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Nintendo will offer digital versions of Wii U and 3DS games as it battles iPhone

Nintendo intends to combat Apple’s ever-increasing encroachment on the gaming market by offering digital versions of games sold through retail stores.

The Japanese giant announced its first losses in 30 years on Thursday, with the iPhone’s dominance of the handheld arena thought to be a factor in underwhelming Nintendo 3DS sales.

Now the company plans to let gamers choose between a physical copy of new games or a digital copy which can be downloaded onto the device by activating a 16-digit code, loaded onto the SD card.

The first game to go on sale using the new system will be New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS, which is launched in August and sees the company adopt a similar approach to the PS Vita.

Fighting back in 2012

The move is seen as lowering the risk for retailers, who won’t have to contend with as many unsold discs and cartridges, while it also impacts the second hand-games market despised by studios.

The first annual losses encountered by Nintendo (about $533m, £329m) make the next twelve months absolutely crucial.

The company expects sales of the 3DS to fight back and reach expectations, while the Wii U launch later this year will surely be do or die for the company.

A strange rumour on Friday suggested the company might actually attempt to build Android into the new Wii U. If that happens we’ll eat our Wii Balance Boards, sideways. However, we guess anything’s possible?

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