintendo itself publishes in both packaged and digital download formats so that our consumers can choose the way to purchase them.
So, from August onward you'll be able to download or buy physical copies of Nintendo-published 3DS games.
Iwata also revealed that Nintendo is keeping retailers involved by allowing consumers to purchase their download games at physical locations, with stores generating a 16-digit code at the till point which can then be redeemed in the eShop.
In an unprecedented step for Nintendo's digital strategy, it is giving retailers control over how much they charge for these redeem codes for digital purchases, which means for the first time you can shop around to get the best deal on downloads. However, Iwata did have one troubling statement:
In terms of the fact that the company is offering the value of the software itself, we do not have an idea to act on such a belief as, “digital download software should be sold at a cheaper price point than the packaged software counterpart.”
Looks like if you want a good deal on your downloads, you'll need to use some shoe leather to find it.