Nintendo's retro games download service for Wii Virtual Console has provided over 10 million downloads in its first year.
Speaking to Gamespot, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata revealed:
Virtual Console saw over ten million downloads by the end of last December. That's the total number of titles people paid to download. I think that selling over ten million classic games in that price range stands as proof that there are great possibilities with the download model.”
However, Iwata added that he didn't believe packaged, retail games would be safe for another three- to five-year period.
Packaged games have a number of advantages,” he said, from the guarantee of a certain amount of sales volume to the firmly established buying habits and infrastructure that I think should be preserved in the future.
But packaged games aren't a complete solution anymore. The cost of materials and distribution margins mean that there isn't much price flexibility, and there's always a risk with inventory.
Plus the majority of a product's life span ends within a very short period after its release in the current market, such that titles can no longer compete for shelf space a month after their release.”