October 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm by Ted Mininni
The critics are unenthused, but consumers aren’t. Pre-orders on Nintendo’s Wiii U Gaming System are scorching hot. In fact, many retailers’ stocks are sold out well ahead of the November 18th date when Wii U is supposed to hit store shelves. Strong pre-sales are one thing, but will the actual gaming system live up to all of the hype?
The selling points: an innovative new Game Pad controller that will make it possible to play games in entirely new ways and allow gamers to connect with friends and play together. Not only does Nintendo promise that Wii U will enable gamers to use its screen, but to also use the Game Pad controller as a remote to share the activity on a TV screen. The controller has its own built-in touch screen display. It also allows users to access content on TV, cable, video-on-demand and a DVR. Additional content, games and apps can be downloaded from Nintendo’s eShop. And how about experiencing it all in up to 1080p HD? The question is: will Wii U be worth its $300 (basic model) to $350 (deluxe model) price tag?
In a recent Forbes magazine interview, Reggie Fils-Aime, president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America revealed these insights when asked about the cost vs competing gaming systems: “We’ll see what our competitors do and where they are… but we’re going to be going after different consumers. With the Wii U, Nintendo will be speaking to the active consumer looking for the latest in a gaming experience… but we’re also going to be speaking to a much broader mass market consumer with games like Nintendo Land and new Super Mario Brothers U, as well as the innovative Nintendo TVii. So we believe that given everything we’re offering, the price points we’ve announced – $300 for the basic set, $349 for the deluxe – represent incredible values to the consumer. And all of the things that we’re including for free, others charge you for. The Nintendo TVii service, video chat… all of these capabilities are built into our proposition. So we feel pretty good. But in the end the consumer is going to vote.”
A bunch of new games from hot franchises like The Avengers, Assassins Creed III, New Super Mario Brothers U and Lego City Undercover cover family friendly titles and games for hard-core, experienced gamers who are looking for the next exciting challenges, all debuting with Wii U.
Breaking new ground in consumer electronics is great, but the experience is everything. Will the new Wii U be considered a clear winner over the existing Wii console? Will it deliver on its promise of a more engaging customer experience? The jury is out on this one until the units are actually in consumers’ hands.
In the meantime, let’s look at the packaging. Package design goes a long way to delivering and selling consumers on the brand. Any brand. When it comes to Nintendo’s packaging for the Wii U, it’s startlingly evident that brand communication is limited to a visual of the actual unit and an icon in the upper right hand corner that lets consumers know what’s included with the new gaming system. Hmm… I guess Nintendo is relying on all of the media chat, rather than the packaging, to let consumers know why they should line up to get the new Wii U. Remember: 130 million Wii units have been sold worldwide, so does Nintendo expect the hype to do the selling?
Part of the answer comes from Mr. Fils-Aime in his Forbes interview: “Our approach is to partner our marketing teams with the product teams, and make sure that we identify those key product-based selling points, and then communicate them as broadly as possible.”
“So for example, you will see much more focused marketing that showcases this two screen experience, and why it’s so much fun. You’ll see much more hands-on activities for consumers, so that they can experience it themselves. We’ll be in malls across the country beginning right around Black Friday, to help consumers understand what this experience is all about, and to get them to advocate for it.”
Ok… so, what about the games? Take a look at a couple of titles and you’ll see that, as always, the package design for the games truly captures the excitement of each title.
Regardless of all of the bells and whistles, all of the great new game titles, it all boils down to what Mr. Fils-Aime said himself while seeming to channel former Procter & Gamble CEO, G. Alan Lafley: “But in the end the consumer is going to vote.” Exactly. Will Wii U deliver on consumer expectations? Will it clearly be a step up from current Wii gaming systems? We’ll find out soon. Very soon.
I’d love to hear from you on this one.
Categories:Branding, Package Design, Consumer Products, Entertainment