OPINION: Nintendo’s digital strategy shows it’s still box clever

Where Nintendo leads, others often follow.

Sure, the finer points of Virtual Boy, N64 and 3DS pulled in directions others didn’t want to go.

But they are exceptions to the rule. Broadly, when the Kyoto HQ’s bright ideas cause the market to jump, everyone jumps. Platform games, motion control, shoulder buttons, analogue sticks, gaming touch screens… the legacy of ideas Nintendo has put back into the games business is rich.

I think its new approach to digital sales is in the same ilk, and will actually make its partners at retail rich, too.

Read more about it here, but in short: the firm will allow retailers to buy codes for online games wholesale and then mark them up as they see fit, just like physical.

It’s a move to understanding what possible combination exists between physical and digital, it has the potential to solve issues around discovering and marketing digital content, and could redress the balance around download prices.

Other format holders and publishers have tried one or two incremental attempts at this, but really these were just token gestures to either appease retail or experiment.

And in truth, the time to experiment here has run out. It’s do or die time. So Nintendo’s all or nothing approach is refreshing, and if it works will likely be widely copied.

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