Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Insights into Nintendo's innovative process

Lost Garden has an excellent essay on the philosophies behind Nintendo's strategy of constant innovation. The author discusses market forces in the gaming industry, how those relate to the concept of game genres, and then how Nintendo's new controller logically fits into the overall approach and strategy that it takes toward the industry.

One clarifying observation I liked was this:

People often look at Nintendo’s releases of a half dozen Mario games a year and assume that they are all clones. In fact, they are typically radically different games across a wide variety of genres. Nintendo gains their value from the Mario brand, not ownership of a specific genre.


Nintendo needs new genres to make money.

It seems obvious when you read it, but people often discount Nintendo, saying they only recycle the same characters and games, without realizing what the company is actually doing. They create new genres of games using familiar characters, the thinking being that gamers will be willing to go with something they're familiar with which will allow Nintendo to introduce something unfamiliar, i.e., innovative, that hopefully gamers will adopt and want more of.

Nintendo's innovation benefits the entire industry by expanding it. Don't worry, Sony and Microsoft will commoditize any innovations soon enough, but for now enjoy the freshness that is Nintendo.

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