Nintendo: downloadable games will enable Asian expansion

Nintendo may be a household name in Japan, but the company has yet to find success in many other Asian countries, least of all China. Rampant piracy has prevented Nintendo from pursuing a traditional release model in the country. Instead, it has opted to create a joint venture company in China called iQue that distributes heavily modified versions of its products.

The advent of downloadable full games is changing Nintendo's perspective on Asia, however. "Being able to offer download sales means that the company now has additional options in the countries where we have not been able to construct sufficient distribution channels, and where we have been challenged with enforcing copyright infringements or where the price points of packaged software are not suitable," Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said.

The company recently announced that full retail games could be downloaded via the Nintendo Network. While plans have not been formalized, the functionality is already built into the 3DS and will be built into the Wii U. "As we now have the environment where completion of software development for packaged software means that we are ready to distribute the same in our digital distribution channel, we have a broader sales strategy," Iwata said. "It has a very significant meaning for us."

Nintendo could theoretically develop a new 3DS and Wii U system for China that does away with easily-copied retail discs altogether. Being able to enter that market would be huge for Nintendo, as the last console released in that territory was a heavily modified N64.