In many ways, Nintendo have been playing catch up with the rest of the industry in the last few months, with their new account system and first mobile app Miitomo launching recently. Nothing exemplifies this more so than the nintendo.com website, which finally allows people to buy digital download games without having to log onto their console. For most consumers it’s a cool, if minor added convenience. However, for developers it represents a major fix to a once horribly convoluted purchasing process.
Essentially, developers and publishers can now link directly to a place where people can actually buy their games, no matter what device they are on. This opens up an array of new options for marketing eShop games. Whereas before, by the time the potential customer gets home and/or has time spare to log onto their console, they might have forgotten the game they saw advertised. Now, mobile and web-based ads become far more viable, as clicking through leads straight to the store page and the chance of an actual conversion.
Currently, I suspect that most eShop sales, particularly of indie titles, come from a small pool of highly active Nintendo fans. Consider a well received indie game can struggle to rack up 10k sales, whereas Nintendo 1st party titles can shift tens or hundreds of times that. Clearly there is an audience out there and willing to spend in the right circumstances.
Smaller developers in particular can now promote their games directly from their own websites, from their youtube channels, twitch streams, email lists, social media channels, and so on. Even when demoing at games conventions, developers/publishers can still direct people to the nintendo website and in theory make a sale on the spot.
Of course, it’s not perfect, as potential customers can still be lost in the in-between steps from landing on the nintendo.com store page, logging in, entering payment details, and so forth. However, it’s still infinitely better than what was there before.
With any luck, indie developers in particular will embrace this and factor it into their less conventional marketing plans. Certainly for our games, when we do have a cool and unusual idea for promoting our games, we’ll have a much more flexible, versatile way to convert an interested person into a sale and (hopefully) satisfied customer.