During a recent investor call with Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, President, spoke briefly about bringing DLC to their first-party games. He specifically mentioned both Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS.
Iwata connected DLC to the longevity of software, as is often its purpose:
“What if we could provide add-on content through the network?…As I referred to before, for example, this is the idea of supplying new stages to Super Mario users who want to play the game more but have completed the game and lost interest in the existing stages.
…This will not only give us new profits but will lengthen the life of a product, in that it will never be out of fashion and can keep attracting public attention as long as many people play it.”
Back when Nintendo officially announced that they were bringing paid DLC to the Nintendo 3DS, I wrote up an editorial centered around how perfect Mario Kart 7 would be for the content distribution platform. I stand by what I said then:
If Nintendo releases, say, new karts, characters, items and tracks on a monthly basis, mostMario Kart fans will queue up to snag each add-on as soon as it’s available.
Not only would Nintendo enjoy profits from digital sales, but this move would also, potentially, lead to an even stronger performance at the retail level. If Nintendo presents gamers with new courses to play and characters to unlock, players have less of a reason to sell their software to the pre-owned marketplace. As retailers lose pre-owned stock, potential shoppers will have to turn towards new software for their purchases.
The fact that Nintendo is only now looking to make a splash in the arena of downloadable content puts on display exactly why fans love to hate them: they are cautious to the point of being slow. In the grand scheme of time, DLC is still a new idea. However, gamers have been enjoying post-launch game support for years now. From Nintendo? No. From everyone else? Yes.
With digital distribution where it is today, Nintendo absolutely needs to get into the DLC arena. They stand to make so much more with their roster of software if they produce content for gamers to enjoy away from launch. Consider the notion of new levels and playable characters in a game like Smash Bros., for instance, fans would buy into that right away.