Nintendo’s Unlikely Savior — Amazon

Nintendo is not dead, despite all reports. Yet, after three consecutive years of loss, it does appear that Nintendo’s leadership is finally willing to admit that all is not well in the house of Mario.

nin-ama2Wii U is not selling and while the DS line of handheld gaming devices continues to sell, Nintendo’s reliance on branded hardware, limited first party releases and a denial of market trends may be the three things that end its reign. When tech companies have troubles, tech journalists suggest that the biggest competition will gobble them up whole through acquisition. I have a completely different idea. One that might help it return to profitability in two years or less. Yet, it has to admit several problems before it can do it.

The Software Problem: Nintendo is a for-profit company that needs to maintain its IP, earn revenue from that IP and while it might make more money by creating more titles based on that IP, it doesn’t. My suggestion would be to create a program where Nintendo approached game studios with a proposition. Create a stellar game on any IP in the Nintendo library. Nintendo would still need to approve of the IP use but giving a license to any game developer to create the next Mario, Donkey Kong or Wario game would be welcome.

On the same idea, developing a program where Nintendo allowed up and coming (or indie) game makers to use its IP would help add new titles to the small online libraries it has. Nintendo would still maintain the distribution but these solutions would do something that Nintendo fans would embrace, a wealth of choice.

The Single Purpose Problem: The Wii can’t play DVDs. The Wii U can’t either. You can’t use the DS to Skype. Sure, you can use Netflix (finally) but adoption of Netflix on those devices can’t be high.  The Wii U is a powerful device that simply does one thing – it plays a limited amount of games.  Players invest in products to use in their everyday lives that have more than one purpose. The phone in your pocket plays games, plays music, plays videos, monitor stocks, watch sports scores… Nintendo needs to finally embrace its Japanese culture. A culture that is addicted to technology because its culture has helped innovate technology worldwide. Now it needs to embrace what its fans want and deliver a device that does more than just play games.

The Hardware Problem: Developing hardware is not a cheap activity and while it helps Nintendo maintain its exclusivity, it hurts distribution. While I am a big proponent of broad releases (like Sega’s post-Dreamcast strategy), Nintendo would never go for it. Yet, it would need an innovative, global partner who had the means to stay ahead of the industry, had an already established product line to use as a platform and wasn’t Sony or Samsung. While the Wii U has problems, I do think that the Wii U’s GamePad is where Nintendo’s future will head. It’s a smart way to let the less profitable Wii line lessen, move DS gamers to a new platform on a bigger screen and still maintain its exclusivity. Yet, with extremely limited power supply, the GamePad isn’t able to keep itself going very long.

The Solution: Nintendo needs a global partner who can take over its hardware development, improve its current hardware, offer security to limit piracy, products that it wants to sell, no gaming competition and access to a high-powered cloud infrastructure and distribution engine. The answer seems obvious….

Amazon. With its Kindle HD line of tablets, the company has a solid platform of tablet devices, a third generation all-digital distribution engine, global marketing and, I believe, would love to have exclusive rights to having Nintendo games on its devices. Amazon has recently been dabbling in the gaming universe but a super-exclusive deal with Nintendo would make Amazon a global player overnight and would allow Nintendo to be creative powerhouse it has always been. And, I think that with Amazon’s drive, it could develop that platform in less than two years.

That device, which might be based on parts of the Wii U GamePad design, would get games on the day they released, offer new ways for gamers to communicate, more access to potential add-ons, create an engine for MMO-like titles for games like Pokemon and might help developers come back to Nintendo.

Bash if you must but I think that Nintendo isn’t dead. And I think that a deal with Amazon gives Nintendo an unprecedented opportunity to push itself to the forefront of gaming on tablets.

Mr. Iwata, it’s time to give Amazon’s Jeff Bezos a call.

Continue Reading

Resurrecting Your Dead Site With Content Marketing

Business owners typically feel pretty good about their sites. They’ve spent the money to develop their site, see that it’s working, view a list of pictures of the executive staff, display current products and services and a way to contact you “for more information.” And without any complaint, those business owners assume that all is well.

I call these graveyard sites because, despite any money used to create them, they serve as a way to tell customers when your business died.  Name, catchy phrase, date born, date died and a mound. Take a moment to look at your site.

When did you last update your site? Are there old products still listed? Have you made announcements that aren’t displayed? Did you move? And, my favorite, is the date on your copyright this year? I term active sites as “gardens” that show that your business is alive, well and ready to work. Which one is your site?

The bad news for graveyard sites is found in the numbers. These sites usually offer a trickle of customers who seek general information about the company, its products, sales and support. Average sites generally have 5-14 pages. Site metrics show a steady monthly number with a few seasonal or holiday dips but generally average views.

So say a small business had a site with 14 pages (a rough average) created and designed for $5,000. Over the course of a year, there were 5,000 visitors who viewed 1 page. Your acquisition cost for the reader would be $1. Sounds ok, right?

This is where content strategy can change things. Say over the course of that year, you launched a blog with four pieces that helped better position your company as an expert. Smaller companies might have quality writers amongst their ranks but hiring an outside content expert is often a better investment because they can investigate what you do, find where you’re not marketing well and offer strategies for better web searches. The better the expert, the higher potential for creating blog posts that will outperform all the other content on the site. Say this costs $1,000.

Your site now has 18 pages with only four blog pieces live. This is where business owners begin to see the value of content.  Reviewing web site performance at the end of the year will reveal several things. First, those four pieces will likely be the most viewed stories on your site. Second, your total pageviews will increase. Third, your pages viewed per session rises.

Now say we go with a fairly conservative 7,500 pageviews per year success. Pages per session increases to two pages and the path that happens is often predictable, old customers still use the site for information (for the most part) but new customers use the blog as a way to enter your site and then click on your contact information. These new readers found you because they were searching for a solution, one that you might know how to fix. With the right information, that reader might buy your product or service. Readers who read more than one page are more likely to contact or remember your company when they need it. So at 7,500 pageviews, your cost per reader goes down to $0.80.  A lower cost for your website cost and you increased your company’s marketability for 20 cents less per reader.

This is simple overview about what content marketing can do for your site that doesn’t take into account the potential for people linking to your posts, commenting on them, sharing those links to broadcast your expertise. With those additions, cost per viewer decreases, knowledge about your expertise is raised and your business will improve.

Continue Reading