Digital downloads come to Nintendo 3DS handheld

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Gamers may soon be able to buy games for their 3DS handheld console digitally on the same day they are released in stores.

With the move, the Japanese game giant joins its rivals Microsoft and Sony in a combined retail and digital approach.

Analysts say the firm hopes the push into the digital space could boost its revenues, as figures show Nintendo lost 43.2bn yen (£330m) last year.

It will also make digital versions for the forthcoming Wii U console.

The Wii U is due to be launched at the end of 2012.

The first game for the 3DS handheld available simultaneously at Nintendo's eShop and in stores will be New Super Mario Bros 2, due to come out in August.

Sales suffer

The digital-retail move was outlined by the Nintendo's president Satoru Iwata at an investor meeting.

He said the company would "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".

The Kyoto-based firm reported its first annual loss after disappointing sales of the Wii game console and a strong yen, hit revenues.

Nintendo had also been selling the 3DS below cost during the year because of a price cut it was forced to make in response to intensifying competition in the sector.

Many gamers have turned away from dedicated handheld consoles and are playing games on social-networking sites or buying game apps for their smartphones.

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