But Retailers Can Compete With Download Codes
Nintendo has announced that the Wii U will offer simultaneous retail and download options for each major game, but the prices will reflect RRP rather than undercutting traditional boxed titles. However, retail stores will also be able to sell download codes and set their own prices - hopefully resulting in some healthy competition.
Ninty president Satoru Iwata revealed their new online strategy during an investors briefing, stating that all Nintendo-published Wii U games and some third-party titles will be available to download on the online marketplace from release day. The 3DS will also start to embrace this new philosophy, starting with New Super Mario Bros. 2 this August. Iwata believes that it's "imperative" to "expand the exposure of the digital download products to potential consumers," bringing the Wii U in line with PSN and Xbox Live in the process.
However, Iwata elaborated on the concept in a subsequent Q&A session: stating that downloadable games will release at the recommended retail price rather than launching at a slightly lower level (in order to make up for the lack of manufacturing costs and distribution). Apparently third-party publisher pressure has much to do with the decision.
We do not hold such a premise that digitally distributed software has less value. Different people value different things. If we said, this is the only proposal we will make so you have to take it, it would be a problem as there would be no options for the consumers to choose from. On the contrary, what I explained today is that we are proposing the two formats of sales mechanisms from which our consumers can make their own choices.
Some publishers believe that the digital versions should be cheaper while others insist that both versions must be set at exactly the same price. So, it is not only Nintendo’s idea. Each publisher has various ideas on this point and, among them, Nintendo is now offering both versions at the same price point (the same suggested retail price).
The PS Vita came under fire for adopting the same policy when it released earlier this year.
In an interesting twist, though, Nintendo has opened up an unexpected avenue of competition. Traditional retailers will be able to stock download code cards in-store or online, and set their own prices and sales. We heartily expect that this welcome move will kick off some nifty price wars down the line, and it demonstrates that a digital-only marketplace can indeed provide a measure of healthy competition.
It's unclear whether all Wii U games will be supported in this way, but it's great to see Nintendo trying to innovate with more than just motion control.