Sales figures for Nintendo's Virtual Console service on the Wii have been hard to come by, but a recent interview with president Satoru Iwata has revealed that the Virtual Console has surpassed 10 million games sold as of December. Even assuming that the majority of sales were at $5 USD (the lowest price point), Nintendo would have still earned over $50 million USD on old, re-released titles alone.
Though Iwata states this as proof of the value of digital distribution, he also reiterates the importance of the retail channel, claiming that boxed games will still be a strong part of the market for the next three-to-five years.
Iwata also admits that the retail chain is not nearly as profitable for Nintendo, with low profit margins on boxed titles, and short shelf life as two of the main contributing problems. In spite of these difficulties, Iwata remains confident on the value of brick-and-mortar retail. With WiiWare due out sometime this year, however, it'll be interesting to see if he begins to change his tune.