Normally I don’t report on rumours, but Nikkei is a generally reliable source, and so when it reports that Nintendo is considering leveraging smart phones to promote its own hardware via free minigames, I’m inclined to pay attention.
This is something that I’ve been suggesting Nintendo do for quite some time now, and it’s the only solution that makes sense from a business point of view. Nintendo needs to reach out to the smart phone gamers to try and encourage them to buy Nintendo products, and the most effective way to do that is to get to them on the platforms that they’re using.
Often when people discuss the idea of Nintendo doing smart phone games, the argument against it is typically along the lines of “Nintendo should never get out of the hardware business.” This much is true – Nintendo needs to sell its own hardware too because it needs the licensing revenue, but the idea that free minigames on iOS will cannibalise Nintendo’s own hardware sales is ludicrous. What would actually happen is that people would play these games, which would no doubt be produced at Nintendo’s usual high standards, and be encouraged to look for “bigger” games on Nintendo’s own consoles.
Picture a Mario endless runner which is integrated with ads for Super Mario 3D World, as well as Facebook / Twitter score posting for for viral high score competitions. No one is going to make the mistake of thinking that Mario’s endless runner is the extent of the franchise, but then someone who does enjoy the Mario endless runner would be encouraged to look more deeply into a Wii U purchase in order to “play the real Mario.” From there they would discover that the console would indeed be a worthwhile purchase because it does offer deeper game experiences than they can get on their smart phone or tablet.
When people talk about Nintendo not “marketing” the Wii U enough, they’re absolutely correct, but marketing means more than simply slapping an ad on the TV and hoping for the best. In fact, modern marketing wisdom would suggest that a TV ad is a very inefficient way of marketing indeed. An effective marketing campaign means reaching out to the largest number of potential customers possible, and for Nintendo, that group of people are the ones playing games on their smart phones and tablets. The best way to reach these people? Through smart phone and tablet games.
Fingers crossed for Nintendo’s sake that this report proves true.
– Matt S.
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