Nintendo already offers a partial digital distribution system by delivering small games via WiiWare and DsiWare through the Wii Shop Channel. However, a recent episode of IGN's Nintendo Voice Chat podcast (#65) reveals that IGN received a review copy of the upcoming game Endless Ocean: Blue World for the Nintendo Wii. The title is the sequel to Endless Ocean, and is set for release on February 22.
What makes this little tidbit interesting is that IGN didn't receive the game via the standard ship-to-door procedure. Instead, the full game arrived on a hard drive-equipped Wii console used by IGN--presumably from the Wii Shop. As GoNintendo points out, these devices aren't exactly new: Nintendo has distributed the special HDD-equipped Wii consoles to hotels and other places to provide gaming without the hassles of managing discs.
But with IGN receiving a full-blown Wii title across the Internet, it may be possible that Nintendo will finally be on the same level as Microsoft and Sony in terms of offering full games on its network. This may also indicate that Nintendo could release a separate external hard drive on the market for consumers who prefer to purchase digital games over disc versions.
We're betting that Nintendo will officially introduce full digital distribution and an external hard drive in June at E3 2010. This is mere speculation of course, however it would be a step in the right direction despite Nintendo's previously standoffish take on the digital distribution model--just like it's previous standoff against discs.