Of Nintendo and Pokemon

I’m a hardcore Nintendo fan and they way in which I favor Nintendo is disgustingly obvious.

I’ve loyally bought Nintendo games and consoles of every generation (not including its permutations e.g. DSlite) whilst picking up second hand PSP from people, hacking it and leeching game from the internet.

But even I won’t deny that Nintendo isn’t doing well. Which is sad because they have such great ideas but a shitty marketing department.

The sad truth is, marketing is king these days, trends are what governs consumer’s purchases. So if you have a great idea and concept but you can’t pitch it to the customers well enough, you’re doomed.

Which is where Nintendo stands right now.

If you actually own a Nintendo device, put aside your prejudices for a second and really LOOK at it, look at what is in it and try to see the concept behind it.

Nintendo is honestly a company that gives a shit about its consumers. It doesn’t want its products to take over your life, it wants its products to be part of your life and ameliorate it. How so?

Lets take a look at the development of Nintendo consoles. It started as a regular console, then it evolved into the Wii. At first glance it may look like a downgrade, from a hardcore gaming console to some party game machine. But when you really consider all that a Wii is capable when you bother to make full use of it, you realize the Wii is so much more than just a bloody piece of machinery to play games on. It lets you surf the web, check the weather, leave notes, watch TV and exercise. I know that a Play Station can surf the web too but they didn’t bother making it something that you can actually integrate into your DAILY LIFE. You won’t use it as your browser of computer, but on the Wii, you actually can. But the genius of it really isn’t how it lets you surf the web because a gazillion other devices does that too. It’s how it brings your family together and tries to make you an active member of your community in your LIFE.

You make Miis, and the concept of Miis is reall just like facebook, it’s a virtual version of yourself. Considering how people these days are all so busy, Miis is like a part of you that you can leave somewhere to maintain relationships by leaving messages on the Wii for your family or even to your friends through the internet. Then there’s the weather checking and the photo editing, which are both fun apps within the Wii that makes you more conscious about people and the environment around you. Doesn’t it make life more fun? Imagine, you wake up, make your breakfast, go on your Wii to check the weather, maybe leave a message for your kid about lunch or dinner and go to work. Your kid and read your message, leaves a reply about what he wants for dinner, eats breakfast, play a quick game of brain teaser and go to school. You come home, reads his message, makes what he wants, and after the family dinner you guys can play Wii sports together or just mess with someone’s photo before going to bed.

Family friendly doesn’t equate to lame. And having an actual life shouldn’t be the bane of existence of a self-respecting gamer. But sadly Nintendo’s marketing department made the  Wii a little too family friendly and even if there are decent games on the Wii, self-respecting gamers will view it as something grandparents want to stretch to in the morning and avoid it like plague.

Then lets look at the DS or the 3DS, though to me they’re more or less equal because the 3D thing is more of a gimmick than an actual improvement. The 3DS lets you make your own Mii once again, but this time it includes Street Pass that lets you collect Miis from other people ONLY when you put your 3DS to sleep mode and walk around and meet other people on the streets doing the same thing with their 3DS. Collecting Miis lets you earn puzzle pieces and play your adventure game which is basically incentive for you to collect more Miis.

Because of HOW you collect Miis, you realize that the street pass system is actually something that Nintendo made to encourage people to STOP GAMING AND GO OUT. And the pedometer lets you earn coins, so unless you walk around with your 3DS in sleep mode, you aren’t getting any coins. Nintendo is essentially telling you, unless you go out, get a life and stop spending all your time on your machine, you aren’t going to earn your coins or progress in your games. If that’s not social responsibility, I don’t know what is. Then there are the tones of other mini-games within the 3DS that encourages group play, and by that I don’t mean multiple people with the device, I mean a group of people sharing the 3DS and playing with it TOGETHER.

And on that note, lets talk about how Pokemon utilizes Nintendo’s ideas. The newest Pokemon involves so much of engaging other people that aside from the main story line, you basically can’t perfect the game without friends. There’s the C-gear which makes you play in multi-player mode (A given), but also take and make surveys for others, meet friends to battle and trade (obviously) and play mini-games. Ontop of that, there’s the Geonet which encourages international exchange amongst the gamers. I’m doing a crappy job explaining all this but just really delve into what Nintendo is doing and think about the implications.

I mean of course, encouraging multi-player also means encouraging more people to buy the console and games but I never said that Nintendo was some philanthropic company. I’m just saying that it’s a company that actually encourages its consumers to GET A LIFE and ENJOY IT. It’s trying to make socially aware gamers, to help the whole family enjoy games without becoming hopeless addicts and NEETs.

And sadly the world just can’t appreciate it. But this IS unfortunately Nintendo’s fault.

There’s a learning curve to incorporating any device into a lifestyle. Nintendo doesn’t spend enough effort educating its customers on how to do so, and if they do try, the effort is obviously too boring for the consumers to be bothered. No matter how good something is, if it’s troublesome, customers will be put off, it’s that simple. On top of that is also how Nintendo just can’t portray a decent enough image, even family products these days need to be somewhat chic and Nintendo’s designers obviously forgot what the word ‘style’ means because that keep coming up with stupid designs. On top of that it’s advertisements focus too much on Nintendogs and Mario, which gets boring after a while and really only appeals to a few people. I mean, if Apple tried to market iphones solely using something like Mario, I don’t think people would want to buy it.

Bottom line is, Nintendo is trying to make a lifestyle product and is pricing it as such but is marketing it as a measly gaming device. It will NEVER be a gaming powerhouse because it’s not supposed to be one from its conceptualization! But if you market it as one then it’s going to get compared to other gaming devices and because it’s strengths don’t lie in that area, it’ll lose to competitors and Nintendo will lose money. It’s that simple.

Throw in the fact that Nintendo spends more effort on its Japanese market than international market, you have a recipe for disaster. If Nintendo bothered to get more of its original Japanese titles, like Time Traveler, translated into english, not just the few Nintendo classics, I assure you more people will take the device seriously. After all, a game console is only as good as games it can play, if the games available are shit, I wouldn’t buy it even if it can fly. Plus so much of the lifestyle perks of owning and Nintendo device is only available in Japan, no matter how great the concept of the console is, if we consumers don’t get to use it, we won’t like it.

So Nintendo, I love you and I will always support you, but please, do something about yourself because I want my kids and grandkids to be able to play on Nintendo consoles too.

Of Nintendo and Pokemon

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