News Article

Nintendo Set For Yearly High In Download Sales

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

The 3DS eShop is delivering the goods

Nintendo's recent Q&A with investors, following the third quarter financial results, has now been officially translated and published in English. Comments such as those about potential additional platforms will raise some eyebrows, but further details have revealed some less surprising news, though undoubtedly positive for the company.

While Nintendo is eager to continue with existing models for distributing games, it has been making improvements in its download business, increasing sales with a growing 3DS eShop library and a range of retail download offerings; Wii U, in its early days, is also contributing with a mix of download exclusives and retail options. As a result this looks set to be a record year of download sales for the company, as Satoru Iwata explained.

This shows the digital download sales transitions (see graph below). For the current fiscal year, we have just finished the third quarter, but the digital sales have already reached 11.1 billion yen so far, and it is certain that in this fiscal year we will see our largest digital download sales. Another peak in digital sales you can see around the centre of this graph is when Wii was widespread and Nintendo DSi had just been launched. In spite of the fact that the current installed base of Nintendo 3DS is still much smaller than how popular Wii was back then, we are already seeing the growth in digital download sales mainly for Nintendo 3DS, which, I believe, is an encouraging trend.

Retail downloads in Japan are likely to be major contributors, with Animal Crossing: New Leaf being a notable success. The Japanese market has also seen an emphasis on download POS (point of sale) cards, which have proven popular with retailers not keen to take excessive risks with physical stock. These cards haven't as yet played a prominent role in the West, though we'd be surprised if that situation doesn't change in the coming year.

A fairly large volume of "Animal Crossing: New Leaf" for Nintendo 3DS was sold in the form of a POSA card, which is activated only when it goes through POS registers at retailers and therefore the retailers do not have to shoulder the physical inventory risk. The growing sales of the POSA version of this game must have helped retailers see the business opportunity for video games with such a business structure.

We therefore expect that our publishers may be interested in selling POSA cards for some titles they are publishing as download-only titles and that they will want to make more games available in POSA card format. Although convenience stores have limited shelf space to spare for a number of video game POSA cards, retailers with more shelf space might expand the areas designated to the video game POSA cards. They might even educate their customers who are not familiar with digital download software. We can expect to see a number of new possibilities. We expect our digital distribution to increase in importance and become an important revenue source.

Various major game specialist retailers already have extensive ranges of download cards on sale for DLC on rival platforms, so it seems like an area ripe for expansion. Most importantly it's being recognised as an "important revenue source" — where there's revenue, there's will.

Would you like to see an increase in point of sale download cards in retailers, especially if there was potential for high-street competition in prices? Let us know what you think of the idea in the comments below.


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User Comments (29)



Jonny said:

Well it stands to reason - if you have more things up for sale, more people will buy stuff and subsequently more money will be made.



Peach64 said:

When I see those branded digital download cards in stores for 360 and PS3, I always think they're a really neat idea, but I've never actually used one. For me, one of the major draws of digital downloads is being able to get it instantly. If I'm going to the store, one of the advantages of the format is already gone.



Spoony_Tech said:

I'm part of the dl gen. So far I have dl'ed Sticker Star, NSMB2, and Fire Emblem. I plan on dling Luigi's Mansion and Animal Crossing as well not to mention various 3rd party games!



DarkCoolEdge said:

It's an excellent idea. Retailers stay in the business, people who don't want to use their credit card online can still buy the games, it'd be almost impossible to run out of a certain game, download prices would have competion as retail already do...

It's all good. And wheter we like it or not, it's the future. Retail will be for premiun editions and controllers, etc



pashaveliki said:

@Shadow100 as ridiculous as it sounds, that one feature will basically make animal crossing for me.
I loved the animals in AC:WW but the odd doll thing ordained as my avatar bugged me...



pashaveliki said:

I have some eShop games, but my retail download copy of Fire Emblem was my first time getting a 'full retail' game over the internets, and I must say... if it is a game I am planning on picking up day one and it is on the eShop, then I might just go download.
It was remarkably painless and the knowledge that i have Fire Emblem in my system at all times is kinda awesome.
That being said, I plan on picking up the cart eventually because, well, i'm a collector...



HaastMK7 said:

Looking forward to some of these digital retail releases, If only I had some e-shop cards to spare.



naut said:

eShop is a prime example of what Nintendo needs to do to excel in the online world. Make online functions simple, easy, and put out great content.



cornishlee said:

Allowing retailers to sell download codes alongside actual discs should achieve just that. The RRP will remain the same but competition will mean that retailers reduce the price, just as they do for physical discs.

I've been waiting for this news ever since I got my Wii U and I didn't know they were already doing it in Japan. Hopefully we don't have to wait too much longer for it over here because it really does combine the best of both worlds: I'll be able to browse the online retailers to get the best price for a game, they can email me the code and I can set about downloading it straight away.



brandonbwii said:

Only game I plan to buy retail in the near furture is Animal Crossing. The rest I'm happy to just download.



russellohh said:

I support all forms of digital codes. I've been able to get the $20 digital codes for $10 now, so I can get 3DS games way cheaper by download then via store. With demos, I no longer need to worry if a game is worth the investment or not, since downloads can't be resold.



cspell said:

My problem with downloads is that they are currently limited to the console they are downloaded on. I bought a 3DS XL mostly for the kids, but decided that I really like it and want one and I want to get one for both my kids. So that's a total of 3 consoles. I'm not interested in buying 3 copies of every software title so they can be on all three consoles. I certainly would want the kids games on both their consoles and I can't do that now. So I would rather have the cards for now so they can swap them at will.

Now the discounted download codes from retailers sounds great! But I have got to be able to put them on all my consoles. I certainly would rather have all downloaded software so I hope this gets worked out in the future.



cornishlee said:

That's a good point regards families and handhelds. I remember my brother and I had a Game Gear each and my parents would usually buy games expecting us to share them.



cmk8 said:

I love POS cards, I always ask for a few for my birthday and Xmas, saves me spending money in the long run, and lets me pick the games.



UnseatingKDawg said:

I don't care if they have POS cards or not. I'm just hoping they finally pick up the pace with the Virtual Console.



Bassman_Q said:

The only issue is that recently, places like gamestop no longer give you a card but just a code. Call me crazy but if Im getting the download version of a game via retailer, I want at least a card to go along with it. Just a pet peeve of mine.



Bassman_Q said:

That said, probably the one game I will DEFINITELY have the downloaded version of is Animal Crossing. That way, I can play it without worrying about changing the cart in the system.



Capt_N said:

@Qwikman_N_Bass: "...That way, I can play it without worrying about changing the cart in the system." I've often thought about that, for this kind of game. That would be, & is, tempting for me to do, (again (b/c,) based on the kind of game it is. However, I still prefer physical, simply b/c it's not tied to the system I d/l'd on, or the sd card that I might have d/l'd it to.

I will still buy physical, when I get the chance to. But, to each their own. Speaking of, I might get a WU, if I ever get a next gen console, since no one knows for sure yet, if Sony/MS will embrace the disc-tied-to-system/etc. policies that are rumored, which btw, I wanna point out, is no better than Nintendo's d/l's-tied-to-the-system nonsense.

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