The Disk Writer kiosks took full advantage of the Disk Cards capability to be written and rewritten. This device best exemplifies Nintendo of Japan’s ingenuity and in many ways foreshadowed the non-retail DLC marketplace prevalent in the modern video game industry.
One of the key advantages to the Famicom Disk System was its media format, the Disk Card. Essentially a slight variation on Mitsumi’s QuikDisk format, the Nintendo Disk Card had many advantages over standard cartridges of the period. First and foremost was the price. Nintendo was able to produce Disk Cards for far less then even the most technologically basic cartridge.
In addition to the price point, Disk Cards were able to hold over four times the memory of the standard cartridge, allowing for larger and more complex video games to be developed and released. This innovative edge over cartridges gave birth to some of the largest, and most complex video games of the era such as The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin, and many more.
The third advantage of the Disk Card relative to the cartridge was the simple fact that Disk Cards, like all contemporary diskettes, were rewritable. This not only afforded console games the ability to finally match their PC brethren and save game progress, but it also allowed for the disks to be overwritten completely.
The Nintendo Disk Writers were in-store kiosks were consumers could do just that. For a no I’m always fee, must less then the price of a new disk game, consumers could bring in their Disk Cards and have them over written with new games. The kiosk went as far as to provide you with new stickers for the disk, instructions, j-cards and plastic disk cases.
In addition to retail games, many later Disk System games were only available from these Disk Writer kiosks, forgoing a retail release all together. You were also able to purchase brand new blank disks from the kiosk and have games written directly o into them, again for a fraction of the cost of a brand new retail release.
Contrary to popular belief, these kiosks were not self serve vending machine-style convinces; they sat behind the counter of retail outlets and were operated by trained staff members.
The Disk Writer kiosks are yet another sterling example of Nintendo innovation, and in many ways their debut in 1986 mirrors the current market segment of non-retail releases and DLC style content delivery.
*All images in this article from FamicomDiskSystem.com