Nintendo announced earlier this year that the eShop digital distribution storefront for its 3DS handheld would launch in May
-- two months after the late March launch of the device in the West.
The absence of a digital storefront at launch exposes a noticeable feature gap for the 3DS, which will initially enter a market where the ability to instantly buy and download game content is expected from portable devices.
"We definitely want to make sure that it's ready before we bring it out," explained 3DS project lead Hideki Konno in a new Gamasutra feature interview
"The iterations that we've had before -- for Wii and DS -- to be honest, we just haven't been as satisfied as we would like," he admitted. "[Current Nintendo digital stores are] browser-based, and to be honest, the ease of use wasn't what we wanted, and I don't think that anyone [at Nintendo] has been pleased with the user response."
He continued, "And I don't think that people have been using it as often as we want. And being able to easily go into it, look around and purchase things -- again, it just didn't work out quite as we were hoping."
"Wii, of course, had the promotion channel, which is where you went to get new information and see game demos, or whatever," he said. "And so having [promotions and shopping] separate, I think, didn't work really all that well, either."
"And because we're also taking the promotional aspect that we would once separate out and putting that together with the actual shopping aspect to give you the eShop, it's not going to be browser-based; it's a native application," Konno explained. "So again, the preparation needed for that is quite extensive."
A recent EEDAR survey
of North American gamers found that a smaller percentage of Wii owners downloaded games through the console through 2010 (43 percent), as compared to Xbox 360 (55 percent) and PlayStation 3 (50 percent).
For more from Konno and details about the development of the upcoming Nintendo 3DS, read the full Gamasutra feature
, published earlier this week.