in Business Design

The Wii’s Blue Ocean Has to Float Partners Too

It seems Wii games aren’t selling as well as competitors’ games. The New York Times article cites two culprits:

  1. Audience:They don’t buy new games with the fervor of a traditional gamer who is constantly seeking new stimulation.
  2. Marketing:Part of the problem, analysts say, is that other game makers have yet to embrace unconventional advertising methods that can reach this broader audience.

Those are probably contributors, but I would cite one overriding factor: strategy. The Wii is a famous example of Blue Ocean strategy, achieving low-cost through asymmetrical and differentiating product characteristics. In a recent experience, I realized this strategy has to extend through the product extensions created by partners, or the whole system loses momentum.

In 2006-7 I worked with a media company partnering with a fitness company that had gone from a small franchise to an international leader in its category using a Blue Ocean strategy. They wanted to extend the business online, but somehow forgot why their customers loved them: an innovative, different experience that could be had at a lower price. The online product we were asked to create was not different, not better, and not cheaper. Although it’s designed well and effective, it’s not selling well. I’m not sure if the client saw the strategic mismatch, but they certainly didn’t enforce it with their partner.

If I were in Nintendo’s shoes, I would be hammering away at a broad effort to help my partners follow the strategy that has been 20-million-consoles-effective. Example: Guitar Hero shouldn’t be the same price for the Wii as for Playstation and Xbox, it should be a lower price (and it can’t be a whopping $90, who do they think this segment is anyway?). And the games need to work hard to find new, fun things to do with that motion controller. Fun and cheap, the Wii is as simple as that, and partners need to get on board with that strategy.