Does Nintendo Hate Money?

Ben Bajarin - Apr 26, 2011
Does Nintendo Hate Money?

Many people would agree that Nintendo has some of the most recognizable software titles in the market. There was a time when proprietary software titles were necessary to differentiate a hardware gaming platform. Title drivers as we call them, were an important part of gaining interest in one companies console over another. The world is different now and I think Nintendo is missing out on a huge opportunity.

The Market Opportunity
There has and will always be a market for dedicated gaming consoles. The growth opportunity however is the larger audience to which a dedicated game console or a hardcore gaming experience is overkill. This is the shift of late that we have seen Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft embrace with their hardware in an attempt to attract a wider audience. The logic as they told me was so they could go after the larger crowd who is overwhelmed by a controller and all its buttons and won’t sit on the couch for hours gaming. By adding additional value to the console hardware their hope is that it will appeal to a wider audience.

As I said there is still a market for that audience (of which I am a member) but I am constantly wondering what would happen if those proprietary software titles branched out and become available on other people’s hardware. The fact of the matter is if you examine the bottom line of the gaming industry there is more money to be made in software than in hardware. The counter argument however is that the hardware market is not as crowded as the software market.

However, to the point of Nintendo, since they have some of the most recognized global gaming titles and franchises I think they have the best chance to succeed in making their software titles available on more devices.

Mario on Every Screen
So that brings me to the question at hand. Why doesn’t Nintendo offer some if not all or at least part of their epic gaming franchises to all devices? Especially to the booming smart phone and tablet market. What if Mario Bros. and a slew other games were available on the iPhone, iPad, and Android Market? The expanded audience and potential reach with this strategy could be massive. There could be a gold mine to be harvested.

Part of the software strategy could be in the form of mini-games or scaled down versions of the full game experience only available on Nintendo hardware. My point is Nintendo has some amazing software titles and locking them only to their hardware, I feel, is missing out on a large opportunity. There are plenty of people who would pay anywhere between .99c and $10 for some of these titles and game experiences on their smart phones and tablets.

Perhaps part of my logic is selfish. I don’t carry around a portable Nintendo gaming console for a myriad of reasons. I’d love to be able to play current and future versions of Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong on my smart phone and tablet. Nintendo’s mobile strategy continues to be positioned by the industry as a strategy geared more toward younger kids. If Nintendo were to take a more liberal strategy with their software and create versions of those franchises for all mobile devices they could instantly more than double their total addressable market. Again, making loads of money, which apparently they are just not interested in.

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