Back when Nintendo started to offer an online platform to sell smaller and more accessible games on the Wii, many developers started to offer apps and games for the service. The same story goes for the Nintendo DSi when it was launched.
Nintendo also started to develop digital games, not just as a way to support their consoles but also to show how much potential there is for the system.
When the Nintendo 3DS was released, they started to work on their new handheld system’s offerings:
- Six “3D Classics” games, five of which released in 2011, offering NES games graphically upgraded with the handheld’s capabilities.
- Three free-to-play games in the form of Steel Diver: Sub Wars, Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball and Pokémon Shuffle.
- Three apps: Pokédex 3D Pro, Nintendo Video (since discontinued), and Swapnote.
- Eighteen eShop games (featuring many new IPs).
- If I were to include Japanese only games, there are many other examples such as Soliti Horse (a mix between solitaire and horse racing from Game Freak) and Collectible Badge Center (a free-to-play crane game that allows players to customize the Home Menu). There are also Club Nintendo exclusive games there as well, like “Club Nintendo Picross” and “Tendoko’s responsibility?”
In other words, Nintendo released plenty of eShop releases for its handheld despite already having good support from other developers, and of course the big retail games themselves. But what about their home console?
Since the console’s release, Nintendo has only offered five downloadable games and two apps for the Wii U versus the 30 games and three apps available for the 3DS in North America. Aside from the upcoming Art Academy game nothing new has been announced for the Wii U eShop. Mario vs Donkey Kong has been released but is also available on the 3DS.
Finally, there’s the Virtual Console. Despite that the service is more active on the Wii U than the 3DS (70 Nintendo games against 59), it is wasting a big opportunity. The Virtual Console could host every game from the Nintendo 64 and original Gameboy up to the Gamecube and Gameboy Advance.
So Nintendo: please support your home console more – and not just with retail games. Downloadable games matter too.