During the pandemic of COVID-19, the popularity of the game industry has been soaring on social media. Surrounded by giants like Ubisoft, Blizzard, Tencent and NetEase, Nintendo has made its new game “Animal Crossing” a hit around the world.
Just launched on March 20th, this console game on Nintendo Switch sold over 11.7 million units in ten days and up to 13.4 million in the first six weeks. The runaway popularity even led to Switch shortages. According to the latest financial reports, in the fiscal year ended March 2020, Nintendo had sold 21 million Switch consoles, well above its forecast of 19.5 million globally.
How could Nintendo become a smash hit? Let’s try to find out by using the 4 Facets of Brand Positioning.
Truth: Create an Unprecedented Way of Entertainment
Years ago, especially in China, the market of game consoles was still taken up by PSP (Play Station Portable) launched by Sony in 2004. However, the status quo was challenged in 2017 by Nintendo with its new handheld game console Switch.
Once regarded by gamers as an experimental product on the verge of bankruptcy, Switch wrote its legend in the territory of game consoles. It played a leading role in the market and created a distinctive way of entertainment with its outstanding portability, winning the competition of home-use game consoles among Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.
Combining home-use and handheld console in one for the first time, Switch perfectly interpreted its idea of “switching” to all the users. Not only the modular design of the controller made it the first one with vibration which greatly enhanced the game experience, but the upgrade of hardware and the improvement of interaction also shored up its place in the market.
Taking advantage of the high interactivity of Switch, Nintendo has developed a series of somatosensory games: “Ring Fit Adventure” gives fun to exercises; “Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!” allows the game experience to be more real-life and interactive; Switch Labo lets children find their own way to “make, play and discover”.
In addition to traditional console games, Nintendo has also developed games to accompany your daily life. “100 Classic Books” creates a reading space for kids; “Pokémon Sleep” turns sleeping into entertainment; “Brain Age: Concentration Training” offers different exercises that help to improve your concentration skills – Nintendo cares about all ages with its creativity.
Vision: Bring Endless Joy to Gamers of Different Ages
Seeing all the gamers as “kids”, Nintendo produces its games on the standard of no violence and eroticism, welcoming game loves of all ages. Instead of lifelike images, sexy figures and dazzling effects, Nintendo concentrates on the real fun that every player could fully enjoy.
Mario, Pokémon, Tetris… These games have accompanied many gamers along with their growth. To remain the high popularity, new modules like RAC(Racing Game), AVG(Adventure Genre), STG(Shoot Game), ACT(Action Game) and MUG(Music Game) have also been developed over time. The innovative design of game levels and the rich experience bring users a sense of belonging to the brand.
Apart from working on game developments, Nintendo has leveraged its super IP to attract consumers through movies and sideline products as well. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu took $433.05 million at the box office worldwide, while Pokémon Centers in Japan became the hottest attractions to the fans. As we can see, Nintendo remains true to its initial aspiration that it would bring a smile to everyone connected with Nintendo.
Universe: An Open Paradise for Gamers
The skins priced $182 in “Arena of Valor(王者荣耀)” shocked players used to gratis games, while Onmyoji(阴阳师) players were annoyed by the price of permanent skins which rose to $24. Facing obligatory check-ins for bonus and recharging for higher levels, many gamers dedicate either a great amount of time or money into game playing.
While these game developers are blamed for lack of creativity and excessive demand for money, Nintendo pursues an open world of games, giving full freedom to players.
Take the sandbox game “Animal Crossing” as an example, it allows the players to build a private world for themselves together with friends under the realistic time and enables the virtual operation with a high degree of freedom.
During the social distancing around the world, “Animal Crossing” has become a utopia for users to organize lectures on anti-epidemic measures, host weddings and art exhibitions along with many other activities. In the island utopia, “Animal Crossing” has created an open paradise enabling gamers to experience another life, where they could escape from the current context and rebuild the bridges with each other.
Personality: A Kyoto Gamer Staying True to Itself
Comparing to impressive buildings in large cities of other game companies, the headquarter of Nintendo is located in a square-shaped white building in Kyoto and haven’t changed the place since its establishment; While other companies are commonly recruiting post-90s growing up with video games, the average age of Nintendo employees still remains at 38.6 years old; When almost all the other game developers tend to create their entirely immersive virtual world, Nintendo keeps rooted in the real world—These facts seem to draw the picture of a stubborn old man, but on the other hand, it can be seen that Nintendo just wants to be a persistent Japanese game artisan whose one and only wish is to provide the gamers with perfect games and genuine happiness.
Although some consumers regard Nintendo as a brand in pursuit of profit, its vision is to create fun for players, according to its loyal fans. For a company in need of management and investments for game development, commercialization is inevitable; Based on this, Nintendo still succeeds to achieve a balance between commercialization and individuation, which made it the game industry winner despite the fiercest competition.
Nintendo, Big Winner in the Game Industry
You never would’ve imagined that a kid immersed in video games might one day become a popular e-sports game star, which is a dream career of numerous children nowadays. After seeing the infinite opportunities, countless brands are eager to benefit from the business, while gradually diluting the initial inspiration of creating joy through games in lives. Nintendo has kicked off a revolution with its console Switch, provoking the gamers and even the whole industry to re-imagine “how games are played”.
“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” Said Iwata Satoru, former CEO of Nintendo. It exactly reveals the reason of Nintendo’s success: To design as a producer, to experience as a user. Nintendo is continuously taking into account what the gamers really want by staying true to itself and so standing out in the territory with the spirit of striving for perfection.