Nintendo 3DS Games: Mainstream Titles to Get Digital Versions Soon

27 April 2012, 10:36 am EDT

Nintendo has announced it will be offering digital versions alongside retail titles for 3DS. The first game will be New Super Mario Bros. 2, which launches in August 2012.

The first titles to offer digital versions will be first-party titles - those published by Nintendo - with both retail and digital versions sold through retailers. Purchasing digital versions gets users an activation code, which will download the game onto the 3DS.

Games are stored on a memory card, meaning multiple games can be downloaded. Nintendo has traditionally offered games in single cartridges for the 3DS. The eShop allows for downloads of mini-games and add-ons, with software updates now rolling out.

Nintendo's digital downloads will be priced and handled by retailers, unlike rivals Microsoft and Sony, which run their own app store. While this removes earnings going to Nintendo, which seems damaging, considering the company announced it has lost money, it removes the cost and risks of running a store. Nintendo lost 43.2 billion yen (US$533 million), marking the company's first annual loss since it began reporting earnings in 1981. Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's president, said it was the "worst result since we went into business" in the video game industry.

During those earning results, it was also revealed the company failed to reach its annual sales target for the Nintendo 3DS. That's despite price cuts, additional colors and flagship titles such as Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7. Unlike Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo relies on its consoles and the software titles for revenue. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 offer other types of paid media, such as Netflix and Lovefilm, to rent TV shows and movies.

Nintendo's Wii console has also slowed down ahead of the Wii U launch later this year, and the company will be re-unveiling the console at E3 2012 in Los Angeles. Plenty of rumors have surrounded Nintendo's next generation console, with some developers suggesting the console won't be more powerful than the Xbox 360 and PS3. Other developers, such as Gearbox, claimed the Wii U version of Alien: Colonial Marines would be the best-looking version.

(reported by Jonathan Charles, edited by Dave Clark)

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