Nintendo ready for digital switch

David Yarnton says it won’t be long until Nintendo rolls out its digital games strategy to retailers.

Last month, we reported on global plans by Nintendo Japan to start selling more downloadable content via all its retail partners to aid the marketing of digital content and reduce inventory costs.

Nintendo wants our retailers to be proactively involved [in digital sales],” said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.

And the platform holder is already talking to retailers, UK chief Yarnton told MCV: We want to support our partners and them to support us. So we think there is room for packaged goods as well as digital. When you go out to retail, the exposure a shop can give a game is incredible. Some people want downloadable content for its convenience, some people like having a games collection. There’s room for both.”

From what we have researched, the download market has grown, but it hasn’t eaten into retail in the way many predicted.”

There are important logistics to sort out, he said – specifically considering how Nintendo handles the distribution of download codes to retailers.

He said: At the moment we have the voucher cards – we’re not quite there to let retailers have just codes for a Zelda game. Yes, digital downloads can reduce the inventory risk – but if you give someone a card with a code it still has a value. There are some issues to work through, but it will happen in the not-too-distant future.”

But once those are sorted, Yarnton is confident retail will embrace the new strategy.

I can’t speak for them all, but having spoken to places like GAME, they have seen an incredible rise in the sales of digital content. It’s working for them.”


Critics find it easy to point out perceived holes in Nintendo’s digital games strategy. But the firm is quickly learning from the few forays it has made into downloads.

Earlier this year, Nintendo ran a national TV and print campaign promoting the cheaper apps and games available for just a few points on the 3DS eShop.

One of the things we perhaps haven’t been so good at is telling you about the features we have. For example the downloadable games and other DLC – but we have been promoting it,” said Yarnton.

At the same time it has seen breakout sales for Pullblox, an original game from Nintendo’s Intelligent Systems studios which is the third most praised 3DS game on Metacritic.

One of our big successes has been Pullblox. It has done incredibly well, and is such good value, and is so much fun – but not enough people know about it. It’s not there on the shopfloor. But it is there, and we have a lot of games like that. We need to do more about educating people about that.”

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