Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wii Fit - A Brief Look at Nintendo's Marketing Strategy (Pt. One)

With the launch of The Daily Breakthrough, the staff at Marketing Breakthroughs have been given free reign to sound off on a variety of marketing and advertising topics. Now, first things first -- I'm a pretty big gamer. Practically raised at the teat of Mario (although that's actually a pretty gross mental image ... and for that, I deeply apologize). So, chances are that a few of my posts will focus on my views on the marketing and advertising aspects of the video game industry.

In this first post of a thrilling two-part series, I want to chat about the marketing efforts behind Nintendo's newest hit game, Wii Fit.

Always looking for the latest news from the world of Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, one of my most frequented blogs is Kotaku. This recent editorial by Brian Crecente (Wii Fit: Innovation in Gaming or Marketing?) brings up some very good points about why the Wii, and especially Wii Fit, has been successful.
"As much as I want to believe Nintendo's line, that the Wii in breaking from tradition and cutting a path into the untapped non-gamer, general population, I think what they're really doing is finding ways to attract people to gaming who will rarely stick to it by tapping into the fears of an aging population."

Like Nintendo's other forays into "casual gaming" (such as its Brain Age series on the Nintendo DS), Crecente says that the Wii will soon collect dust, as Nintendo is not necessarily attracting true gamers, but aging boomers looking for an quick way to "get fit". And like so my Thighmasters and Tony Little Gazelles before it, once the consumer gets bored of Wii Fit, it'll be tossed in the closet, never again to see the light of day.

In my experience with the system, there's certainly a novelty factor at play -- it's always amusing to see my friends' parents and grandparents partake in a game of bowling or baseball on Wii Sports. And there's no denying that Wii games and consoles are selling like proverbial hotcakes.

But is Nintendo really doing itself any favours if these non-traditional gamers go out and buy a Wii or Wii Fit because it looked cute, but then never buy another game as long as they own the console?

I've learned that it shouldn't just be about getting the first sale -- it's about developing brand loyalty so you can get sale after sale after sale from the same person. Nintendo seems to have abandoned that line of thought (for the most part ... they still do release a "hardcore" game every once in a while, and for that I am grateful), and while that marketing strategy is helping Nintendo's bottom line right now, it surely can't be good for them -- or the video game industry as a whole -- in the long run. Eventually the market for Wii-curious soccer moms is gonna dry up.

But then again, I doubt they care. They got Grandma to fork over the 250+ bucks, right? Mission accomplished.