Nintendo Discuss Digital Sales On 3DS; Fire Emblem: Awakening At 240,000

By Ishaan . April 17, 2013 . 10:55am

Nintendo are seeing digital distribution quickly becoming an increasingly important contributor to the company’s bottom line, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime tells


“We have 15 Nintendo-published titles available, both physically and digitally [on the 3DS],” Fils-Aime says. “So far in 2013, of those 15 available in this format, 11% of sales have come through full digital downloads of those games.”


Fils-Aime also provides U.S. sales figures for two notable 3DS games—Fire Emblem: Awakening and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.


As Siliconera reported last month, Fire Emblem: Awakening sold over 180,000 copies in North America in February. That figure—including download sales—is now at 240,000. Download sales account for one-third of that number, Fils-Aime says.


Meanwhile, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon has sold 415,000 copies so far.


While the Nintendo 3DS is starting to pick up steam in the West, Fils-Aime admits that the Wii U isn’t quite doing what it needs to. “What I would say about Wii U—and what Mr. Iwata has said—is that the pace of launches has been slower than we hoped,” he shares. “But as we prepare for E3, the pace of launches for Wii U is going to dramatically increase.”


Wii U support from third-party publishers has been underwhelming to say the least, with a number of significant Western publishers seeming uninterested in the console. However, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata stated in January that Nintendo are working on collaborative projects with several third-parties to ensure software support. Examples of these are Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem, Bayonetta 2 and Lego City Undercover.

  • Now if they could imprive there services, 3 hours to grab a 1,5GB game is… not that fun. Specially when your sitting on a Gbit line.

    • landlock

      Really? my downloads don’t take anywhere near that long. I thought it has been surprisingly fast to download games so far. I was expecting the worst.

      • Horrible speed here, but then again Nintendo isn’t the only one with it, Sony have pretty bad to overall. Only service so far who do good is Steam, only service I get 20-30MB/s of the rest is 1MB/s good. Granted in Nintendo’s case we talk 50-60KB/s.

        But my number isn’t made up, took me 3 hours to grab Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers today.

        • landlock

          sounds like your area then.

  • XYZ_JolteonZ980

    Pace of launchs for Wii U will drammatically increase, thats a decent statement but kind of clear considering that there are really no launchs currently so the only direction is up. I hope there are lottsa more collaborations for the system, will be interesting to see the Wii U strategy as compared to their competitors once the last quarter of the year arrives and the next, will they strike gold again…

  • Raltrios

    Of course the download sales are high – they didn’t print enough physical copies to meet demand. I managed to get mine, but only after EB Games broke the street release date causing me to miss out on the artbook my preorder entitled me to.
    I’m aware that EB Games is the one mostly to blame for it, but if Nintendo had printed more copies and shipped them with said artbooks I might not be in such a foul mood every time the subject is brought up.

    • Sardorim

      Gamestop ended up with far more mini-Artbooks than Physical Copies. They were literally handing out the Artbooks because people were giving up and canceling their preorder, that never came, and just went Digital.

      • Raltrios

        So wait… EB Games got just enough physical copies to meet the preorders but were shipped less copies of the artbook than were needed, and Gamestop got way more artbooks than they needed?

        Somebody really dropped the ball on this, and the common customers of Canada appear to be suffering for it.

        • Sardorim

          I know.

          Guy opened up drawer and there was a stack of them in there. He insisted I take one for free, not that I minded. It had Sully and Cordelia in it so I was happy.

          Though I wish Kjelle was in there… Mainly I want to actually see what her abs supposedly look like as Severa and Morgan (M) make it sound like they are the second coming of sexy.

          • Raltrios

            My wife Cordelia, you say? God dammit. Now I’m even more ticked off about this…

            Maybe I’m being petty, but while I’ve enjoyed the midnight release events for Diablo 3 and Halo 4 that they held, EB Games still lost a lot of my trust by failing to inform me that they were ready to sell me my game.
            Grrrr… nay, a thousand grrrr’s!

  • ( `Д´)ノ)`ν゜)

    Yeah big surprise that digital sales surge after you withhold physical copies. What a joke.

    • Arrei

      Oh come on, now they “withheld” physical copies?

      They made a mistake and didn’t print enough because the series never performed like that before, simple as that.

      • I wouldn’t be surprised if making the game accessible for newcomers actually had a far bigger effect on the sales than they anticipated.

    • You know, when your company has gone from making profits hand over fist to suffering its first major loss, withholding your games is kind of not a smart idea. You want to sell as much as you can.

      This conspiracy theory of them undershipping stuff on purpose to make demand artificially appear higher has always been the most ridiculous thing ever. This is not the day and age in which such tactics are plausible, especially not in a market as competitive as videogames. People said the same thing about the Wii, and it was equally stupid back then, too.

      • ( `Д´)ノ)`ν゜)

        You don’t hype up a game like that and then “accidentally” print not
        enough copies. Especially if you’re publishing the game yourself.

        And then you pretend like nothing happened while pushing more DLC and not even extending the free DLC deadline for people who couldn’t get the game without buying it digitally.

        With the Wii people didn’t have much of a choice other than wait while now they very conveniently have the option to purchase the game digitally and lock their purchase forever, denying a second hand market.

        • It’s not “accidentally” printing enough copies, it could be any number of things. It could be that there were shipping issues. It could be that they simply weren’t sure how many copies to ship, since historically Fire Emblem has never been this huge. It could be that the Animal Crossing cartridge shortages had an impact on this game. But no one would willingly hold copies back. That’s a dumb idea. You holding back copies means more shelf space for your competitors. Why in god’s name would you want to do that?

          • neo_firenze

            Because fighting for shelf space is an outdated concept in a digital age?

            Ask a successful iOS developer. Hell, ask a PC game developer whether they’re interested in focusing on taking up retail shelf space or if they’re happy with stuff like Steam (or, say, Blizzard selling direct online versions of their games)

          • puchinri

            In terms of console gaming though, how well does this apply? I think it’s not that outdated a concept for home and portable consoles. (Especially since the game’s digital sales weren’t a staggering portion of its sales overall.)

          • I’m with @puchinri:disqus on this. iOS market has been trained to buy everything digitally at impulse-buy prices. The portable market is nothing like that. You have people that expect a box for their $40. You have people that just prefer having a box regardless of price. You have people that don’t know what they want, but walk into a store hoping to find something that they like. I don’t think the two are anything like each other. At some point, they will be more similar to each other than they are now, but we’re not there yet.

      • neo_firenze

        I’m not sure it’s undershipping stuff on purpose to make DEMAND appear higher (though that’s a possible side effect).

        But I do think it’s VERY plausible that a publisher like Nintendo would make a calculated decision to undership stuff on purpose to encourage more people to buy the game in a medium that is MUCH more profitable per-unit-sold than a physical retail release (and has additional benefits to the publisher like removing potential used game sales from the market).

        The additional profit from more digital sales might well make up for possible decreases in people buying the game if it was more available at retail. I’m sure Nintendo has sales projections that take this into account, they have an idea of how many people will/might/won’t be willing to buy digital, and there’s a group of people who might prefer a physical copy but will be persuaded to go digital if it’s less convenient to get the physical copy.

        From a sales projection standpoint, it also has the benefit of allowing Nintendo to err on the side of being extra conservative (something they’ve always been fond of). If they expect the game to sell 200k copies, maybe it makes sense to ship 150k and see how it does. If they were overestimating and only 150k copies sell, fine. If their estimate was on target or overly conservative, they can print more physical copies and/or focus on the eShop availability. This ability to avoid inadvertently overshooting demand and eating costs of unsold inventory is actually one significant factor for why we get some stuff like niche PSP RPGs released on PSN/digital only – why doesn’t the same logic apply to Nintendo?

        Another Nintendo-specific aspect, as a company they have always been more focused on sales over a longer time than most publishers anyway. So physical product shortages in the first few weeks of a game’s release probably don’t worry them as much as they do many other publishers anyway. Why not be more careful and prevent making a big mistake and over-shipping a bunch of retail copies? They have time to make it up if their games are “evergreen” sellers anyway, and they’re reassured even more by the security blanket of a significant amount of people being willing to buy digital for an even bigger profit per unit.

        I don’t really like it as a consumer (I don’t want to lose the ability to resell my game, and I don’t really like taking up a bunch of space on a memory card), but from a business standpoint I think it’s pretty ingenious.

        • But I do think it’s VERY plausible that a publisher like Nintendo would make a calculated decision to undership stuff on purpose to encourage more people to buy the game in a medium that is MUCH more profitable per-unit-sold than a physical retail release (and has additional benefits to the publisher like removing potential used game sales from the market).

          You’re assuming that everyone that buys a game knows that they’re going to buy it. A significant number of people don’t know what they want. They pick something off the shelf that looks cool. This is especially true in the case of a publisher like Nintendo that always tries to hit as wide an audience as possible, regardless of the game or the genre.

          Why not be more careful and prevent making a big mistake and over-shipping a bunch of retail copies? They have time to make it up if their games are “evergreen” sellers anyway, and they’re reassured even more by the security blanket of a significant amount of people being willing to buy digital for an even bigger profit per unit.

          This I agree with fully. We talked about it before, too, I think when we were discussing Luigi’s Mansion sales in Japan. I do think it would be a smart business decision and I do think that it factors in on some level. I just don’t agree with the idea that they do it specifically with the intent of “training” people to buy digital. At some point, they probably will start to do that—likely once they get an account system up and running on 3DS—but I just don’t think they’re at that point yet, because a large chunk of their sales are still retail and the last thing they’d want to do is risk losing those.

          Fire Emblem is a case where I suspect they simply didn’t know what the ceiling was going to be. It’s an SRPG, for starters. That’s a rather niche subset of RPGs. On top of that, it’s been a good few years since they released the last Fire Emblem game, and the only relevant data they have is how that last game did. It was likely what they referred to when making their shipping estimates.

    • Luna Kazemaru

      Is conspiracy gaf up in here?

  • puchinri

    Good for them that digital sales are doing well, but that the games are doing well in general.

    And while the Wii U is a bit slow, it’s still making what look like pretty good sales, and I expect that when their larger titles come out later this year and next year, the sales will boost/jump significantly. I hope the Wii U will do what they’re hoping/expecting by the end of this year.

  • Sardorim

    Those Awakening sales would have been higher if the NA launch wasn’t handled poorly. Hopefully Europe’s launch will be much smoother and FE14’s launch in the far future will be smooth for everyone.

    • Manny Being Manny

      I doubt it. I think it just had a lot more digital sales vs physical sales due to it.

  • TWE

    Great experiment on weaning the consumer off of physical releases.

  • i’m curious if they’re counting all the included “vouchers” with the FE+3DS bundle in that “1/3 of total sales”. I know a lot of peeps who went for that bundle due to how awesome the 3ds looked, but would have preferred their copy physical.

    Only 11% of total sales digital is unsurprising, considering the majority’s preference for physical goods. Here’s to hoping they aren’t dissuaded and continue offering digital versions too. Always good to have options!

    • I know for a fact that they counted the bundles as part of the 180k figure in February, since I asked NOA about that personally. What I don’t know is if they counted the bundle as part of digital or retail sales.

  • SirRichard

    If I’ve heard right, Luigi’s Mansion 2 has broken 1 million sales globally. The 3DS has finally hit its stride after all, and after today it’s clear Nintendo will do their damnedest to keep that momentum going. They’re definitely pushing digital sales hard; in today’s European Direct, they made sure to mention every game close to release had a digital version – Shibata even had to double back to mention that Animal Crossing did indeed have a retail release.

    The Directs this year have proven that Nintendo is very capable of following up their claims of “We’ll have lots of content for it soon”, but even then I’m concerned. Once they get going, they can keep the momentum well, but it’s getting started that’s the problem.

  • $39420547

    i believe the cause for the low WiiU sales is Nintendo’s bad planing but after E3 in think Nintendo is going to push it much harder and show it more support

  • MrTyrant

    Digital releases are important for us, to be honest I want a physical copy like everyone but i have to be realistic, where i live hanheld games are dificult to obtain and they are overpriced like any imported game. But I couldn’t obtain Fire Emblem because of the lack of physical copies, that much is true.

    • The-Beast

      Here in Brazil new handheld games cost about $75-80, and new console games cost $90-100, and they do take a fucking lot of time to drop (like at least 1 year to drop $10-20) .

  • Solomon_Kano

    Wow, wow, wow! Luigi’s crossed 1 mil globally then! That’s great to hear. His year’s off to a good start.

    The breakdown of digital to physical on FE is interesting as well. The shortages likely forced a lot of people’s hands, but then I also expect that the number includes the vouchers that came with the rather popular FE bundle.

  • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

    Fire Emblem really deserved that sales here. Hell, if it is not because of Nintendo undershipping the game, i believe this game would have sold better.T_T
    Hope that the next instalment for FE will allow Nintendo to give more stocks this time.^_^
    And that Luigi Mansion 2.O_o The Green Bomber must be damn happy lol considering this game sales in japan have even beat Paper Mario lol.^_^

  • Steven Higgins

    I tried to download it but I didn’t have enough memory, Even after deleting a lot of things I don’t use.

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