13 Lessons All Businesses Can Learn from Nintendo (Part 2)

Nintendo Headquarters Écran Partagé

This is the second part of the article. The first part is available here.

On forums, on social networks, we often find the same comments: “Why is Nintendo doing this, doing that?” “Why don’t they make the sequel to the game I’ve wanted for 15 years?”

And yet from the moment we start to see Nintendo’s decisions from a business, marketing, or even business point of view, everything can be explained. Here are some of the lessons that can be learned. Especially if you are a holder or want to start a business.

6. Do different

Is everyone going in the same direction? This means that there is a market to take elsewhere! No need to share the crumbs of a market with a very large offer. Computers, Sony and Microsoft are aimed at hard-working, experienced gamers who want high-performance consoles at the cutting edge of technology. The products are great qualities, but will beginners or casual players really start a passion they’re not sure they’ll like with a $700 machine?

This is where Nintendo is positioned with its Nintendo Switch machine at $ 380 + taxes or its Switch Lite at $ 260 + taxes. Much easier to convince families in this way.

7. Release consoles and controllers in different colors

We know since the Game Boy Pocket, Nintendo’s consoles come out in multiple colors. At the time of release, the consoles exist in 2 or 3 colors maximum so as not to confuse users and not to cause problems for merchants. Then each new color makes it possible to redo advertising for the console, to highlight a new game at the same time. Collectors then buy the same console several times, just because it is now pink or purple instead of yellow. Some people are suddenly convinced because turquoise blue is “their color”.

And everyone is happy.

8. Maximize revenue streams

Nintendo is an empire and very often tries to multiply the sources of income. Video games, TV series, toys, amusement park, clothes, movies, board games… everything goes there. Nintendo even had to open a separate company to manage its Pokémon franchise that had been so successful that it took the resources dedicated to the rest. Pokémon is now the most successful transmedia franchise in the world and continues to be successful 20 years after its creation.

9. Make life easy for content producers

One of Nintendo’s main mistakes for consoles that were less successful than others like the Nintendo 64, GameCube or Wii U, was the fact that the games were present in small quantities. Third-party publishers didn’t bother to develop for the console in question because the tools were limited, the documentation was often only available in Japanese, and Nintendo was far too selective with who had the right to develop for them.

Then third-party publishers were developing for computer, Sony or Microsoft, where it was much easier to iterate on powerful and open machines.

With the Nintendo Switch has finally made the right decision to open its platform to 2 game engines very popular among developers: Unity and Unreal Engine. Now free and learnable by all, game engines are computer software that allows you to develop a game from A to Z. And since the Nintendo Switch everyone can fulfill their childhood dream and have their game on a Nintendo console.

10. Do not lower prices when your product is in demand

“Mario Kart 8 Deluxe sells? Very well, leave it at the price where it currently sells. Want to sell even more? Just wait!” Four years after the release of the latest version of Mario Kart 8 to date, it continues to sell at a high price: $ 80 + taxes, and this has been the case for all the main strong titles of the brand for 20 years. The Player’s Choice range that reduced the prices of these games has disappeared. Nintendo no longer needs the price argument to convince players to buy.

What amazes me are the games from third-party publishers on other consoles mainly that drop in price a week or two just after release. In some cases, like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the price had been divided by 2 just a month after release. Users who had paid full price were then naturally angry.

The price of the games are based on supply and demand. It is very expensive to develop the game from A to Z but it costs nothing compared to copying it on so many cartridges, discs or making it available on a digital store.

Lowering a price of a product, especially in the months of its release, sends the message to the consumer that the game has not been successful enough and can be negative for the perception of its quality.

11. Don’t be afraid to drop a console or product when it’s needed

“When the Nintendo DS is released, we will obviously continue to support the GameBoy Advance with many high-quality games.”

“When the Nintendo Wii is released, we will obviously continue to support the GameCube with many high-quality games.”

You also know this chorus? These sentences often pronounced by the various executives of Nintendo so as not to let the sales of the old console fall, they are often revealed false.

Of course Nintendo abandons the old console when the new one is released. If this sentence allows them to keep a way out in case of total failure of the new machine, it is actually more appropriate to focus all these human, financial, marketing resources on the new product. This is where we want users and developers to focus.

12. Play with the expectations of the brand’s fans

Nintendo’s stroke of genius is to have announced titles eagerly awaited by Nintendo and to talk about them randomly at the various conferences and video game ceremonies that take place throughout the year.

Example: Announcing Animal Crossing on Nintendo Switch at Conference 1.

Do not talk about it at Conference 2, nor 3 when Nintendo has a presence and talks about other games.

Talk little about it at Conference 4.

Say nothing at Conference 5.

Result: on social networks the hashtag #AnimalCrossing and #ACNH (for the full title Animal Crossing New Horizons was trending during the conference 1,2,3,4 and 5).

It’s really fabulous from a marketing point of view to have created such an expectation that fans are talking about the future game without Nintendo giving them anything as information.

13. Keep your thinking and processes a secret

Over the years, the way of making conferences, presenting future products and services have changed. We know that internally, there is a lot of research and development and iterations on the games and accessories that will be born in store. But we do not know what exactly, we do not know by the projects in progress, nor those canceled. Now, all game announcements are a few months apart from their releases. Nintendo does not respond to questions from journalists regarding rumors, speculation, or other features in development.

It is also not known, what will be the new titles of Nintendo, if they will come out with accessories, figurines,… and it keeps fans constantly alert for the slightest bit of information.

Here I hope I have brought back some memories with all these nintendo business lessons. Do you see others that are clear?

Which ones have marked you the most?

About Marc Shakour

Former video game programmer, columnist, teacher, competitor ... Marc has always been very familiar with the world and industry of video games. He decided to help neophytes about it, to discover new universes, worlds and fantastic creatures.

View all posts by Marc Shakour

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