– Alexander Willis –
Not only was Nintendo once the undisputed ruler of the video game market, they saved the entire industry from extinction after the video game crash of 1983. And while Nintendo ruled in the late 80’s to early 90’s, their grasp has been slipping ever since.
Nintendo had a slight resurgence in 2006 with the launch of the Wii, along with their DS platform that launched two years prior, however, it seems more like luck when you consider their current home console, the Wii U, has been an absolutely disastrous flop.
While things aren’t looking too spectacular for the video gaming juggernaut, Nintendo definitely seems to be looking to the future. They’ve already announced their next major project, the “NX,” with a release date of March, 2017. They’ve entered mobile gaming for the first time this year, with Pokemon Go becoming a cultural phenomenon. But the greatest products in the world aren’t worth a penny unless they can market them properly.
Let’s look at a major reason why the current Nintendo system, the Wii U, failed so miserably. For starters, its name: the Wii U. Clearly Nintendo was hoping to coast off its runaway success of the Wii with a similar name, but with a name so similar and convoluted, it also confused consumers. I’ve personally heard people call it “a portable Wii,” or an “HD Wii.” Nintendo’s own marketing to educate consumers didn’t help either.
Secondly, let’s look at the system’s launch. A console’s launch can be crucial in its longevity, and the Wii U’s launch was… lacking. It launched with New Super Mario Bros U, Zombi U, Nintendo Land, and a handful of third-party ports of games that launched months, even years prior. Nothing really warranting a $350 purchase.
Getting back to advertising, Nintendo has a terrible tendency to shoot itself in the foot. In January of 2015, Nintendo launched the Nintendo Creator’s Program, to terrible reception. To put the program into context: people often upload footage of them playing a game, adding in their own commentary. These are sometimes called “let’s plays,” and the genre is growing at a staggering rate as of late. People would upload these videos to youtube, often of them playing a new Nintendo game, and would collect the revenue from advertising. While there is a lot of money to be made, it’s peanuts compared to what Nintendo regularly pulls in, even during the Wii U era. While nearly every other video game company would not only embrace, but encourage this type of behavior due to it practically being free advertising, Nintendo content matched all videos containing its games, and kept all the revenue. Due to a huge backlash, Nintendo introduced its Nintendo Creator’s Program, which essentially let them at least share some of the revenue. The end result? Most let’s players simply won’t play Nintendo games.
Nintendo has also failed to see the importance of interconnectivity with social media into its games. While Microsoft and Sony both offer numerous ways to integrate your gaming life into your social life, Nintendo is once again left behind, seemingly stuck ten years in the past.
These are all past failures, and though fairly recent, might just be behind them. With their foray into mobile gaming, increased activity on social media platforms, and willingness to change, hopefully, Nintendo can make use of these failings and turn them into lessons for the future.