Package-less "packaged" Wii U and 3DS software could arrive by March.
Nintendo is planning the digital distribution of their retail titles this fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2013.
Buried at the bottom of Nintendo's consolidated financial statements for the previous fiscal year is the note, "Forecasted sales units of Nintendo 3DS software and Wii U software... include the quantity of the packaged software by means of digital distribution." Nintendo has not traditionally included digital sales in their software sales numbers but is now making an exception for downloads that have a corresponding packaged version.
In reference to development of the Nintendo Network and medium to long-term strategy, the financial statement noted that in addition to add-on content, "for the purposes of adapting to the changes in the environment surrounding the video game market and creating new business opportunities, Nintendo is envisioning the digital distribution of packaged software and is aiming at expanding the digital business."
In the company's previous Corporate Management Policy Briefing in January, Nintendo global president Satoru Iwata remarked that they were looking into such distribution and that the Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and Nintendo Network were prepared for it. However, he said that timing had not been decided and retailer, wholesaler, market, consumer, and technical concerns still had to be met. Iwata further stated that "the significance of this business field will increase," though the scope of their plans is not yet clear.