Starting with some big names

Nintendo has run a number of eShop retail download promotions in the past couple of years to encourage gamers to buy its products. Most of these have focused on the 3DS, with varying schemes in different territories offering free game downloads in return for registering a fixed number of retail titles or hardware itself; the Wii U has had some software related promotions, too. While great credit is due for the excellent promotions to date, it still feels like an area that can be explored further by the big N.

A new "recommended games" promotion in Japan represents one of the most interesting efforts to date, as it is a dynamic idea with changing benefits each month. Those that buy a 3DS XL (known as LL in Japan) between 26th April and 30th September will receive a voucher that can be redeemed on a 3DS retail download. Yet there will be five monthly changes in which downloads you can choose, so from 26th April to 30th May gamers will have the choice of Animal Crossing: New Leaf or Yo-kai Watch, both hugely popular in the country. These will then be unavailable after that date with two different games then making up the options in June; so the titles will change each month until the promotion closes at the end of September.

The key point is that those that receive a voucher with their hardware in that first window do not have to download either New Leaf or Yo-kai Watch, but can wait to see what titles arrive in subsequent months. As long as games are chosen during their eligible period there's no restriction in that respect, though vouchers do have to be used by 30th September, so those that hang on too long will be stuck with one of the final two choices.

It's a clever scheme, as it can potentially prompt and encourage gamers to take the plunge on the hardware over the course of multiple months, with the offerings likely to tempt most at some point. With download codes only costing Nintendo the value of a lost sale — no distribution costs like with physical retail — this seems like an easy way to promote hardware sales in not only bundling a free game, but applying a degree of choice to the consumer.

We'd love to see this in the West, naturally, while a similar scheme for the Wii U seems like a potential winner. Let us know what you think of this in the comments below.