Nintendo’s Digital Downloads on the Rise

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Last generation saw rise to the idea of purchasing games online straight from the console, a business tactic that both Microsoft and Sony adopted quickly. Nintendo, however, stayed far in the background when it came to online downloads and purchases, offering only tried-and-true classic games in the Wii’s online store, and not taking very many risks. With the Wii U, however, Nintendo is finally embracing the online marketplace in a similar manner to their competitors, and the players couldn’t be happier.

Today, Reggie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo of America, spoke about the rise of Nintendo’s digital downloads and the effect that has had on the company’s profit margin. He also said that he doesn’t expect the trend to die down anytime soon, whether it’s for the 3DS or the Wii U.

“We have 15 Nintendo-published titles available, both physically and digitally [on the 3DS],” he said. “So far in 2013, of those 15 available in this format, 11 percent of sales have come through full digital downloads of those games.”

While 11 percent may not sound like a lot, compared to the amount of digital downloads Nintendo has had in the past, it’s an almost astronomical number. When you break these numbers down into individual games they become even more impressive. Fire Emblem Awakening, for example, has sold over 240,000 units so far, and one-third of those have been digital.

While he did not speak much on the Wii U, Fils-Aime was very happy to talk about Nintendo’s 3DS, most likely because of the recent flurry of titles that were announced (The Legend of Zelda, Yoshi’s Island, and a new Mario Party) on today’s Nintendo Broadcast.

“When the NPD numbers come out later this week, you’re going to see life-to-date 3DS game sales surpass 20 million units in the US. And that’s just physical. It doesn’t include digital sales,” said Fils-Aime. “So far in 2013 – through April 15 – 3DS game sales are up 55 percent versus last year, counting both physical and digital.”

That doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten about their prized dual-screened console, however. As Fils-Aime stated, as we get closer to E3 and beyond the company expects the pace for game purchases, both physical and online in the Nintendo eShop, to increase dramatically.

“What I would say about Wii U – and what Mr. Iwata has said – is that the pace of launches has been slower than we hoped. But as we prepare for E3, the pace of launches for Wii U is going to dramatically increase.”

If you’re worried that Nintendo is going to follow Microsoft’s lead and try to turn their gaming system into your entire entertainment console, rest easy, for there will be no ‘smartglass integration’ here. “We believe consumers buy our systems first as a gaming system, then enjoy the other entertainment options, so that’s why we’re putting such a big emphasis on the gaming software,” he said.

Recently it feels as if gaming companies are trying to integrate every single social media aspect into their games, and it’s relieving to hear that some people are still focusing on what’s important. The day I start to play a game on my couch and it asks me if I would like to login with my Facebook account is the day I stop playing video games, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.

You can read all the comments Reggie Fils-Aime made today by clicking here.