News Article

Nintendo's Digital Sales Revenue Continues Upward Trend With 3DS and Wii U

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Still room for improvement

In recent months, whenever Nintendo's financial figures and sales have been making the news, a common thread has been an emphasis on the continuing growth of the company's digital revenues. What began with encouraging but flawed platforms on the Wii and DSi has progressed to more rounded, impressive offerings with the Wii U and 3DS eShops.

Of course, revenue from download sales is on the rise, helped in no small part by the presence of full retail games on both current stores. Gamasutra has taken the opportunity, then, to collate Nintendo's financial data since September 2007, charting the revenue trends since.

The first graph, below, shows Nintendo's annualized (trailing twelve-month) digital revenue rate, reflecting how performance has fluctuated over the past generation. In terms of the Wii / DSi years, the peak came around March 2011, with the 12-month revenue at that point being $129 million. A decline in the Wii and DSi markets was held up by the newly-arrived 3DS eShop, but there's a very obvious spike from September 2012, which follows the August 2012 release of the first retail download on 3DS, New Super Mario Bros. 2. The subsequent arrival of many retail downloads on 3DS — and on Wii U since launch — seems to have contributed to a steady period of sustained growth; a respectable flow of download-only games also plays an important part, of course.

As it stands, Nintendo's digital revenue over the past two months is $225 million, a big leap over the Wii and DSi's peak. The graph below, meanwhile, shows that the contribution of download sales to Nintendo overall software revenue has also increased dramatically to 9.2%. However, it's a bigger share of a smaller overall amount, as software revenue of ¥700 billion in 2008 (when Wii and the DS family were flying high) has now reportedly dropped to ¥242 billion in the 12 months up to June 2013.

These are positive trends for download sales, certainly, as Nintendo is seeing the benefit of introducing retail downloads, while greater flexibility in the eShops with discounts and promotions is also welcome. Compared to some, such as EA and Activision, these numbers are modest, but the upward trajectory bodes well.


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User Comments (49)



Warruz said:

Nintendo you can watch that number soar if you develop an account based system with our game purchases rather then having them stuck on the console.



XCWarrior said:

I'm all for short, indy type games being digital only release, and virtual console titles. But if there is an option for a physical box, I'm sticking with the physical box. I love how much space my collection takes up in my living room shelf and in the basement.



Ed_Rod said:

I agree with Warruz. Hope they are working on it for a future update.



element187 said:

I can say for certain that I will be downloading all my Nintendo published titles this generation... Anytime I have traded in a Nintendo title it seems like within a few months I start regretting it. The replay value in Nintendo games is just too high, so I should just keep them for life.



element187 said:

@Warruz They are not stuck on the console. Nintendo has a record of everything your ID has purchased.. If you need to move them to a different system, you can, Nintendo has a process for it.

Wouldn't just a little bit of research save you from spreading false information on the net?



ricklongo said:

There are two things preventing me from getting retail games in both e-Shops right now:

1) Lack of an account-based system
2) I freaking love adding game boxes to my rack

#1 should eventually be fleshed out; #2 poses more of a problem. So far, the one full retail title I ever downloaded was Rayman Origins on the 3DS, and that's because it was like half the price it was on stores.



Caryslan said:

@Warruz That's one thing I love about Sony's account system. I can buy a PS1 Classic or a TG-16 game and play it on either a PS3 or PSP with no problem. Just sign in, download the game, and start playing. It's easy to do and I love it.

I wish Nintendo would do something like this, where Earthbound would be cross play on both the Wii U and 3DS as an example. Have the shops be linked, and even have the option to download 3DS titles to the Wii U and transfer them to the 3DS.

The PS3 can do this with both the PSP and Vita titles.

Nintendo has made some good strides and I'm really not picking on them, but they are still a bit behind in some aspects. I will say one thing, the 3DS shop is much better then the one on the Wii.

I am also very happy Nintendo is doing well with digital downloads. I hope they keep making some good money with it.



Warruz said:

@element187 Well simply typing in google "Wii U Transfer Eshop purchases" yields nothing but VC saves, i welcome to be proven wrong on this matter but i am going to need to see some sort of link.



Dogpigfish said:

I buy everything digital on wii u; only system that you can do that on because of strong replay value. The lack of account based ownership does concern me, but kids breaking discs and lack of convenience concerns me more. Getting the harddrive took a day or two and I have a bad habit of trading games in and buying them back later. Based on my purchase history this was a better option and would cost less in the long term.



Emblem said:

Thats great, they just need to invest in a decent account system and their profits will soar.



DarkCoolEdge said:

I'm investing a lot in the eshop. There are many great games worth their price (or their discounted price).

So far I've gotten Mighty Switch Force!, Mighty Switch Force!2, Pullblox, Fallblox, Crimson Shroud, Liberation Maiden, The Starship Damrey, Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo, Gunman Clive, Art of Balance Touch!, Nano Assault EX, Hana Samurai: Art of the Sword (the worst one of the bunch), VVVVVV, Color Commando and Zelda: Oracle of Ages.

And I'll sooner or later get SteamWorld Dig, NightSky, Attack of the Friday Monsters!, Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move, Code of Princess, RE: Mercenaries, escapeVektor, Sonic The Hedgehog 3D classics and some VC games. And probably Shovel Knight.

Needless to say, I'm quite happy with the eshop. Nevertheless, there are games that would be great to have on it like Limbo, Hotline Miami, The Binding of Isaac and others that the Vita is getting.



unrandomsam said:

I am not bothered about the physical box. All my DS and 3DS carts are in one small box. The empty boxes are stored away and never looked at.

(Only reason I am bothered about physical at all is for the potential to resell something that is highly rated by critics that average 70% on reviews (Like all of them do) so I am stuck with something I hate at a rip off price. In reality I am too lazy to actually do it though. Nothing worse than feeling ripped off whether it is for £1 or £100 doesn't matter).



unrandomsam said:

I have quite a lot of eshop games but the only ones I think are worth it are Shantae GBC - (I have the Dsiware one as well but I think it is nowhere near as good) / Kokuga / Gunman Clive / Nano Assault EX.

(Got both the Oracle Zelda games and I expect them to be quite good but not bothered to play them yet).

I have loads more but I wish I didn't mainly eshop games that are just not very good even though they are highly rated. (Contra Rebirth would be better than any of them to have on the move).



DerpSandwich said:

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D was my first "full retail" digital purchase. Since then I've gotten Animal Crossing and Pikmin 3. And I've got to say, it's wonderful. Unless it's a game that I think I might sell or that I want to wait and buy when it's cheap, I'm going digital all the way. Having games ready to boot without swapping media is amazing, especially on the 3DS.



1134calc said:

The only game I plan on not downloading in the forseeable future is Pokemon. This is so if I get both X and Y I can borrow a friend's 3DS for a bit and trade . Other than that I'm going all digital. I love not having to go to the store as I don't have a car, and the Deluxe Digital Promotion on the Wii U is awesome!



zeldagaymer93 said:

I only download if I absolutely cannot purchase a physical copy. The collector in me loves to see my collection sitting on a shelf. You can also show off when people come over!

The biggest benefit of downloading is that you can download the game right at midnight the day it comes out. Versus waiting until noon when Gamestop opens (on Sundays that is.)



banacheck said:

If you need to move them to a different system, you can, Nintendo has a process for it.

Yes & i bet it's far from free, so you cannot buy extra warranty for the Wii U, as if you've downloaded anything you need to send it to Nintendo.



HappyHappy said:

I would like it if they had all games on sale for a limited time like sometime during the holidays.



MAB said:

I have learned my lesson selling games in the 16 - 32 bit era to never do that again... My 3 boxed WiiU games never get played but my downloads do constantly



WiiUExposed said:

@element187 Are you kidding me? If you can't move it yourself, it's stuck to the console. We shouldn't have to send it in to Nintendo if we want to transfer digital data. We should be able to do it ourselves, because it's the 21st century. It's stone age practice. It's not 1990 anymore. It's 2013, and Nintendo has to embrace accounts.



WiiUExposed said:

We're not the only people, thankfully. I refuse to purchase retail games digitally until both of these standards are met-
1. Real accounts
2. Cheaper than retail (Although, I gotta say, PSN and XBLA aren't great about this either. Take a note from Steam's sales.)



unrandomsam said:

@WiiUExposed If they want to pretend its 1990 they should give us the good bit.

Cartridges - there is no reason other than a small amount of profit. If something is practical to be sold as a download at all then it can be put on a cartridge just fine.



WiiUExposed said:

Dude, there's a reason why we moved on from cartridges. Carts can't hold the data that a Blu-Ray disc can. They are more durable, but we have disc cases for a reason.



umegames said:

I know exactly what you mean, all those nintendo DS games i traded in, now I'm trying to get them back and they're not cheap at all.



DualWielding said:

my concern is that these positive numbers may convince Nintendo that they do not need an account system to do digital business...... In reality I think an account system would immediately double or treble the number of people that choose digital over physical for retail games.



TingLz said:

@WiiUExposed I've said it a thousand times and I'll say it again. Stop comparing the eShop to Steam. They are far from the same markets because of competition. Steam faces a lot of competition on the PC market, while the eShop is practically a monopoly. The sales are more likely attempts to stay competitive rather than be generous like many fans are led to believe.



Kage_88 said:

Great news for Nintendo - though I prefer to buy retail copies.

@LzQuacker - I agree. I hate it when Steam is used as the barometer for what the eShop 'should' be (along with PSN & Xbox Live).

I have Steam. I use Steam. And Steam is not perfect. The fact that I need to connect online to start a game is virtually a deal-breaker for me. I only get a game from Steam whenever I can't find it on GOG.



GiftedGimp said:

If a game is available on WiiU eShop I'll download it. The account link concern many have doesn't really bother me as playung from HDD means I've greatly reduced wear on my WiiU which in turns means less chance of a system failure.
I heard account linked purchases is coming by the end of this year, we'll see if thats the case for definate but believe it is otherwause the up coming purchase from pc is going to be hard to impliment.
What this data does imply is that WiiU games are selling better than the retail charts imply which can only be a good thing for Nintendo.



DualWielding said:

@LzQuacker The problem at this point is not lack of competition Nintendo (and Microsoft and Sony) are afraid to undercut retailers, It'll be better for them to sell games $10.00 cheaper than physical retail because that way more people would prefer digital and they'll make more money, by pricing online games same as retailers they are losing money but they are scared retailers may retaliate and don't stock their products if they feel the online stores are taking their business away. However, I think the console makers are overstimating the power of retailers



unrandomsam said:

@WiiUExposed 32GB or 64GB carts would be dirt cheap to make these days. The reason to move from carts was because it was expensive at the time but that is not the case now. (£10 instead of £1). Nobody wants to make a premium product. (Just charging more doesn't make it better. I want something like Neo Geo vs SNES better and I would pay that sort of price if it existed because I reasonably could now. £700 for the console and £250 a game it just has to night and day better than what other people are selling for £50 a game).

Steams is ok if something is made for PC first I will always get it there not a port.
(If it needs Origin or Uplay I just won't play it).

The indies that should be supported are not the ones doing ports to the Wii U but the ones making stuff properly for the Wii U and that is it. (Like Shin'en Multimedia).

Especially not 30hz junk. (When just getting the games at Wii U prices would cost more than making sure you can run them properly at 60hz on a PC).

There is always a trade off for me 120hz isn't worth it yet I don't think but if a console did that I would be more inclined to try it. (My TV does 120hz can take it as input not by just doubling). Console makers are better placed to take advantage of something like that. They don't want to.

A £500 graphics card is only the same cost as 10 Wii U Retail games. (AMD 7990 or whatever). You can get a reasonable experience by just throwing hardware at the problem with PC's problem is the consoles put the effort into the wrong places.



unrandomsam said:

@LzQuacker In the PC Market Steam doesn't have competition because the competition uses terrible DRM. All of the console makers are competing with each other and with Steam. I probably have 300 indie games on steam and the only ones I really like are either not on consoles or broken on consoles (30hz for example). I would buy Super Hexagon at Niaclis prices if it was on the 3DS with good 3D. I would always rather buy hardware than software. Don't think having indie ports is going to make Nintendo more money than their own back catalog. (Same as giving retailers a cut.)

Only time I would get an indie thing on Nintendo was if that was the first version and it was ported afterwards. (I got La Mulana on Wii for example). Most indie stuff is barely worth playing it is ok at £2 a game but not at £10 or £15 to take such a gamble.



unrandomsam said:

@ferthepoet I think they are also overestimating what they get from the retailers. All the ones in my city stock is one or two copies of the very latest 1st party release loads of shovelware and the rest used so Nintendo doesn't even get a penny from the sales of them. (This is Game UK the same company who is basically getting a subsidy for all eshop sales at the only reasonable price Europe wide).



FineLerv said:

Just wondering, do you have any insights into whether there is some kind of ongoing fee (or one off fee) for a game being on the e-shop? What is stopping every retail game from being on there (Mass Effect 3, COD)? And, why would Darksiders II get removed?



Windy said:

@moomoo Sorry off topic I added you to my 3DS Friends List I'm a Huge Fan of the TG16/PCE and can see you are too Add me if you can



FineLerv said:

@element187 That's one of my big reasons for going digital. I built up an impressive collection of Wii games and traded them all in. I want the collection, just not the bookshelf full of disks.



moomoo said:

@Windy You've been added. In the rare instance when someone knows what my avatar is from, a smile comes across my face.



Kirby3ds said:

nintendo should have games start at full retail and then let them drop over time. the thought of paying 40$ for a game as old and relatively unsuccessful like pilotwings on the eshop is stupid. you can get it used at gamestop for 10$!



Joygame51 said:

I love my downloads. I have a ton of transfered Dsiware on my 3ds SD card. and am slowly building my virtual console 3ds titles as well. Its easy and I love the fact that I do not need to leave home to get it, very easy. Also many of these games are every bit at good as Retail titles.

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