Fresh Off The Block


First downloadable retail 3DS games hitting eStore this week – double points for downloading quickly, but is the price worth it?

With the Wii U, Nintendo announced its plans to deliver games to players in two ways and let them decide which they prefer – either buying retail games traditionally through stores, or downloading them directly from the Nintendo eStore. Nintendo shortly plan to bring "full game downloads" to the 3DS; and the first three games have now been announced.

From this week, Nintendo 3DS and 3DS XL owners will be able to download Nintendo's own games from the 3DS eShop as well as buy them in the shops. The first three titles to be made available in this way are New Super Mario Bros. 2, Freakyforms Deluxe and New Art Academy. As a special incentive to encourage people to download the games rather than purchasing them in stores, Club Nintendo members who download the games within the first four weeks of release will earn double the typical number of stars for their purchase – 500 Stars instead of the usual 250 for high-price games – to save up or spend on Club Nintendo-exclusive merchandise.

While you may expect that the availability of three major Nintendo-published titles as downloads, with a bonus for loyal Nintendo fans would get many people excited, in reality a key section of the announcement has caused a huge amount of outrage for a large amount of Nintendo's fan-base, who claim the downloads are horrendously overpriced. In particular, European customers have to pay £39.99 to download New Super Mario Bros 2 from the 3DS eShop – which many point out is £10 more than what many retailers are charging for boxed copies. In addition, those who preorder the game from GAME or GameStation stores earn a free coin case as a preorder bonus. Meanwhile, the 500 Stars offered for the download copies of New Super Mario Bros 2 is stingy by comparison – on its own, 500 Stars is redeemable for only basic goodies; such as ringtones (up to 350 stars each), backgrounds (50 each), folder binders (new, 400 each) or 100 Nintendo Points for the Wii or DSi Shop channels (400 each).

Brill Baddies Set of Two Folders

Is this really worth paying £10 more for?
(Image courtesy: Club Nintendo EU Stars Catalogue)

It should be noted that overpriced download copies of games is sadly nothing new – popular PC-based online game distributors Steam and Origin have both been under fire many times for overpricing the games they offer via their systems (although Steam, to its credit, regularly does deals on its games allowing them to be downloaded at much lower prices and is just as well known for its amazing discounts); and both (but more so Origin) have also been criticised for being over-restrictive on how downloaded games can be used and shared. Also the PS3 and Xbox 360 have themselves had online stores much longer than Nintendo and are incredibly familiar with how people feel about downloaded games compared to purchased ones. Even so, it's disappointing to see Nintendo follow this trend when the company is so reputable for its innovations and its constant desire to be different and fun. Hopefully they learn much from the feedback they get over the coming months.

What are YOUR views on 3DS game downloads? Please share your feelings in the comments!