Nintendo offers me a free game, and I complain about it

I received an interesting e-mail from Nintendo this week. In this email, which I’ve inserted below, Nintendo asks me if I have used my Wii to access the Wii Shop Channel and offers me a free game to download from the Virtual Console. What a silly question, Nintendo! Of course, I have been to the Wii Shop Channel.


For an explanation of what the Virtual Console is, see my previous blog posting.

The fact that Nintendo needs to implement an e-mail promotion like this indicates two things. First, it demonstrates that blogs like the Wii Blog For You are necessary. If four and a half years after its release, Nintendo still needs to promote basic online features, consumers clearly are not aware the Wii is capable of doing more than just playing disc-based games. Does Apple need to send out e-mails to people that purchased the iPhone to let them know that it does more than make telephone calls? No.

Second, the email I received demonstrates Nintendo needs to make some changes in how they use social media and how they promote the Wii’s lesser known features. Therefore, this week’s blog will recommend three things Nintendo can do that will more effectively make consumers aware of what their Wii can do.

1. Provide more support for the online community

Nintendo has a rabid, loyal fan base, but they rarely embrace these people in any meaningful way. To receive the above email from Nintendo, I had to take the time to sign up to be on their mailing list. So, that e-mail campaign, more or less, does little more than preach to the choir. The Wii Blog For You is just one of hundreds of blogs about the Wii and videogames. These bloggers are clearly more than willing to spread the word about the Wii. To reach more casual Wii fans who may not be as knowledgeable, Nintendo needs to embrace this online community by integrating it with their own website and using it as a promotional tool.

2. Update the Wii interface to encourage more online interaction

When you turn on the Nintendo Wii, it is a fairly tame experience. For comparison, when you turn on the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360, you can quickly see which of your friends are online and what they are playing. These other consoles are also much more flashy in how they promote their online content. The Wii interface, on the other hand, is bland, and there is no way to easily connect with other Wii players. As the screen shot below shows, the Wii dashboard is rather sterile.

Both the PlayStation and the Xbox have had the social elements of their online interfaces improved through free firmware system updates. It is time for Nintendo to follow suit and make similar changes.

3. Take better advantage of social networking

The PlayStation 3 has interconnectivity with facebook while the Xbox 360 interconnects with both Twitter and facebook. As of yet, the Wii has no such feature. Nintendo could very easily pique consumers’ curiosity about the Wii’s online features by integrating social networking into their marketing strategy. For example, when a person connects their XBox account with their facebook account, that person’s facebook status updates then include activities a person does while playing their Xbox, such as playing a specific game. Every time an XBox user does this, it is free advertising that reaches all the people that read that person’s status update. If Nintendo were to do something similar, it would literally make hundreds of thousands of more people aware of the Wii’s online features.

This week’s blog isn’t meant to sound whiny or overly negative toward Nintendo or the Wii. However, there are clearly things that Nintendo could do better to promote the lesser known features of the Wii.

Until that happens, there is a Wii Blog For You!*

*Sorry, I know that was lame, but I could not resist!

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