In Nintendo's year-end fiscal reports briefing, released tonight, the company lays out its future plans for digital distribution. Starting with New Super Mario Bros. 2, Nintendo will begin offering its retail packaged 3DS games digitally through the Nintendo eShop as well, with both versions releasing on the same day this August. This practice will also be standard on Wii U from the launch of that system.
Consumers will be able to purchase the digital versions directly on the eShop or from their favorite retailers, who will in turn give them a code which would then have to be entered in on the eShop. Now, the retail option sounds convoluted, and Nintendo even cops to that a bit in the statement but points out that the familiarity of the retail process is more comfortable for many of their consumers and that customers under a certain age who are unable to make payments by credit cards benefit from the option.
Pricing for digital games will be no different than their physical counterparts and that purchases from the eShop will reflect the MSRP of the retail product. Nintendo does point out, however, that retailers would be free to set their own prices, allowing consumers to benefit from promotions and so on.
It all sounds good, but when's the last time you saw a markdown on a Nintendo product? Which leads me to another point, that this doesn't specify whether third-party publishers will be able to release their games in a similar manner on these platforms. It sounds like the sort of thing you wouldn't have to ask about but I gave up long ago thinking that common sense thinking applied to Nintendo.