I remember when I got my Super Nintendo. I was 9 or 10. Have you ever seen a boy absolutely ecstatic?
Ensued many years of Mario Kart, Zelda, SimCity and Street Fighter.
Later, I graduated from Nintendo and went on to play Halo 2 online with my friends, but the memories I cherish most are those of the many nights spent fighting Ganon or throwing turtles at other karts.
Today, the only games I play are casual games on mobile. It’s not because I lack enthusiasm for the top notch console games that are released every now and then, it’s because I simply don’t have time to play anything else.
I wish I had time to play console games. Nothing would make me happier than spending the entire week-end in front of my projector playing the new Halo 4.
But here’s the thing: I haven’t even had time to go buy Halo 4 yet. And let’s say I did – you can be sure that my wife has other plans for me this week-end. So in reality, I haven’t touched a console in years.
Instead, I play games as I wait for lunch to be served. During a boring conference. Or when I’m commuting to work.
I play in short bursts, maybe 5 – 10 minutes at the time. And get this: I never go searching for games to play. I’m always referred by a friend, or I hear about popular games in the media.
The death of Nintendo, the Rise of Rovio, and what context has to do with it
Yesterday, Nintendo announced that they were going to stay focused on console gaming and explore mobile apps only as a means to help potential customers “understand the wonder of Nintendo games.”
What this means is that they are going to make mobile applications to ACCOMPANY their console titles. You won’t be able to PLAY the fantastic characters that are Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong, but you might be able to review their stats and customize their outfits.
Here’s what’s wrong with this picture:
Nintendo’s fanboys are not the newer generation.
Kids today look at Wii games and wonder why the quality of the artwork is so low. They’ve grown up watching Pixar movies. They’re not excited by Wii games like I was about Zelda: A link to the Past.
I AM the Nintendo fan base. I grew up with Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong and Princess Zelda. And I miss them.
I will be first in line to download Mario Kart for iOS or Android. And like millions of other Nintendo fan boys, I’m currently screaming: BRING MARIO KART TO THE iPHONE!
Because even if Nintendo tomorrow launched the best console on the market, I still wouldn’t have time to play it.
I would however make time to play a quick game of Mario Kart as I wait for lunch to be served. Or during a boring conference. Or when I’m commuting to work.
But spending hours on the couch is a far away dream that I’m slowly losing faith in.
And because of that, I consume these games, and I pay for them.
Do you remember in 2008 when Nokia announced it had become the largest manufacturer of digital cameras in the world?
Nokia seemed poised for total domination of the mobile market. But it couldn’t innovate fast enough, it didn’t listen to its users who demanded more features, and today the company is trailing far behind Apple and Samsung.
The same thing has happened in the video games industry. Nintendo was the clear leader for over a decade, but today it is operating at a loss and Rovio is generating 50% profit margins on its gross income.
How is this possible?
Well, gaming has been happening outside of the living room since the year 2000. Mobile gaming literally exploded with the arrival of the App Store in 2008. And Nintendo has yet to jump on the bandwagon.
Rovio understands that I play games on the go, in short sessions of 5 – 10 minutes. And it builds games around that premise. Meanwhile, Nintendo is still trying to get me back in the living room.
Rovio understands my reality better. That’s why I pay for their games and not Nintendo’s.
Why hasn’t Nintendo brought Mario Kart to the iPhone already?
When Nintendo “[ignores] calls to go mobile and [promises] instead to wow customers with health-related innovations” – it is effectively demonstrating that it has lost touch with who its customers are.
Or they are trying to reinvent their customer base, which to me sounds like an unnecessary uphill battle.
The financial requirements to compete in the brutal industry that is healthy wearable/non-wearable hardware seem a little steep when you consider that I’m here, I love Nintendo products, and I will gladly pay for them.
All I’m asking is that you give me the games in a manner that suits my lifestyle.
I know that I am not alone. Based on my entourage, I’d say that it’s safe to assume that there are millions of thirty-something like me who are also dying to pay for Nintendo products if they were available via the platforms at their disposal.
My point of view is that the situation demonstrates that Nintendo has lost sight of who their target market is, what the reality of these potential customers is, and how to proactively reach these potential users in the context of their daily lives.
30-something users who grew up with Mario and Luigi all have smartphones and a desire to play quality games. What we don’t have is time. We can’t change our lifestyle to allow more time to play console games. But Nintendo could, and should, adapt its products to our reality.
Nintendo forgot the #1 rule of publishing successful interactive products: put your users first.
I am saddened by Nintendo’s decision to stay away from the mobile space. I think that they’ll regret it, and they’ll go back on this decision within a few years when their profits continue to dwindle.
Alternatively, they could hire me as their CEO. I would immediately cancel any plans for hardware products, negotiate an exclusivity deal with Apple, and port the entire Nintendo lineup to iPhone, making Nintendo profitable again in 6 months.
What do you think?