Nintendo targeting Wii U marketing to kids, families

Reggie Fils-Aime lays out holiday plan for latest console, says Nintendo experimenting with mobile experiences

With the Xbox One and PS4 fighting over the core gaming crowd this holiday season, Nintendo is targeting its Wii U marketing elsewhere. In an interview with Seattle NBC affiliate King-5, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said the system is enjoying strong holiday momentum, thanks in part to a renewed and refocused marketing push.

"The marketing has tremendously ramped up," Fils-Aime said. "And really where it comes down to is being crystal clear in who's your target. For us, this holiday with the Wii U, the target is parents and their kids. So if you're watching primetime family entertainment, you're seeing our marketing. If you're a parent watching morning or daytime media, you're seeing our content."

Fils-Aime declined to give specifics about Nintendo's marketing spend, but did expound on the company's overall strategy.

"More than just the dollars, we're putting our product where the consumer can see it, touch it, and feel it," Fils-Aime said. "We're in over 20 malls across the country. We're creating an opportunity for consumers to see the product, because that, for Nintendo, is where the 'wow' happens. It's not when you talk about specs or technology."

Fils-Aime also addressed continued calls for Nintendo to begin making games for smartphones and tablets. While he stressed a corporate philosophy that Nintendo games are best played on Nintendo devices, Fils-Aime said the company has been doing "experimentation" on mobile platforms. However, he cautioned that experimentation is "largely going to be much more marketing activity oriented," and designed to push users to experiences on the 3DS or Wii U rather than serve as stand-alone experiences in themselves.

"What drives us is creating fantastic experiences for consumers that in the end we're able to monetize as a for-profit company," Fils-Aime said. "The issue is that if you have games out there on all of these smart devices for very small amounts of money, it's very difficult to monetize. And if you look at all of these companies who are trying to do it, there aren't many that are doing it long-term, profitably."

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Latest comments (31)

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
My Christmas wish this year is for journalists and investors to stop asking/demanding that Nintendo put their IP on something other than their own hardware.
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Tanya Rei Myoko Programmer 5 years ago
Those are the exact people I don't want them focussing on.... Stop making the system worse
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
Beat me to it, Jim... Yeah, but it'll never happen, those comments stopping...
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Show all comments (31)
Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 5 years ago
What Jim said and....

To be honest its a move that may work for them, simply because when i go christmas shopping, I see kids begging for a WiiU or 3DS. And frankly I think its good that kids can have video game products that caters to them. And while Microsoft and Xbox are battling out with the more adult oriented, graphics AAA heavy harcore games, Nintendo has simply aimed for a differant audience. And frankly, their games consistantly get reviews of 8 or higher.

If Nintendo were to release there IP on other platforms the magic will fade away into obscurity, just like most titles on mobile platforms. Having expiriences that people can only find on there products is what will keep them in business for years to come.

However my final wish is that they dont leave out the adult crowd who grew up with them and we get more games like Bayonetta 2 and "X" as well.

Besides, the WiiU is the next console Im gonna purchase.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 5 years ago
When you have a lemon, you make lemonade.
Nintendo are spot on in avoiding the new generation consoles in the market.
They have identified the customers who are most likely to buy their box. And how to reach them with the right message.
Classical professional marketing.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany5 years ago
I'm afraid that is the only market they have now.

Basically what I said above but with more detailed words. Agreed.
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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University5 years ago
@ Jim

Merry Christmas!!

Not quite what you asked for, but some reasoned analysis that takes into account the fact Nintendo don't operate the way other publishers/manufacturers do.
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Admit that the dev team picked the wrong hardware, wrong market and wrong lineup - then start again with a new team... rather than try and target an audience that you had not planned on originally! either the original plan was right and stay the course, or it was wrong and you have to clear the decks?
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 5 years ago
Admit that the dev team picked the wrong hardware, wrong market and wrong lineup - then start again with a new team.
But then the team wont learn from their past mistakes.
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David Serrano Freelancer 5 years ago
@Bruce Everiss

But if Nintendo adhered to the Blue Ocean / disruptive technology strategy with the Wii U, wouldn't the default goal have been to target consumers who needs and preferences are not being addressed by Sony and Microsoft... mid-core and non-hardcore core players? Consumers who don't need the power or functionality of the PS3 - PS4 or 360 - XBO and or, don't value the game libraries for those systems... but would find value a less powerful system which exclusively offered games and services aligned with their needs, preferences and desires?

So to me, it seems like the Wii U is struggling because it was created for a specific audience but Nintendo inexplicably doesn't have the games and services needed to appeal to that audience. The question is do they understand this but can't publicly acknowledge it? Or are they actually as confused as they seem to be? I suspect it's the first but I'm starting to have doubts.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by David Serrano on 19th December 2013 4:42pm

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Pete Thompson Editor 5 years ago
I just assumed that with the IP they have that Nintendo always targeted kids and / or families, I've not yet seen a Nintendo exclusive that was aimed at adults or core or casual gamer's.. But I could be wrong..

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pete Thompson on 19th December 2013 6:12pm

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 5 years ago
The last sentence is such a nice way of saying "remember, we watch companies go out of business, not the other way around". It is like being slapped by a choked to death puppy with nice glitter and festive decorations all over it; Reggie slapped.
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Mohammed Alsadoon Staff Writer, Gaming Bus5 years ago
@Pete Thompson:

On the WiiU specifically? Currently ZombiU could be put there as is the Wonderful 101. In the future, Bayonetta 2 and "X"
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Richard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes5 years ago
I don't see how Nintendo has changed tact here ; their audience has and will always be kids and family. Every launch cycle they say they're going to target the core demographic and they never end up hitting it (after all they wanted Saints Row on 3DS for heavens sakes!!!). This time around it was Ubisoft's Zombie game. Both launches were poor because the kids/family Nintendo flagship titles were missing and the price was too high. They did a fantastic job of refocusing the 3DS and got the price down, now they have some of the titles for Wii-U but Reggie can spout to Moms all he likes at $299 it's too expensive. That is not the price of a toy, and Nintendo machines are regarded as toys. They aren't in competition with Microsoft or Sony. The controller is still a disaster that could end up sinking the machine, it makes price reduction extremely difficult and Nintendo has done nothing to tell the consumer WHY it's such a great feature (mostly because I don't think even their engineers have found a hook for it - which for Nintendo is highly unusual). Like the 3D gimmick on 3DS the Wii-U controller, to date, is just seen as a gimmick. Unfortunately for Nintendo this gimmick costs $100 and can't be removed as easily the more titles that come out that use it.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
Pete Thompson: First party titles (with third party developers) Eternal Darkness and Geist on the GameCube would disagree with you slightly as would all of the Metroid Prime games (although the latter are in a way "family" oriented because they're not "mature" in any way, shape or form). That's not counting, of course some N64 titles (Conker's Bad Fur Day was DEFINITELY not a family game!), but I'll just bypass anything made in the last century (for now)...
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Jed Ashforth Senior Game Designer, Immersive Technology Group, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe5 years ago
"We're in over 20 malls across the country."
Is he talking abou the US? That doesn't sound like many?
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 5 years ago
They set up shop for a weekend typically. Remember when the virtua Boy team was in the mall the same day as the aplayStation launch. They were pretty pissed when I told them my master system did better 3d a decade earlier. I hope their teams like babysitting the children, because having run similar events in the past, that's what's going to happen. You must be ever vigilant to keep the parent less kids to a minimum. If I only had $10 a head, I could've mopped up. Typically the temps they hire to run these booths are pretty awful (I carried a knowledgeable crew), so I wish them luck
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Christopher Ingram Editor-at-Large, Digitally Downloaded5 years ago
Had Nintendo not changed its advertisement/marketing strategies on its second E3 reveal, I think the controller would have been better integrated into its games; remember, the Wii U (Wii You) was originally designed as a core gaming console that combined the power of a home console with the unique features of the 3DS.

Once it brought the multitude of controllers and local multiplayer focus aboard, I started stating it publicly that this decision had the potential to be disastrous for the longevity of the console. When the consoles' core design, and the way that its advertised and marketed don't align, you confuse the mainstream media, whom so many of which make purchases based on impulse - pricing plays a great factor here, just as you already stated.

People don't see a tablet and think "local multiplayer and family fun." Parents don't see the Wii U and a images/videos of four people with Wiimotes in their hands and think, "I've got to have that!" Instead, they look at it and wonder how in the world do you hook all of that up and "why does it still use those remotes if its a new system, that's a tablet?"

Slash the price to $199, get rid of the Wiimote and local multiplayer adverts and start showing games that take advantage of the GamePad's unique control features and this will start moving units a bit better in my opinion - retain the family oriented marketing, of course. I thought that the indie market would shine on this console with its unique control interfaces, but the support just hasn't been there, sadly.

Do remember though, the Wii in a nutshell was a gimmick, just as Kinect is. Gimmicks that are properly marketed have the potential to sell extremely well.
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Richard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes5 years ago
Two problems with that Christopher, the tablet controller restricts them being able to reduce the price to $199 and local family co-op is Nintendo's strongest suit and appeal. Dump the tablet (which nobody has used effectively anyway, it's the least integrated hardware/software feature Nintendo's ever launched IMHO) and ship the thing at $199 with four classic controllers and Mario. That'd shift units! Would need to be Wii-U2 at that point though. Wii-U jr.?
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Art C. Jones Writer / Blogger 5 years ago
The tablet is the swiss knife of controllers.
It makes game play possible that can not be replicated by the other consoles.
What Nintendo should do is double-down on the tablet, not step away from it. You go where you are unique. Running to be like everyone else is a losing strategy.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
All that and hell, Microsoft and Sony are more or less copying that GamePad by making you buy a second system or a tablet or other device if you don't have one just to enjoy 2nd screen experiences on their hardware. The Wii U still works the best with games made for that GamePad in terms of a LOT less noticeable lag, period.
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Richard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes5 years ago
Christian - if that's the USP of the Wii-U no wonder it's failing so badly. Social features? For a core 7-10 year old market??? The Gamepad is keeping the cost of the machine out of the Classic Nintendo demographic, and in effect breaks equality of the multiplayer experience - plus anyone with children will appreciate the difficulties of telling child B they have to use a wii mote in Mario rather than the fancy Gamepad! To me it's a feature polar opposite to their audience.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Browne on 24th December 2013 4:45pm

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Paul Jace Merchandiser 5 years ago
When have Nintendo not marketed their systems and handhelds towards kids and families?
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Richard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes5 years ago
And as a parent I bar my children from any social online interaction unless explicitly known as safe.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 5 years ago

Here's the issue with the WiiPad. The off-TV play was designed primarily for Japan, as is pretty much everything Nintendo does. In Japan, many families sleep in the "living room" together, and as such have one TV. While many in the core gamer audience find the off-TV feature attractive, it's designed so little Akira can play his games while Mom and dad watch the news. In the USA, kids often have their own TV, and those that don't wouldn't be allowed to take this into their room either more often than not. The ones who are curling up witht the family are on their phones, tablets or DS already, so they don't need something new.

The Pad costs about $80 to build, and does not contain parts that Nintendo owns or manufactures for the most part. It's a huge cost albatross around their neck that is bringing very little benefit. Simply allowing the DS to connect for the same purpose solves a lot of the same issues. The res a reason why 360/PS4 are still $199, and that's because they're having a lot of trouble reducing the costs on them further. The WiiU has the same problem, as it's already "slim", and applies many of the lessons learned by those consoles. Dropping the price any further any time soon is simply going to cost them a ton of money.

Nintendo needs to get out of the console business, and fast. There is nothing they offer but overpriced technologically ancient boxes without anything close to the kind if features the competition enjoyed 5 years ago. Continuing to sell to the faithful isn't sustainable that much longer, and the $1.5 billion or so it takes to launch a console is better spent on training your programming teams to handle HD development, the requirements of which they should have known from the rest of the world doing it for close to a decade.

I'm sure the "Nintendo is fine" brigade will be out in force soon. But they're not, they've got a decade of losing money, tops, without a radical restructuring of their entire company from the top down, installing people who aren't stuck in the 90s, or merging with someone like Apple, Nintendo is going to continue to bleed out, selling rehashes of Games whose core play hasn't changed since N64 to the ever shrinking circle of the faithful. It's not that they aren't good games, it's that they aren't system sellers in the slightest. To those outside the faith.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
Nice post/rubuttal, Christian, but a "Wii" bit of game history to add for your research: This came out about two years before the Wii and while nowhere near as popular, was a pioneer of sorts at getting asses up of the couch and active. I think they still sell these online, too.
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Richard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes5 years ago
Christian ; I've played around with the Mii-verse a bit, but my kids (6/9) have never shown any interest in it whatsoever. Nintendo and online is pretty much an oxymoron. 7-10 is Nintendo's core audience, 10-14 is probably secondary, you're definitely moving into Microsoft and Sony territory at that juncture.

I don't think Nintendo are in that much difficulty, their brands and games will carry them when the price is right. The 3DS/2DS is doing great business again this Christmas because the pricepoint and quality of the content is compelling. The problem with the Wii-U is the price, it's $100 too expensive - and Jeff is right about the cost of the gamepad, in fact he may be a bit light given I heard directly from Redmond that if they were to retail it they couldn't do so for less than $100. Buying a replacement from Nintendo if you lost one costs $140.
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Richard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes5 years ago
The single largest group isn't the core audience? Odd statement. Nintendo appeals to all ranges, 7-10 is their dominant place which is why the vast majority of their games ensure that age group can play them. With regards to the price of the gamepad, I've not broken one down, but if Nintendo is charging $140 to replace one, and announced they would sell them separately in Japan at 13,440 yen (about $128 today. $172 at the time) then either they're having a laugh at consumers expense or they're expensive to make. Which is exactly what they told me first hand, so I'm not really going to doubt them.
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Richard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes5 years ago
Christian for the last time mate, Nintendo themselves expressed the retail cost would be over $100, Nintendo themselves sell replacements for $140.

Core is the entry point, it's where Nintendo drive their customer base from. They don't go out advertising and selling to middle aged men or 15-35 year old males that make up Sony and Microsoft's core base.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Browne on 27th December 2013 1:58am

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Richard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes5 years ago
Christian last time x 2 ; directly from Nintendo the cost of the Gamepad (at the time of launch) was about $100. Straight from Nintendo. It's why they've not launched add on Gamepads, because they know they couldn't sell them. It's why they're not developing software to utilize two gamepads. It's why they can't price reduce the machine to $199 where it needs to be. Besides, you're a journalist Christian, phone up Steve Okimoto or Reggie and ask them. :)

And the kids in that second commercial most certainly are 7-10. First, no, but there's a thing called aspiration marketing - young kids look up to older, just as a 14 year aspires to play Halo and Call of Duty (and often is these days). I guess we can settled on 7-14 if you like, but from personal experience boys 10+ are already moving toward Microsoft/Sony, by 14 they're absolutely on those platforms.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Browne on 27th December 2013 5:54pm

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Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange5 years ago
Nintendo, rated "E" for everyone.
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