How not to launch a product – What to learn from the Nintendo Wii U fiasco

Lose your brand and your audience

How not to launch a product Smarta Audience

Once upon a time, Nintendo’s consoles were the coolest around. While PlayStation tried to corner the “sleek” market, Nintendo went for quirky and turned out products that just looked cool. The Game Boy, N64 and GameCube all still rank among the top 20 best selling consoles of all time, a group the Wii U is a long way off cracking.

The trouble is, no one who loved those consoles pay for or rave about the Wii U. It feels like something made by a completely different company, with none of the heart and soul that made the old school products so loveable. If you want to launch your next product well, make sure it resonates with your market.

Be a one (or two) trick pony

How not to launch a product Smarta Trick

The Nintendo brand wasn’t built on a million good games. It was built on a few brilliant ones. Mario, Zelda and Smash Bros were the cornerstones of great sales of each new console. It worked perfectly for Nintendo. All they needed to do was ensure a new version of each game was released on each new product, and the sales would follow.

But those sales were tied to a specific audience, an audience that grew up and, for the most part, stopped buying brand new consoles. When you’re growing your business, make sure you know how to attract new customers as well as old, because appealing exclusively to your loyal fan base only works if they’re guaranteed to stay.

Release the same product twice

How not to launch a product Smarta Wii

What’s the difference between the Wii and Wii U. I couldn’t tell you. Maybe the people who know the gaming industry well could, but they don’t make up the majority of gaming sales. General perception is that Nintendo did not add much value between the consoles.

If you’re releasing a new product, make sure your audience know why it’s being released and why they should buy it. They need to be reassured they’re putting their money into something worthwhile and you’re not taking their money for something they already paid for.

Fall behind the competition

How not to launch a product Smarta Competition

Where Nintendo has failed, Sony and Microsoft have found huge success. Their new products have strong links to past offerings, they’ve added great titles and people believe the new releases are different to what’s come before.

These effects are being felt in sales. Despite being released a year later, both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One are quickly catching the Wii U in numbers snapped up. If you’re searching for great examples of how to release a successful product, look at Sony and Microsoft long before you go to Nintendo.


For more tips on how to pull off a great product launch, check out this guest blog from John Vincent.


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