As expected, Nintendo plans on selling retail games digitally through the Nintendo Network. The first first-party game to be available at both retail and on the eShop will be New Super Mario Bros. 2, scheduled for release in August. And that will be just the beginning. "Starting from this software, the company will offer the software titles that Nintendo itself publishes in both packaged and digital download formats so that our consumers can choose the way to purchase them," the company announced at its most recent investors' meeting.
The digital release of NSMB2 is part of Nintendo's growing commitment to digital. "It is imperative for us to expand the exposure of the digital download products to potential consumers," the company admitted.
Representative of Nintendo's growing investment in digital is the fact that Wii U will launch with this functionality on day one. "Our consumers can choose either the packaged version or the digital download version of the same software from day one of the Wii U’s launch."
However, not willing to alienate retail, the company promises that digital games will be available for purchase at retail as well, through the use of prepaid cards. "Our consumers can visit retail outlets or the retailers’ online shopping sites, look for products of interest, make a purchase decision and actually pay for the product there. The retailers then can issue the 16-digit software exchange code."
Interestingly, retailers will be able to set their own prices for digital games sold in-store, much as they would with physical copies of games. "By taking this approach, there will not be a situation like 'there is no markdown for the digital products while markdowns are the norm for the packaged software.'"