Nintendo to Offer Digital Downloads for 3DS, Wii U Handheld Game Consoles

Nintendo has announced plans to offer games as digital downloads, in a bid to regain consumer confidence. With digital downloads, gamers have a choice of either purchasing content as game cartridge packages or through the Internet as digital download.

Nintendo showing its new Wii U console for the firs time during E3 2011. Nintendo has announced plans to offer games as digital downloads for the 3DS and the upcoming Wii U in a bid to make content more accessible to gamers. (Barone Firenze /

The embattled Japanese gaming company has just reported its first annual loss amid poor Wii console sales. The company has also been selling its portable 3DS handheld console below cost in an effort to improve sales. The popularity of smartphones and tablets is not helping the company, though, given an increasing preference toward casual games that run on these platforms. Casual games — and other apps — are notably available for free on Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store, or for purchase for as low as US$ 0.99 apiece.

Analysts say Nintendo’s offer for digital downloads could boots revenues. Apart from the 3DS platform, the company also plans to offer digital downloads for its Wii U, which is a tablet-sized portable version of the popular Wii planned for release later this year. The Wii U will also include close integration with the Wii console, for expanded gaming options.

In a meeting with investors, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata highlighted consumer choice as the main motivation for selling digital content. Nintendo would “offer the software titles that Nintendo itself publishes in both packaged and digital download formats so that our consumers can choose the way to purchase them,” he said.