Nintendo has revealed that beginning with New Super Mario Bros. 2 it will begin offering its retail packaged 3DS games digitally through the Nintendo eShop, with both versions releasing on the same day this August. This practice will also be standard on Wii U from launch.
You will be able to purchase the digital versions directly from the eShop or from your favorite retailers, who will in turn give you a code to use on the eShop. If the process sounds a little convoluted to you then don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. Nintendo does admit that it’s a bit out of the ordinary but gave the sound logic that the retail process is familiar to many of their consumers and that customers under a certain age who are unable to make payments by credit cards benefit from the option. Those two points can’t be taken for granted and I think this is a solid move by Nintendo. I think that they missed an opportunity to increase digital adoption by confirming that the digital versions will retail for the same price as the physical copy. The flaw with this is that it just doesn’t cost the same to deliver a digital only copy and therefore its a bit disingenuous to charge the same price though I understand them not wanting to completely blow up the brick and mortar retail model. In a bit of a twist though, Nintendo says that they will allow retailers to set their own prices for the digital copies meaning that they will allow retailers like Gamestop and Amazon to set their own prices which means that if you look around you might be able to find a better deal from store to store.
I’m not sure how this will work out but if I was other retailers I would be worried about Amazon in this space. Amazon has tons of cash and doesn’t mind taking a loss on their items if it means building brand loyalty and attracting return customers. I could see them running sales on the biggest titles to get more customers through their “virtual” doors. In any case, it should be interesting to watch this unfold.