Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the game industry’s prominence on social media has surged. Positioned among gaming giants like Ubisoft, Blizzard, Tencent, and NetEase, Nintendo has strategically elevated its brand with the global success of the new game “Animal Crossing.” Explore Nintendo’s effective brand positioning in the game industry, capitalizing on the rising popularity of gaming during these unprecedented times.
Animal Crossing (source: nintendo.com)
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.
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.
Switch (source: talkesport.com)
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.
Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure (source: ricgrady.pixnet.net)
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”.
Nintendo Switch Labo (source: nintendo.co.uk)
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.
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.
Nintendo creates games for players of all ages (source: dlmag.com)
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.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (source: newslagoon.com)
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.
A Pokémon Center in Japan (source: gamespot.com)
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.
Players are “having a party” in Animal Crossing (source: usgamer.net)
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.
The headquarter of Nintendo (source: pinterrest.com)
Explore Nintendo’s distinctive brand positioning in the gaming industry. Unlike other game giants with impressive headquarters, Nintendo’s enduring Kyoto base reflects its commitment since inception. While competitors recruit younger talent, Nintendo maintains an average employee age of 38.6 years. In a virtual world trend, Nintendo stays rooted in reality, epitomizing a persistent Japanese game artisan. Uncover how Nintendo’s steadfast approach aims to deliver perfect games and genuine happiness to gamers, setting a unique brand positioning in the dynamic game industry.
The figures in Nintendo games (source: smashbros.com)
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.
Explore the evolving landscape of brand positioning in the game industry. Today, kids immersed in video games aspire to become e-sports stars, a dream career for many. Amidst the surge of brands eager to capitalize on this, Nintendo ignites a revolution with its Switch console, challenging gamers and the industry to rethink “how games are played.” Delve into the shifting dynamics of brand positioning in the gaming realm, where the pursuit of joy through games faces new challenges and opportunities.
“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.
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