Nintendo detailed its financial results for the fiscal year ending on March 2019, and one of the big drivers for Nintendo's growth during the Switch era is digital sales. It's a far cry from when Nintendo had arguably the weakest digital infrastructure among the main console makers. And now Nintendo says digital will continue to form a core part of its business going into the future.
One of the big digital strategies for Nintendo today is the Nintendo Switch Online service. Nintendo Switch Online offers Switch owners access to internet features for games and exclusive deals and NES games for a regular subscription fee. Most recently Nintendo released Tetris 99, a battle royale Tetris game that was exclusive to Switch Online members. Nintendo says there will be more elements like Tetris 99 in the future.
"There are also new members who joined after Tetris 99 was released in February as an exclusive game for Nintendo Switch Online members, and others who have remained members because of Tetris 99" Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa said during an investor Q&A. "To expand Nintendo Switch Online even further, we need to continue offering elements like this, that highlight the distinct value of Nintendo Switch Online."
Nintendo Switch Online is similar to services like PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold for offering free games as part of its subscription price. But while PlayStation and Xbox offer free current-gen console games, Nintendo mostly offers monthly NES titles. Tetris 99 was the first new exclusive title for the service, and it's not the last.
This is great news because Tetris 99 is both an original idea, and something only Nintendo could offer. If that's the strategy for Nintendo Switch Online going forward, it's not hard to imagine other exclusive titles that involve more recognizable Nintendo IP.
Sales of digital games are on the rise as well as people subscribing to Nintendo Switch Online. Growing digital sales is a trend seen across the video game industry, but Nintendo has always been associated with physical products. But on the Switch, digital sales for packaged software is growing, as well as sales for digital add-ons, and Nintendo says it will continue to grow this side of the business in the Switch era.
Check out our Nintendo Switch Online guide for more info on Nintendo's online subscription service.