Wii Three

Three things Nintendo must do to make Wii a success at launch and beyond:

i.) Don’t rely too much on the usual Nintendo mascot characters. This might sound insane. After all, who doesn’t want new versions of Mario, Zelda, and Metroid? But considering the main idea behind Wii is innovation and new ways to play, why not keep the games fresh and invent some brand new franchise characters? After all, we got Pikmin, a brilliant gem of a game, when Miyamoto decided to make a new franchise for the Cube. Imagine what his unique noggin could come up with for the Wiimote. While Nintendo has shown us brief glimpses of new content like Disaster: Day of Crisis and Project Hammer, let’s hope it doesn’t stop there. Besides, if Wii is going to successfully attract non-Nintendo fans and brand new gamers, Donkey Kong isn’t going to mean jack.

ii.) Start advertising now. Where are the U.S. magazine ads? No viral marketing campaigns? How about teaser commercials on TV and in theaters? It’s never too early for this kind of advertising, especially since the system is due to arrive in the next several months. And while we’re on the subject, Nintendo needs to make sure it’s targeting the right demographic with its ads. Yes, children will play Wii, so there should be ads during Saturday morning cartoons. After all, how else can the wee ones (no pun intended) nag their ‘rents with constant reminders of what they want for Christmas? However, there also should be ads on MTV, Comedy Central, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, and Spike to attract the “mature” gamers. And considering the success Nintendo has had with senior citizens playing Brain Age and the company’s goal for non-gamers of all ages to start gaming with Wii, why not Lifetime, CNN, and HGTV? Also, the ad campaign(s) need to be unique enough to capture the spirit of the quirky Wii, but not so out there that they baffle consumers. Oh, and please end each game commercial with that said game’s character(s) shouting “wheeeeee!” On second thought, maybe that’s the worst idea since the name “Wii.”

iii.) Stop being so secretive. While the launch date is still unannounced, we know we’ll see the Wii hit stores somewhere between September and December. Yet here we are in August, and there are still a lot of unknowns in Nintendo’s strategy. What’s the launch date? They’ve assured us we won’t have to sell our organs to afford the system, but how cheap are we talking? How about more online details? What’s that final slap-your-mother-with-astonishment secret that’s yet to be revealed? Nintendo has been wise to to whet fans’ appetites with morsels of info here and there. Each crumb sent news outlets, retailers, and fanboys into a fervor, nearly setting fire to the world’s supply of internet message boards with an onslaught of theories, mock ups, and speculation. Even Nintendo’s recent press release announcing software dates teased its readers with a possible Da Vinci Code-like hidden message as to when the system will be released. This strategy has kept Wii at the top of conversations. In fact, it’s been years since an upcoming console has been this talked about. But you can only tease for so long until people begin to lose interest. Kids need to start telling the parents a price and date so they can get one for Christmas. Retailers need to have sufficient time to take preorders. Most importantly, the faithful fans deserve these details after agonizing over the system’s arrival for the past several years. Nintendo has said in the past that it didn’t want to reveal too much out of fear that competitors would steal its ideas (cough, Sony, cough, controller). That made perfect sense. But we’re down to the wire here. It’d be too late for many big ideas to be stolen at this point. Start speaking up. Oh, and given Nintendo’s long history of being secretive with all their projects, the company should follow this advice after the Wii launch.

As always, your thoughts are appreciated.

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