Nintendo is in a great place right now. The Nintendo Switch is selling out nearly everywhere and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has captured the hearts and imaginations of gamers and critics around the world.
While we don’t have exact sales number, we do have some info about sales in Japan. In the first three days of sale, Nintendo has sold 330,637 units of the Switch. That is more than the Wii U sold in its debut weekend and close to what the Wii did, but without the extra help of a major holiday.
From the flaming mess of the last few years, it looks like Nintendo finally has a chance to make it big again in the video game industry. They just need to learn from their failures to find success both among gamers and critics. Here are just a few blunders Nintendo has made in its history and how those mistakes can get them back on top.
The Wii U’s Horrendous Marketing
Many attribute the Wii U’s poor sales, especially in the first year, to its poor marketing. The main factor is that many general consumers thought it was simply an add-on to the original Wii. This didn’t help that prior to it, Nintendo had just pushed an updated controller for the Wii, and the biggest physical difference between the Wii and Wii U was a new controller.
Keeping a similar name, nearly identical color branding, and airing unspecific ads really crippled the console. The more casual players who helped make the Wii a huge hit were confused about the Wii U and the games lacked that easy-to-understand appeal of Wii Sports.
On the other hand, there were no launch games that attracted more hardcore gamers. The marketing seemed unsure how to approach their long-term fans, lacking any of the normal charm Nintendo typically has.
This time, Nintendo has come out of the gate hard in their marketing. Commercials for the Switch are everywhere, including the Super Bowl, to help the system gain attention. The ads clearly show what the system is about (its flexibility and mobility, while still providing console gaming) and feature multiple big hit games. It also targets more than just one gaming market. If you want video games for social events, there are games and footage in the ad for you. If you just want to play by yourself, you’ll probably identify with the guy who can’t put down the new Zelda even to cook his breakfast.
A Slow Launch But A Strong Holiday Season
Many people puzzled over Nintendo’s choice to release the Switch in the beginning of March. If they had pushed to release it a few months earlier, they could have made it in the holiday season, which is traditionally the best selling time for games. True, they would have had to compete with heavy hitters like Final Fantasy XV, Battlefield 1, and The Last Guardian.
The thing is, the choice to release in March doesn’t mean they missed the 2016 holiday season; they are setting themselves up for a strong end to 2017. And this isn’t the first time they did it.
Back in March of 2011, Nintendo debuted the 3DS. There were no strong launch titles and a pretty heavy $250 price tag. It had a fair release, but after that first month, sales tanked. Then, Nintendo dropped the price by $80 and around that holiday season, released Mario 3D World. Sales jumped thanks to that price drop and Mario game, and after that, the 3DS enjoyed a healthy lifetime as a handheld.
Do you see the comparisons between the 3DS and the Switch? Outside of Zelda, the Switch has little to offer with launch titles, isn’t bundled with anything, and a higher price tag than most gamers expected. There are a few big name games peppered throughout the year to keep fans engaged and to discourage getting rid of the console, but the next huge name game is Mario Odyssey. That Mario game comes out just in time for the holiday season.
If the Switch doesn’t sell great leading up to the holidays, they have the flexibility to drop their price to appease consumers and bundle in their games. Now, the die-hard fans have already purchased their Switch back in March, leaving the market wide open for holiday buyers. Consumers won’t have to compete with each other as much, but might still get the impression they need to buy it quickly or it will sell out.
Getting On Influencers’ Good Side
Many YouTubers don’t like Nintendo, as the company has been trying to dip their fingers into the online creator’s wallets. If somebody uses footage, even with fair use, from a Nintendo game or video, Nintendo then claims that video for copyright, taking a part of the ad revenue. They also created their content creator program, which requires YouTubers to give a chunk of their profits to Nintendo to not get hit with copyright claims.
Now, there is no word if this practice is going away, but Nintendo is trying to get a good first impression with online influencers. Many received free Nintendo Switches along with copies of different games and merchandise.
Hopefully, they learn from their mistakes and open up their social and online marketing, especially when it comes to influencers. A lot of online trends are done through these influencers, and if Nintendo utilizes data to influence their social media, their branding will be much more positive than it has been.
Potential PC Gaming?
This is entirely speculation, but it is possible that Nintendo is considering doing cross platform games with PCs, similar to what Microsoft is doing with the Xbox One.
As recently discovered, both the Switch’s Joy-Cons and the Pro Controller can be paired to a PC relatively easily through Bluetooth. This isn’t a relatively new thing for Nintendo, as the Wii U’s pro controller could do the same, along with the Wii’s if you had the right hardware.
But we also know that Nintendo is expanding its horizon, publishing its first series of games to Non-Nintendo platforms in the form of mobile games. Those games, like Pokemon Go and Super Mario Run, were breakout hits last year and helped define the mobile gaming industry. What if Nintendo is considering releasing their games on PC to do the same there?
What do you think Nintendo has to do to succeed in the coming years? What would it take for you to buy the Switch? Let us know in the comments below.