Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nintendo vs. Apple PR Battle

You can find the original image here.
File this under Marketing Mistakes: Nintendo has scheduled a big press event in New York City for September 13, where they will (apparently) reveal the Wii U's pricing and availability date for the US. They'll also be showing off software and allowing hands-on time, and Reggie Fils-Aime will be headlining the event. Sounds great, right? Build some excitement for the Wii U launch, get the attention of the mass media, get big coverage of Nintendo's exciting new technology coming out later this year (probably November). What could possibly go wrong?

Try this: Apple is going to have a big announcement on September 12, according to rumors leaked to all the major publications. They will be announcing the new iPhone, and quite probably the brand-new iPad Mini (or whatever they call it), a smaller iPad with a price point rumored to be as low as $249 for starters. And maybe even an Apple TV (or iTV).

Yes, the day before Nintendo's big press whoop-te-do, Apple is holding their major press event for the next iPhone and the new iPad Mini. So who do you think will get all the media attention, especially the mass media outlets on TV, print, and online? Yeah, that's right. The company with the products that sell in the hundreds of millions. Which is not Nintendo. Epic Fail.

Just to really rub it in, the rumored price point of the iPad Mini is $249 for the low end model, and the Wii U may be priced at $299, or perhaps $249 if they are being aggressive. So Apple's device may be the same price point as the Wii U, and look like the Wii U gamepad controller... only Apple's device can go anywhere and still function. I could not have created a better scenario to stomp Nintendo's press announcement flat. There will probably be head-to-head comparisons between the devices, and Nintendo won't exactly win those. If Nintendo even gets mentioned in the PR flurry, the pictures of people standing in line at stores to get the hardware. Does anyone expect people to be standing in line, or camping overnight, for Wii U? Yeah, I didn't think so. Oh, and the Wii U won't be arriving for (probably) a month or two after Apple's devices... which will make the Wii U rollout old news by the time anyone can actually buy one.

Certainly Nintendo is not going to have the most-talked about new tech product this Christmas... not even close. The Wii U is going to have to succeed based on its pricing and software lineup, and Nintendo's marketing spend. I'm expecting not a terrific launch for them; I expect a fairly mediocre rollout, especially if Sony and Microsoft have some strong moves (price cuts? bundles?) for the holiday. The Wii U may look better next year sometime if they can get to a reasonable price point (like $199) and have some gotta-have-it software like a new HD Zelda, or a Mario title that actually does something interesting with the gamepad controller (unlike the Mario title they showed, which looks exactly like the original Mario gameplay).

My long-term guess is that the Wii U will never find the audience that the Wii did, not on that scale. I think Bing Gordon is right; Nintendo is headed towards being a software publisher, it will just take them a long time to figure that out. They'll have to have their noses rubbed in bad financials for years first.


  1. Yeah, I can't say I'm even remotely excited about the Wii U. (Although I wasn't excited about the Wii, either--motion controls just don't excite me, even after having played about a dozen Wii games.) Heck, one of my best friends is a Nintendo nut, and even he hasn't expressed more than a mild interest in the Wii U.

  2. Original Mario game play is what sells better then any game ever made. They don't need to change it up to attract people. It's like ice cream. It always tastes good! It took them almost 20 years to finally realize this and stop pushing 3D Mario so much. I don't want a WiiU, but you know people are going to flock to it to get the new Mario game eventually, if not right away. I don't think you can compare Nintendo to Apple. Apple is a phone first and foremost, not a dedicated gaming device. Of the hundreds of millions of Apples that are sold, I see very few actually being used for games out in the world. I've never heard anyone talk about the games, outside of one friend as well. As for Nintendo, I see less of it though, I do hear more people talking about the games.