On 30th January 2014, Mr Iwata spoke at Nintendo’s investor meeting about the lackluster WiiU sales, the situation the company are currently facing, how to address it and confirmed that a new QOL device(s) are part of a big blue ocean that Nintendo are looking at. He addressed the smartphone rumours and squashed the possibility that Nintendo franchises would appear on other console formats.
One of the points that may have been missed out is that Iwata said the company will license Nintendo game character rights to new partners, but they would not be appearing on other platforms, which makes sense.
But just how are they planning on doing this, and just how soon would we start to see the changes? Well we’re into April now, just 2 months after the conference and already I think that licensing has started to be noticed. It certainly has for me anyway. It may not be to new partners that many would have envisioned but it’s certainly some big moves.
Firstly and I must stress it’s not the biggest of deals, but it was making gaming news websites and even cnet, is that Nintendo had licensed the image of a kart from Mario Kart to Jakks Pacific toys. They released a fully driveable (if you’re a child) Mario Kart for $200. As I stated it’s not massive, Nintendo license toys all the time, but the news that this release garnered was something more than your standard Nintendo KNEX release.
As some of you may be aware 2014 will see the FIFA World Cup taking place in Rio. It’s the biggest footballing event on the planet and will attract millions of viewers. Numerous companies try to get involved as to not miss out on the massive potential advertising. And it would appear Nintendo don’t want to miss out on this cash bandwagon either. Japan is a nation that enjoys football, and they also enjoy Pokemon. What better partnership could there be than Pikachu parading around in an Adidas Japanese football shirt. This happened; Adidas and Nintendo have struck up a deal for Pokemon to be the official / unofficial mascots of the Japanese football team. I don’t know if we’ll see Pikachu take to the field in the Japanese football kit prior to their games in Rio or not, but still a nice move nonetheless.
McDonalds is pretty big, you can’t deny that this fast food chain must make some big money daily. Well from what I understand Super Mario toys have featured in the fast food chain in other countries previously, but UK finally got their turn midway through March. Each Wednesday 2 new toys are released with the happy meal. The aim of Nintendo for this one was to get kids active if the happy meal packaging is anything to go by. I don’t know who the benefactor out of this deal is. Nintendo for advertising their Mascot to millions of children who get treated to a happy meal, or for McDonalds who could see an increase in nostalgic adults or gamers partaking in the odd happy meal to get some Mario figures.
All I know is, it worked for me as I’ve made 3 trips there in 3 weeks and opting to buy the additional 2nd toy that’s available that week. As of publishing this I’ve got 6 of the 8 available with the final 2 releasing next Wednesday and you can bet I’ll be there on my lunch break to get the final 2.
Finally as you’ll all know April 1st is April fools. Gaming sites and companies have elaborate pranks to get the geekier of us hyped about false promises. Well this year Google got into the act with a trailer displaying the official job title of Pokemon Master was available at Google HQ. How do you get the job? Simple complete the Pokedex, Google Maps was updated on the sly to include a Pokemon hunt mode; from here you flip around the globe trying to find 151 Pokemon from across all generations to earn the prestigious job title.
Google did eventually confirm that the title of Pokemon Master wasn’t available, but it didn’t mean they pulled the plug on Pokemon hunt mode on Google Maps. While this move may not capture as large a crowd as other promotions Nintendo are pushing, it was still great to see the Nintendo copyright at the bottom of Google Maps. It captured mine and my friend’s imaginations for a fair few hours. None of us have them all yet, but we did have fun texting each other various locations of hotspots to catch some more.
While none of these may actually help in shifting hardware, it’s nice to see that they are trying to establish their brand more. We’re only 2 months after the initial conference to address Nintendo’s strategy and I’m already impressed with the moves they are making. Hopefully they can continue making advertising partnerships that pay greater diffidence for their hardware in the coming months. If QOL (Quality of life) is a fitness related product which is the general consensus I wonder if they can find other brands to help advertise this product. Could Adidas be the official sportswear of NintendoQOL? Maybe, Pokemon has started to appear on Netflix but perhaps Netflix will insist that WiiU Gamepad is the preferred method to watch Pokemon over other formats?
Who knows? I’m looking forward to see what moves Nintendo makes next.