Consumers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (collectively referred to as the EMEA region) who are interested in purchasing Nintendo titles have just lost one of the three options previously available to them.
Previously, Nintendo Switch owners could purchase games either by buying a boxed copy in a store, by going online to Nintendo's eShop, or by purchasing a card with a download code on the back (similar to a Steam code). However, as of 11 p.m. GMT last night, Nintendo is suspending the sale of any first-party titles (produced by Nintendo itself) through the digital code format. This move does not impact things like DLC add-ons or Nintendo Online memberships.
A UK retailer, ShopTo, put up a tweet regarding the announcement:
Hi, just to let everyone know, due to a Nintendo decision for all EMEA territories, as from Tomorrow 30/06/20 at 23:00 we are no longer able to offer/sell Nintendo digital full games.
We will however, be continuing to offer/sell online membership and add ons, so, with this in… pic.twitter.com/11hrqvEU1m
— ShopTo (@shoptonet) June 29, 2020
Nintendo commented on what prompted this particular decision in a statement released to the game site Nintendo Life.
After careful examination of the evolving European marketplace in recent years, Nintendo has decided to end the availability of download codes for its own-published software via retailers, effective 1st July 2020. Customers will still be able to purchase Nintendo eShop funds, Nintendo Switch Online memberships, and add-on content such as the Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield Expansion Pass, at retailers across Europe. Download codes for Nintendo Switch software from other publishers will also still be available. We’re always investigating new avenues, and will continue to work on new methods to bring Nintendo eShop content to as many players as possible.
The statement seems somewhat confusing, given that there are only a finite number of logistically feasible and profitable distribution methods. Moreover, it's questionable why they would allow third-party developers to continue to sell through download codes if that particular distribution method is somehow detrimental to Nintendo's bottom line. We'll keep an eye on this story as it develops.