As I dragged myself out of bed this morning on a lovely 4 degree Canberra morning I was greeted by a commercial which I hadn’t seen before (unfortunately it’s not on Youtube yet). It was for Nintendo’s line of Brain Training games and it featured a 30-something woman talking about how much it improved her life and how easy it was to take around with you. Taking a step back from the ad I remembered something that Nintendo said a couple years ago when it announced the Wii console:
Introducing… Wii.As in “we.”
While the code-name Revolution expressed our direction, Wii represents the answer. Wii will break down that wall that seperates videogame players from everybody else. Wii will put people more in touch with their games… and each other. But you’re probably asking: What does the name mean?
Wii sounds like “we,” which emphasizes the console is for everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii.
Wii has a distinctive “ii” spelling that symbolizes both the unique controllers and the image of people playing it. And Wii, as a name and a console, brings something revolutionary to the world of videogames that sets it apart from the crowd.
So that’s Wii. But now Nintendo needs you. Because it’s really not about you or me. It’s about Wii. And together, Wii will change everything.
Nintendo decided to break the trend that everyone had been following since the dawn of the gaming era, catering to the people who like to play games and continue to play games regardless of their changing situation. I’m a pretty good example of your run of the mill gamer, I’ve been playing games for most of my life and no matter my current situation I always have a couple games on the back burner I want to play through. That won’t change for a long time to come, so there will always be a market for people like me, we’re repeat customers.
However, there are more people out there who don’t play games regularly then those that do. Nintendo, a company that has prided itself on capturing the younger market with their mostly G rated line up, was well poised to make the leap of faith towards that group of people who did not identify themselves as a gamer. Couple this with a extraordinarily cheap console and you’ve got yourself an under the Christmas tree winner, something Nintendo was extremely proud of.
It’s not just Nintendo that aimed their marketing canon at the non-gamer market. World of Warcraft, the worlds most popular paid for play MMORPG, took the idea of a massively online game and did two things to it. Firstly they built it on their wildly successful Warcraft line of lore and IP. This helped them drag customers who had traditionally favoured them for their brilliant line of RTS games across to the world of MMORPGs. Additionally Blizzard made the game highly accessible to people who didn’t usually play games, with the hardware requirements to run the game incredibly low allowing most store bought PCs to be able to run the game.
In any emerging market the biggest area of untapped potential is always going to be the people who aren’t using your product or service. Nintendo and Blizzard did a great job of capturing a market that didn’t exist for them before they tried and have both become leaders in their respective fields. I put this down to them, whilst not being the market leaders in their respective fields, having the initiative to see the untapped potential and take a risk on capturing it.
Maybe the struggle of not being at the top is what lead them to try and innovate in this way in the first place.