Iwata Believes Digital Distribution Not Overtaking Retail for At Least 20 Years

by Mike Bendel November 5, 2009 @ 4:05 pm

While many industry pioneers share the belief that digital distribution is the future, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata believes this method of selling product will not even come close to overtaking retail until 20 years at least. Here’s an excerpt from the latest Iwata Asks column:

Most radical people even dare to say that retailers will be replaced by digital distribution in no time. But personally, I think it will still require a significant amount of time. In other words, it will require many years and months for the majority of video game purchase to become digital. In short, in 20 years or so I might say it will have probably changed. But in 5 years or so, I do not totally agree with opinions that no one will purchase titles at retailers by then. Habits of life do not change such radically and quickly. Especially for the expanded audience of various people, to whom we are and will be trying to appeal, I believe their habits will change more slowly.

Iwata prefaced this statement by saying that only around 35 percent of the current Japanese Wii user base actively connects to the shop channel. That said, it seems Nintendo still has more of a conservative view of the online space. With all the strides Sony and Microsoft have made towards a digital future in such a short time span, it’s not unrealistic to think it could reign as the primary method of distribution in much sooner than 20 years. Ten years seems more realistic at the current pace. Of course, an opinion is just an opinion, so we’ll see.

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