More than one company has recently stated that "the Wii is a hard sell," often coupled with subtle insults toward the Wii's fanbase. This is usually easy to counter by their utter failure to market the games properly, but in some cases, companies have put forth at least a token effort and still seen it fall flat. Why is this? I believe that the problem is in their methods.
The problem is that you cannot market to the Wii's audience the same way you market to fans of other consoles. The Wii's audience is not easily taken in by shiny trailers and awesome screenshots: the way most games are marketed. For many -in particular, the blue ocean- this is because they haven't yet had the marketer-conditioning required to believe that graphics matter. Others forgot this but have been disillusioned by the last few years and come around, and a few never forgot in the first place. In all cases, the result is the same: trailers and screenshots do not impress them. Traditional game marketing depends so heavily on these tools that marketers seem know no other way. But it is possible to market to Wii owners. Nintendo has mastered the art with its Wii _____ series, though it has neglected to do so with most of its other games. This leads me to believe that even Nintendo does not know what it has really accomplished.
How do you do it, then? How do you convince the blue ocean to buy games? The key in this is to look at the questions people ask. Trailers and screenshots are designed to answer the questions "Is this game pretty?" or "Will this game excite me?" But the blue ocean isn't interested in these questions to nearly the same degree. What they want to know is a different question: "Is this game fun?" But how do you demonstrate how much fun a game is? Screenshots only show what the game looks like; they don't reflect the player's enjoyment, and the same is true of trailers. Instead, you have to take some of the focus off of the game and put it on the player: show people having fun with the game.
Does this work? Consider the case of Wii Music: a game viciously smeared by reviewers, and generally considered the greatest sales failure of the Wii _____ series. But even this game broke 2.5 million copies sold, and I believe this is due in no small part to being marketed in exactly the way I describe. This figure that eclipses not only the "casual" offerings on the Wii's competitors -even LittleBigPlanet, casual-HD's greatest success to date- but it even beats many of the blockbuster titles on all three consoles that were released in a much friendlier climate than Wii Music was. In this light, Wii Music represents an astounding success of this marketing model, and it leaves one to wonder what could happen with this model for games given a fairer shot in the marketplace. That question, however, is also easy to answer: consider not only other Wii _____ games like Wii Sports Resort and Wii Play, but also Mario Kart Wii: one of only 20 games in industry history to break 15 million copies sold, and one of the few Wii games outside the Wii _____ series to be marketed this way.
If third parties want to sell better on the Wii, then this is what they have to do: marketing which can actually convince the blue ocean that their games are fun, which is most effectively done by showing not just the game but also the player. It seems so simple, and it should be, but I have to wonder: why is it not done more often? Can it be so difficult to find people visibly having fun in third-party games? And if it is, should that not be taken as evidence that it's time to take a page from Miyamoto and either upend the tea table or go back to the drawing board, depending on which culture's idioms you prefer? Is a game truly good enough to release if you can't see the player having fun?
Complexity is not depth. Machismo is not maturity. Obsession is not dedication. Tedium is not challenge. Support gaming: support the Wii.
Be the ultimate ninja! Play Billy Vs. SNAKEMAN today! Poisson Village welcomes new players.
There is much to hate about modern gaming. That is why I support the Wii.