5 lessons webdevelopers can learn from Nintendo’s WII business model.

December 16, 20077 Comments

realmario.JPGEveryone in the gaming industry has been surprised by Nintendo’s rise and rise in the video gaming market. Their new console the Nintendo WII (for those of you who have been living under a rock) has blindsided the major market dominators Microsoft and Sony. November 2006 was the first time that Xbox, Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3 were all available at the same time to consumers. In this month Nintendo washed the floor with its competitors. There are a number of parallels with Nintendo’s business model and developing a successful website.

1). Keep it simple stupid.

The Wii has kept its control system extremely simple. This can be best demonstrated by this video. Its so simple to use that even a toddler can play, and enjoy. If you make your website the same, visitors will return. Usability is everything, make it complex and people get frustrated and leave.

2). Appeal to all audiences.

A colleague of mine at work recently told me that he “caught” his 56 year old mother playing Wii Golf, at three in the morning, after he came back from a night out on the piss. You aren’t going to find these sorts of tales with the PS3 or Xbox consoles. The same can be said with a popular website. Finding a niche is all well and good, but if you can avoid it – why not. Think Amazon rather than a niche male or female orientated website. You will instantly lose 50% of your audience if your product appeals to one sex.

3). Bells and Whistles are not need to succeed.

The technology used within the Wii’s hardware is not revolutionary. By any means. It is out of date if anything. Does it matter? No. Why? Because Nintendo have decided to concentrate on the user experience rather than pushing the hardware capabilities of the console. Its all about the gameplay, not whether the game console can mow the lawn, wash the dishes and scrub my back in the bath. Gamers want a games console to do one thing. Play games. Not 100 different things. I have a music system and DVD player already, I want my games console to entertain me. Likewise website visitors expect a website to do what it says on the tin, and anything else is a distraction. 37 signals have also picked up on this for their web application business model. Which is why their products are also kicking ass online.

4). Educate and Improve Lifestyle (as well as entertain).

Nintendo has also one brilliant marketing strategy. Show that the Wii has health and educational benefits. They have released physical games, such as Tennis, which actually get gamers off their arses, and get them to keep fit whilst playing the game. This is irresistable for gamers who realise that playing games sitting like a couch potato may not be the best thing for their health. Concerned mothers also become happy parents watching young Jonny jumping around like a fitness loon whilst enjoying himself. Nintendo’s handheld console the DS also appeals to 21st century health concerns. Dr Hiroshima’s Brain training appeals to the young (fun factor, and competing with friends), and old (with a concern about going senile, or developing Alzheimer’s in later life.) Provide your website with a means to educate, or improve the lifestyle of your visitors, and you’ll be onto a winner.

5). Keep it affordable. And provide one simple option.

The Wii is at the less expensive end of the market. This has been achieved by K.I.S.S (see point one), its competitors on the other hand Xbox and Playstation have multiple “flavours” of console, to suit different budgets. This only serves to further confuse the consumer. If you asked me to name the flavours available, the features of each and the costs of each, id be stumped. I do know however what the Wii retails for, there’s only one price to remember. Simply really. The other advantage of this is that there is no elitism amongst the gaming community. With your website business model, if you have competitors, concern yourself with them, rather than making your own site so complex that no one knows what your product(s) cost.

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  1. Great valid points.

    Everything you wrote is the reason I have a Wii and not one of the other next gen consoles.

  2. Alex Kay says:

    Same here, also why I own a Wii. Great post! :)

  3. Rorkimaru says:

    “Gamers want a games console to do one thing. Play games. Not 100 different things.”

    I disagree wholeheartedly. The majority of Wii players aren’t gamers and the consoles tend to gather dust. I like having a single machine that does everything set up in my living room. It means that instead of having clutter and cables taking over the room I have one slick looking machine.

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