Across the last few decades Nintendo has built itself a reputation as one of the leading figures in the video gaming industry, however it originally specialised in playing cards when it was founded in Japan in 1889. The native playing cards were fundamental to a traditional Japanese game, and Nintendo found great success in manufacturing and marketing them. The transition Nintendo has undergone to see it evolve from cards to high-tech console systems is one of immense innovation and changes. Nintendo continued to specialise in playing cards for the next 60 years, until the company realised the limitations of card manufacturing and that it wouldn’t allow them to reach the success they desired. It was this realisation that ultimately led Nintendo into the world of technology, where they have made themselves a household name for gaming technology, with products such as the Wii or Game Boy.
What is the Nintendo Switch?
Whilst Nintendo are a formidable business whose name earns respect in the gaming world; they are not the top of their game, and instead play the underdog to Microsoft and Sony. Nintendo in the past have used this role to benefit them, such as when they diverted from the standard gameplay format and took a risk with motion sensor play; which resulted in record breaking sales with the Nintendo Wii. Innovation and revolutionary play has proved to be a successful approach for Nintendo, and they appear to be using the same approach with their latest release. Plans for Nintendo’s latest console the Nintendo Switch, were unveiled back in October last year and since then has remained a hot topic amongst the gaming industry. During the countdown to the launch date more details have been released and it looks set to be Nintendo’s biggest game changer yet.
The Nintendo Switch presents a revolutionary approach to modern gaming, and aims to break the boundary between handheld and TV gaming. The console relies on its switchable qualities to adapt to any surroundings, making uninterrupted play possible for users. The Switch works through three different modes that the user can pick from to best suit their surroundings; the Joy-Con controllers, a portable screen and the base unit are all the components needed to achieve either the Handheld Mode, TV Mode and Tabletop Mode. To ensure minimal disruptions Nintendo have designed the mode transitions to be as frictionless as possible, meaning that users can attain their desired game play mode in matter of switches.
Will the Switch restore Nintendo’s credibility?
Nintendo have released several gaming consoles that have gone onto have phenomenal success worldwide, however Nintendo have also had some embarrassing failures. Most recently the Wii U, which was the follow up to the Nintendo Wii, became an industry joke following its poor sales which were roughly a tenth of its predecessor. Not only were the sales abysmal but the brand reputation suffered a blow following the failure of the Wii U; and Nintendo are now relying on the Switch to redeem them as a worthy contender in the video gaming industry.
Therefore, in order to prevent further brand embarrassment Nintendo have been focusing on their marketing approach to secure Switch’s success. For starters Nintendo have finally diverted from the unusual and irrelevant product names used in the past; the Wii U’s name caused worldwide confusion, with some people not even sure if it was a different console to the original Wii, or merely an upgraded version. Switch is both a simple and effective name that consumers will quickly catch onto, especially with the help of the synonymous sound that is used in the video adverts whenever the Switch logo is shown.
Nintendo have released a surprisingly small amount of promotional videos for the product, but each has proved to be extremely effective. The first was shared back in October of last year, and gave the first official look at the Switch, the unveiling was aimed towards industry members and the gaming community. Additionally, a commercial trailer was released in January; during the 3-minute video all the 3 modes are demonstrated across a range of locations to highlights the Switch’s versatility. The trailer has been hugely successful in building excitement for Switch, with audiences easily able to relate to the user storylines within the advert. Nintendo’s simple yet smart marketing approach has allowed the unique qualities of Switch be the standout feature, which are what makes it a brilliant product in the first place.
What does the future look like for Nintendo?
Regardless of the outcome of the Switch, the initial concept for this console is an indicator for the future of video gaming; with technology advancing at its current rate gamers will no longer be tied to their TV in order to play. Mobile gaming has steadily been gaining prominence in the last few years, as smartphones continue to become bigger and better than ever. In summer of last year Nintendo struck gold with mobile game Pokémon Go, the game quickly transpired into a worldwide obsession, developing its own strain of news, memes and culture. In addition to Switch’s upcoming release it only cements Nintendo’s entry into the mobile gaming race, which is packed full of potential.