Nintendo’s Messaging Power, Pokemon Go, and NES Mini

Nintendo's messaging doesn't always hit the mark, but when they effectively communicate their products, they deliver exponentially.

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Nintendo’s messaging efforts began this year with their very first mobile offering, Miitomo, which while short-lived, took the world by storm generating beaucoup revenue out of the gate. Miitomo’s user base was also a force to be reckoned with when it broke chart numbers on the iOS and Android stores. The same thing seems to be happening with Pokemon Go, which is pretty much it’s own religion at this point. Pokemon Go has been so popular that the mobile application alone increased Nintendo’s market value surpassing Sony’s earlier this year. That. Is. Ridiculous.

Many people have been using the success of Pokemon Go as obvious reasons as to why Nintendo would make a killing as a third party developer. While that may be true naturally because their properties would be accessible to more people, the success they have had this year, not including the continuously under-delivering Wii U console, showcases that Nintendo still has a brand identity, messaging power, and intellectual properties that get people engaged and excited. I think this alone means that Nintendo could still have what it takes to continue on as a first party developer, but only if their messaging is effective and ideally generates mass excitement.

Nintendo's messaging and new logo
The newer red and white Nintendo logo on thumbnails versus the old Wii U and 3DS branded thumbnails.

Nostalgic Messaging Versus a Simpler Approach

With new Nintendo Global President Tatsumi Kimishima at the helm, a business man by literal definition, we’re already seeing small changes being implemented that’ll turn Nintendo’s brand back into one people recognize. On Nintendo’s social media networks and Nintendo kiosks in stores like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and GameStop, Nintendo is going back to the iconic red and white banner we recognized growing up. Their handheld and console items are now being sold under a singular moniker – Nintendo. No more Wii, Wii U, or 3DS split – simply Nintendo. The consolidation of all of their products has been very apparent and could be a visual indication of what is to come. Nintendo’s messaging here gives thought to a few things: 1) Red is a strong color and it’s eye catching; aggressive. Maybe Nintendo is ready to play ball again. 2) Nintendo is going back to what worked when they were on top of things. Although Nintendo’s home consoles began declining in sales in comparison to their competition during the Nintendo 64 era, their brand was still quite favorable because they were delivering products people wanted.

One of multiple criticisms of Nintendo’s methods is that they try too hard to cater to the nostalgic crowd. The reception behind newly introduced NES Mini, proves that people do still care about those hit classics that kept them in business. This November, we’ll be seeing the NES Mini on store shelves. Pre-equipped with 30 old school classics like the original Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., and Metroid, this box of retro goodness will be sold at $59.99 retail. The NES Mini has been well-received based on reactions from gamers online and it’ll be interesting to see how well, or not-so-well, it sells after it releases at the end of this year. Nostalgia aside, fresh IPs like Splatoon prove that Nintendo can still create new experiences that people of all walks of life can get behind – largely due to successful messaging.

In addition to products launching and what they represent, they are also experimenting with a new slogan that hearkens back to the 90s era – “There’s no play like it“. Although there were mixed reactions to this slogan, which we honestly don’t know will stick around as it hasn’t been used since the 2DS price drop announcement in May, it definitely does show signs that Nintendo is revamping the way they message the products they release referencing a simpler format pre-Wii. Or they’re at least thinking about it.

Nintendo's messaging with the NES Mini

Will Nintendo’s Messaging Build a Bridge Between Gamers and their Products?

The biggest question, however, is how will Nintendo’s messaging affect the upcoming NX console supposedly launching next March? Will the nostalgic approach work again for the 9th generation in a row or does Nintendo need to come back with another approach that incites anticipation? Though everything seems to point to Nintendo playing on the nostalgia strings again, a second look could also infer that Nintendo is going back to simpler times where the messaging was precise and the products were self-explanatory. The Wii shook up just as many people as it brought into gaming and the Wii U’s muddled message ultimately lead to it’s demise. Wii U disappointment aside, Nintendo’s messaging for mobile and the handheld space have been well-received by many. If the NX is what I think it is, a hybrid, I don’t see them having much of an issue communicating it to the masses based on history.

Reeling back in, Nintendo of Canada president noted that we should be hearing more about the NX console this fall and I’ll definitely be watching to see if Nintendo sends that pinpoint message that gamers find palatable. For Nintendo’s sake I hope that the product itself matches that message. If it does, they could once again take the world by storm.

As a gamer and potential consumer, how could Nintendo’s messaging assuage your anxiety, if any, about their future products (including the Nintendo NX)? Let us know below!