If you picked up a Wii U Deluxe Set (or plan to), Nintendo has a little exclusive treat for you called their Deluxe Digital Promotion. The program basically works like this: You earn ten percent back in points on eShop purchases you make, whether you get the item from the store or buy a download card at retail and redeem a code. Every 500 points you earn entitles you to five dollars eShop credit.
To put it all into perspective, if you bought ZombiU and New Super Mario Bros. U on the eShop after you got your Wii U home (and updated), you would have $10 in eShop credit right now, as well as be about 40% of the way to another $5 on top of that.
Seems like a great deal, and it is really, because nothing is forcing Nintendo to give us these things, especially considering they offer us rewards like Club Nintendo. But don’t kid yourself into thinking Nintendo hasn’t thought this through.
There are actually a half dozen ways Nintendo stands to benefit from offering this program, aside from just seeming like all-round good guys.
First off is the lack of a physical disc. This is actually three benefits in one. The first benefit is the lack of a physical manufacturing costs. These costs are also far higher for a new format disc like the Wii U’s proprietary disc format or for 3DS cartridges. As of now, the promotion hasn’t extended to 3DS, but it could in the foreseeable future. This variable cost reduces from the price of producing discs, manuals, cases, and packaging into a tiny amount of hard drive space on a server somewhere. Or, basically to zero.
There is also no chance for disc error in this case as the software doesn’t have to be replicated and burned onto thousands or millions of discs. It gets reproduced by software which allows for re-download at zero cost should an error happen somewhere in the process.
In addition, because the disc is made obsolete and the software all virtual, there is no way for a customer to resell or trade the game when they’re done with it. This might not immediately seem to have an impact on Nintendo, but we’re positive they would rather people pay for a new copy of the game every time rather than buy it from someone else which nets them zero income.
Of course, it can be said that download cards have a cost to them, and while this is true, the cost is nowhere near the storage, shipping, and production costs of discs and accompanying materials. It is also worth noting that Nintendo doesn’t need to allow for any retail markup in their product as they become the retailer. So, rather than selling the game for $40 to a retail store, they can sell it for $60 and scoop up that extra $20, making that $5 in points they give back to you just a little incentive to go digital. They also know that not everyone will redeem their points, meaning they won’t have to honour credits for those customers, keeping their full markup on the game safe in big-N’s bank account.
Nintendo is a smart company, and we can’t complain when they give us free promotions like this. It is one more thing that is going to turn consumers towards the digital lifestyle, since one day, we’re likely going to do away with physical media altogether and go download-only for every title.
We’re probably going to stick to our physical copies for now, if only because we’re collectors, and we like having everything at hand. It also makes it much easier for parties and popping over to our buddies’ houses to get a game going that they don’t necessarily have. Either way, we understand, but more importantly appreciate what Nintendo is doing with their Deluxe Digital Promotion, and if you’re in the market for a Wii U, they’re adding just one more reason to go Deluxe.