Nintendo’s Secret Strategy: Games

of the big three console manufacturers, sony, microsoft and nintendo, it’s nintendo’s vision for the future that is the most interesting and innovative from a business strategy perspective. peter moore recently noted that nintendo is evolving into less and less of a competitor to sony and microsoft every day. i was actually was thinking that too, peter.

microsoft and sony are both trying the ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ approach to game consoles. they are using games to stage a beachhead assault in the living room war. they want to be the center of your entertainment experience.

nintendo, however, really is just about making games.

the revolution promises to be less flash, and more substance. they are leaning heavily on their longtime reputation of brilliant game design execution. well. that, and they have a few tricks up their sleeve too.

innovative ideas
the big one is that fancy controller. i have to admit i was skeptical about the dual screen approach when they first announced the nintendo ds. i’ve since come around tho. nintendo’s strong first party games really helped push that out to get it adopted. if there’s one thing nintendo is really good at, it’s first party games with mass appeal.

i suspect they’re going to do the same thing with that ‘remote’ controller. some strong first party support and some innovative non-fishing titles will really help to cement it into the marketplace. the one little niggling i still have, tho, is their reliance on this mysterious casual gamer who is too afraid of a controller to pick one up? no one under 40 that i know (and, that makes up myself and most of my friends…. wow, i feel old.) is afraid of a playstation or xbox controller. (that gamecube controller is a universal steaming pile, however. everyone should be afraid of it.)

however, where i’m just so excited i could pee is getting the 50+ crowd into console gaming. aside from that crazy ‘hardcore grandma,’ most of the, ahem… ‘older’ crowd is fairly video game console phobic. growing the audience is always a good thing. that, and maybe they’ll start playing halo so i can stop getting pwned by 12-year-olds and start getting whacked by 62-year-olds.


personally, i’m just excited to use the controller as a ‘lazy man’ approach. i’m lazy like that, tho.

the second console strategy
another key differentiator is nintendo’s crazy low price points. they really stuck out in the last generation as being the low cost alternative to the other two. this time around, i think that’ll be more exaggerated.

in the last generation, they essentially had harware similar to the ps2 and xbox in terms of raw technology. this time around, they are actually pretty far behind on the technology curve. they are REALLY leaving out the optional stuff. that’s going to save them huge dollars in pricing their machine.

i’m thinking about $150 will just own the low cost market.

they will be a second console for everyone. with a super low pricepoint and great first party games, there’s really no reason why people wouldn’t buy a revolution the second year along with their ps3 or xbox 360.

with that strategy, they are going to push a crap-ton more units than either microsoft or sony. their revenue won’t be as great, of course, but unit sales should lead this next generation of consoles.

the next disney?
finally, nintendo has a huge investment in ip. they own some of the most recognized and leveragable characters in the world. their intellectual property looks more like a disney portfolio than a sony portfolio. that’s been one of their key pillars in staying relevant throughout their gaming history.

is it just sequelitis? maybe zelda. sort of.

not really, tho, i guess. take mario for example. he’s been in platform games, racing games, sports games. hell. all kinds of stuff. donkey kong is the same way. even zelda to a lesser extent.

team ninja is really the only other company to really push that kind of “multi-genre with the same ip” gaming concept successfully. and, they are coming to the revolution now? (hmmm. suspicious….)

i’m thinking nintendo is turning more into the next generation’s (as in children, not consoles) disney — putting all of their eggs into the content basket while still throwing out a few innovative and interesting concepts on gameplay to go with it. just to keep things fresh. then, they just wrap it up in some solid, yet fun, gameplay mechanics.

they’ve certainly said it’s all about the games and not technology enough, huh? hmm. maybe it’s not a secret?


10 comments so far

  1. […] microsoft fanboy?  uh.  if it helps you sleep at night — sure.  whatever.  i prefer the term ‘jackass who hollers loudly about stupid business decisions in the entertainment industry — no matter who makes them!‘ […]

  2. paradox on

    Nintendo characters are probably recognized just as well as Disney nowadays, I mean who doesn’t know Mario? And the price is DEFINITELY a factor. I mean I really don’t want to spend like 400 bucks, or whatever on an x box. I’d rather get something cheaper (nintendo) and enjoy the sheer fun of the games.

  3. haveblue on


    Reading between the lines of your post, are you saying the current handheld wars will predict the next-gen war winner?

    The DS is winning the handheld war over PSP. Reviewing some of your points in the context of the handheld race:

    1. Lower tech, lower price.
    2. Games focused.
    3. Games appealing to a wide demographic. (Nintendogs=Women/Older gamers=Sales)
    4. Goofy interface, but wide demographic appeal again.
    5. No new media format (I think I could be wrong).
    6. Expected to be crushed at launch by the invincible Playstation brand.

    1. Higher tech, higher price.
    2. Multi media focused, but doing none well
    3. Games appealing to a young male demographic.
    4. Intimidating interface.
    5. Tried to push new media format to less than stellar results.
    6. Many fans, hype, and sales at launch, but burning out now.

    Sounds a lot like Revolution vs PS3! I’ve always automatically discounted Nintendo, but now you are making me think. Thanks.

    PS-Did you see the recent Merill Lynch forecast on the PS3 costing about $900 in raw materials? You beat them to the punch with your previous posts.

  4. m3mnoch on

    funny. i hadn’t thought of the handheld mirror. that’s really interesting, but, yeah. i think that’s an excellent point.

    and, i hadn’t seen the merill lynch report either. gonna have to go chase that down now. heh.



  5. Remox on

    Hey m3mnoch, awesome discussion btw, listen, I have to admit, until recently, i was quiet against Nintendo, however I have realized that the quality of work done by them, is far superior then any of the other companies. The first party games released by Nintendo are a refreshing dose of ‘original’. I put down the ps2 / xbox controller and I pickup a gamecube controller and I really have to comment on the original gameplay styles. Once you think of it, around, 70% of the games out there are cross platform games – so the other 30% is what distiguishes the consoles from each other. Having said that, if you examine each of those ‘exclusive’ titles, the most original(and i stress this) titles are on Gamecube. That’s why I believe no matter what happens with Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo will always be here, as I read someone say, “as the alternative”. Always.

    Keep it Up.


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