Nintendo shifts to digital download strategy

Nintendo is apparently really gunning for a digital download strategy to cut back on inventory costs.

 Even though the Japanese-based company is still largely steeped in the traditional video game business model, Nintendo wants to break into one of the most successful emerging segments of the industry.

According to an Engadget report, Nintendo will be releasing New Super Mario Bros 2 and a new brain training game through the 3DS eShop, the digital download platform that allows players to have instant access to games and apps without going to the store and buying a cartridge.

To date, the eShop has played host to much more bite-sized games, including vintage Game Boy titles and casual fare. The expansion to include more full-size 3DS games is a huge step for Nintendo, which has been one of the most resistant companies to online advancements in the industry.

To keep its retail partners content, Nintendo will allow places like Gamestop to sell codes, which can be used to unlock downloadable games. This means customers can still pay for content with cash or gift cards, or trade-in credit, but Nintendo doesn’t have to deal with the bulky task of managing inventory.

The strategy of offering games both in physical form for those who want it and downloadable form for the customer who likes to get things instantly, is becoming a staple of video games. The Xbox 360 and PS3 both have platforms like that.

And now it’s expected that the Wii U will too. Not much is known about how Nintendo’s next home console will interact with the Internet, but there’s no doubt it needs to offer a lot in order to be competitive.

The Wii U is expected to sell some five million units in its first several months on the market. It’s believed to be set for a launch date around the holiday season of this year.