Nintendo will begin offering its 3DS titles in digital form beginning with New Super Mario Bros. 2 this August.
The game will be available at launch as an eStore download, and in store in game card form or as a redeemable download code.
In the firm's financial results briefing, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata outlined the digital plan.
"As I said earlier today, we announced during the latest Nintendo Direct that the completely new 2D Mario game, New Super Mario Bros. 2, will be launched in August this year.
"With this software, we will initiate the so-called digital download sales, or the digital distribution of packaged software, in addition to the sales of packaged software through the existing distribution channels. In principle, starting from this software, the company will offer the software titles that Nintendo itself publishes in both packaged and digital download formats so that our consumers can choose the way to purchase them."
He further explained: "The digitally downloaded software will be stored in the consumer's SD memory card and be playable only with the hardware to which it was downloaded so that, unlike how you can share the packaged software which are stored in game card format, the consumer cannot share the software with other Nintendo 3DS systems owned by other members of the family or friends.
"Also, vacant space in SD memory card is needed in order to store the digital download software. On the other hand, as consumers can purchase the software through the Internet, they do not have to visit the retail outlets, be concerned about an out-of-stock situation or even carry around multiple game cards in order to play digitally downloaded counterparts when they are away from home."
Iwata added that Nintendo plans to ease consumers into the idea of buying its games digitally: "Our consumers can visit retail outlets or the retailers' online shopping sites, look for products of interest, make a purchase decision and actually pay for the product there. The retailers then can issue the 16-digit software exchange code."
He concluded: "For the majority of our consumers, this is a familiar process as they are already accustomed to making payments at the retail outlets, and it can lower their psychological barrier to making online purchases. Some consumers are hesitant in purchasing digital download software because they are concerned about inputting their credit card numbers. Also, payments by credit cards or cell phones are unavailable to some people under a certain age. Accordingly, offering a familiar payment method should lower the hurdle for our consumers to purchase digital download software."
Out of nowhere Nintendo appears to be embracing digital sales, perhaps pushed on by what Sony is doing with the PS Vita.