Nintendo's website now allows you to buy certain downloadable games directly, forgoing the need to hop on to the eShop on your 3DS or Wii U. Eagle-eyed types saw a new "Buy Digital" button on Nintendo's North American site this week, allowing you to either buy and receive an eShop code or tie the purchase to your Nintendo Network ID. As a FAQ explains, if you use your NNID, that leaves the game ready to redeem and download on your Nintendevice.
As Tiny Cartridge details, you can also use your browser to pre-order certain eShop games. At the mo', this includes games like Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Super Smash Bros. Wii U and Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Nintendo hasn't released a list of the games supported by the service, but did note it's currently only available for "select first-party titles."
Perusing the site, major games like Mario Kart 8, Hyrule Warriors and Animal Crossing: New Leaf are supported, but so are some of the less high-profile, download-only types like Pushmo World and Kirby Fighters Deluxe. Also, we've reached out to Nintendo to confirm but it seems the new service is limited to the company's American site. Nintendo UK's store, for example, does let you buy eShop codes, but you then have to insert the code on the eShop manually.
As Tiny Cartridge speculates, the new feature may be tied to the "eshop.nintendo.net" site, which was also newly spotted this week with a similar lack of official fanfare. At present, the site only lets you redeem eShop codes using your NNID. We've verified that by redeeming a code for Kirby Fighters Deluxe (see below), which then appeared on our 3DS as the typical unopened present icon. There was the option to have the game automatically download while the system was in Sleep Mode, or to complete the download with the system on.
Again, this is just speculation, but we may be looking at the beginnings of a web-based eShop, much like the SEN Store and Xbox Marketplace services offered by Sony and Microsoft. The House of Mario has long had plans to introduce a web-based eShop, going all the way back to October 2011 . At the time, Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata said he wanted to make the eShop accessible via PC and smartphones, with future plans to allow purchases using those devices.
Three years on, is this about to become reality? We'll have to wait and see, but we may hear more in two weeks' time when Nintendo holds its second quarter financial briefing.