Fire Emblem Awakening Digital Sales Quite Strong

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

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Fire Emblem: Awakening box art

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.

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About Guy Rainey

I’m Guy Rainey. I’m a hardcore Nintendo fan, a PC enthusiast, and a Sony sympathizer. Also an amateur/aspiring game creator. I love any game that puts story as the main focus of the game, so that means JRPGs are my favorite genre almost by default.




  • The words: fire emblem, sales, and strong are always nice to hear together. Although a good chunk of those digital sales are probably from people who couldn’t find retail.

    • Actually, that’s not a terrible strategy for increasing digital sales. Is it good for every game? Of course not. Nintendo needs to put out every retail copy of Mario/Zelda/Metroid/etc. that they can sell. But for more niche titles, printing a limited supply while at the same time offering the digital game makes sense. The people who REALLY want a physical copy can have one, but the digital is always there for people who just want to play the game. But maybe I just don’t understand, since I like digital games.

    • That does make sense as it would limit the costs of production, yet it seems like everytime fire emblem awakening is mentioned people complain of not being able to find it. Digital is still opposed. For niche genres like jrpgs, if digital meant more games than not, Id be for it.

    • I wouldn’t call that a “strategy” but almost fraud.

    • As fans of niche games, we want those games to make more money, because the more money they make, the more games we get. Yet, it seems that the market isn’t growing (though, thankfully, it doesn’t seem to be shrinking either). If it takes digital games to make more money, then shouldn’t we embrace digital distribution?

    • I’m personally not entirely opposed to digital distribution (especially if for niche titles it meant that that would be the only way to get them overseas), but what Nintendo ‘supposedly’ did was just below the belt.

      If someone else published the games I would understand a certain shortage because they didn’t meet the fan demand or whatever but as far as I remember, Nintendo didn’t even apologize for anything. Instead they pushed more DLC in their Nintendo Direct shows and they didn’t even extend the free DLC deadline for people who didn’t get so lucky with finding a fast physical copy.

      In my opinion companies could push much harder for a transition to full digital by offering sizable discounts (like Sony is doing in Japan for example; most games are around 1000 JPY cheaper on PSN – I don’t know if Nintendo is doing that there). Also in Sony’s case they should lower memory prices as those completely contradict what they’re trying to achieve with the PSN store.

    • LOL in my case my best friend convinced me to buy the game, I ran out of space on my memory card AFTER I added money to my Nintendo Account (they don’t cancel the amount you put on there), and I cursed, bought a 16GB SD card, downloaded the game digitally, and now play whenever & wherever.

  • MusubiKazesaru

    good sales mean more games, hopefully Intelligent Systems’ games will really start to shine from here on out (they always did but they never had particularly good sales)

  • If the next Fire Emblem game were to go digital only, but be $5-10 less expensive, I wouldn’t be opposed to that at all. I’m just saying.

  • Wow, nice to see Fire Emblem doing so well.

  • I had to wait almost a month and a-half before I finally found a retail copy of Fire Emblem: Awakening. I bought the last retail copy that Gamestop had. I am not opposed to digital, by any means, I’m just not ready to buy games digitally. Glad to see the game doing well though.