In a “Semi-Annual Financial Results Briefing” released last week, Nintendo publicly discussed its evolving digital strategy. The Japanese video game hardware and software developer has spent years playing catch-up with rivals Microsoft and Sony, and it was good to see the company acknowledge some of its shortcomings and show that it is looking to improve.
In one section of the briefing, Nintendo showed that it has finally implemented many requests gamers have had for years. With Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U, the company has given consumers the ability to pre-order the game and download it before its official release, so that on launch day you don’t have to wait for 8 GBs to arrive over a cable or DSL connection. The company has also rolled out a system for automatically downloading games purchased through Nintendo of America’s site to a gamer’s console, as long as they can remember their Nintendo ID and password. The company also indicates that this feature will soon come to Amazon.com.
There are still some rough patches left in Nintendo’s digital sales strategy that make the experience worse for consumers. While the new online purchase system is tied to your Nintendo account, those who experience significant hardware issues with their consoles can’t simply get it replaced and re-download their games on the new consoles. The rights to games on Nintendo’s eShop are attached to specific consoles, and to get them transferred you have to call Nintendo support. This applies to both the kid who destroyed her 2DS and to the college gamer finally upgrading from the Wii to the Wii U for the new Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo also hasn’t done the best job of getting the word out about its recent improvements. While the company touts its convenience for customers in a briefing for investors, its site for recent Wii U exclusive Bayonetta 2 has a Buy Now button that brings up this option:
That “how to purchase and download” button brings you to a video explaining that you can get Bayonetta 1 and 2 together on the Wii U’s eShop on the console, not the actual digital store on Nintendo’s site. Thanks?
As more gamers shift to buying their games digitally, there’s also going to be a storage crunch on consoles. Even if you were to only buy Nintendo’s offerings on the Wii U, the 4-8 GBs you have to download for each game quickly fill up the 32 GBs of storage built into Wii Us sold today. It’d be awfully nice of Nintendo to release an update for the Wii U that bumps that number up to at least 64 GBs — after years of disappointment, I know better than to expect something like the 500 GB hard drive built into the Xbox One. But until Nintendo surprises us with the Wii Ui or 2DU or LUX or whatever terrible name they come up with for their spec bump release, customers (read: the parents of children who want to play Mario games) are stuck with buying and managing external storage for the Wii U or continuing to use discs that can be scratched, cracked, lost, or stolen.