Nintendo revealed today that it will be taking a leaf out of Sony's book, and offering a number of retail games for the 3DS as digital downloads from the eShop on the same day that said retail games are released in stores.
Talking as part of the company's financial results briefing, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata explained that the move was in response to the growing number of users who access the Internet from their Nintendo 3DS handhelds, and that he feels "the foundation for us to deploy our digital businesses has been properly laid out."
He revealed that over 70 percent of Japanese and U.S. 3DS owners have connected to the Internet from their 3DSs, while around 50 percent of Europeans and Australians have. While he described this as "not a satisfactory level yet," he admitted that it's a "significantly improved" situation over the company's previous game systems.
This new initiative will begin with New Super Mario Bros. 2 in August, and from then on, all first-party Nintendo games on the 3DS will be published in both packaged and digital download format, said Iwata, including the next Brain Age game Onitore.
Iwata later mentioned Nintendogs as a title which will be available as part of this scheme, suggesting that previously released Nintendo games will also be given this treatment.
"Since the packaged and the digital download formats both have their own merits, we would like to offer both of these options to our consumers," he explained.
"Some may wonder why we are adding this kind of process, as it may seem more complicated," he continued. "However, for the majority of our consumers, this is a familiar process as they are already accustomed to making payments at the retail outlets, and it can lower their psychological barrier to making online purchases."
"Some consumers are hesitant in purchasing digital download software because they are concerned about inputting their credit card numbers. Also, payments by credit cards or cell phones are unavailable to some people under a certain age. Accordingly, offering a familiar payment method should lower the hurdle for our consumers to purchase digital download software."
Iwata stressed that, while digital distribution "is mainly aiming at no involvement from retailers" for a lot of companies, Nintendo is looking to involve retailers proactively.
"When it comes to how our consumers choose the candidates and make the final purchase decision, as well as how they pay for the software, we are going to enable consumers to go through these processes at both retailers and the Nintendo eShop," he added, referring to software exchange codes for the 3DS that are sold at retailers.
Iwata also revealed that the upcoming Wii U console, due for release later this year, will also see a similar initiative, with Nintendo-published games offered as downloadable titles at the same time as retail releases.
Sony already has a similar system with its PS Vita handheld, by which games are offered for download from the PlayStation Store on the same day that the game goes on sale in stores.