He's number one

Nintendo is extremely protective when it comes to releasing sales figures for its downloadable games, insisting developers and publishers sign non-disclosure agreements that prohibit them from discussing revenues and unit sales. Digital analysis firm FADE LLC is in the business of releasing digital sales figures and revenues, and has just published a report on the 3DS eShop's performance in 2011.

Including 3DS Virtual Console, 3D Classics and original downloadable games, FADE claims the eShop generated income of $11.1 million USD in 2011. Nearly one-quarter of that was contributed by Game Boy Color classic The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX, which sold 339,000 units to rake in $2.3m.

3D Classics: Excitebike shifted the most units, racking up 481,000 downloads, though FADE claims half of those came during the period the game was free, though it still grossed $1.3m in 2011.

How did non-Nintendo games fare, however? The best performer was Gameloft's Let's Golf! 3D, pulling in 43,000 sales for a revenue of $356,000. The gap between first and third party success extends even to the eShop it seems, though Nintendo certainly had the jump on third parties, with most big non-Nintendo releases hitting at the tail-end of the year.

FADE compiled a top ten of the year and lists Hyu Stone in the number ten slot, despite the fact it's not out in the West yet.

As ever, we should point out that these are estimated sales figures and revenues provided by FADE and may not be entirely accurate. We should also note the eShop only launched on 6th June, so these figures are for a seven month sales period. Still interesting, though.

Estimated Top Selling Titles, by Gross Revenues (Annual, 2011)

1. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Nintendo) - 338,700 Units / $2.3 Million USD (VC)
2. 3D Classics: Excitebike (Nintendo) - 481,100 Units / $1.3 Million USD (eShop)
3. Super Mario Land (Nintendo) - 230,500 Units / $1.1 Million USD (VC)
4. Freakyforms: Your Creations, Alive! (Nintendo) - 112,700 Units / $969,000 USD (eShop)
5. Pushmo (Nintendo) - 93,300 Units / $634,000 USD (eShop)
6. Kirby's Dream Land (Nintendo) - 84,500 Units / $384,000 USD (VC)
7. Let's Golf! 3D (Gameloft) - 43,200 Units / $356,000 USD (eShop)
8. Donkey Kong (Nintendo) - 82,800 Units / $348,000 USD (VC)
9. 3D Classics: Xevious (Nintendo) - 47,900 Units / $301,000 USD (eShop)
10. Hyu Stone (Poisoft) - 50,300 Units / $293,000 USD

Zelda Tops 3DS Downloadable Titles in 2011

February 14th, 2012 - As per the Research & Analysis division of analyst firm Forecasting & Analyzing Digital Entertainment, LLC (FADE), Nintendo's newest platform, the 3DS generated approximately $11.1 million USD from 3DS and Virtual Console titles in 2011.

Sales were led by Virtual Console title 'The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening', which sold 339,000 units in 2011, or an estimated $2.3 million USD. Performances were split between classic releases through Virtual Console, 3D remakes, and 3DS Ware titles, as titles from each collection were well-represented in the top 10, adjusted for gross revenue. Other key titles included 3D remake 'Excitebike' which saw an estimated 481,000 units downloaded during the year, with approximately half being during its free promotion in June, resulting in an estimated gross of $1.3 million USD.

Nintendo-published titles dominated the top ten with eight of ten titles being from the console manufacturer. Gameloft's 3DSWare offering 'Let's Golf 3D' placing as the top selling 3rd party title, with an estimated 43,000 units sold through the year, or $356,000 USD in revenues. "Nintendo generated 81% of gross revenues among downloadable titles in 2011, asserting dominance during the year. However, in order for the 3DS market to grow, Nintendo will need to promote 3rd parties in 2012" said Director of Research & Analysis, Benjamin Schlichter.