Sunday, November 24, 2013

How to Increase the Wii U's Sales

It's no secret that Nintendo's Wii U has been a big under-seller on the market. Especially considering the fact that it was the first of the eighth-generation consoles to hit the market, a full year before the Playstation 4 and Xbox One no less. Coming off of the monster numbers that the original Wii put up, this is quite a hit to Nintendo's standing in the home console industry. Just about everyone has chimed in with their opinions as to what Nintendo can do to increase interest and subsequently sales. But few really give examples beyond one or two sentences of what can actually be done. So let's take a look.

First and foremost, Nintendo needs to up their advertising. Posters and Ads at GameStops and in gaming magazines is simply not enough. Core gamers know what the Wii U is and they have already made their decisions on whether or not to purchase one. Advertising where gamers shop will do no good a full year later. Both Sony and Microsoft know their market and are doing a good job of creating hype for their respective systems in numerous forms of media. Microsoft on one hand wants to hype the Fantasy Football aspect of the Xbox One, so they have a number of commercials air during NFL games. But on the flip-side of that coin, around a month before the Wii U released, rather than having exciting articles looking forward to the system, Game Informer was forced to pen an article that basically asked and answered the question, "What the Heck is the Wii U?" This was due in great part to Nintendo's horrendous advertising.

So what can they do to hype up their crowd? First, they need to answer this question: Who is their Market? Despite their early claims that the Wii U was also aimed at core gamers, this is simply not the case. Unlike the Xbox One, Nintendo is not trying to appeal a single system to every possible demographic on the planet. Their company does not appeal to cliche frat boys who spend 30 hours per week playing first-person shooters while simultaneously screaming into a microphone and ostracizing any female gamer that comes along. So once again...Who is their market? Two groups: Families and Nerds. The former goes without saying, but who is the latter? Well, people like me. Nerds like me. Go to your average Gaming Convention and what do you see? Tons of people carrying around PSPs and Vitas. Go to your average Anime, Comic, or Sci-fi Convention and what do you see? Lines of people holding a 3DS. Unlike families with young children who really only open their wallets once a year around the holidays, this group is the one that is willing to throw every cent of their paycheck at you if you give them the motivation. But how do you reach this group en masse? TOONAMI! Cartoon Network's newly revived Toonami block on Saturday nights is the prime venue to get your message across.

Now with that defined, the next step is to choose a marketing strategy. Marketing towards families is simplistic enough and Nintendo's current advertisements match that scheme. The nerdy crowd is a bit tougher and my thoughts are that Nintendo needs to hype the classic and/or retro aspect of their numerous beloved first-party franchises. Yes, I mean play the nostalgia card. A good set of commercials should take franchises like Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, and even Sonic (If they can get the rights) and use footage from their earliest incarnations coupled with their most well-known musical themes. The commercial should then zip to the present and feature the vibrant colors of present day incarnations along with modernized versions of whatever musical piece played over the classic footage. I would even go as far as to say that the commercials should throw around the extremely overused, but highly effective buzz-word, "High-Definition."

Jumping off of the thought that Nintendo needs to take the "Classic Approach,"  the second thing that Nintendo needs to do is to really get a lot of older Video Games from the 8-Bit and 16-Bit eras available for download via their Virtual Console. So far, they've done a great job of getting a good chunk of their most beloved games up for download, however there's still much left to be desired. First off, I think that it's almost a near universal opinion that Sonic the Hedgehog is a perfect fit for Nintendo consoles more-so than any other. So a key component for Nintendo's Virtual Console should also be to get a lot of the classic Sonic titles available for download. In addition to that, they should also focus some of their Virtual Console attention on cult-classics like Mutant Football League and Shadowrun. EarthBound's VC release has proven that there is a market for these games and although Mutant Football League may be a little tough to get the rights to considering the relationship between Nintendo and EA right now, this is nonetheless a market that Nintendo needs to address. Sony, Microsoft, and Steam have all been doing their part as well in bringing classic games back via download, but no one has really placed that as a large focus. Putting some real money towards it could help Nintendo to easily win that fan base.

Finally, the last thing that Nintendo needs to place its focus on is becoming the home for Indie games. Every single gaming hardware company in the business claims that it wants to attract the Indie market. But let's be honest, no one's doing a good job at all. Android and iOS continue to be the leader for the Indie market because statements from Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony saying that they want to attract Indie developers are all just red herrings. They're hoping that by saying that, they'll come out in a better light to the gamers who really have their interests lying in Indie and thus those gamers will want to purchase their systems. But if Nintendo really puts some effort and focus into attracting these developers, they'd prove that their words are not just words. Nintendo is truly the perfect home for Indie developers for two reasons: Because Nintendo is both faithful to the past as well as innovative. Now that may seem like a contradiction, but take a look at what they focus on as a company. Nintendo is everything that current-day, mainstream gaming is not. Some of their games focus on old fashioned concepts and platforms via their long running franchises, while others focus on new-age motion control via many of their newer franchises. This is why Nintendo is the perfect platform for the Indie market. Many Indie games are very reminiscent of the games of old. From platforming concepts to use of Sprites to even musical choices, many Indie developers want to relive the gaming that they remember as a child and bring them to life again in their own vision. Meanwhile, another large chunk of Indie developers like to make games that involve moving the controller and/or touching the screen. Although phones have typically been the source for games like these, the Wii U's Gamepad is also the perfect tool to utilize these concepts and further advance them given that it doubles as a standard controller.

To close things out, I'd just like to say that I understand that none of this will attract the core gamers and will not make the Wii U the best selling home console of the generation. That title will likely go to the PS4. The fact is that the mainstream market has changed exponentially over the past 15 years and Nintendo has been too far removed from that world for 3 straight generations now. Nintendo simply cannot compete for the same gamers that Sony and Microsoft are. But what they can do is focus on what they do best and stop pretending like they're going to appeal to core gamers. People like myself who enjoy what Nintendo does and has done need them to stay around to create a gaming alternative. We need features like Miiverse, which is actually moderated so that it's pleasant and not laced with F-bombs and cyber-bullying. Nintendo strives to create a fun and happy atmosphere for people to enjoy games without ridicule and for that, I love them.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points brought out Gozar. Surely indeed Nintendo has to take an unfiltered honest look at who their demographic is that they are aiming at and hone in to them. If they do it well enough, who knows, perhaps the owners might incline others that they know to look into the Wii U as well and since it comes from them, it doesn't seem so much as forced advertisement but rather a nice recommendation from friends/family.