Nintendo – What’s their game?

History

Nintendo’s early life first started in 1889 started by businessman Fusajiro Yamauchi under the name of Nintendo Koppai. Their business was based in Kyoto, Japan and initially produced and marketed handmade playing cards.

Nintendo Koppai then became Nintendo Company, Limited in 1963.

It was when Yamauchi decided to go down the route of toy making that things started to look up for his company.

It was the 1970’s and perhaps just a stroke of luck that shaped Nintendo and made them the well respected brand they are today.

Yamauchi was observing a factory for Nintendo. As he was doing this he noticed an extending arm which was one of the ideas of a maintenance engineer. Yamauchi decided for his own personal humour to produce this product. It hit the shelves just in time for the Christmas rush. The humour also spread throughout the world as it sold 1.2 million units. It was named “The Ultra Hand.”

Adverts and Competition

Throughout the years it has been an increasingly difficult task to sell a product. Not only has the competition become fiercer but companies are finding themselves trying to reinvent themselves each time. If one companies advert will not sell their product. Then you can make a safe bet that their rivals will cease the opportunity and take away customer base.

It is an extremely risky business as no one can predict the outcome until the advertisement hits their audience. Moreover how does a company know when their idea is worth the risk?

 “It is, all the researches in all the R & D departments all over the world have found, rather difficult to have successful ideas. What is more, in an advertisement, when someone has had an idea, it can be quite difficult to decide whether it is a good idea, or a bad idea, or merely a run-of-the-mill idea.” White, Roderick [P51 Advertising]

Once this process has begun, then it is for the audience to decide whether it has been successful by purchasing the product. In order to sell a product a company must leave aside a considerable budget. This will be invested in market research and surveys of their previous campaigns.

The Internet has played an extremely important role of this new evolution of advertisements. As a business strategy it proves to be very cost effective.

If you take Nintendo for example, they outsourced an Internet questionnaire to Zathus. This was in order to ascertain what users would think of a respectable price to pay for downloadable content within their new product the Wii. This later became the “Virtual Console.”

This form of feedback allows a company to make a new connection with the buyer instead of assuming what they want. Any sort of assumption can be risky, ßeven if the user does not like the outcome. It allows them to feel like they have had their say.

There is no need to print material or to employ surveyors. It also gives companies a foot in the door to a potential massive target audience. A recent study conducted by comScore demonstrates just how popular the Internet has become.

 “UK internet users access the web an average 21 days every month and spend over 34 hours accessing 3,440 web pages, according to a review of European internet activity by comScore.

The study found that, on an average day in April 2007, there were 122 million Europeans aged 15 or older online compared with 114 million in the US.”

Source: http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2191492/uk-tops-eu-internet-usage

However having a strong product is only half the story. The real skill is how you communicate products and ideas. If a target audience is aimed for and missed then by right the product should be set to fail. After all, the entire product you are creating, is for a specific person and if they cannot see your vision, who will?

In view of this Nintendo have tried to expand their target audience on many occasions. It has been on the cards for a long time especially those of the critics.

Over the past few years Nintendo have been written off as “just for kids.” This concern was partly raised due to the fact the GameCube was having trouble making sales. The future of the company was put in doubt with various rumours circulating of Nintendo bowing out. Those who worked closely or were involved with Nintendo were adamant that this was not the case. Nintendo firmly believed that they were not competing with the likes of Sony and Microsoft. However, is this not what business is all about, trying to get one over your competition?

With the release of the Nintendo Wii something had to change otherwise Nintendo would seriously lose out. Firstly Nintendo came up with what they consider to be a universal name. The Wii meaning “we” as in a group of people collected together. The idea of this campaign was to bring families together. It is not just about “kids” playing games anymore.

Nintendo also introduced more sophisticated games into their array. The genres ranged from Brain Training to blasting zombies in Resident Evil.

The Wii has also brought a new approach to Nintendo’s advertising. In previous campaigns the main focus was generally on showing what the games had to offer. It had virtually no one human in the advertisements. This tactic would be fine to use if you are targeting gamers who already have the console, as they do not need to be convinced why they need a games console. They already have the interest and want to know more about what the games and industry have to offer. However for someone new to the industry they will just immediately write off the advertisement as not for them.

When the DS (Dual Screen) hit the shelves in the UK in June 2005 it brought along a fresh marketing campaign.

This particular television advertisement shown below was created by Leo Burnett Paris.

The main premise of this advert is sexual innuendo. A style that is often commonly used in society today.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out sex sells. This is not a new observation. It is a truth we recognize, whether we are in the advertising business or a consumer being targeted with sexy ads. Humor works, too.

Cloud, Babara Tony (1999) Is there anything that sex doesn’t sell? [Online]. [09/09/07]. Available from World Wide Web:

http://www.postgazette.com/columnists/19990815cloud.asp

However it has been cleverly constructed in order to go above the heads of a younger audience. As a result of this fresh new campaign the sales figures do the talking for Nintendo.

 Nintendo sold 87,000 DS consoles in the UK in the two days after the handheld device was launched. The 87,000 total is well in excess of the 69,000 GameCubes Nintendo sold in that console’s debut weekend in May 2002, itself well above the Xbox’s March 2002 first-week sales of 52,000 and the PlayStation 2’s November 2000 46,000 opening sales.

Smith, Tony (2006) Nintendo DS sets UK console sale record [Online]. [09/09/07]. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/03/16/nintendo_ds_uk_sales/

Moreover this is all from a company who is adamant they are not in competition with other brands.

What is most surprising about this campaign is that Nintendo for the first time have chosen to taken a risk. On the contrary most people would argue they have been forced into it. However this campaign is a perfect example of taking a risk and it working in the companies favour. Although this entire advert may be using a mediocre style it still manages to bring a sense of fun to the advert. The inclusion of humour and interaction between the actors gives the advert substance. Furthermore the humour should allow the advert to stick in the audiences mind.

The theory said, naturally, that the more of the ad that was remembered, the better it had succeeded in communicating.” [Page 53 – Advertising]

At the start of the advert we see a group of people gathered together in complete silence, standing in an office. This tactic is used to get an audience wondering what could possibly be so good that everyone is watching. The silence should provoke the viewer to think “what am I missing out on.” These are the crucial seconds that will either involve the viewer watching or switching off. A combination of all these factors builds the suspense for the punch line. “Well done Caroline it’s Sarah’s turn to touch it now.” The two females then look at each other and Sarah slowly moves her finger down the man only to reveal her touching the DS.

What matters most, is not the style but how well the target audience has been taken into account.

It is vital that companies listen to feedback not only from critics but those from the public as well. This has been demonstrated in the case of Nintendo. A complete rethink of their image had to turn around sales. As it stood their “just for kids” image was proving derogatory. They may not have wanted to admit they were in competition with other leading brands. When it all boils down to it though. A business is a business; it is there to make a profit otherwise it will cease to exist. It could been said that Nintendo were just fighting off the bad publicity by denying these allegations.

Product Design and Legal Requirements

For many years Nintendo have always tried to provide a cheaper alternative games console whilst trying to push intuitiveness and creativity.

The Wii was no different. It brought along for around £180 a new control system and eventually online gaming.

It did away with hard drives and High Definition content. In many ways Nintendo market High Definition as something to be looked down on. They want their games to be about game play and not just the latest in graphics technology. Whereas Sony and Microsoft are all about pushing those limits.

Whilst many people received the Wii with good nature. An issue with the design tainted their overall success in the media. However the sales do the rest of the talking. These will be covered at a later stage.

The main issue with the Wii Strap was that users felt that it was not strong enough. It would often “break off” when users got a bit too involved in their games.

This resulted to smashed LCD and Plasma TV’s and also in some cases hitting other people as it flew through the air.

In order to suppress the complaints as quickly as possible Nintendo released a new strap. Which they are reported to say did not have a massive outcome on their profit.

I may add that the Wii Strap did meet safety standards when tested. It just was not expected how certain users would get over excited with them.

Current Situation

With such a long established company such as Nintendo it has always seemed that they’re happy to go their own way. In many cases it feels like the only people they’re fighting against is themselves. They want to push themselves and the gaming industry to a new height.

In not just terms of new hardware but software they produce too.

Although they do listen to their users from time to time they’re a company that very much wants to go its own way. If the public do not fully understand what they want from the industry Nintendo will try to tell them. Along with its competitors too.

As for the figures they really do the talking for themselves.

Game Chart Screenshot 15/05/08

Game Chart Screenshot 03/06/08

Not just in hardware and Nintendo showing the way but also in software too. In this case it clearly shows that Nintendo despite the criticism must be doing something right.

Nintendo not only like to reinvent new products they also take great care of their older ones too.

A prime example of this is the Virtual Console. It may just be setup to make more money but then what would you expect. However it is something users have wanted for some time. To be able to bring those older generation games back to life on a new console.

To give Nintendo credit where possible they do listen to their users as much as they can. However when simply something does not make business sense to them they will steer clear.

For those who want to break away from the normal in the industry then most will stick with Nintendo. It looks certainly for the most recent future that they’re here to stay. The question is what will they think of next?

Nintendo has already accomplished its revolution. It’s impossible to fault it in terms of its accessibility, immediacy and inherent crucial hurdles. Next comes delivering the software which successfully exploits that hardware. Then comes finding and sustaining a market. With Nintendo’s pedigree, it would take a brave man to doubt the company’s ability.”  Edge (December 2005) “Making Waves” Page 89

My Personal Evaluation

My main goal when I first started this course was to improve the confidence in my ability. I feel over the last few months it has increased somewhat but still feel there is room for improvement.

A problem I have often faced with my work is being too perfectionist about it and although that isn’t fully negative. It has often hindered me in some cases. The main problem I faced was feeling guilty that I was not doing enough even when this was not the case. I have tried to change my attitude over the past year and it has helped me considerably. I still strive to do the best I can but if it is not always possible I think about it realistically and then move on.

Whilst I worried about my work this would often lead to panicking and feeling stressed. Whilst it has not gone away I feel I am managing to cope with it more now. As a result I have managed to produce fairly high quality work. I have always met the deadlines either early or on time.

The skill I have been most impressed with myself with is the ability to generate ideas. I would not say this has ever been a weakness of mine but deciding which one to go with quite often has. I believe in the past I have spent too much time trying to perfect my idea and then found myself not having enough time to make that idea a realisation. Where possible I have tried to plan my time as realistically as possible. This being another problem I had in the past. I would often expect too much of myself. When I didn’t get things done I would put myself down.

As far as my skills go that I feel confident with I feel even these have developed somewhat even if it’s just been by means of speeding them up. One example of this is with Dreamweaver. I have had the opportunity to learn this program myself in my spare time. I have always had a big interest in web design so found it fairly easy to get to grips with the software. Whilst on this course I have had to put together a few websites and the knowledge I had learned previously has been put to good use. It also tested my memory and made sure I was confident in what I was doing.

However, I am always wanting to learn new things and when I first started the course I found the tutorials in flash to be very useful. I also surprised myself as I have always had the misconception that flash is more difficult than it actually is.

I felt I understood the basics fairly well and was impressed with myself that I managed to create a short animation. Although in my upcoming projects I would like to incorporate flash as much as possible as I feel I still have a long way to go to mastering it. One of the goals I would like to achieve by the end of this course is that my animations will have a professional finish to them and flow coherently.

Out of all the software I have been exposed to I feel I have had most experience with Photoshop. As of yet I don’t feel that I have learnt anywhere near as much as I would like to with this software. I think the main reason that has happened on this course is due to the fact I have not needed it with the ideas I wanted to achieve. Again as I continue to develop through the course I will try and come up with new ways to challenge myself. As by the end of the course I would like to feel I have achieved an awful lot.

I have found rather pleasing how the course has introduced me to new software that I may not have tried had I not studied at York College. These programs include:

  • Pro Show Gold
  • 3D Studio Max
  • Adobe Premiere

I have enjoyed working with this software and it has enabled me to focus where I want to go with my life. I doubt I would have ever used 3D software as previously I did not have an interest or feel motivated to learn it.

Having tried 3D Studio Max I have gained a respect for it. Although I don’t really intend to go down the 3D route with my career. I am glad I have had the opportunity to create environments that work. With this understanding I have also learnt how new things can be possible with the way I work.

In terms of video editing I have always had an interest in the subject. I’ve never had the opportunity to use industry standard software before and this has often limited my ideas. Although on the other side of the coin it has made me use the software to the best of my ability.

Finally I would like to comment on feedback I have received on my photography. Since I have started the course I feel that my composition has improved and how I go about planning the locations of the shots I need.

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