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3DS

Embracing the Digital Future on the 3DS

by Neal Ronaghan - April 1, 2013, 1:05 pm PDT
Total comments: 38

How many full games have you downloaded digitally on 3DS and Wii U?

I realized something today. I haven't changed the cartridge in my 3DS since the end of February when I got Etrian Odyssey IV. Part of that is because, well, I freaking love Etrian Odyssey IV (read my review in the latest issue of Nintendo Force for more details, or check out Patrick's on Nintendo World Report because we share a lot of the same affection). The other part is that I've become a digital-purchasing fiend on my 3DS.

Since digital purchases became a thing on the 3DS last August, I have bought more games digitally than I have at retail. That kind of shocks me, especially since I was adamantly against going digital on my Vita when I got it close to the system's launch in early 2012. Since last summer, I've made an about face on my view point regarding digital games. More often than not, I'll probably go digital. That doesn't mean I intend to go digital on every game. In retrospect, I'm super glad I bought Paper Mario at retail, because I kind of didn't like that game too much. Paper Mario is a cautionary tale for me, and that's why I won't go fully digital. Some games just might not be worth keeping around, and I'd rather have them around physically so I can resell them.

I kind of relish the joy of not having to deal with cartridges, and if it is a game I love and plan to either replay or play regularly, I'm inclined to get it digitally. I especially love the Vita because of PlayStation Plus and Sony's copious amounts of sales. While I wish they would have cheaper memory cards since I've had to empty the fridge about four or five times, their stance on having digital games being cheaper than their retail counterparts is excellent. I bought last year's MLB The Show for $8 courtesy of a recent sale, have a digital copy of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time because of their Cross-Buy promotion, and can play Uncharted: Golden Abyss thanks to PlayStation Plus.

The pluses for Nintendo is that you can get something like 32 GB SD Card for like $15, which I did recently and now have more than 100,000 “blocks.” I'm almost overwhelmed by how many options I have on my 3DS right now. I've got a few more hours in the recent Layton game to polish off. I'm a few chapters away from beating Fire Emblem Awakening. I've put about 10 hours into Brain Age: Concentration Training. I almost always have StreetPasses to process in New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Mario Kart 7. It is wonderful to have all of those games at my fingertips, and I haven't even mentioned the legions of great games on the eShop through original content, Virtual Console, and DSiWare. The 3DS is truly a wondrous system.

And the digital future? It seems to be getting even better. Come June, I could be checking out the backlog of DLC I've accrued in Fire Emblem Awakening, playing some Peg Solitaire on Brain Age every now and then, working my way through Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D at my leisure, and checking my town in Animal Crossing: New Leaf every day. And I could do that all with still leaving Etrian Odyssey IV in my system so I can occasionally spend hours being a cartographer. Like, for real, get on the damn digital train. It's awesome here.

Talkback

NintendadApril 01, 2013

I'm still reluctant to go digital. I'm speaking of the retail games I have a choice with. Obviously, with the e-shop games and DLC, it's digital or don't play.


I've also got a 32 GB SD card with over 100,000 "blocks". Even with that, I think there are 2 reasons I'm reluctant to go digital. First, if something ever happens to my 3DS, Nintendo does not have a policy in place to ensure I'll get the games I've paid for back. While I've seen plenty of success stories with Nintendo's customer service, I've also seen some that did not have happy endings. Second, if I have to pay the same price to get a digital copy as I do a retail, I'll choose retail almost every time. I mean, why give up the case, cart and manual if I'm paying the same price?


With all that said, I did buy Fire Emblem Awakening digital simply because I couldn't find a physical copy the first few days it released and I didn't want to wait any longer. I will also buy Animal Crossing digital because it's a game I'll play many, many months. Any other games, it'll be retail unless Nintendo puts some kind of standard policy in place and there is some kind of discount passed on the the consumer for going the digital route.

Retro DeckadesApril 01, 2013

Unlike many others out there, I'm not opposed to buying digital copies of games because their may be issues with the DRM, or because I can't trade it in when finished. The main reason I don't buy digital copies of games is because as much as I love playing them, I love collecting them. I love removing the plastic wrap. I love flipping through the instruction manual. I love the way all of the games look lined up on my shelf. I just love the tangability of a physical copy.

I've only traded in a handful of games in my lifetime (never out of necessity), but for the most part I keep my games. More recently, games have been moving in a more digital direction (digital manuals is actually one thing that I applaud because it makes sense), but I will still buy a physical copy if that is an option. If a game is only released digitally, I'll have no problem buying it that way.

I know people have run into shit with Nintendo's crappy accounts system. However, I think Jonny Metts pointed out sometime recently that, even still, digital is safer than retail. You lose your cartridge? You're screwed no matter what. You lose your system? Well, you might get your games back.


I prefer the latter option.

AVApril 01, 2013

i back up my 3DS once a month. It's really easy just put the sd card and save the contents . Simple and easy, takes maybe 5 minutes. If something happened to my 3DS I have all the content saved and secure on my hard-drive.


I hate 3DS cartridge's they seem to pop out easily when in my pocket. I don't know how many times I have put a game into sleep mode and came back and it popped out and i lost my progress. I have no problem buying games digitally, I don't need all these boxes laying around. It's super easy to just play whatever game i want thats stored digitally.


I wish that I could convert my old 3ds and DS games to digital and not even have carts anymore.

I've also gone digital in a big way. I own 18 digital retail 3DS games, and buy everything I can that way. I've even been crazy enough to re-buy games I had previously bought physically on the eShop.

FjurbanskiApril 01, 2013

I'll be buying physical for all my Wii U retail games. But for the 3DS I've gone straight digital.


Johnny's story convinced me that things would be taken care of if anything happened.

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

I've also gone digital in a big way. I own 18 digital retail 3DS games, and buy everything I can that way. I've even been crazy enough to re-buy games I had previously bought physically on the eShop.

I actually did a double-take when you *didn't* write this article.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorApril 01, 2013

Quote from: NWR_Neal

However, I think Jonny Metts pointed out sometime recently that, even still, digital is safer than retail. You lose your cartridge? You're screwed no matter what.

I have over 125 games on the original DS.  If they were all digital and something happened to my original DS, I'd risk being completely screwed.

However, I can't really imagine any reasonable situation where all 125 of my physical cartridges would be at risk.

And to answer the question posed in the deck: I've got five now, and anticipate doubling that by the end of June.

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterApril 01, 2013

i believe we will soon exist in a digital world where we can continue think and breath and be alive, perhaps we can even live with a purely digital life form a digimon if you will...

Connectivity crew, where can i get the original text for that.

Quote from: UncleBob

I have over 125 games on the original DS.  If they were all digital and something happened to my original DS, I'd risk being completely screwed.

However, I can't really imagine any reasonable situation where all 125 of my physical cartridges would be at risk.

house fire, theft, flood, earthquake, structural collapse on your home,

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorApril 01, 2013

That's all things that could happen while my 3DS (with all the digital games on it) is in my house.

Kytim89April 01, 2013

If Nintendo had a account system similar to that of iTunes and my 3DS was stolen or damaged beyond repair then all I would have to do is send in a police report and the 3DS itself and then transfer the account over to my new system. I plan to go all digital once I get my hands on a 3DS. The only thing holding me back is the lack of discount deals on the eShop and the lack of a unified system account.

Currently, I have four on 3DS and three on Wii U. (Not counting digital-only releases.) It would be even more on Wii U if not for the awesome deals I got on disc copies of Black Ops 2 and Most Wanted U.

Kytim89April 01, 2013

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

Currently, I have four on 3DS and three on Wii U. (Not counting digital-only releases.) It would be even more on Wii U if not for the awesome deals I got on disc copies of Black Ops 2 and Most Wanted U.

Why can't the game companies offer awesome deals on the digital versions of their games?

I do like the convenience of just downloading a game instead of going to the store or waiting for it to arrive by mail. And I'm not much of a collector. I hate clutter and I dislike having game boxes around. So yes, I've also embraced the digital future whenever I could, except in cases where I was pretty sure I'd want to sell the game afterwards (Paper Mario).

TJ SpykeApril 01, 2013

Quote from: Kytim89

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

Currently, I have four on 3DS and three on Wii U. (Not counting digital-only releases.) It would be even more on Wii U if not for the awesome deals I got on disc copies of Black Ops 2 and Most Wanted U.

Why can't the game companies offer awesome deals on the digital versions of their games?

Um, they DO offer deals on the eShop, especially on the Wii U. For example, in late February Ubisoft put all of their Wii U eShop games 30% off for a week.

Pixelated PixiesApril 01, 2013

I have bought 0 retail games on eShop. As far as I can see there's so few benefits to buying the digital copy over the retail copy. In the UK and Ireland a retail game at launch is invariably about £10 cheaper than the eShop version. With a retail copy I can also loan it to family and friends, something I can't do with a digital copy.  eShop games also aren't tied to a profile, so getting them on to another system is more trouble than it should be. Plus, there's the fact that if I choose to I can trade in the retail copy and get money back, which normally goes towards the purchase of my next game.

Currently, there's simply no benefit to buying digital over retail. Some might like to have all their games on the system. For me though, I've got so many eShop exclusive games  (exclusive in the sense that they can't be purchased at retail - Mutant Mudds, Zen Pinball etc) that I really don't need to have all my retail games on the system as well. I always have one cartridge in the system and tens of digital games downloaded. Given the 3DS' battery life, how many games do you really need at any one time?

xcwarriorApril 02, 2013

I own 0 games on my Wii U and 3DS that are available at retail. That number will remain at 0 unless they offer some game for free or like a $1. I'm sorry but going digital is not a good idea. Besides the uncertainty if your system goes corrupt - ala what happened to my Wii - I like being able to see my collection.

I love it when people come over, see my collection on the shelf, and go "Holy crap that's a lot of games." And then I get to respond, "Yeah, that's just the last two generations. There are boxes more downstairs." It doesn't sound nearly as impressive as when you turn on a system and say, "look at all those icons, those are all games."

I do have Steam, I own plenty of games on there. But I have a $5 rule on there. If it costs over $5, I don't buy it on Steam. If you are only getting a file, you should never have to pay more than $5 for the game. I know discs are cheap, but the whole thing of box art and physically owning it makes it worth more to me.

And to those of you so lazy you don't want to change a cartridge out... I feel sorry for your soul.

smallsharkbigbiteApril 02, 2013

I have 0 retail DL 3ds or wii u games and don't plan on getting any.  It really comes down to cost for me.  I'm not necessarily opposed to download, I just always get games cheaper retail.  For example, there is always buy 2 get 1 free game sales which is 33% off.  Plus, non Nintendo games almost always hit $19.99 within a year of physical cartridge release (then bundle with B2G1).  Then there is the option of buying used games.  Gamefly has some great game sales where items come in excellent condition for $10-20.  If they want me to embrace digital, they need to embrace $20-40 for full download titles at release (Wii U).  Then it would make sense for me. 


They started having "sales" on the Wii U which is a good start, but I still think 20-25% off doesn't get me excited.  Especially when you figure I might hate the game.  When I had a Gamecube I was in college and dirt poor.  I bought over 50 games a year and figured I netted a cost of $100 a year because of my ability to buy things cheap and sell things high.  I now have a good job and don't really sell games as much anymore (and rebuilt my gamecube collection).  But I still pride myself on making good deals and this last year I sold about a dozen games at a profit. 


I also don't believe I've ever lost a physical game and still have an NES, Coleco, SNES, Genesis, etc. all set up.  So knowing the game will work in 30 years if I just have a working Wii U is a big deal to me.  With download, they'll eventually shut the service off for the Wii U even if Nintendo is still around and has a Wii U 12 DL service going. 

Do_WhatApril 02, 2013

I buy a few eshop and virtual console games. I don't buy many retail games in general. The price is just too high for me on many titles. I just don't get a lot out of them. Gamefly has decent sales on used 3DS games every now and then so that's when I buy most of my games. If I could've downloaded Theatrhythm for $18 I would have. If I could've downloaded Ocarina for $20 I would have. I have  backlog of old games I'm going through, but I might end up buying Fire Emblem full price because I know it's not going down any time soon and why not have it on my system.
But like many have said, nintendo's lack of a proper account system leaves me wary of going all in. But that wouldn't be as big a concern if I knew I'd be able to get games for reasonable prices.

CericApril 02, 2013

I have Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate digital because I knew that be a game I just jump into randomly.  Same with Fire Emblem.

ejamerApril 02, 2013

There are arguments for both sides, but buying physical games simply offers a much better value. Sales and discounts are almost always better, especially if you are buying older games. Resale/trade value is undeniably better since digital purchases are tied to your hardware.

Going digital may be convenient for some people... but it's simply not worth the extra cost for me in most cases.


That said, I do own 2 digital games so far:
* Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D - After LOVING RE:Revelations didn't mind shelling out for this as a quick action title while on the go. Wouldn't recommend it to others, but don't regret my purchase.
* Bit.Trip Saga - Sale pricing and easy availability convinced me to give this a shot; seemed apt since the originals were all digital (ie: WiiWare) games.

And I've also got a nice collection of eShop exclusive titles, which means my 3DS is never lacking something to play. This actually reduces my interest in downloading full games; why keep buying digitally when there is already a glut of games to enjoy? How many "big" game experiences do I want to have on the go at any one time?

However, I will consider downloading more games when (a) I know with certainty they will be "keepers" for me, and (b) I know with certainty they will see hundreds of hours of playtime spread out over many months. But the number of games satisfying both criteria is incredibly small. Maybe Animal Crossing, or Monster Hunter 4 if it includes online play.... nothing else jumps to mind.

Quote from: pokepal148

...

Quote from: UncleBob

I have over 125 games on the original DS.  If they were all digital and something happened to my original DS, I'd risk being completely screwed.

However, I can't really imagine any reasonable situation where all 125 of my physical cartridges would be at risk.

house fire, theft, flood, earthquake, structural collapse on your home,

Honestly, in any of the catastrophic cases mentioned above, luxury items owned purely for entertainment value should be the least of his worries. Plus that is what insurance is for - once you have a reasonable video game collection (or any other collection) that you consider valuable and/or important, you should talk to your insurance company about it.

Pixelated PixiesApril 02, 2013

Quote from: ejamer

And I've also got a nice collection of eShop exclusive titles, which means my 3DS is never lacking something to play. This actually reduces my interest in downloading full games; why keep buying digitally when there is already a glut of games to enjoy? How many "big" game experiences do I want to have on the go at any one time?


My sentiments exactly.

I can't say I'm surprised by the people who cite collectability as their reasoning for getting physical copies. I've recently gone through a mildly anti-collecting streak (though I did get a goddamn e-Reader off of eBay last week!). I don't display my games like I used to anymore, and my 3DS collection just sits tucked away. I love physical copies and totally get why people want them, but that's just not for me. I would much rather have the ease of just having everything in one place.

And I totally get the lending thing, too. Maybe if/when I have children, I'll be changing my tune for portable digital collections.

But unless it's a game I can easily find cheaper when I want to get it, or something I think I might want to sell later, I'll go digital. I'm not full digital, though, or else I would have rebought Star Fox 64 3D for $40 on the eShop instead of $20 used at GameStop.

Evan_BApril 02, 2013

I own two "retail" digital games: New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Fire Emblem: Awakening, mostly because their Streetpass potential is high and easily accessible when I don't have to switch cartridges.

I try to keep my 3DS in relatively good shape, and I back up my purchases on my external hard drive... but that still doesn't mean my purchases will be tracked. I worry about that, but I'm also confident in my ability to transfer all that material from my 3DS to my NEXT Nintendo handheld. So, if I continue to play safely, I won't have to worry about all these digital woes.

I don't know, I like the security of physical copies but the convenience of digital. I really wish Nintendo would make some damn accounts, though.

Pixelated PixiesApril 02, 2013

Quote from: NWR_Neal

I'm not full digital, though, or else I would have rebought Star Fox 64 3D for $40 on the eShop instead of $20 used at GameStop.

Buying Star Fox 64 for $40 has nothing to do with going full digital. It has everything to do with going full reta...wait is that word cool to say?

Mop it upApril 02, 2013

I can see why digital games work for a handheld since it's designed for travel, but when I leave home I don't want to play games. Therefore, digital has nothing to offer me, and physical copies will always be far better for my needs.

What I find odd is how this article takes a preference and presents it as being the best for everyone. The real future we should be supporting is one with options, both physical and digital must coexist in order to give everyone what they want.

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterApril 02, 2013

Quote from: Mop

I can see why digital games work for a handheld since it's designed for travel, but when I leave home I don't want to play games. Therefore, digital has nothing to offer me, and physical copies will always be far better for my needs.

What I find odd is how this article takes a preference and presents it as being the best for everyone. The real future we should be supporting is one with options, both physical and digital must coexist in order to give everyone what they want.

were going to get shoved to one area, it's inevitable, but we can put it off

FjurbanskiApril 02, 2013

Quote from: pokepal148

were going to get shoved to one area, it's inevitable, but we can put it off

People keep saying that, but I wonder how true it's going to be. Digital is getting big, but even with things like music you can still buy CDs and even vinyls. If anything was gonna go away forever you'd think it would be records like that. But the collectors are a large enough market to keep it going.


I really don't think we're going to see physical completely disappear like people keep saying we will.

Ian SaneApril 02, 2013

Digital will be the future simply because the kids of today know nothing else so the concerns us old-timers have don't matter to them.

I imagine the convenience of having all of your games available at all times is really nice.  Realistically that's what my computer has offered me since most software is installed and doesn't need to use any physical media afterwards.  I think what I really would like is the ability to install my games so I have all of them with me but I have the security of a physical copy as well.

As the industry moves towards all-digital, remote off-switches and you buying a "service" or "license" instead of the product itself will take over.  That will do all sorts of damage to the archiving of classic games and we'll probably lose some permanently before that becomes a widespread concern.  The nicest thing about physical media is that Nintendo can't take a game away from me and they can never truly remove a game from the market place since a used copy can be found.  Digital Nintendo refuses to awknowledge Earthbound's existence.  If physical SNES cartridges didn't exist that game would have effectively disappeared.

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterApril 02, 2013

Quote from: Ian

Digital Nintendo refuses to awknowledge Earthbound's existence.  If physical SNES cartridges didn't exist that game would have effectively disappeared.

the VC in Japan says hello...

Nothing's going to disappear. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, piracy will ensure playable copies of pretty much every game will live on. It'll be the same as it is now, where there's no legitimate way to play a lot of things, but if you really want to play them there will be ways.

Quote from: Mop

What I find odd is how this article takes a preference and presents it as being the best for everyone. The real future we should be supporting is one with options, both physical and digital must coexist in order to give everyone what they want.

To be fair, this is a personal blog post I wrote on the site. It's not meant to be cold, hard fact; it's meant to be how I feel about the subject, which, while people can totally disagree, is how I feel about it. And I was staunchly on the other side a year ago.

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterApril 02, 2013

Quote from: NWR_Neal

Quote from: Mop

What I find odd is how this article takes a preference and presents it as being the best for everyone. The real future we should be supporting is one with options, both physical and digital must coexist in order to give everyone what they want.

To be fair, this is a personal blog post I wrote on the site. It's not meant to be cold, hard fact; it's meant to be how I feel about the subject, which, while people can totally disagree, is how I feel about it. And I was staunchly on the other side a year ago.

undecisive hypocrite.

OblivionApril 02, 2013

Maybe you should have my custom title instead.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusApril 02, 2013

While I have gone Digital on PC/Mac with Steam, I am a very long way from that on the 3DS for one very simple reason. Price. It's not remotely competitive with me shipping a game from the otherside of a planet. I can get the game 30% less than their retail digital price with the option to on sell, why the hell would I pay full price? I value that $30 more than the slight inconvenience and the time waiting for it to arrive in the mail. That isn't even dealing with the absolute lack of releases here. The digital future is not global.

roykoopa64April 03, 2013

I haven't bought a single retail title digitally yet on either 3DS or Wii U.

On Wii U it's mostly because I always find a good deal on retail games and find it hard to justify full price on the eShop. It's no inconvenience to get up off the couch and switch discs, so that aspect isn't a factor.

If a new Wii U game releases that I would have bought at full price at retail anyway, perhaps then I will just go the digital route.

On 3DS, I think what's stopped me from going digital is the fact I like to share my games with my wife who also has a 3DS. However, I've been finding that I'm not really doing this anyway on a regular basis, and if she wants to play, she can just use my system. Since 3DS games are harder to find at discount prices (especially published by Nintendo), I'll likely be buying more 3DS games digitally going forward.

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterApril 03, 2013

Quote from: Oblivion

Maybe you should have my custom title instead.

idk, something like 'oft misunderstood' fits me better...

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