You give ‘em more. More features. More fun. More quality. More
bells. More whistles.
You give ‘em less. Lower cost.
That’s the way the gaming industry does it and conventional wisdom (don’t you
love that word?) “proves” it works. After all, “everyone” knows gamers are
14-24 year old guys who:
If any of the other 6+ billion people on the planet buy into
the gaming buzz, fine.
They don’t really count though. You
may think of this stuff as simply … games. To the hardware/software folks
involved … it’s serious stuff! Right now the market is on track to become a
$50+ billion global business. Even by MS standards that’s not chump change!
Ok, so it’s big … huge even.
How would you have like to have been the guys who bounded into Iwata-san’s (now
president) and Yamauchi-san’s (founder and CEO until 2002) offices and said you
wanted to develop game systems that wouldn’t compete with Sony’s PlayStation or
They want to develop this people-oriented system that anyone could buy and
play. They wanted it kid and adult
friendly. They wanted to call it
something that was part of the family. How about…Wii? Bad idea? While MS and Sony were pushing the
fast track, Nintendo took the road less traveled.
Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible
for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Words flowed in adrenalin fashion over the
systems and the games. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the
Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job.
But something went awry in the brilliant Microsoft/Sony planning and reviewer
accolades. As Walter/Dennehy said … “Every 10 or 11,000 years I make a horrible mistake.”
Time to step back and look how and why Nintendo tapped a market that logic
(don’t you love that word?) says wasn’t there. It’s a shift in the post-modern
world that can help the entire PC/CE. The signs were there … we just didn’t pay
The Internet and gaming isn’t a 20+ stud domain! Truth is:
Faith Popcorn, president of
BrainReserve, identified two concepts – clicking (pinpointing lifestyle trends)
and cocooning (retreating into the home and doing things as a family) years
ago. She identified females and families as a dominant force – for long term
sales – in the market.
Sometimes referred to as the Nostradamus of marketing, her work and predictions
rang true for Nintendo and software/online subscription services have gotten
the message. Maybe the rest of the industry will follow suit!
The world’s demographics are in an important transition:
The big guns in gaming – Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo – are
following different paths. Come on face
it. Gaming is a sideline to MS and Sony. Their agendas aren’t really to give
you heart pounding, sweaty palm game action!
They want their systems as your home entertainment hubs. If you happen
to play a game now and then … great.
But they are adding the features, capabilities and connections you need around
the house. Complex stuff they “know” you need:
Nintendo? They want
you to have fun! They’ve got stuff that:
So what has that got to do with the rest of the
industry? Glad you asked! In our converged/converging world people want
personal communications. Personal solutions. Personal devices.
While manufacturers keep adding value … adding capabilities … adding features …
adding complexity … adding cost.It’s an unsavory set of design compromises.
They’re compromises that techies love. For example the PSP is
a pretty good game system. It’s good for
watching movies (lot better screen size than your iddy bitty iPod screen! It can store/play your music.
Plays games. Of course people are hacking
it to do all sorts of things beyond that but hey…that’s what hackers do!!! But it’s a product that is outstripping the
PSP sales! It’s a product that could have legs even into 2011 in the U.S. when there
will be 59 million kids (0-14) and boomers (55+) of over 90 million.
The rest of the population? Well
as Dennehy also said… “I promise you,
you will all lead productive lives.”
Seems to us that Iwata-san was a brain surgeon and Yamauachi-san was a rocket
scientist. The guys who suggested the
Wii and DS were more than just snake oil sales people. The Nintendo approach so far has shown that
the Swiss-army PC/CE solution may get a techie’s pulse racing but doesn’t get
everyone into the pool.
Consumers – around the globe – want personal products and solutions that they
can easily optimize for specific applications, specific activities. Certainly
we could be wrong.
Or as Ben Luckett said in Cocoon, “Well
there is the one school of thought that says they don't know nothing.”
It’s time that PC/CE companies takes a closer look at the Nintendo phenomenon
and implements those lessons that apply for their firm. After all the lowest common denominator must
know something. There are so many of them and … their numbers are increasing!