Going forward, Nintendo will make a greater effort to connect with their consumers through account systems rather than hardware, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said at a financial results meeting today.
The present approach, which largely involves a device-based relationship with consumers, is leading to Nintendo losing customers, Iwata reasoned. As a result, with devices they create in the future, Nintendo will take a more digital approach to establishing relationships with customers, using Nintendo Network IDs. Or, to put it in layman’s terms, Nintendo will do what Microsoft and Sony are already doing, and get a proper account system in place, effectively creating a “virtual platform”.
(Iwata also pointed out that Nintendo 3DS wasn’t built with this approach in mind, so while 3DS is compatible with the Nintendo Network, the implementation isn’t perfect.)
This approach will lead into a larger change with regard to how Nintendo sell games, Iwata stated. Up until now, the traditional business model has been to sell game hardware for high prices, and sell games for $30 or $50 each. In the future, however, Nintendo aim to be far more flexible in terms of how they price their games—especially when it comes to consumers that buy a lot of software.
“Based on our account system, if we can offer flexible price points to consumers who meet certain conditions, we can create a situation where these consumers can enjoy our software at cheaper price points when they purchase more,” Iwata explained. “Here, we do not need to limit the condition to the number of software titles they purchase. Inviting friends to start playing a particular software title is also an example of a possible condition.”
This is an approach that Nintendo will begin trying out on Wii U, Iwata confirmed.
“If we can achieve such a sales mechanism, we can expect to increase the number of players per title, and the players will play our games with more friends,” he reasoned. “This can help maintain the high usage ratio of a platform. When one platform maintains a high active use ratio, the software titles which run on it have a higher potential to be noticed by many, which leads to more people playing with more titles.”