Nintendo Enters The Real World, Makes DS More Marketer-Friendly
I am taking these summer months to review some of the devices that have dropped into my life recently and revisiting the role they have come to play in my post-PC existence. Among the least likely marketing vehicles is the Nintendo 3DS handheld gaming system, but it is worth noting how this little gaming powerhouse has evolved of late.
Nintendo has in the past been notoriously uncooperative with Madison Avenue as it keeps very tight control over connected systems like the Wii and WiFi-enabled handhelds like the DS and #D-powered 3DS. Like consoles and devices from Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo has been cultivating the digital download space with on-board shops. But unlike its rivals, Nintendo has been reserved in using these connected platforms for promotional purposes.
Until now. In recent months the suddenly challenged Nintendo (it posted its first-ever annual loss this year) has changed its tune a bit. The 3DS eStore is starting to look a bit like a mobile app store, with third-party applications like Electronic Arts’ MySims Camera and others present and able to integrate with device features like the built-in cameras. Netflix, of course, has always been here, but now we are getting more sophisticated uses of the platform for entertainment promotions. Nintendo itself is in full self-promo mode. The eStore has a folder dedicated just to upcoming games, the next-generation Wii console and even an intro video from Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime.
Even more to the point for marketers, the 3DS platform also has a push mechanism that is unique. The Nintendo Video app works in the background to retrieve select videos -- everything from curious Web shows to short news clips on skateboarding. Everything is family-friendly, to be sure, but the video app features only four videos at a time and introduces to the device a bit of serendipity.
It is also a great promotional tool. Currently on my device, the film trailer for the amazing Spiderman is present. When I run it on the dual-screen 3DS, the top screen runs the trailer in widescreen, while the bottom screen promotes the Amazing Spiderman 3DS game and even links me back to the eStore to download the demo.
While the 3DS and PlayStation Vita may well represent the last generation of handheld game system, they both demonstrate the unique power of that closed system, where users can be channeled and pushed and promotions can dominate a screen. Perhaps too little too late for the game hardware makers.