Nintendo gets it

Are you impressed at how Nintendo has managed the development, announcement and launch of the Wii?  I am.

It's been pretty clear that the suicidal game of chicken being played by Sony and Microsoft is fraught with risks to anyone caught in its path…Nintendo included.  Both companies are willing to lose mega millions of dollars.  Both have other interests in play.  It doesn't look good for anyone else who wants to be in the business.

It's a rather classic business move to adopt a differentiation strategy when market conditions like this occur.  Nintendo is executing on this masterfully.

First, look at the Wii.  The physical form of the device has been designed specifically to appeal to both male and female sensibilities.  I've said this before and I'll say it again…megahits cross gender and ethnic boundaries.

Second, look at the price point…250 dollars.  The system hardware isn't as advanced, but that's not really the point…it's made up for in other ways.  At 250 bucks, the system is clearly sending a message to anyone who doesn't want a 400 to 600 dollar system.  Buy me instead!

Third, look at the pack in.  The system itself comes with Wii Sports, which is a simple and intuitive set of sports mini games that are very easy to pick up and play.  In fact, the interesting thing about Wii Sports is that it's a party game that practically screams for you to bring over your friends to try the Wii out with them.  It's basically the equivalent of "E-mail this link to a friend", except it's been packed in with the system.  Viral gaming, anyone?

Your friends try the Wii, some of your friends get hooked.  The Wii-mania spreads.

You have to question at this point why anyone would ever release a system without a game like this. 

Not only that, but Nintendo has to be making a killing with the remote and the extra nunchuk.  At 40 dollars for the remote and 20 for the nunchuk, three extra controllers is a LOT of extra revenue just waiting to be sucked in.  The odd thing is that even though it's a bit expensive, you don't really mind that much because you're getting a gaming experience in the process that no other system can give you.  Which brings us to the last point.

Fourth, look at the games.  The motion sensitive controller and philosophy of game design mean that games on the Wii will largely be unique.  In many cases, people aren't going to be choosing between the Wii and the Xbox 360 or PS3.  They are going to be choosing between the Xbox 360 or PS3 and playing games they can't play anywhere else on the Wii.  Exclusive content has always been a key crutch for Nintendo … Mario, Zelda, and countless other franchises have kept Nintendo's consoles going, but the Wii brings it all front and center.

Meanwhile, Sony's killer game for the PS3?  Resistance, Fall of Man.  The cover of the game is a human skull sitting in a helmet, for god's sake.  I dare you to bring over your friends and their girlfriends and get the entire room engaged with a game like that.

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