TabbyDasher Written by cats, for cats.

15Apr/110

Marketing Nintendo’s Pokemon Franchise: One Game For the Price of Three

Posted by Tom Terranova


Nintendo loves the Pokémon franchise – because each new game gives them an opportunity to shake down consumers two to three times for the same game. By adding a few exclusive monsters or making minor changes to the game, they convince many fans to repurchase it multiple times. But that's just the beginning. Nintendo will gladly charge you for that same game 2 or 3 more times over the next 10-20 years.

In some ways, Nintendo's marketing of the Pokémon games reminds me of a television infomercial that dupes people into signing up for a recurring credit card charge. The customer thinks they're ordering a single item, but in reality they're signing up for a "club" that will auto-bill them for product refills every few months. It's not illegal, but it's shady – as is Nintendo's tactic of persuading fans to buy the same games over and over. First, two versions of a new Pokemon game are released simultaneously, with each offering a handful of exclusive pokémon (and in the latest game, one location that is different.) When sales taper off a year or two later, they often release a third version that includes all the exclusive Pokémon and some minor fixes and tweaks that should have been included in the first two versions. Years later, they may also try to resell you the game on each of their their virtual consoles. And they may also remake the game so that they can sell it to you on their current handheld (after they've dropped support for the system the game was originally released on.) And sadly, today's Pokémon games only include one game save slot – which prevents siblings from sharing a single game card. Not only do you need to "catch 'em all", but every kid in the house also needs to have their own copy. They'd also prefer that each child have their own handheld as well, so they tie each game's online profile to a single piece of Nintendo hardware.

You don't have to buy multiple copies of a CD if you want to play it on each new stereo you get over the years, or to play it in your car. You don't have to buy the same CD again if you want to rip mp3 files from a CD for your iPod. You don't need to buy a new CD for each kid in your house who wants to listen to it. And you don't have to buy a CD multiple times to get access to all of the songs on an album.  Likewise, you shouldn't have to buy multiple copies of a game to do these kinds of things.

Recently some of Nintendo's licensees are getting into the act, too. With the release of Pokémon Black/White, Prima Publishing emulated Nintendo's marketing tactics by breaking their official strategy guide for Pokémon Black/White into two volumes, with each selling for  $19.99. Prima took the vital components of a complete guide (walkthrough, Pokédex, post-game info, etc.) and spread them out across the two volumes such that consumers must buy both to get what was once sold as a single, complete guide. They also released a third version of the guide (a $29.99 hardback edition of volume one), but instead of giving customer's a complete guide for that price, they only threw in one extra section from the second volume. So even if you buy the deluxe volume 1, you still need to buy volume 2.  Either way, a complete strategy guide (both volumes) ends up costing more than the game itself.

Here are the Pokémon games that have been released in three versions:

Pokémon Red / Blue / Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition
Pokémon Gold / Silver  /Crystal
Pokémon Ruby / Sapphire / Emerald
Pokémon Diamond / Pearl / Platinum
Pokémon Black / White / ??

17Apr/100

Nintendo Embraces Casual Extremism

Posted by Tom Terranova

This year, Nintendo finally seemed to address core-audience complaints about the Wii's casual-heavy software library. The company's announcement of Super Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid: Other M, and Zelda 2 seemed to demonstrate a renewed focus on high-quality, core gaming experiences. But just as core-fans were cautiously heralding a new "golden age" of first-party software development, Nintendo announced surprise changes to the previously announced Q3/Q4 release schedule. These changes left core gaming fans dumbfounded.

According to industry analysts, Nintendo's revised Q3/Q4 line-up indicates a dramatic philosophical shift that has come from the Kyoto-based company's highest levels. Even the most notorious third-party developers of "shovelware" are now referring to Nintendo's new strategy as "Blue Ocean Fundamentalism" and "Casual Gaming Extremism." Here's what we know so far about Nintendo's revised Q3/Q4 lineup for Wii and DS.

Berny Madoff's Ponzi Dreams

DS
Berny Madoff's Ponzi Dreams
A new "financial puzzler" for Nintendo's under-explored fifty-something crowd.
[Note: All proceeds will be invested in a relief fund for Madoff's victims that promises a guaranteed quarterly return of 18%.]

Mariokart Wii 2: Hoveround Rally

Wii
Mariokart Wii 2: Hoverround Rally
Even core titles can appeal to non-gamers when given the right spin – just as long as that spin goes no faster than 3 mph. As a special bonus, gamers with Medicare coverage may not have to pay a penny for this game – and Nintendo can even pre-authorize you over the phone.

Heiyankyo (Illegal) Alien

Wii and DS
Heiyankyo (Illegal) Alien / Mario Tea Party
A new twist on the classic Gameboy puzzler, re-designed to appeal to angry, uninformed white trash. This is a 2-for-1 value title that also includes the multi-thousand-selling hit Mario Tea Party.

DS
Menopauser 3: The Legend of Merle
Learn to use the new Hot Flash mode to your advantage as you explore the best years of your life. Collect hormone pills to regain health, experiment with shabby chic, customize your character with plastic surgery, and face down urban cougars as you search for seven legendary self-help books that contain The Secret.

Wiiware
Custody Battler Extreme
Use your own children as weapons in this innovative hybrid of courtroom drama and first-person shooting action.

DS
Touch Generations: Advanced Directive
Prepare your own living will as you uncover the secret motivations of relatives and friends using short, pick-up-and-play surveys. You can also catalog and bequeath all of your worldly possessions – and best of all, explained Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, "It's a cool rhythm game featuring the music of Rihanna." Will they resuscitate you? When should they pull the plug? With Touch Generations: Advanced Directive, you're in charge.

Wiiware
Castlevania: Staircase of Broken Hips
In this updated remake of the updated remake, the castle's countless staircases have all been retro-fitted with fully automatic chair lifts, allowing you to maintain your independence throughout countless sequels. Other enhancements include wheelchair ramps on all ledges, senior discounts at all shops, clapper-controlled lights and machine-devices, and the new "Handy Grabber" tool for out of reach power-ups.

Wii Accessories
The Lack of Vitality Sensor
Chart your senescence over time as you remain motionless in order to earn cholesterol points that can then be used to outfit your avatar with cool accessories. Unlock a variety of locations such as bed, recliner, couch, grave, and urn.