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Monday, July 31, 2006

More On Nintendo's Wide Net

I am, of course, drawing upon the new book The Long Tail, by Wired magazine editor in chief Chris Anderson, which presents the idea that combining sales from one company's many, lesser-known products would actually account for more revenue than the sales of its most popular products.

Mario has sold nearly 3 million units, but nine more productivity applications that sell only as well as O-Ryouri Navi would equal that amount. And because the development cycle of something like an interactive cookbook is significantly shorter than that of a sprawling, epic adventure game, Nintendo could churn out a number of different products with little difficulty.

Nintendo is also in an excellent position to capitalize on Long Tail economics with its upcoming home game console, Wii. Specifically, the company's planned digital delivery service, which will allow users to download games from the company's 20-year back catalog, has some advantages over Microsoft's competing Xbox Live Arcade service.

The Xbox system requires that every downloadable arcade game feature a bevy of upgrades, from new high-definition visuals (even for Frogger!), online leaderboards, and even head-to-head online play for two-player games. This means that a great deal of effort has to be put into each game release; thus, only the games with the broadest appeal will be chosen for the service. That's why Namco's classic Pac-Man will be available on the 360 next month, but their 1987 schoolgirl superheroine adventure Wonder Momo will never, ever see the light of day again. Nintendo's service will have no such upgrade prerequisites -- the games will appear exactly as they did in 1985, warts and all. This means Nintendo can fill its service with as much downloadable content as it wants without needing to rely on any one specific product being a hit.
-- Cooking Up a Gaming Revolution

Nintendo's looking pretty smart these days. It almost begs the question - can the Wii fail? I mean, the DS is a lock for the foreseeable future (although I wouldn't put it pass Nintendo to release another update). The Wii is inexpensive and has great hype behind it. The only trip I can see is if there's a consumer revolt against the "revolution" itself - i.e. people don't like swinging their arms around like chimps if they want to play a tennis game.

Still, if they keep this strategy up ... their goal will be to find something on the console for everyone. Even the chimp haters.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Short answer: Wii as a new system can fail. As a virtual console, it cannot. The balance between the two will determine its fate.