By Guy Rainey / April 17th, 2013
Nintendo has announced that sales numbers for Fire Emblem Awakening so far equal 240,000, of which about a third were digital sales. That seems to be a quite good number to me. In fact, let’s do the math. A third of 240,000 is 80,000. Now, let’s do a rough calculation on the profit margin for digital sales. Without manufacturing costs and a retail markup, we can assume that Nintendo should make more profit on a digital sale than a retail sale. Since this is a Nintendo game, the rule of thumb for sales—30% to the online service and 70% to the developer/publisher—doesn’t apply. So Nintendo gets all the money from a $40 game. $40 times 80,000 is $3,200,000 from digital sales. Quite a nice chunk of change.
While Fire Emblem Awakening is the most prominent example of Nintendo’s online success, it certainly isn’t all of it. In the words of Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime,
“We have 15 Nintendo-published titles available, both physically and digitally [on the 3DS]. So far in 2013, of those 15 available in this format, 11 percent of sales have come through full digital downloads of those games.”
11 percent of sales is nothing to blow off. Remember, Nintendo is selling digital games at the same price point as retail, and in the case of some other territories, for even more than that. While this may not be the best way to encourage sales, it does mean that these games are more profitable than retail, making it likely that Nintendo will continue to provide the digital games. This is true even after the physical copies of games are no longer in print. That should be good news for fans of niche games, as that means that even if the retail versions reach $100 or more, the digital versions will still be available for those who want to play them.
Fire EmblemFire Emblem: Awakening