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Nintendo eShop Gains Traction

A third of Fire Emblem: Awakening sales have been digital.
A third of Fire Emblem: Awakening sales have been digital.

APRIL 17, 2013 • During a press conference held in San Francisco, Nintendo of America executive vice president Scott Moffitt said the 3DS title Fire Emblem: Awakening had sold 240,000 units in the U.S. since its Feb. 4 release. Moffitt went on to say that 80,000 of those sales had been digital through Nintendo’s eShop. More than 40,000 of those eShop customers came back to purchase a map pack. Furthermore, Moffitt says 11% of all Nintendo first-party 3DS titles are now sold through eShop. Catalog titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and Star Fox 64 3D have both seen 20% of their sales come via eShop. Moffitt indicated that casual titles are averaging anywhere from 15% to 25% in digital sales. All told 67% of 3DS owners have connected to download paid or free content, according to the executive.

Impact: Upcoming DFC forecasts for portable platform systems project a significant move to digital for all systems including those from Nintendo. Nintendo has traditionally been the last major console maker to embrace online services and distribution. If odd, non-intuitive interface design is any barometer, it could be assumed the gamemaker’s past online efforts have been reluctant ones. Yet Nintendo continues to make steady improvements to its online features and their usability – enough for many consumers to consider eShop as “not so bad” when compared to DSiWare. In recent weeks Nintendo pushed a firmware update that enabled background downloading in sleep mode of content and updates. This is a simple thing, and definitely a tardy arrival, yet an improvement all the same. It is obvious that as Nintendo continues to cut down the friction between its online services and its users, consumers are taking to buying through eShop in larger numbers. We wonder how many more 3DS owners would be purchasing digital content had Nintendo worked out more of these kinks in design earlier.

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