Nintendo Deciding What's Next

I just noticed this Reuters article at Yahoo! that gives a pretty good overview of Nintendo's current situation. It sounds as if they at least recognize the problem and are interested in doing something to remedy it.

"The real question is, as we start 2003, what are we going to do differently?" George Harrison, the senior vice president of marketing for Nintendo of America, told Reuters in an interview. "For us it's about trying to get the GameCube business moving and restore the confidence of the licensees."

The U.S. release of Zelda: The WindWaker this month will probably nudge sales a little, especially since the console is currently selling for $149 and includes a free game. However, even Nintendo realizes that one game does not a successful console make.

Comments

I don't understand why the public in mass isn't accepting the GameCube. I believe the GC deal with Zelda is better than anything Sony or Microsoft can offer at the same price. GC, Metroid, and Zelda represent two of the best games in gaming and a great system.

I think Nintendo killed them selves a year ago at this time when they didn't release anything worth buying until the end of April. Nintendo was outselling the Xbox at the same time. I also think not doing this deal during the fall rush was a mistake.

Hopefully Zelda can get the GC up and selling.

For me it's a variety of things.  First, one solid game or two every few months, isn't really enough for me to get behind a system.  Second, fair or not, Nintendo does not have the perception of being a system for mature gamers.  Is this accurate?  Depends on who you ask, I suppose, but the fact is that the _perception_ is there, and perception is always more important than fact in business.  Third, while Nintendo has outstanding first party support, the third party support is absolute crap, and unless you've got a _need_ for Mario, Metroid and Zelda, there is nothing else to draw you in.  It's all well and good that N has the game of the year, but it's going to need more than that to turn the tide.  Fourth, no DVD and no online direction.  There are a variety of other reasons, and I'm not arguing that the Gamecube is a bad platform, but they're approach to the last two system generations has been fundamentally flawed.  In the US, at least, their approach to the market has just flat failed to generate market. 

I see a variety of reasons. First of all they once again failed to appropriatly cover the European market. The Euro market meanwhile is bigger than the Japanese one, and while Sony has realized this and Microsoft HAD to go for it since they're naturally not likely to win in the JP area Nintendo has shown again the release habits that reminded me of the N64 and SNES era.

Also, I think they clearly underestimated the effect of the Xbox-Sega bundle, thinking "ah well, it's still overall more expensive, plus no one cared about those games in the first place" - they however, did not see that many customers perceived it the "get two things for free"-way. Well, and while the recent price drop slowly starts to affect the sales, the decision was definitely made way too late. They should have done that BEFORE Christmas.

Oh yeah, and in addition to that their marketing sucked as if they had hired Sega's former PR department. Some of the commercials were downright bad, others were only aired inconsequently (stopping the second the game hits the market). While I wouldn't want to call most of Sony's or Microsoft's ads brilliant, they as least made it to saturate the market.

I own a GC and have enjoyed the games I've played so far, the system is also very popular among my friend due to some of the best multiplayer titles available (Beach Spikers, Soccer Slam, Monkey Ball 1&2, Bomberman Generation, Mario Party 4 etc.), but I can see why it hasn't been as successful in the mass market as Nintendo wanted it to be.

Well, some projections for Feb I have seen have the Cube outselling the Xbox by 100k. So step in the right direction +1

Also have heard pre-orders for Zelda are huge, and in some chains have beaten GTA:VC. Step two in right direction +1

Big E3 for Nintendo. $100 Cube + 1 free game of choice would be a good offer.

Dunno Elysium, your comment about one or two good games every 3 months seems to apply to the Xbox just as well.

So if Nintendo can win in Feb and March, keep momentum going, problem in US fixed. Next step, fix Europe, although I have heard that March sees 60+ GC games released in Euro alone.

I hope Zelda turns it around for the GC!  I think the market is better with 3 healthy systems competing for developers and dollars. 

"I don't understand why the public in mass isn't accepting the GameCube."

Because Nintendo has failed to evolve with their customer base. Most people just are not interested in the direction (or rather lack of) Nintendo is going with its offering. I think they also over-estimated their importance to a market they once dominated.

I think the market is better with 3 healthy systems competing for developers and dollars.

A truer statement has never been said. More competition always breeds better prices and better quality for the consumer.

"Because Nintendo has failed to evolve with their customer base. Most people just are not interested in the direction (or rather lack of) Nintendo is going with its offering. I think they also over-estimated their importance to a market they once dominated."

Nintendo is the single most important developer in the console industry. 

I think the reason the public isn't accepting the GameCube is actually simpler than it seems: the public, by and large, chooses one console to own. Fact is, the gaming population nowadays is older in general than it ever used to be (partially because us gamers born in the 80's are growing up), and they expect a lot more bang for the buck than kids ever did.

Kids look for the quick thrill, the latest, greatest shiny Mario game with the newest gimmick. Us crotchety old adults look for something useful, something with staying power, and something that will ultimately earn its keep. For many adults, the PS2 and XBox have an inherent advantage by being DVD and online capable. Nintendo is also generally less competitive dollar-for-dollar than either Sony or XBox. Take for example, the price of memory cards: XBox does not require any, and for $25, you get a whopping 8MB out of each PS2 memory card. I'm not sure exactly how many MB is in a $20, 251-block GC card, but I bet it's 1/4 of a PS2's. GC's games are also a lot slower to go down in price... hell, launch games were still retailing for up to $49.99 until the Player's Choice went into effect. That is where I believe Nintendo is losing the adult market.

As for the in-betweener, the teenage market, Nintendo is losing by not having the hottest, edgiest franchises. I'm sorry, but give this selection of blockbuster franchises to an average 17-year-old and tell me what he'll choose nine times out of ten: Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, and Metal Gear Solid, or Mario, Zelda, and Metroid? It's really a no-brainer, arguments about Nintendo's possible future iterations of FF and MGS notwithstanding. (any way you slice it, the saucy FFX-2 will outsell the bizarre FF: Crystal Chronicle by a margin of 10:1 worldwide).

It is just my opinion, but working retail in games, it is an informed one.

"Nintendo is the single most important developer in the console industry. "

Possibly, though I would like to hear your reasons. Still doesn't mean they are the most important when it comes to sales in the console industry, which they obviously aren't right now. Also doesn't mean they are the most important when it comes to the average human being, which I am not convinced there either. The latest Mario? Didn't create buzz like GTA3.

"Possibly, though I would like to hear your reasons. Still doesn't mean they are the most important when it comes to sales in the console industry, which they obviously aren't right now. Also doesn't mean they are the most important when it comes to the average human being, which I am not convinced there either. The latest Mario? Didn't create buzz like GTA3."

Nintendo is the largest console publisher in the world. They have four titles in the top 10 at GameRankings.com.

 

"I'm not sure exactly how many MB is in a $20, 251-block GC card, but I bet it's 1/4 of a PS2's."

It's about 2x actually.