Nintendo Need A Nokia Moment

18 Mar

The famous Nokia memo that saw CEO Stephen Elop tearing the company apart was a call to action, a punctuation mark for the company. But it wasn’t a full stop. It would have been much more worrying for Elop to issue a platitudinous memo saying that everything was fine, and Nokia should carry on the way it was going.

This is what worries me, at the moment, about Nintendo. They seem to have gone into denial. Michael French’s excellent summary of the GDC speeches by Iwata and Apple in last week’s MCV really brought this to the fore. Iwata was doom mongering for the industry and separating ‘games’ from ‘apps’. Nintendo seem fixed on making games, putting them on bits of plastic, and flogging them at £40 a pop. Well, great – if you can get away with it but that was then, and this is now.

I have no doubt that the 3DS will sell shed loads with a low, but decent attachment rate for software. But I am certain that it will not have the lifespan of the original DS whose genuine innovation in play pattern saw it, deservedly, rule the mobile gaming roost until the iPod touch came along. And now, we are all gamers. But we are playing ‘Angry Birds’ not ‘Animal Crossing’.

Don’t get me wrong, I HEART NINTENDO. I respect them as the greatest creators of video games that ever were. They have given my kids, my friends, and me many hours of pure fun. More or less anything first party is stupendous and they have defined so much about what makes our business so engaging and joyous. But Nintendo seriously need a ‘Nokia Memo Moment’. They need to realise that they have the potential to carry on making money by putting their games into more hands than ever. They need to look at making their £40 in other ways, look at the numbers giving regular subscriptions to ‘Binweevils’ and ‘Moshi Monsters’ as a good place to start. What about letting Mario loose on a few other platforms, what about those animals crossing onto Facebook?

I don’t have the answers (obviously) but I don’t want Nintendo to wither because they are too stubborn to see into the future and change with the market. In fact, I think there is more potential for more people than ever before to share in the magic of Nintendo games. But Nintendo need to shift their perspective, experiment, stop being so blinkered and get their wonderful games into the hands of the masses.


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