Nintendo find themselves in a difficult position, after years of immense success with the Wii and DS, the company is now struggling to remain relevant. Losing mainstream support from the casual audience and failing to meet the expectations of the hardcore, the company seems to have positioned between a rock and a hard place.
Data from Google Trends suggests the company is now tracking lower in terms of search interest than at any other point since 2004. This decline is undoubtedly cause for concern for the Big N. The company has experienced market share issues for a significant period of time now and with the misunderstood Wii U still failing to resonate, this is unlikely to change in the near future.
As we can see since reaching a peak in 2007 search interest in Nintendo has only moved one way, down. While the importance of such statistics in the overall operational picture is questionable, this data paints a very negative picture of the company’s outlook.
Taken into perspective this negative trend is to be expected, the company has lost the mainstream appeal they picked up throughout the Wii/DS era. They have failed to maintain the interest and benefits this wide appeal once offered them. While this audience drain is certainly problematic, what should perhaps be of more concern is the companies’ position now in contrast to that of the ‘pre Wii’ era. General interest in the Nintendo brand is now lower than it was at the back end of the Gamecube era, a time when the video game sector was much smaller.
While the industry has grown Nintendo’s significance has withered, they no longer own the markets that once served them so well. With increased competition in the mobile realm and a matured console field, Nintendo’s output is no longer as appreciated to the extent it once was.
Even Mario, the companies budding mascot has suffered, while his video game output has remained the very pinnacle of the platforming genre, interest in the seasoned plumber has slowly depleted.
While Nintendo’s gradual decline is most definitely alarming, there are still positive indicators for the future. One of the companies’ biggest issues has always related to a lack of content, they have a Disney-esque stable of brands under their belt but due to their rather relaxed development culture, the company has admirably never taken full advantage. This looks set to change; Nintendo have finally recognised the full value of what they already own. Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker is proof the company is not only prepared to expand but innovate as well and this will be key moving into the future.
As we can see a previously unused side asset (Toad) generating little to no interest has suddenly started creating buzz of his own as a direct result of Nintendo’s new ‘utilisation strategy’.
Nintendo are struggling, their battle to remain relevant is becoming increasingly difficult. Competition has all but whittled away their strongest markets and with a stubborn strategy of exclusivity they have actively limited their own commercial opportunities. Of course as a result the Nintendo brand is now more recognisable than ever, their ability to differentiate from the rest of the market remains second to none and this remains their greatest asset. The question on everyone’s mind is whether this can leveraged for success in the future.
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