Digital downloads on the 3DS account for only 3-10% of full game sales.
Say what you want about the precarious position of the retail videogames market, but it's not dead just yet. If 3DS owners are any indication, it's actually doing just fine. Nintendo's most recent financial report contained a number of disappointing findings for the developer, one of which is its digital sales on the 3DS. When offered the choice between buying a full-priced game at retail and downloading its analogue, gamers around the world went with the brick-and-mortar option 90-97% of the time.
"[The] world average ratio of digital download sales of packaged software as of the end of September varied from slightly more than 3% to slightly over 10% of the total sales," according to Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, who gave a presentation on the company's financial standing. Iwata noted that these Nintendo finds these numbers satisfactory, especially since the company made no concerted effort to advertise the availability of full games in the 3DS shop. At least one game, which Iwata opted not to name, achieved 15% of its total sales digitally. "[We] consider it to be a promising start to our new attempt."
One further point of interest: Of all Nintendo's global markets, consumers in the United States seemed the most eager to embrace digital downloads, followed by Japan in a somewhat more distant second. "The ratios in Europe and Australia are relatively small," said Iwata. Digital download sales benefit Nintendo, since more of the money goes directly to the company instead of third party retailers. Sooner or later, it will begin a concentrated push that encourages consumers to download 3DS games, and gamers can observe whether retail games will slowly go the way of the dead tree book.