News Article

Talking Point: The Emergence of Download-Only Retail Games

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

A subtle but important evolution

The past couple of weeks have brought a notable landmark for the 3DS eShop, even if it hasn't necessarily caused internet-shaking headlines or attracted a great deal of attention. Unchained Blades, an RPG that would typically be found in specialist gaming stores or online retailers, if you're lucky, was released by XSEED Games as a retail title on the 3DS eShop, but not as a physical boxed game. It's a title also available as a download for the Sony PSP, but if you want a boxed copy for either system you'll have to import — and have the correct regional system — the Japanese versions. For the localised Western release, if you're in North America, you can go the download route or miss out.

That's made Unchained Blades the first download-only retail title on 3DS, available for $29.99, and Europe will experience the concept soon with news this week that Code of Princess, released by Atlus as a boxed and download release in North America, will arrive exclusively on the 3DS eShop this side of the pond; this is likely to be due to developer Agatsuma Entertainment reportedly taking on the role of publisher in its eagerness to bring the game to as many territories as possible. We couldn't be more pleased here at Nintendo Life; our Code of Princess review explains why.

First of all, let's outline some of the reasons why the idea of download-only games doesn't appeal to everyone. On a relatively sentimental level, it's all about the packaging and manuals, which plenty of gamers still love and prioritise as part of their hobby; quite a few members of the Nintendo Life team will probably admit to being in this group. For plenty of people, whether retro gamers or like-minded younger gamers, part of the fun of this hobby of ours is to have a nice collection of game boxes to organise and protect; they're a physical representation of a gaming passion.

From a more practical perspective, Nintendo's still antiquated practice of tying download purchases to hardware means that a stolen or broken 3DS takes your software with it, something minimised if a handheld is stolen with a single game cart, for example. Arguably, you may be able to get sufficient help from Nintendo Customer Services to retrieve your games and, therefore, get content back that would be gone forever with the theft of a physical cart. That's true, but the current system — easily resolved by tying purchases to a network ID in the cloud, but we've banged that drum before — means that a fix is likely to involve a fiddly process, assuming you have the information required from your hardware and account to retrieve the content. We can't comment on how well the process works from experience — there are loud complaints out there if you search the internet — but it's clear that the current process isn't optimal.

Let's move onto some positives of this news concerning eShop releases of Unchained Blades and Code of Princess, as these titles are pioneering what could be an important part of Nintendo's and various developer's futures. The main positive, we feel, is that download-only releases could promote localisations of games that, without that distribution option, would simply never see the light of day in the West. Both of these titles are perfect cases; while romantics would like to think that games like these have a chance of major sales, the blunt truth is that most of them don't. They're niche releases catered to experienced gamers and fans of the respective genres, and on those terms they quite likely sell enough copies to their audiences to enable the developers to continue working on projects they love.

It's these sorts of releases, which would typically be hard to find in stock at a major mainstream retailer in any case, that could forge a new category of download-only retail releases. With budgets across the gaming and entertainment industries being more stretched by the sheer volume of competition, it's quite possibly beyond the means of many small to medium businesses to contemplate the packaging and distribution costs of getting their games onto the high street. These realities help to explain why we're seeing, arguably, a new level of quality grace the 3DS and Wii U eShop, with download titles at times more typically up to the standard of bite-size retail releases, rather than quirky projects in which enthusiasts like to dabble. There's shovelware, of course, but the standard of self-published work from many small and indie developer's efforts is impressive.

In the case of Unchained Blades and Code of Princess, we have high quality games that are unlikely to achieve mainstream sales success. They can still make money, however, and their arrival on the 3DS eShop signifies not only that developers can find an avenue for their game without costly overheads, but perhaps encourages other small companies to consider stretching their legs to retail-level releases. An issue with this, which perhaps punctures all of this positivity a little and we expect to be debated a fair bit, is price. Unchained Blades costs $29.99, cheaper than a big name retail 3DS title but a lot more than smaller downloads, so its performance will be an early indicator of whether this idea can bring success for the people that we, as gamers, need the most — developers.

Nintendo's platforms, as well as the developers and publishers of all sizes that appear on these systems, are facing more varied and diverse competition than ever before. Download-only retail games are a natural progression if we want to see lesser-known but high quality games arrive on 3DS and, ultimately, Wii U. Nintendo also undoubtedly needs not just big-name developers to support its systems, but the indies that are arguably doing the most to try new ideas and approaches to gaming; by supporting retail downloads in this way, Nintendo can provide another valuable option to these businesses.

We'll conclude with the words of Nintendo of America's Dan Adelman, one of the key figures in the company's download platform policies. As he told us in our interview, he feels that the download arenas are vital to the future of the gaming industry, but that it's gamers that will ultimately determine their fate.

Now with digital distribution, the landscape has changed completely, and it’s possible for smaller teams to make really groundbreaking stuff. And now that even big budget AAA retail games are starting to go the digital distribution route, there’s less cost and therefore less risk built into the process. I’m hoping to see a bigger willingness on the part of game creators to test out new design ideas and continue pushing the industry forward. Of course, for that to happen, we need consumers to show that there’s a market for that.

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User Comments (120)



Furealz said:

Piracy and Stealing is a Major Problem for Developers to receive the income they deserve. Selling the game only on the eShop limits people stealing the boxes or pirating the disc, cartridges resulting in a more profitable title.



Peach64 said:

They need to sort their pricing out, and bring them more in line with games on Steam. Apart from that I'm all for digital downloads. I don't really get why people are so obsessed over getting a box. It's just clutter to me.



gekslupis said:

As much as I enjoy actually having a physical copy of a game, If it means having more 3rd party games from smaller developers, I will go with it.



elreins said:

Just a clarification.

Contrary to what I thought regarding getting back software "lost" with a defunct 3DS (my original black died in a jar of hot pozole), the process could not be simpler.

It would be great if more people knew that all you have to do if you loose a 3ds with games associated to it, is to call Nintendo Service and say what happened, they will ask you to provide the Serial Number of the console defunct and a new Serial Number of another 3ds to transfer the information to.

That is how I got all my my software back into my brand new 3ds xl some months ago, even with ambssador games and what not.

The process works.



SuperCharlie78 said:

It's unlikely I will buy Code of Princess on the Nintendo eShop, even if I'd like to give it a try.
I've not completely accepted that insane decision of region locking the 3DS, I would have bouhgt the game from the US market like I did with some DS titles that didn't see the light of the day in Europe.
Even these days you are able to buy phisical copies of Etrian Odyssey II and III which were only released in the US, just to say...
It's true, better this than nothing, Guild 01 is there to demonstrate it, but I'm not going to pay 30 €. (if not more) for a game that I won't be able to sell forever, and in no way enriches my collection not only in terms of sentimentalism, but even in terms of monetary value.
Yes, I have more than 60 DS games, maybe 70, which is a huge collection, whose value goes beyond that of the single games clearly, and I can't help but horrify just thinking at all my games like downloadable files.
Kirby Mass Attack, Golden Sun, Ghost Trick, DQ Monster Joker 2, Prof. Layton 4 and, believe me, a lot more, at €.10 each, TEN EUROS, last month.
I found even Zelda OoT 3D and Pilotwings at 10€, and these are 45€ on the eShop, and this is enough said



oninowon said:

To Peach:
The reason why digital games are more expensive for consoles and dedicated gaming handhelds is because it caters towards a smaller segment of gamers- the hardcore gamers- and also the games made for digital distribution for these dedicated gaming machine have a higher cost investment by the company producing the game.



SuperCharlie78 said:

And, just in case you were wondering, I'm used to downloadable games, I have over 100 games on my Steam account, more than 15 "3DSware" on the 3DS plus the ambassador games and the VC ones, and 3 games on the Wii U.



gekslupis said:

@elreins When you got the software back were any of your save files back as well? I would assume not but it would be nice to know in case I (or someone else) falls into a similar situation



elreins said:

No of course not.

All you get is purchased content. Saves existed only in the sd card of the original ds... come to think of it... I might have used those save files... too late.



elreins said:

I am a huge fan of digital content as well, it opens up gaming possibilities on the go. I do miss packaging and manuals. Well produced booklets and books are also a must for me.

It is another option. It works,



oninowon said:

Personally, I'm not happy about the region lock myself but I've come to accept it and move on. Now with digital downloads of retail, I'm more hopeful that games that don't normally come out in the USA region will more likely be made available.

I'm still apprehensive about digital downloads and vastly prefer physical copy over digital but I've slowly started to build up my digital collection. I bought my first retail-now-digital "Art Academy". I will follow up with Animal Crossing when it comes out. Other than that I will pick up physical copies of games if I can.



Bass_X0 said:

I have a feeling that some companies will release a retail game on the eShop and not as a retail release solely to prevent a decrease in cost and second hand sales. From a companies point of view, which is better for them - selling it at £35 - £40 online or letting it go into the bargain bin in GameStation after a few months?



SCAR said:

I agree with digital retail all the way.
This is how it's always worked, but you should have repaired it instead to save money. If you buy a new console when one is broke, you're giving Nintendo an extra $70 or so transfer from a broken 3DS to a new one, instead of repairing it for $80($150-70=80). Even if you lose your 3DS, you could technically use the registration information Club Nintendo to cancel one, and activate another if you do lose it. Repairing will just make you 3DSless for a couple weeks or so, to save $70 vs, buying a new one, plus you save the environment(cliche)!

There's 2 types of hardcore gamers now. The ones holding onto the old carts from past systems, and buying new 3DS carts as well. The other kind, is digital junkies wanting a unified console/handheld experience that's seemless when it comes to being able to get content easily, more conveniently, no matter what the cost(in my case).

I've already lost my Super Mario 3D Land cart, and I was PISSED, so I bought the DLC version. My old N64 cart of Mario Kart 64 was biting the dust(dodgable lighting bolts, red shells no longer locked on, N64 controllers 'dying'), so I redeemed a VC version of Mario Kart 64 off Club Nintendo that's still available as of now for NA. I'm playing Mario Kart 64 in 1080p, I don't see any reason to hold onto an old cart with as horrible of quality in content as the VC version, especially when it's to the point of being unplayable.



Kid_A said:

If a game is "download only" it isn't a "retail" game.
Right? Or am I missing something?



Knux said:

Nintendo only gamers are pretty much experiencing something that gamers with PS3s and/or 360s experienced years ago.

There's nothing wrong with a downloadable only route for some retail games despite what a lot of other people have claimed. Would you rather NOT have the game at all? Don't even get me started on all the downloadable exclusive games (Mega Man 9 and Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I for example) that would never have existed in retail form to begin with.

Downloadable gaming is actually an awesome thing in my opinion. You don't have to worry about constantly switching out games and you usually can get your games cheaper on non-Nintendo consoles and handhelds.

The problem is that Nintendo tries to make digital downloads as unappealing as possible.

First off, no discounts for the digital versions of games also available at retail is one of the main issues. I'm not surprised that most 3DS games are cheaper at retail or Amazon than on the eShop. That's why I usually buy 3DS games at retail.

On the PS3 and Vita, you usually can get games cheaper digitally than at retail. It might be a $10-$30 discount, but it's still cheaper. The only negatives to digital downloading on non-Nintendo consoles are the packaging and memory space.

Also, when you lose a retail game, it's gone forever until you find it. The beauty about downloadable games is that you NEVER lose them on non-Nintendo consoles or handhelds because everything is tied into a single account.

And that brings me to the second gigantic problem...Nintendo needs to make an account based system ASAP. Having your downloadable games tied to a single system is probably the most idiotic idea that Nintendo has ever thought of. They might have gotten away with it on the Wii and DSi, but it's inexcusable on the Wii U and 3DS.

There shouldn't be a transfer limit on the 3DS to begin with. Everything should be tied to a single account like PSN for example. If your 3DS or Wii U ceased to function, then you would have to go through essentially a lot of hoops to keep your downloadable games.

Let me tell you all how simple it is to keep downloadable data on Sony platforms. Every game you buy is tied to a single account. Your PS3, Vita, or PSP ceases to function and you had to get it replaced? No problem, you simply have to redownload your games that are on your account history. Sony keeps track of ALL of your downloadable purchases, so you don't lose anything whatsoever. But that's not all, you can backup all of your downloadable data (including save data) to an external hard drive in case your PS3 ever breaks, so you can easily transfer all of your data to another PS3 if something happened to your old one. Not only that, but you can even have your save data updated to cloud storage if you have PS Plus.

The thing that baffles me is why Nintendo needs to do a system update to even allow your Wii U downloadable games to be tied to an account. It should have been available at launch, and the same goes for the 3DS for that matter.

I could go on and on, but it simply boils down to this. Nintendo is doing great that they are finally embracing digital downloads and allowing downloadable only retail games like Unchained Blades (which is an awesome game, by the way) to appear on the eShop. But Nintendo needs to get with the times and stop shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to digital downloads.

@Kid A: Unchained Blades was released as both a retail and downloadable game in Japan. In America, it's downloadable only. Hence the term, downloadable retail games. The PSP version of Final Fantasy III is another example. It was released in both UMD and downloadable form in Japan, but it was released only on PSN everywhere else.



SCAR said:

PS3/Xbox 360 coexisted along side Wii, so PS3/Xbox 360 gamers were Wii gamers most of the time. Unless you really were biased torwards/against Nintendo, you had more than one console, so it didn't really matter. They all had their exclusive features and such. If anything, Sony and Microsoft let Nintendo go 'off-track', and it payed off. I don't really care much for an account system really, because I take care of my consoles. I'd rather have Wii U VC on the GamePad over an account system anyday, which is what I think they're trading off.




Good article, I prefer to have all downloads anyways and the 29.99 price tag is not bad. Although with so much coming out ivmay have to wait for something like this to go on sale at one point.



LavaTwilight said:

Where retail is available, I avoid digital download at all costs, usually even if there's additional content or it's cheaper (I got the free 3DSXL download so I'll be stupid to pass that up, and if it's the difference between £50 and £25 then I'll obviously go for the 25!). If it's download only and it's a game I really want then I have no choice but I'll really hate to see the games industry go this way. I'm already really disappointed that we don't even get proper instruction manuals anymore. A pox on them!



SKYW4LK3R said:

Sony had no choice to do it this way since their piece of crap hardware breaks all the time! I have yet to break any of my Nintendos...Original nes doesn't count...



DePapier said:

I haven't finished reading yet but, I just had that one thought: Nintendo and publishers alike should release DS and Wii games on the 3DS and the Wii U eShops in a few years, like Nintendo Selects and stuff. Some kinds of halfway retro games that they would never have bothered to reprint but that gamers would be eager to buy at that time for a nice price. (It's just Amazon that is not going to happy...)



scrubbyscum999 said:

I will always buy retail when I can. As someone who collects vinyl records, I have a thing for physical packaged goods. However, if download is the ONLY way to get a game, so be it. I just don't want a download only future for all games.



ueI said:

I thought the reason eshop retail games were so expensive was because Nintendo didn't want to run stores put of business. If that's the case, I expect games like Unchained Blades and Code of Princess EU to be significantly cheaper since there's no physical competition.

The first paragraph is misleading. PSP owners can import Unchained Blades because the PSP is region free.



TrueWiiMaster said:

If it means getting games I wouldn't otherwise get, or getting them much sooner, I'm all for it. I do think, however, that prices should reflect that it's a digital game. When a game is sold digitally and in retail, the digital price can't undercut the retail price or it will cause conflict. If a game is only available digitally, however, they're cutting out the middle man along with shipping, materials, etc., and I think those savings should be passed on to the buyers.



Otto-Soq said:

I like a nice box, but the game itself is really what counts. Having said that,...
I think that without a box, booklet, etc, piracy will be more attractive to some.



Windy said:

I think there is certain software in the Eshop that is not priced Fairly. im only going to post a couple of examples but there are quite a few more. Zenonia is 7.99 in the Eshop and .99 cents in the Apple and Android Markets. Pilot Wings 3DS is 39.99 in the Eshop and 17.99 at quite a few online outlets such as Amazon. I think titles like this are severely overpriced in the Eshop and its rediculous. Code of Princess as muchI love that game to me is overpriced in the Eshop@ 39.99. They didnt have to pay for packaging, booklets or shipping and are hitting the people who decide to download it digitally with those costs. I seriously think a boycott of the Eshop should be considered by gamers at some point for these rediculous examples. There is alot more than these examples but I think you get my point. Pricing I guess is up to the publishers of the games and I would like to see the right thing done. Right now its not being done. My oppinion is that Retail games which hit the Eshop should be at least 10 to 15 dollars cheaper than the cartridge games. most of the Eshop exclusive games have been fairly priced. Not condoning piracy but its no wonder people try to cheat the system when the system cheats them

I do prefer my games on Cartridge but have also downloaded quite a few Eshop titles. its nice not to have to look for a cartridge and have it on the system. but if I can get the cartridge I will always do so 100% of the time. Ive spent over 100.00 dollars in the Eshop so far and currently have a 30.00 dollar balance to spend more. im not against digital download at all in fact ive really enjoyed what I have so far. Just be fair Nintendo and other publishers. Just because Sony or microsoft do this doesn't mean youhave too



Slapshot said:

Download only games is really old news in this day and age. It's a norm nowadays and it's a pretty big problem for Nintendo with the way they've chose to lock these "download only" titles onto a single console.

This is 2013 and when the phone in my pocket has a better online infrastructure than the newest home console - there's a problem that needs to remedied ASAP.



Kid_A said:

I definitely would say the eShop versions of retail games should be slightly cheaper, at the very least the N64 Remakes or older titles like Steel Diver. There should be competetive pricing. I can get Star Fax 643D for $20 at my local store; there's no reason why I should pay twice the price for a downloadable version.



Windy said:

@Kid_A Holy cow somebody who got my point. Thank You! Thank You! Ive been complaining about this descrepancy for quite a while. I hope publishers will do the right thing in the future. but I think these posts go to def ears.

There hasn't been a discount sale in the eshop since last August and I don't think Nintendo intends to even offer anymore discount sales. The discounts they did offer were on some pretty bad 3.99 games and the gave 1.00 off. Some games should get a permanent markdown if they have been in the Eshop more than say 1 year and are experiencing low sales. There is a bunch of old DsiWare software (3 years old) just Rotting away at full price. But nope gotta get that full price on it. Maybe one of these days people will get tired of being treated this way



A1234 said:

not going to buy a download-only game for full-retail price. not going to buy any retail game via download for full-retail price.



Windy said:

Lastly then I will shut up. Gamestop and other vendors even have discount sales. Seems the Discount sales in the eshop were to get people all pumped about the eshop. then.......Bam! slam the door shut and not offer anymore



KnightRider666 said:

I'm totally against retail games going to download only for several reasons:

  • I'm a collector. I like having the physical cartridge, case, and instructions.
  • Zero resale value because they are digital, & you can't trade them in or sell them if you get tired of them(or need the cash).
  • No discount.
  • Unless there is a good pre-order incentive at Gamestop, I buy my games used(as long as they are complete & in nice shape). I save around $10, and I have 7 days to play the full game, not a demo.
  • Most full retail game downloads take up several 1,000 blocks of memory on your SD card. I almost have my 4GB SD card full. If you buy as many retail games as I do, even a 32GB SD card(the largest card the 3DS will support) won't be enough to store the downloaded versions of them.


KnightRider666 said:

@Windy: I agree. There are often no discounts even at a much later date. I have a bad feeling that physical games will be completely phased out to digital in 5 to 10 years:( That means, no trade ins, no discounts, and the need for expensive devices to accommodate huge storage demands.



Windy said:

@KnightRider666 I think within the next 5 years it will be all digital. Ive been telling all my gaming friends buy up the Carts and CD's while you can. I think in 10 years it will be hard to find old games you want to go back and play. Ebay sellers will be rejoicing You wont be getting a sweet deal like I just got on Final Fantasy Tactics for GBA for 1.00 dollar. Now I got a deal and half for some darn good gaming.

Ive been picking up GBA games lately dont care if they are carts or complete just stuff to game with at a later date



Lalivero said:

That's going to be a sad day and I'll probably resort to being a retro game-only player for the most part. At least I will be able to catch up on a bunch I missed the first time around.

I wish knightrider's comment #38 had a like button.



KnightRider666 said:

@Windy: I have around 1,700 music cds, all real and legit. I will never own an i-anything. The only thing that will effect ebay sellers once we go all digital is the fact that there simply won't be any games to sell on there, period you can't sell what isn't physically there. "Digital only" will hurt all the gamers out there. With nothing to trade in, or nothing used to buy; we will all be stuck paying $60+ for full game downloads. There will be no more bring a game to a friend's house to check out. I mean who wants to drag their PS3 to a friends house just to check out a new game together? It's lame I tell you. I say give us "the buyers" the right to choose physical or digital based on our our own needs, not the needs of the industry. After all, if we the consumer stop buying games in general; you developers & game companies won't have the funds to make anymore games period. Speak up now, or forever hold your peace!



TingLz said:

@KnightRider666 Good luck with that mindset. Unfortunately some companies can't afford to do both, like XSeed for example. Also, the argument of "no discount" is moot since there's nothing to compare to if it's download only. Keep in mind that Unchained Blades is $30 whereas the normal 3DS game is $40.



KnightRider666 said:

@Windy: Lately I've been grabbing GBA games at Gamestop for 85% off w/ my platinum members card. You can't beat 7 games for under $8!



TingLz said:

@KnightRider666 Well maybe if Unchained Blades wasn't such a niche game, XSeed would risk it. Now let's look at the other side of the argument: physical copies are a risk. If the game doesn't sell, then the publisher paid the money to make them for nothing. I don't think putting something on a digital format will cost as much for the publisher and there isn't as much of a risk (unless some fees apply by the platform owner)



TingLz said:

@KnightRider: Well Nintendo confirmed that they didn't want to compete with retailers. Some publishers do offer a lower price in Japan as far as I know. As for the others...I guess greed? Maybe they can lower their prices later (like on Wii U eShop)



theblackdragon said:

@lz (46): you're saying that $30 is a sort of 'discount' from $40, but that doesn't take into account the fact that some third-party titles are already currently retailing in stores for $29.99 — i bought Theatrhythm and Rhythm Thief for that price iirc. I get that Nintendo doesn't want to compete with retailers, and that's fine, but when there's no retail version to compare it to, why are we being charged retail prices still? There's no packaging, no middlemen to deal with at all. It makes no sense to me.



RR529 said:

I don't mind the $30 price point for Unchained Blades.

  • It's still $10 cheaper than the average 3DS retail title
  • It's a 60 hour long, story driven RPG. As such, that means there was probably a large amount translation costs (both text & voice over work) asociated with it (which would naturally run over into game cost).


Lalivero said:

@LZBirdboi What about games by the bigger publishers who have a better chance at having hits(such as Nintendo's IPs) and lower risks of not selling? It would be nice if they could at least offer a choice with those(and it would keep the games more open to everyone). I fully understand why smaller developers would choose the one option though.

Aside from the issues of current prices, etc. I like what we have now: I'm able to purchase physical copies of some of the bigger games while I do not mind having to use the eshop every now and then to find other games only found there; I just hope that the latter doesn't take full control is all.

I wonder if Nintendo truely [I]would[/] lower their prices because we all know that they don't even like to offer over time discounts for last gen console first party IPs.



Windy said:

@RR529 Unchained Blades seems to be a very nice game. There is only one reason why im not getting it and thats time. I know its a long game and I dont blow through games like most people do. Im going to hold off for Etrian Odyssey and Animal Crossing. I may get Unchained Blades later in the year if my Chain gaming subsides a bit. I would hate to get a game at 30 dollars in the Eshop and see it go unplayed. I think 30 is fair for unchained Blade given the quality and length of the game.



Muzer said:

The main issue I have with download-only software that wasn't touched on is N years into the future, when Nintendo have dropped all 3DS support and closed the eShop, sure, you'll probably still be able to play everything you've downloaded, but what if you want to buy some more games to play on your old console? By and large, if you want, say, a NES game or a Game Boy game, you can find a physical copy on the internet nowadays, buy it and play it on a real NES or Game Boy. This will not be the case for download-only software for the Wii or 3DS in the future. In other words, it's the lack of resellability that's my main gripe.



TingLz said:

@theblackdragon If I'm not mistaken, the publishers are free to set their own price, hence the $30 tag. It's also $30 on the PSP as well.

@Chriiis I dunno about them. If they want to set a lower price, then perhaps they can. Until then we don't really know how much they'll charge for their game



AVahne said:

Only like Download-Only if it's the only way that will bring Japanese games (both major and indie) over here.



Gridatttack said:

Meh. Download only games will always be the same price, and no box thing for the looks exists...

I always found games cheaper in their physical box, either because they are used. rather than paying full price of the digital ones...



theblackdragon said:

@lz: i've heard that before, but i thought it was only confirmed for WIi U? Also, what it costs on another platform doesn't matter; i've always felt that PSP downloadable titles should be less too, or that there should at least be a discount for choosing to buy digital over physical.



KnightRider666 said:

@Koto: I agree. I'd gladly download Mother(Earthbound Zero) & Mother 3 if they localized it, and it was the only way to get it if it was a fair price.



sr388survivor said:

Does anyone else feel like when you have a lot of digital games it becomes over whelming and you end up not knowing what to play? Kind of like how you have thousands of songs on your iPod and end up constantly skipping songs you like?
I'm a huge fan of digital games but I've been steering away from them because of this phenomenon. Just curious if it affects anyone else lol



AlGator said:

I will not buy a full-price digital download retail game, because of the loss/breakage of the system issue (I do buy some eShop games but limit those for the same reason). If they fix that, I'd consider buying some if some of the savings of distributing games this way was passed on to me.



ReshiramZekrom said:

I downloaded PM:SS from the eShop, but that was because I wanted the free Donkey Kong game. And besides, that decision pushed me to buy a bigger SD card, and I needed one.



TheAmazingRaccoon said:

YAY! Citizens rejoice!
I'm back.
My biggest concern for my purchases when my 3DS is that Nintendo wont give me back the digital purchases from other regions other than NZ.
The advantage to physical copies is that you can find real gems in the bargain bin.



Zodiak13 said:

I was very upset about Unchained Blades being DL only at first, vowing not to buy. I love physical media. But learning that the only way I would enjoy this game was to make it DL only got me over that spat. I love the game and glad I went against my early vow.



Gamesake said:

It's a bad idea for consumers to buy digital games at full retail prices. You lose a lot more than it's worth in the trade off. The low prices are the only reason why people buy digital at all--it's not some silly trend. We're saving money.



SCAR said:

I have more to say, so get ready to be confused or angry...

DLC download games are better for the sake of the games themselves. If they only sold digital, you can't tell me that you wot stop buying them.

Like I already said, my N64 cartridges started showing their age by not being being controllable(red shells stopped locking on appropriately, lightning bolts didn't effect players sometimes) because of the actual cartridge being old, my N64 controllers are dying, and I took care of my games like they were freaking children I had to feed. I got the VC version FOR FREE from Club Nintendo for 200 coins, and now I literally have a copy of Mario Kart 64 built into my Wii U forever. Benefits of digital include playing in updated sound/video like a disc, updated controllers that are going to last(longer at least), it was free(to me), made an old game play like new. Digital games ARE going to dominate in one way or another, this retail game being DLC only is a very good example. If no one bought physical copies and everything went digital, I'm pretty much 100% sure we would see a HUGE jump in content and availability of games.

I feel like holding onto those boxes, manuals, etc. content of physical copies was alot more normal before mainstream digital than it is now, at least from my perspective. Did anyone miss their teddy bear when it disappeared, or fell apart? I see this as the same situation. Your cartridges are going to break, or get lost. Maybe not as fast as 20 years, but it's going to happen.

Getting discounts for digital games is asking too much right now for alot of reasons. One, they still have to pay off they're shipping costs.
Two, they need to pay more for paper. Three, plastic casing. Lastly, the cartridge itself. They need to charge an equal amount as the new retail version, so they can step away from the store and bring things straight to you without a middle man. The equal price is making up for those costs that STILL exist from those copies at retail. Not only does it show it has the same value content wise by being the same price, but it's also convenient, seemless, and avoids damage to the 'extras', or complete ruin of those 'extras'

There's a perfectly good electronic manual in ever game DLC, and if you asked for those to be part of the download through the electronic manual, I'm sure they would. They have to design it anyway, so why not just let you dowload the exact copy of the paper manual digitally?



SCAR said:

The sooner you buy the DLC retail games, the faster the companies will make progress in making things better for you. It's their job. By everyones physical copy standards and ripping you off digitally, iTunes has robbed literally 100s of millions of dollars, so why is no one complaining? Apple releases 'the next big thing' ever year for the exact same price, so why is no one pissed over that even more so? They have the online accounts so you can move on to their next device, which isn't much different than the last. Nintendo doesn't release new products every year. It's like saying the computer they just figured out how to make a second ago is already outdated.



ecco6t9 said:

For me it's either all or none, that means Nintendo has to put up NGPC,GBA,and DS games on the eShop.

Make them priced competitively, have better sales, and release at least 1 Game Boy,1 GBA and 1 DS game a week to catch up on releases.



Stefanrules7 said:

@Knux I am totally against digital downloads but only for 2 simple reasons and im replying to you because you said that with a physical copy , if you lose it then it is gone forever but if you had the digital version you could never lose it. My biggest problem that stops me supporting digital downloads is that if a company cba running servers anymore , say after 5 years of release then you can never play that game again which also ties in with the problem that now if you wanted to go and buy a classic game that came out 15 years ago , you can but will you be able to download digital games 15 years after they are released , probably not. I would fully support digital download only if there was a guarantee that games you have paid for stay with you forever and you dont lose them after a few years because of server shutdowns and other things. Also you would have to buy a game within the first few years of release or you may not ever be able to play that game when they stop selling it. As i said before i would support digital downloads if they werent just essentially an expensive rental of a game that you lose whenever the company running the servers feels like shutting down. Please reply if you know of things that stop stuff like this happening because i get paranoid about the future of digital lol



datamonkey said:

I'm more than happy to download all of my content but my concern is that if we are heading for a digital-only age, we will be paying more for our games.

At the moment there is a lot of competition between retailers that push prices down. Nintendo seem to be intent on selling games for well over retail prices and that would mean in the future being able to afford less games unless they drop their prices.

I bought Darksiders II yesterday on WiiU from for £23.85. I think that games is £50 on the eshop right now and if one day we can only download games direct then I fear that they will be the prices we will be forced to pay...



elreins said:


If I did not got my 3ds repaired it is because it was beyond any saving, everything inside it got fried in gooey greasy hot hot pozole.

I am a console recycler mind you.

While not superior in every way, an XL upgrade came in nicely.



SKTTR said:

I like this model very much. Better to get a retail download of a great import title than getting nothing at all. I hope it sells well enough, so more will follow.



Pod said:

The 3DS is gobbling up the Japanese market now and with more release like this, more westeners will join the show.

Too bad we probably won't ever again see the grand booming shelves of NintendoDS content that were prominent in every game store back in 2007-2008.

BUT, no shelf presence hasn't hurt most iOS successes (even if it did kill the PSP-GO) so even if Nintendo's friendliness with retailers has mostly hinged on physical goods, all things must come to an end.



Ristar42 said:

I like to buy second hand games, I can also trade in the games I buy. With this download only model, you'd need to have more money to play a variety of games, and you can never get back any of the money you've spent against other purchases. Thats why I'm not buying full price digital downloads. Having said that, I'm mainly a retro gamer and collector anyway...



Dambuster said:

It sounds like some people have got round the region lock on the 3ds, so hopefully will be able to import the cart soon.



Araknie said:

I cannot have download games.
I don't accept that niche gaming gets another treatment.
I don't accept considering Japanese games niche gaming.
If it's not in a box i will not having, and that for consoles even that will have account based systems cloud super duper easy to use (and all that crap) in the future because, i personally, think it's a system good only for computer.

Consoles should remain consoles, computers are computers.
If in the future you provide me a console that aim at being a computer, with 100% easy connectivity, full fast easy downloads of a game, bajillons of system and apps updates you better provide boxed games also, because all that shiza i can do with a computer and i don't want it in my console.

Araknie, 25 years old, real gamer.



Bass_X0 said:

Consoles should remain consoles, computers are computers.

But what is a console? It is no longer the same definition today as it was back in the 90s. Gamers today wouldn't accept a console with only the same capabilties as a Super Nintendo, just with modern graphics.

all that shiza i can do with a computer and i don't want it in my console.

Why should it be all that different? If technology allows consoles to become far superior to the capabilities to the consoles of the past then people are going to accept those changes. You're just preventing yourself from playing the latest and greatest games because of an outdated concept that gaming should remain stagnant and unchanging.



TheAdza said:

At the moment, the 3DS is kicking major butt in Japan. If games from there were to come over to the west, it's definitely better that they come on the eShop than not at all. Because it is doing so well there, that's where the games are being made, not in the west. Western devs are barely developing anything for the 3DS as they still have the mentality that western gamers prefer western games. It's just not true for handheld devices. The DS proved that. And while its quite a small market compared to the western first person shooter-a-thon that comprises the western home console market, I'm sure it's still quite viable, especially when released digitally only. And hopefully games like Unchained Blades and Code of Princess prove to publishers that some of these more niche type games are worth the effort in localizing, especially when they can have them as download only titles, saving money on the manufacture and shipping of costly cartridges and boxes and manuals.

There are problems, games being tied to a system instead of an account being a major one, but I don't really see a problem with the pricing of full price games on the eShop. Sure it might be worthwhile seeking out a cheaper retail version of the big Nintendo games like Mario instead of the download version, but for more niche titles, like jrpgs and the like, why shouldn't there be a premium price for these titles? They are games that aren't going to sell in the millions like the Mario's and Zelda's. They are games that are more likely to be enjoyed more by the more hardcore gamer with access to the Internet and credit cards, and more aimed at people who already pay premium prices for games, anime, manga, figures etc. Would cheaper prices be good? Of course. But you can see why they are priced the way they are. If we as gamers want the handheld market to continue to survive in this day and age of smart phone games, we all need to support moves like this. Especially for games of this caliber, games that can't be replicated on smart phones, and games that just wouldn't make sense playing on an iPhone.

It's not without its downside, but I fully support moves like this. And without it, the 3DS could have a very limited library of games without the Japanese games making their way over here.

Bring on more eShop only Japanese games I say.



EOTW said:

I don't disagree with anything in this article, but I do believe Nintendo has more sinister motives behind download-only gaming. They can't make a profit off of used games being resold. You can't resell a downloaded title. Case in point.



Windy said:

@EOTW I think we should do a 2 day boycott on the Eshop next Thursday just to let Nintendo Know we are here and disagree with someof the ways the Shop operates. I think it would be ok and its not a permanent boycott just 2 days. Problem is Nintendo might raise all prices while we boycott haha. the ultimate bad joke "We had to raise prices due to loss of money during boycott".

***hope he doesnt get banned. he likes Nintendolife***



MeloMan said:

It's not time to worry yet, but Gamefly might want to start coming up with another solution to renting games if alot of them are going to be download only... that's profit they'll miss out on, and also, gamers won't be able to "try before you buy" when it comes to downloadable games. I'm sure there's a way. It will be interesting to see where this will all go in 10-20 yrs...



A1234 said:

@KnightRider666 thanks! and of course I also totally agree with your reasons. I am also a collector. also, I have the world record for Demon Attack for Atari 2600.



HaastMK7 said:

unchained blades and Awakening are probably gonna be some of the only games I will download from the e-shop, until something else amazing comes.



sweetiepiejonus said:

Just to play Devil's advocate. Have you seen the price of gasoline? Do you have to find a parking spot, stand in line, etc.?

Just curious why people always use this complaint against downloads. If you are trying to be thrifty, I hope you are walking to the store.



theblackdragon said:

@sweetiepiejonus: I actually thought about your comment just now, and looking back on it, i honestly can only think of one time i ever made a trip out for the sole purpose of purchasing a video game (consoles i'll gladly make the trip, but video games i can only remember the one time). Places like GameStop and GameCrazy (while the latter was open) are (were) normally conveniently located next to grocery stores, in malls, or adjacent to other shopping destinations like Target, Wal-Mart, etc. Heck, even my local Best Buy is a short walk across the parking lot from Target here in town. If I make the decision to purchase a video game, I usually make that purchase a part of one of my normal weekly shopping trips, i park by Wal-Mart or whatever and then just walk across the parking lot to GameStop. It's no big deal for me :3



sweetiepiejonus said:


Perfectly reasonable answer. And as I said, just being contrary. I am a bit of collector, so I'm not gung-ho digital only or anything.

I've just seen people who feel like they should be charged less for the convenience.

There are plenty of logical arguments I, myself, would make against digital only, that is just one I don't quite understand.



SCAR said:

Doesn't matter. Both are still available(except for Unchained Blades), and eventually one of you will download a copy of The Legend of Zelda OoT if retail sells out I'm sure. Maybe you will forget to preorder, go to the store to see that they're out, and go download the game instead because you want to play it NOW. As long as physical is available, there should be no argument against digital because it's apparently optional.



Gamesake said:

@sweetiepiejonus Yeah, it's really no inconvenience to stop off at Wal*Mart on they way home from work. I don't see how gas prices would justify a higher cost for digital games either, it's not like I have free internet service.



sweetiepiejonus said:


How can you not see exactly that? Unless you drive an electric car.

Internet is something everyone has. Walmart on the way home isn't.

Do you demand that the pizza guy gives you a discount to deliver the same thing you can go get yourself when it's really no inconvenience to just stop on the way home.



Twilight_Crow said:

Games are going to end up being DL only eventually, I'm sure of that.

It's just too good of a formula for companies. No "used games market", resaling old games you already have just to have them in your new console, piracy controlled with locked on games and constant system updates (and therefore limited to experienced hackers). Is perfect for them, we'll have no choice in the future.

I don't buy games online if they are both for DL and retail tough (on Nintendo), because the price is just too high. I am used to pay big money for games here in Mexico. My retail stores have to pay high taxes for selling those games, and I'm ok paying for those. But Ninendo not wanting to compete with retailers means that they are selling 40 dollar games at about 60 on my eshop.

The facts that Unchained Blades kept its $30 price and Sony keeping his USA prices on my PSN store, makes me think that Nintendo doesn't really have to put these prices and is just being greedy.



Windy said:

@Twilight_Crow You are absolutely right. For myself it will definately mean less buying. I'm sure I would pick up a few games from the Eshop. If say Animal Crossing was Eshop only I would pick that up. I know Animal Crossing is coming on Cartridge though and Plan to definately pre-buy. I think some of these publishers will release games in limited quantities to force Digital Download. Animal Crossing for instance has been sold out in Japan for quite a while now. the only way to get it is on Eshop

If things go to Digital download only I will be revisiting my 80's and 90's game collection and probably start stocking up on those. Nintendo is doing a Horrible job with Virtual Console. They should be converting at least 1 classic game a week to 3d classics and hitting VC with up to 5 releases a week. All it would do is make them money. If I ran it I would be pushing sega Gensis, TurboGrafx and Super Nintendo games to be released weekly. I would love to see some sega Genesis games converted to 3d Classics such as Mickeys Castle of Illusion and Castlevania. They must not have alot people working to get the VC games converted. I see people yelling every week how disappointed they are with the VC releases



SkywardLink98 said:

As soon as my games are tied to my Miiverse account vs my system I'll start getting digital downloads vs retail. I like the idea of having my collection with me wherever I go, and being in the U.S. the price points are similar enough for it to be worth it to go digital. Unless of course there's a Pre-Order bonus for the game like there was for Kid Icarus: Uprising or like there is for Fire Emblem Awakening (You get an art book).



DarkKirby said:

In my opinion, download only takes away a developers excuse to not localize games, since the largest risk is the loss in manufacturing if the game doesn't sell. Yet, we see developers refusing to localize many games anyway. I don;t need you to hire voice actors, let the people who must have voices in their native language or hate on the game cry in a corner, I just want the game in a playable state, do a text translation and just sell it as download only, there is no way you will take a loss.



GreenDream said:

I agree with Dan Adelman and DarkKirby. Digital-only allows more games to be localized which would normally otherwise be felt too risky a venture. (Such as Code of Princess being fully localized throughout several European languages.)

However, Nintendo seems to still be struggling with the pricing and distribution structure of digital-only "retail quality" products. In the USA, Code of Princess is offered on the eShop for $40, (with no tangible benefits to justify the consumer paying extra for nonexistent middlemen, besides not paying state taxes), and is placed in the "New Arrivals" section, but not in the "Retail Games Now Available For Purchase" or "3DS Games At Retail" sections. (I'm not sure if that last part is an oversight, or an acknowledgement that Code of Princess is not a retail release in all major regions.)

XSEED, however, has demonstrated that they do understand how the digital pricing/distribution structure needs to move forward on eShop- by selling their "retail quality" product at $30 instead of $40, and by featuring the product's release on the front page of the eShop for at least one week. (They were fortunate to not have competition in that regard- future simultaneous releases of new digital-only "retail quality" products might experience visibility issues due to marketing pressure.)

I hope to see more companies following XSEED's lead.



sweetiepiejonus said:


That's something that I'm not clear on. I bought Code of Princess at Gamestop. It was the usual $39.99 plus tax.

But when I bought a $35 prepaid card at Walmart, which they can't tax, Unchained Blades was still a straight $29.99. Not that I'm complaining, it's just weird.


I wonder if Solange's noticeable...features have anything to do with that. We wouldn't want to be corrupting our children ya know?



Noend said:

Tie games to an account, no re-download restrictions when your signed in....see steam, Microsoft, itunes, Google play, psn, game fly...etc etc

I would own plenty of digital downloads through Nintendo if they did . Never buying a $40 game that's tied to one system. Ever.



andreoni79 said:

you are right! Playing Crimson Shroud and Denpa Men in a language which is not yours is yet possible, but it ruins the game's atmosphere...
btw, talking about prices, am I wrong if I think that digital download only = monopoly ?



Windy said:

@andreoni79 I'm with you on this Monopoly theory. Ethical is one thing the Eshop has proven not to be. The price difference from some retail games and digital games is almost down right criminal. Mainly games like Pilot wings 17.99-Amazon and 39.99-eshop. Also Zenonia .99 cents-apple/android and 7.99-Eshop. There are quite a few other this way but I could make a pretty large list.



sdcazares1980 said:

The only problem I have with download-only games is that I can't rent them. Even if digital becomes rental, it would take FOREVER to download a retail game. It doesn't have to be either/or. I'm for digital downloads, but let us also have the option of renting physical copies as well.



Hokori said:

Also guys who think the title will be gone from shop.... If you bought it you can play it, look at DKC trilogy, and sim city I bought them on my wii and they transfered nicely to my WiiU... Digital IS the way to go plus who would buy another 3Ds if it gets lost if you can just wait a week for Nintendo to give you one for FREE?



AlbertoC said:

I love NintendoLife for not siding with anyone, voicing both arguments from both sides. Taking a neutral stance.

"I'm in the USA where credit cards are a first need article so i can buy in the internets all i want if i need repairs i can call by phone because they have offices in here and have then do what i want because i pay them so if you like videogames but live in Nairobi where you don't have eshop prepaid cards or even vg consoles though luck punk lol"

Ninty, make eShop cards available in Mexico. Thanks.



Windy said:

@AlbertoC NintendoLife is awesome. I just wish Nintendo would read these boards and take gamers seriously. They may read these Boards but everyones input is important and seems to fall on def ears



Windy said:

@defrb They have not had a sale on Eshop games since last August. I wouldnt hold your breath on that 50% off. Even the sale they had in august was pretty lame.



Windy said:

@Hokori um. Nintendo would not give anyone a 3DS if they lost theirs or if it was stolen. where did you get this kind of information?



AlbertoC said:

@Windy: Indeed, it would be really awesome if Nintendo accepted feedback. Make themselves a better company by providing better services for us all. It's a win-win situation, after all!



russellohh said:

@SuperCharlie78 I also wish the downloads were cheaper. I wanted to download Arkham City for Wiii U, but its $60 there and only $7 on Steam. Likewise, Assasin's Creed was $25 on disk but $60 to download.

I have been able to legally get $20 Nintendo points cards for $5-10, but I can only buy about one a month that way. It'll take a long time to get certain games, but it does mean I can get Code of Princess downloaded for about $15. That's worth it, and I am picking it up shortly.

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