Nintendo announced this week that they intend to add post-release add-on content capabilities to the Nintendo 3DS' eShop. Essentially, developers will be able to make and release DLC for their software.
In our coverage of the news, one commenter said something that launched me into the land of pondering… From Tanuj Dua:
"Just in time for Mario Kart!"
But, more than that, and as Mr. Tanuj Dua pointed out, Mario Kart 7 brings an exceptional opportunity for Nintendo to support add-on content. Already, the Mario Kart franchise is one that enjoys strong sales longevity on every platform it visits. The game sells well not only in its launch window, but also in the time it remains stocked on store shelves.
Nintendo has now given themselves the opportunity to take that consistently massive software installation base and give it reasons to spend even more money. If Nintendo releases, say, new karts, characters, items and tracks on a monthly basis, most Mario 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 only thing that's frustrating about this news is that Nintendo's taken so long to get here. Gamers have seen various forms of limited post-launch support from Nintendo, but they've never seen the full-blown capabilities of limitless DLC. Professor Layton, for instance, let's players use the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection to land new puzzles. Picross DS let users download official and shared puzzle packs. However, these games had to rely on cartridge-based storage to make use of their DLC.
Storage limitations were a big problem for the Wii until Nintendo made it possible for gamers to use the SD Card slot for up to 32GB worth of space. Why the system launched with the slot but without the capabilities for it to serve as an additional storage option still puzzles me. It wasn't until 2009 that Wii owners were able to use the SD card space to store additional games for their console.
Beyond that, Nintendo has always seemed bound and determined to ignore the customer desire for post-launch content. Think of the money they stood to make had they released new characters and levels for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Fans would have bought the content, and yet Nintendo never saw it as relevant.
The scary thing here is that Nintendo has not announced anything concerning DLC for their own games. In the briefing that brought about news of their decision to make the Nintendo 3DS add-on capable, Nintendo simply said that this is "a feature a number of software creators have been looking forward to."
They did not indicate it was one that they were going to take advantage of.
Let's hope someone there reads TechnoBuffalo.
Give us Mario Kart DLC, it will sell.