From Nintendo’s point of view, selling downloadable content can take away from the full retail game, leaving players feeling short-changed.
Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, spoke to AOL Games Blog about the future of the company. On releasing downloadable add-ons for its future first-party releases, Fils-Aime said:
We’re interested in it to the extent that it makes sense to the consumer. And it’s interesting: I’ve had this conversation with a number of our key developers, and their mentality is, “Reggie, when we sell a game, we want the consumer to feel that they’ve had a complete experience.”
Rockstar Games’ detective thriller L.A. Noire released May 17 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but already another version released Nov. 15 called the “Complete Edition”, which includes several of the game’s DLC releases. This has left those that bought L.A. Noire at release feeling like they own an incomplete game.
Nowadays downloadable content add-ons get announced before a game is even available to buy in stores. Season Passes, which emerged this year, offer a bundled discount for future DLC that hasn’t even been confirmed with specific details or a release date, like with Epic Games’ Gears of War 3 and Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Fils-Aime said Nintendo doesn’t want to follow this trend, instead first focusing on releasing a complete product rather than the game being a service:
But what we’re unwilling to sell a piece of a game upfront and, if you will, force a consumer to buy more later. That’s what they don’t want to do, and I completely agree. I think the consumer wants to get, for their money, a complete experience, and then we have opportunities to provide more on top of that.
The Wii, released in November 2006, really doesn’t have the online infrastructure necessary to have a strong digital distribution store like Sony’s PS3 or Microsoft’s Xbox 360 do. Popular console titles like Mario Kart Wii had free DLC in June 2008, but most games on the system don’t feature substantial add-ons. Nintendo began to get behind digital sales with its 3DS handheld system that came out in March, releasing weekly downloadable versions of classic Nintendo games from previous systems. Fils-Aime said digital sales continue to grow on the 3DS:
The digital business on the 3DS is very strong, and it’s not only the gaming content we’re making available through the eShop, but the video content we’re making available through Nintendo Video. So, it’s already a robust environment and the Nintendo 3DS is our most connected device ever, which is great.
The next 3DS system update releasing near the end of the month will let developers sell DLC on the eShop for their physical and digital games. Fils-Aime said it will be the developer’s decision on how add-ons will be implemented on the 3DS:
In terms of how it will work, it’s up to the developer whether they want to make it to buy new levels, new items–all of that is up to their imagination. Essentially, what we’re doing is creating the framework for those transactions to happen.
Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, said the company will continue to put a bigger emphasis on digital distribution in the future with the 3DS and upcoming home console Wii U. Nintendo is looking to grow its digital business by more than 10 percent in the next three years.
According to a study by Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR) released in October, 51 percent of PS3 and Xbox 360 owners have bought some sort of DLC in 2011, generating $875 million so far this year as of last month.
Image by Nintendo