One of the big questions about Nintendo's cool new 3DS system is how it will approach gaming and multimedia in terms of physical and digital formats. Will games and movies come on an SD card? Will Nintendo provide products via its Wi-Fi Network service? During an investors briefing held in Los Angeles at E3 2010, Satoru Iwata gave some insight without revealing the whole plan.
"Of course, with a device like Nintendo 3DS, we do intend to offer some type of digital distribution," he said. "Up until now, much of the digital distribution focus has been on more of a 'pull type' where the consumer goes out, gets the content and pulls it to themselves. With Nintendo 3DS, we’re looking at a model that would be more focused around the 'push type,' where we’re able to push information or content out to the device."
Iwata went on to explain the reasoning for pushing content onto gamers, saying that it's difficult to reach out beyond an audience that actively seeks out and downloads content. By "pushing" content, the Wi-Fi server will send the content directly to the 3DS without user interaction. Owners are then notified that the content is available on the system.
Iwata was also asked about how the company plans to deal with piracy when the 3DS hits the public. According to the CEO, Nintendo plans to take a two-prong approach: legally and on a technological level. Iwata agreed that piracy is a huge issue with the Nintendo DS, however it's gotten to the point where it's no longer easy for the company to completely stamp it out
"Although we have made some progress, unfortunately, it’s kind of like a game of 'Whack-A-Mole' where you hit one over here and it pops up over there, and it has been a bumpy ride," he said. "On the Nintendo 3DS, when the new hardware is launched, various measures can be taken. So, we’ll continue to take advantage of technological attempts."
Will IPs be more secure if Nintendo ditched the SD cards and provided a sole digital distribution service like iTunes or even Steam? Retail stores might suffer from the lack of physical sales, however it's possible that game cards could be sold over the counter--those that provide a specific code for downloading a 3DS game. That way, everyone wins.