Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nintendo Wii: Unintended pyramid scheme

With a title asking, "Is Nintendo Digging Their Own Grave?" something is apparently awry over at Expect an instance of being able to judge a book by its cover, because this article is pissed. However, it is justifiably so.

The blogger's biggest complaint revolves around Nintendo's "evergreen" strategy. In short, they look at profit by suggesting sequels are unnecessary while the prequel is still selling. The article elaborates how this ends up shortchanging repeat business (read: buying multiple games). We'll assume that assumption is correct since I'm not finding any concrete attach rates; just claims in forums.

So Nintendo rebuilds the Gamecube, and goes "lite" on the games. This means they aren't dropping a bunch of funds into the industry. According to the assumptions in this article, it only spreads buy word of mouth or experiencing a friend's Wii. So we start with one person who buys a limited set of games. That person word-of-mouth-slash-shares-experience with a friend. Those friends repeat the cycle of buying a console an a few games. Nintendo puts a limited effort into expanding the game library so they are relying on this spread method of hardware sales. Put in a dollar, end up a millionaire, eh?

Sounds like a pyramid scheme of sorts to me. Especially when Nintendo shows little effort to woo current owners with new stuff.

As a multiple console owner, I often discourage people from buying Wii Sports a Wii. I warn that the game library doesn't have a lot going for it, except for a choked version of Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Wii Fit is no replacement for a real exercise routine. However, this is enough for some people.

My question: is Nintendo really making "new gamers"? I don't think so. It seems to me that they just provided the "next hot toy". Choking storage space, the games library, and current display technologies leaves very small room for actual growth with the experience. To me, that means they aren't getting long-term customers, and certainly not enticing anyone to enjoy gaming as a whole.


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