Wii Virtual Console downloads top 10 million

Posted by Mark Raby

Redmond (WA) - Old school video games have found a pretty successful home under the "Wii Shop Channel", as Nintendo announced that over 10 million legacy game titles have been downloaded on the Virtual Console.

Despite the Wii's criticized lack of Internet connectivity, it has been able to strike gold with its digital download store.  The Virtual Console platform includes downloadable versions of games originally seen on the NES, Super NES, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis, Turbografx 16 (CD), and the Neo Geo.  

Microsoft and Sony also have digital storefronts for download-and-play console games.  Each company has tackled this idea in a different way, though.  While Nintendo focuses on vintage console games, Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade store was built on the idea of offering 1980s video arcade titles, and Sony's Playstation Store is comprised almost exclusively of exclusive original titles.

The Wii's significant milestone comes just as Nintendo's digital download platform is about to expand.  In the middle of last year, Nintendo opened up this platform to developers to allow them to create titles for direct distribution in the digital space.  Microsoft has also been pushing its XBL Arcade in the same direction.

Across all platforms, digital downloads have proven to be a great way for independent developers to still be competitive in a market where full-scale game production costs are exploding.

From day one, Nintendo has said the Wii is the target console for independent game makers, so opening up the Wii Shop Channel to them makes sense.  "I think that selling over 10 million classic games in that price range stands as proof that there are great possibilities with the download model," said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata in a Gamespot interview.