New Super Mario Bros. 2 first 3DS game to get simultaneous digital, retail releases

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How serious is Nintendo about digital distribution? Serious enough to make an Italian plumber with a paunch its first foray into releasing major titles both online and in stores at the same time. The Wii U won’t be the only Nintendo machine doing day-and-date digital game releases. New Super Mario Bros. 2 for Nintendo 3DS will be available as a download when it comes out this August.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata confirmed at an investor conference this week that New Super Mario Bros. 2 would be the first major first-party 3DS release to be available as both a boxed game and as a digital download. The game will be available at stores as both a boxed game and as a code that can be used to download it from the Nintendo eShop. The game can also be downloaded from the eShop directly.

If being able to purchase a card with a code on it just to download the game seem counterintuitive, remember that kids make up Nintendo’s biggest audience, and they typically don’t have credit cards to make purchases on their 3DSs themselves.

That a flagship game like New Super Mario Bros. 2 is the first of Nintendo’s big games to come out as a downloadable confirms that the company is committed to digital channels. A promising start, even if it is a couple of years overdue.