Nintendo’s E3 presence was disappointing at this year’s E3. Sure, they showed off a new Pikmin and a few other interesting games but one bullet point that left most people scratching their heads was the mini-game compilation “Nintendo Land”. The game is all about exploring the wacky world of the Nintendo franchises while highlighting the capabilities of the new Wii U hardware. One of the questions yet to be definitively answered is, “Will Nintendo Land be bundled with the Wii U at launch?” This is an article highlighting the reasons why Nintendo needs to bundle the game with the new hardware.
Next we’ll take a look at the history of pack-in software and why it’s important. Nintendo has an excellent track record of including software and it paying off for them in the end. The original NES was a introduced in the early 80’s and featured Super Mario Brothers which caused the NES to become a staple in family living rooms around the world and solidify Mario’s place as a pop-culture icon. Later Nintendo launched the SNES with Super Mario World and the result was equally as stellar. We should also mention the game GameCube… The GameCube did not feature a bundled game at launch and was considered a low point in the company’s history. The system simply didn’t feature any strong “must have” titles out of the gate. This slow start was a contributing factor to the console selling less then both of its major competitors (GC: 21 millions units, Xbox: 24 million and PS2: 154 million). Fast forward to today and we have the Wii. The Wii was a return to Nintendo’s game bundling method. The console featured Wii Sports and is the best-selling console of this generation. The Wii has shipped over 95 million units as the writing of this article. That’s nearly 30 million more than it’s closest competitor.
One of the most important reasons to include Nintendo Land with the new hardware is for teaching purposes. Just like with the Wii, the Wii U is attempting to bring a foreign control scheme to the masses. The original Super Mario Brothers was designed to teach people how to use a D-Pad, Mario 64 was designed to teach people how to use a thumb stick and Wii Sports was designed to teach the use of the Wii-Remote. With the new controller, Nintendo once again needs a piece of software to help people get acquainted with the system. In order for people to enjoy a controller, they need to learn how to use it. Nintendo isn’t the only company to adopt this method either. Back in the early days of Windows, Microsoft included Solitaire for the sole purpose of teaching people the new operating system and the concept of “drag and drop”. It worked out pretty well for them too.
Another reason Nintendo should include Nintendo Land is to establish the brand. Wii Sports “sold” very well mainly due to the fact it was bundled with the console. This allowed Nintendo to do two things; “Sell” a game that might have been overlooked otherwise, and create a recognizable brand for future profit. Take a look at Wii Sports: Resort. The game sold incredibly well and that’s likely due to the easily recognizable name. Nintendo knew that millions of customers had played Wii Sports and were familiar with the brand. This ensured that customers shopping for a new game on Best Buy or GameStop would immediately see the name “Wii Sports” and pick up the box. Those who work in marketing or retail can tell you that getting a consumer to pick up your product is a HUGE win.
The Flip Side (Arguments to the Contrary + Response): No argument is free of holes. Feel free to exploit these in conversation.
The N64 was glossed over in the article:
While most people picked up the system with Mario 64, it was not a standard pack-in for the console. The system may have not been the #1 selling console of the generation, due to the company clinging to a dead format and other various reasons, but it still did very well for Nintendo.
Touch screen is an easy control scheme and doesn’t need software to teach its use:
While this is true, iPads and smart phones are standalone devices. The Wii U is a touch controller. It’s a controller interacting with a console which is interacting with the game, TV and internet. So while the idea is simple for standalone products, this is a controller, not an all-inclusive device.
Sony and Microsoft didn’t include software with their hardware launches:
True, but they were not attempting to introduce a wildly new control scheme that console gamers may not be familiar with. Their systems launched with traditional controllers.
Sony/Microsoft have introduced new controllers (Move and Kinect) with software included:
This is a valid point but there are other problems with these controllers. The Kinect suffered from the same issue the Wii did; It simply doesn’t work well. The Move on the other hand works very well, but lacked the quality original software to support the controller.
The Wii launched in Japan without Wii Sports and the game did very well:
This is semi true. The Wii was a pack-in for every country except Japan and South Korea. The Wii hardware has shipped 95.85 units world wide while Wii Sports has shipped 79.04 million units. This means there are 16.81 million Wii owners out there who did not pick up Wii Sports with their console. That’s nearly 18%. Couple that with the fact that Japan’s sales only accounts for 12% of Wii global sales and that’s a compelling argument that Wii Sports may have been a “success” as a stand alone title, but it would much, much smaller.
There are always early adopters for any piece of technology. These are people who will buy a new piece of hardware, no matter the unreasonable value offered by the machine. In Japan there are a LOT of early adopters, especially when Nintendo is involved. On top of that, the (good) games offered at launch for the Wii were sparse. If you wanted a good game for the Wii when it launched in Japan, you HAD to buy Wii-Sports.
Sales data retrieved from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page (yes, I used Wikipedia. Big whoop. Wanna fight about it?)