Business Strategies: What We Can Learn From Nintendo


The big problem with business success is that it doesn’t last long, and no better example can be given besides Nintendo, the gaming company that brought us Mario, Zelda, the Wii, and the Nintendo DS amongst others. 2011 has been a bleak year for Nintendo, where profits plummeted up to 66%. High production costs for the Wii U, the Wii’s successor, and the low number of sales for the Nintendo 3DS, a 3-D-based portable console, are blamed for the drop in profits.

But if we go back a few decades, Nintendo was originally the best gaming company around. Its Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), and Nintendo 64 were major icons of the 1980’s and 90’s, years before Sony’s original Playstation and Microsoft’s Xbox. Despite the lackluster graphics of the NES, at least in today’s standards, the NES sold about 61.91 million units. The console started Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid, all of which inspired many sequels, some of which are still in production today.

But history is all about learning from mistakes, right? So here’s some lessons future business leaders can learn from Nintendo.

1. Keep your company up to date.

Nintendo never completely understood consumer feedback: it mainly manufactured only kids’ games during the 80’s, a flaw which didn’t harm because almost anything was impressive during that decade. The fact that interactive content could be placed on screen at all was amazing enough to sell, but today, many gamers demand more than just family-friendly fun. Action, adventure, and thrills are the popular genres of our decade. Nintendo’s mistake was their inability to adapt to the change in demand. That’s why the Playstation and Xbox are selling out the Wii: the Wii relies too much on childish video games, while other consoles are focused on more popular genres.

2. Get something to fall back on.

Microsoft started its success with computer software. Windows was the first operating system to be manufactured as “user-friendly” with a graphical user interface. It replaced the complicated computers that relied on text-only commands. But even with the huge success of computer software, Bill Gates didn’t stop there. Microsoft eventually went on to produce consumer gadgets, such as Windows Phone; automotive software; computer hardware; retail stores; and video games. That way, if one of those departments failed, such as if a software crash occurred, the other departments would make up for it. Building several departments is important in not only business, but in a typical American life. Building up several skills in school is a safer path than just practicing one alone. What if your dream of being a professional football player suddenly goes awry? You need something to fall back on. Nintendo unfortunately did not take that fact into consideration when they decided to be a specialized company.

3. Keep working and never give up.

Despite these frustrations, Nintendo is still going for it. In the 2012 release of the Wii U, Nintendo aims at better processing power and a more “hardcore” library of games. Hopefully, it will be a worthy competitor to the 360 and PS3. No matter how bad a situation may be, the best decision is to keep working for it.

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About shooterboss

Canadian blogger and software engineer. Hopes to live in a lighthouse near Cape Cod in retirement.
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