If you're a traditionalist that doesn't like the idea of retail downloads, DLC and additional paid extras for games, look away now. As Nintendo seeks to maximise revenues and hit its 100 billion Yen operating profit target, it's going to offer us more games content to buy for both retail and download-only titles. We can also expect to see more varied ways to buy downloadable content, with the imminent arrival of retail download code cards in Europe — and surely in North America at some point — Nintendo is also planning to expand its use of the NFC (near field communication) technology in the Wii U GamePad.
In terms of the value of selling download codes within stores, Satoru Iwata has highlighted that while a quarter of Animal Crossing: New Leaf sales in Japan and South Korea — which is from a total of 3.86 million units — are downloads, 68% of those downloads have come from retail codes and cards purchased from retailers. So by our maths, around 965,000 download copies of this title have been sold, and roughly 656,200 of those copies have been from retailers rather than directly through the eShop. Iwata-san explained how gamers in the region were clearly more comfortable picking up downloads from familiar retailers, but pointed out that the very act of then logging into the eShop to redeem the code will increase their awareness of the platform. The Nintendo President also demonstrated how a solid percentage of those that downloaded Animal Crossing: New Leaf — from Club Nintendo respondents — went on to choose the download option for Tomodachi Collection, another title well suited to regular, short bursts of play.
Addressing Wii U, Satoru Iwata expanded on comments earlier on the year with firmer plans to utilise NFC on the Wii U, using the scanner built into the GamePad. The NFC figurines for Wii U eShop title Pokèmon Scramble U were mentioned, and it was also confirmed that the company is working on an e-money card that can be used on the system. This will use the "Suica" card commonly used to pay for public transport in Japan, though NFC cards like this are common for transportation around the world. By using an NFC fund card, Nintendo would aim to make buying downloads more convenient and quick to complete than manually entering credit card details or saving that information on the console.
We can in all likelihood expect the NFC initiative, in particular, to have a trial run in Japan before coming West, though as we've seen with download code retail cards successful ideas are likely to be localised to the West. After a number of years of Nintendo being considered as a back-marker in the race to modern online connectivity, it should be noted that the NFC cards will be a first for any home console. If you don't like downloads you should be fine with physical games in the immediate future, but those embracing the digital era look to have more choices and convenience on the way.