Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Nintendo: The Samurai of the Gaming Industry

Forbes magazine has released yet another article criticizing Nintendo for their decisions over the past few months.  After reading through what the author had to say I realized that there is a common theme to many of the articles coming out of mainstream business news outlets... that theme is how Nintendo is failing, confusing, on the brink of death, etc.  What we see when we read these pages though, is a severe misunderstanding of Nintendo as a company and a very western outlook on what the company needs to do.

Nintendo is a pretty old company by today's standards.  Living in an age dominated by quick pivots and instant gratification for the customer, it is easy for westerners to look at what Nintendo is doing and scratch our heads.

What we need to remember is that Nintendo has been in the toys and games market for over 100 years and in that time has only made 3 major pivots in focus.  They originally made hand-crafted playing cards, transitioning to a wider market after diversifying their portfolio in the 50's with toys and other games.  In the 70's they moved on to electronics and finally settled on video games in the 80's, to much success.

So, for the past 35 years, give or take a couple, Nintendo's primary source of revenue focused on gaming.  Only recently have they begun to pivot again, diversifying their product portfolio with Amiibo's, World of Nintendo Figurines, and the development of a mobile platform.

The easiest way to understand Nintendo is to think of it as a big old boat.  It's course is plotted with incredible focus and once it sets sail for its destination the ship takes a lot of effort for it to change course.  Nintendo is accustomed to a culture of success so it doesn't need to question what it is doing very often.  Now, here we are in 2016 and with the less than spectacular performance of the Wii U coming to a close, everyone is jumping up and down, waving their hands in the air yelling about how Nintendo is about to sink.

Everyone just needs to chill out.

The author of the Forbes article has stated that Nintendo needs to start talking about their plans and products.  In fact, there are a lot of "expert opinions" out there about what Nintendo needs to do.  How about everyone bites their tongue for a moment and let Nintendo run Nintendo?

Along with the fact that Nintendo is old with a reputation for success and survival, we also need to keep in mind that it is very Japanese culturally.  Although Nintendo has world renown, its primary audience is Japan.  Miitomo, its first foray into the mobile market, is a prime example of that.  No matter how often people in the west stamp their feet and throw a tantrum Nintendo will do what it needs to make its home base happy.  If the company can please the rest of the world as well then that is an added bonus.

Nintendo is the samurai of the industry, existing in a very volatile market.  For now, this samurai lies in wait, biding its time for the perfect moment to strike.  As Nintendo Love Affair predicted here, we believe the right time will be E3.  We also believe that Nintendo will come out swinging with everything they have.

Considering the Japanese, nationalistic, and proud roots of Nintendo as a company it is much easier to understand what they are doing.  Nintendo has no intention of failing and you can bet that they will do whatever it takes to survive as a company.


  1. I think another part of the issue is that people feel Nintendo has been making the same game for over fifty years, and that's just not true! Yes, the franchise is consistent - there will always be a "new" Mario game - but the fact is that a great amount of their success can be attributed to the fact that they have memorable, lovable characters that show up in every iteration of their games. And now matter how many times your chosen Mario and Luigi game makes you want to Hulk out and chuck your T.V. out the window, you'll come back an play them again every time they're in something new. Honestly, how else would they have sold Mario Tennis if that wasn't the case!?

    1. Innovation is definitely Nintendo's thing. People sometimes "grow out" of Nintendo but inevitably comes back one way or another. Why? Because Nintendo is synonymous with fun.