News Article

Wii U Will Launch With Digital Store

Posted by James Newton

And full retail downloads

One of the biggest criticisms levelled against 3DS was the lack of a digital store at launch, but Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has assured investors Wii U will land with a full download store.

Iwata didn't discuss the available types of software ā€” Virtual Console, WiiWare etc. ā€” but did confirm that Wii U owners can choose to buy their Nintendo-published games physically or via download, right from the start:

For the Wii U, we will start the digital download sales of packaged software that I just discussed, so our consumers can choose either the packaged version or the digital download version of the same software from day one of the Wii Uā€™s launch.

Nintendo hasn't revealed Wii U's internal storage capacity but we know it'll support USB external hard drives, so if you want to do a lot of downloading you'll likely need a HDD.

3DS retail downloads kick off in August with the launch of New Super Mario Bros. 2, but they'll be with Wii U on day one.

Satoru Iwata also confirmed that Wii U release date and price announcements will probably happen after E3.


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User Comments (36)



cheetahman91 said:

That's good that we won't have to wait like we did with the 3DS. Hopefully it'll be pretty good.



grumblebuzzz said:

I hope the Wii U has a robust built-in hard drive or at least the capability for added external hard drive space for storing games because if it's still "blocks" like the Wii, they're gonna run into a lot of trouble with digital downloads of retail games.



James said:

@grumblebuzzz There's no built-in hard drive (or at least, there wasn't one announced at E3) but it supports external USB HDDs or SD card expansions



phoenix1818 said:

Great news that Nintendo is trying to keep up with the times, but personally I will always buy physical copies as long as they're available.



grumblebuzzz said:

That could work I guess. I just fear it's gonna be an issue like with the Wii where you download a few games and then you're out of memory. They kind of fixed it with the SD card patch later on but it still had its problems. I just really want the Wii U to live up to the hype of being the next big thing and not be plagued with last-gen problems. This is kind of a make-it or break-it time for Nintendo and I'm a little nervous for them with this system.



Sean_Aaron said:

Well I guess that sorts the issue of whether or not I'll want a hard drive for it as given the choice I say away from all packaged media now. I have some DVDs and CDs, but that's purely as a back-up which I never hope to use or for little extras I don't regard as worth ripping.

I seriously hope we'll be able to somehow transfer Wii games to HDD as well; I just don't have confidence in the durability of optical media after finding a number of my old DVDs were unrippable/unplayable due most likely to manufacturing issues. It would suck to have a low-print run Wii game just stop working and not be able to find a replacement copy.



Alienfish said:

I'm really glad they're doing this. For starters it shows me that they have been paying attention to the industry and in general Nintendo really seems to be pushing forward with their online strategies. That said, I probably won't be getting any downloadable retail games since I am pretty attached to my physical collection. Another thing that Nintendo should strongly consider is including at least one USB 3.0 port if they plan on supporting an external HDD. USB 2.0 is just too slow for the sheer volume of today's games and would make load times absolutely horrific.



SkywardLink98 said:

Now all the U Shop needs is an ability to bring over all your old games from your wii, and the VC needs to be carried over so we don't spend the next 4 years getting the same games that were already on it.



FonistofCruxis said:

I don't care about retail downloads but its good to know that it will have a digital download store at launch.



NintyMan said:

That's great, it was a patience test for the 3DS to have the eShop come for it. It looks like Nintendo's learned from those early 3DS mistakes and will have the full plate for the Wii U on day one.



Kirk said:


Now just lower the price of the digital versions compared to the retail versions of the games rather than charging exactly the same price as the retail copies, Nintendo, and everyone's happy.

I hope they don't expect me to consider it a privilege to have to pay the same high price for a virtual version of a game, which doesn't really cost them any extra cash to reproduce ad-infinitum and there's no retail store markup, that doesn't have a cool box or instruction booklet and that I can't even let my friends borrow or give to my little sister when I'm finished with it.

Do it right and do it fair Nintendo, is all I ask.



aaronsullivan said:

I bet Nintendo will wait until E3 to announce that you'll be able to transfer all your Wii downloads to the Wii U. It's a nice big ?-block to break open in front of the masses.



Whopper744 said:

I think this is a step in the right direction for Nintendo. I prefer getting the physical copy, but some people will really appreciate this. I hope they already have VC games available.



blackknight77 said:

They should add Wii and Gamecube games that can be downloaded from the store in addition to Wii Ware and more robust and revived Virtual Console Service



Kirk said:



Christ, I would hope they have the common sense to do this. It seems like a no-brainer and would only serve to make the Wii U an even more attractive value proposition.

It's also kinda so obvious that Nintendo must just not include it. Kinda like the fact that we supposedly won't be able to run Wii games in HD even though you'd think it wouldn't be that hard to allow the machine to upscale them, or something like that, in the same way the homebrew Dolphin emulator already can (or whatever it's called).

You just never know with modern Nintendo.



Bass_X0 said:

I really doubt there will be a difference between retail cost and digital cost. This is Nintendo we are talking about after all.

Still, why go to the shops to buy the game when you can stay at home and download it?



James said:

@Kirk For Dolphin to upscale Wii games takes a lot of hardware, probably costing more than Wii U. But they'll totally do GameCube games for download, that's a no brainer.



Kirk said:


Well, if it's not going to be any cheaper it might be worth getting the retail version just so you actually own it properly and can let your friends borrow it, give it to your sister when you're done with it or even trade it in for a little cash when you don't want it any more.

Personally, I think the digital versions have to be cheaper or it's just a blatant rip-off and it's going to upset a lot of savvy gamers and consumers who know better.



MegaAdam said:

Supporting external hard drive = AMAZING, Thank you Nintendo.

As for downloading full games, based on the prices I see in the Wii Shop and eShop, I'll definitely buy the physical version and it will cost me less. And then I can take the game to a friend's house! Amazing.



Kirk said:


Yeah, it's probably pretty processor intensive but I'd still like to see some basic support for stuff like this.

Even some basic filtering and stuff for older games, like you get on SNES emulators and the like, would also be nice.

Well that's what we all fairly assume anyhoo (regarding the GC downloads).



grovertheblue said:

This will be awesomely troublesome. I can see myself spending a whole lot more on games, now that a trip to the store is not required. However, certain games will still be physical copy purchases for me I am sure. ie. Zelda



DRL said:

Hopefully one day (nearly) all of Nintendo's back catalog will be available digitally. Maybe we'll see something to that effect during the lifespan of the Wii U? Maybe I'm crazy? Just seems like a lot of "free" revenue for the company.

BTW - Not sure this is the proper forum for this comment but I wanted to publicly state, as a semi-new user, that I LOVE this website and its community. First place I go for Nintendo news and reviews. Keep up the good work!



Pokefanmum82 said:

Good news for a lot of people but if I have to buy an external hard drive just to download games. I don't have a lot of extra income to spend on one. I guess I will be going the physical copy route after all.



MeloMan said:

It's nice having a choice. This will benefit someone out there. (Maybe even me...)



DarkEdi said:

I want to transfer all my downloads and saves from Wii to Wii U and a kind of adapter to use the GB control in Wii U (a lot of games uses it).



SonyFACE said:

That's cool! if the downloads are cheaper than physical copies, I can save some money at launch.




I said it before and I'll say it again. I'd rather get my games packaged instead of digital. I have my reasons. That, plus to me. I don't really enjoy the idea of having to buy an external hard drive just to store digital downloads of games if I were to choose the digital route and eventually run out of memory. To me, external hard drives are way too DAM expensive.



Uncle_Optimus said:

@Hyperstar96 Those birds have already flown the coop tho, have they not?
That value destroyed when their Wii software was pirated is not going to come back. I think even the record industry realized this when they gave Steve Jobs the tacit OK to allow iCloud music libraries.
In the same way the 3DS is the clear successor to DS, the Wii U is the successor to Wii. As with 3DS I expect Nintendo will offer some kind of (likely slightly inconvenient and clunky) method to one-time transfer your content.

On another note: woohoo to downloadable GC games...but I wonder how Ninty will price these...



TheN64Dude said:

Things we need on Wii U Virtual Console are:
Nintendo Gamecube
Sega Saturn
Sega Dreamcast
Sega CD + 32x

and we also need games like Sonic 4: Episode 2

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