Playing games digitally is definitely the future. As soon as a new game is available on shelves, players should at least be given the option of getting that very same version of that title digitally. The problem is that at least in consoles, users are given little to no incentive to get more digital versions of games as services like PSN and XBLA are rarely associated with promotions or discounts. But even when we all know that the digital revolution is the future, most companies haven’t been embracing this and as a consequence, the digital process has been painfully slow.
Nevertheless, that may be about to change soon as in a recent investor presentation (which took place last week,) Nintendo President Satoru Iwata confirmed that the 3DS shop will have digital versions of retail 3DS games. That means most first-party games will be simultaneously released both physically and digitally.
The first title that will be released as part of this inviting initiative will be New Super Mario Bros. 2 which is coming this August. In addition, retailers will sell vouchers with digital codes and the upcoming Wii U is also expected to use this very same service, allowing players to download games at launch. Regarding the upcoming console, it has been confirmed that Nintendo will be showing the final version of the Wii U hardware at E3, but the company made it quite clear that they aren’t planning on announcing its cost, launch date or lineup of games yet.
The reasoning behind this initiative appears to be that multiple games encourage users to play on a daily basis (Nintendogs and Animal Crossing were specifically mentioned) so constantly changing cartridges represents a constant annoyance. As a way to mitigate this, digital titles would allow players to easily access their games. Smartphones and tablets have definitely proved that being able to carry dozens (if not hundreds) of digital content on the same device is extremely comfortable and convenient, so there’s no actual reason to not give players the option to download games.
It doesn’t seem like video game companies are thinking about releasing every single title digitally or at least not yet, but if Nintendo is willing to put out a handful of their titles through this more conveniently service, that definitely represents a step in the right direction for the industry. For now though, it seems fair to say that Sony has embraced this practice. Microsoft on the other hand, has stubbornly refused to offer digital versions of most of the games released on their console. Hopefully, both Microsoft and Sony will take notice and when the right time comes (maybe when the next generation of consoles is finally here…) a huge library of games will be available on their official services.
As somebody who still uses its PSP from time to time and downloads most of its games from the PlayStation Network, I’m pretty sure most 3DS owners will see this as a great initiative. Unfortunately, the lack of space to download digital games may become an important issue for them. In the end though, it’s great to at least have the option.