It may be all doom and gloom for the Wii U and Nintendo’s financials in general, but the eShop is just coming into its own, with tremendous growth in downloadable sales on the big N’s first properly supported digital platform.
Download sales on Nintendo platforms more than doubled in the last 12 months, CEO Satoru Iwata revealed in a a post-earnings release presentation, going from just under ¥8 billion in Q3 FY 2012 to over ¥16 billion in Q3 FY 2013.
Iwata said the last time Nintendo download sales peaked was in the financial year ending March 2010, when the Wii and DSi were both big sellers. Over the past two years, sales have stymied, but a strong push from Nintendo for both the Wii U and 3DS seems to have pushed things into new record highs.
“The deployment of add-on content last year and the digital download sales of packaged software we started last July are contributing to the current sales growth,” Iwata said.
Animal Crossing: new Leaf, which released in Japan in November, has shipped 3.86 million units, and Iwata said a full 25% of sales were digital, if you include built-in digital installations in a new bundle pack. He attributed this partly to demand outstripping production of the game cart, which requires a special memory chip, but also to the game’s design, which rewards daily play – swapping the cart in and out every day isn’t always convenient.
Nintendo is quite pleased with the success of its various digital promotion schemes; it sells download versions of games at retailers, which is popular in the traditionally e-commerce unfriendly Japan, as well as through these retailer’s websites.
“We thought that one of the biggest hurdles is the limited exposure of the digital download products. If only the consumers who proactively visited the Nintendo eShop were aware of the digital download software that we deployed, there would be no chance that our digital business would dramatically expand,” Iwata commented.
“Some might be skeptical about how much downloadable software would be sold at retail stores without any discounts from the suggested retail price of the packaged counterpart. Actually, however, more than two-thirds of the download version of Animal Crossing: New Leaf has been sold through retailers.”
Club Nintendo research shows that 30% of members have the digital version of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which is higher than average, suggesting core gamers are more keen on digital than general punters. Those who downloaded Animal: Crossing New Leaf were far more likely to pick up the digital version of Tomodachi Collection: New Life, which sold 400,000 units in its first week.
“The 40% percent of people who purchased the download version of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, even without any other paid download experience, and also chose the download version of Tomodachi Collection is no less than five times larger than that of those who chose the packaged version of Animal Crossing: New Leaf,” Iwata pointed out.
“In other words, it is clear that, once people have chosen a download version, they tend to choose another download version next time due to convenience. We believe that letting as many people try a download version as possible is required for significant expansion of our digital business.”
Iwata said the eShop is becoming more and more important as a place to learn about new games, especially when it comes to Nintendo Direct; apparently cvonsumers without PCs or smartphones use their 3DS to access Nintendo’s popular video presentations.
“With some of our recent installments of Nintendo Direct, it became common to see total views for a single video reach five hundred to six hundred thousand in a matter of about 10 days on the Nintendo eShop while they did not show apparent growth on YouTube, meaning that people do indeed actively watch our videos on the Nintendo eShop. It is no exaggeration to say that the most preferred viewing option has now become the Nintendo eShop, and it is not uncommon to find that approximately 60 to 70 percent of total views come from the Nintendo eShop,” he said.
“Moreover, the fact that people watch Nintendo Direct on the Nintendo eShop means that they can directly download demos and 3D movies. We feel that having our consumers regularly visit the Nintendo eShop to access new information about our games is going to be enormously beneficial for our digital business in general.”