Typically, the discussion in the tech world revolves around how to get your product into the mainstream, but Nintendo has an unique dilemma. Its hardware has gone mainstream, but this demographic is not as fanatical about new games as is Nintendo’s hardcore gamer base. The NY Times says,
"Some major retail chains — including Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us — have already begun bundling the Smash Bros. game with Wii machines for sales online, a sign that the base of hard-core gamers who went looking for the game has been depleted."
The initial marketing of the Wii gaming platform was phenomenal, everyone and his grannie got themselves one. However, this demographic is content with one or two games. There’s no fervent desire to own every new game on the market, unlike the typical gamer who’s craving the next new game. The NY Times says,
"The average Wii owner buys only 3.7 games a year, compared with 4.7 for Xbox 360 owners and 4.6 for PlayStation 3 owners, said a Wedbush Morgan analyst, Michael Pachter."
I think this is where competitors like Microsoft and Sony have an advantage. While the sales of their game hardware may not be as spectacular as the Wii, but they will probably make up for it in their new game sales.This is where marketing genius of Nintendo falls short, it hasn’t devoted as much as effort in marketing its games to this broad demographic as it did for selling the hardware. Mainstream market requires mainstream/traditional advertising. It definitely needs to put its money where it’s audience is. I mean how likely is the typical mom and pop crowd to go to 1up.com or any other gaming site? Not very.
I can’t tell if the ‘mainstreaming’ of Wii was a strategic decision or Nintendo just stumbled onto it. While, this move could alienate Nintendo from the core gamer base but on the other hand, I think it is carving out an unique market positioning which might serve it well.
If you look at the site design, marketing for PS3 and Xbox (both hardware and games), their relative market positioning is very clear.
No prizes for guessing which one is aimed at the young male gamer and which is squarely aimed at geeks.
It doesn’t matter what your positioning is, as long you have one and it’s very clear in your marketing and product development. So what’s next for Nintendo? The company is no longer going after the hardcore gamer crowd. It’s launching Wii Fit, an exercise game designed for the couch potatoes and soccer moms, ie. the Oprah crowd. Mr.Pachter says,
“It’s definitely aimed at the Oprah crowd. I bet they sell a million units a week for every pound that Oprah says she lost on it.”
If the increase in revenue from this new ‘Oprah’ demographic makes up for the loss in revenue from the average gamer (new game sales), then this positioning might just pay off for Nintendo in the long run.