With plenty of information coming out of Nintendo's recent financial results and briefings, one particularly positive outcome is confirmation that the company's download sales are increasing for the first time since 2010. Considering the fact that Wii and DSi are on the decline due to newer systems, the turnaround can undoubtedly be put down to the big online push that's been given to 3DS and its eShop.
In the 2010 financial year, the last peak of download sales, the half-year total was just short of six billion Yen; there was then a sharp drop-off in the following two years. For the first time since 2010, the recently announced half-year download sales show an increase to around five billion Yen, short of the peak but a welcome increase over the 3.25 billion Yen of sales during the equivalent period last year; you can check out the graphic below.
In terms of retail downloads, there are some reasonably impressive figures to show that their recent introduction is contributing useful sales. Of the retail downloads available, digital purchases account for between 3-10% of worldwide sales, depending on the title, while releases such as Brain Age: Concentration Training account for around 15% of total sales in Japan; Animal Crossing: New Leaf will be apparently be marketed as a title particularly suitable for download. Interestingly, with New Super Mario Bros. 2 as the reference point, US 3DS owners were the most active in buying that particular download, followed by Japanese gamers, with the European and Australian sales being "relatively small" in comparison.
Finally, Nintendo also reported that the percentage of 3DS handhelds connected online is also on the increase, with the worldwide ratio at the end of September being 72%, up 10% on a year before. The connection rate in Japan and the US is now over 80% and continuing to rise, though as with download retail sales Europe is lagging behind with a "relatively mild" rate of increase.
As Nintendo continues to take important steps in download gaming, these results do show that progress is being made. We wouldn't say that these figures represent a huge success, but they're undoubtedly moving in the right direction.