Would you follow Mario on Twitter?

April 23, 2010

In the first edition of this blog, I discussed how the Wii, despite being the best selling console of this generation, has the lowest attach rate.  In other words, people who buy the Wii purchase fewer pieces of software for it in comparison to the amount of software people buy for their Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  What this implies is that once people buy their Wii, they really are not getting that much use out of it.  Therefore, for this edition of the blog, I would like to discuss some ways Nintendo could use social media to better connect with Wii owners and to cultivate a relationship that encourages a higher attach rate.

As of right now, Nintendo’s social media presence is startlingly sparse.   Here are a few ways Nintendo could take advantage of some of these sites.

Facebook

With the way Facebook has exploded in popularity over the past few years, a Nintendo page is a “no brainer” at this point.  As the photo to the right demonstrates, an unofficial fan page for the Wii on Facebook has over a million fans, so clearly there is an interest.  Facebook status updates would be an easy way to post news and create awareness of new Wii games and products.

Twitter

Like with Facebook, Nintendo does not have strong presence on Twitter.  There is actually an account that claims to be official; however, Nintendo’s website, curiously and tellingly, does not link to it or even mention it. You can view it here and decide for yourself whether you think it is real.  Regardless, one creative way Nintendo could use Twitter would be to set up accounts for their most famous characters and mascots.

Would you follow Mario's adventures on Twitter?

Nintendo has some of the most famous and recognizable gaming icons, including Mario, Donkey Kong, and Zelda, and I am sure they would have no problem collecting followers on Twitter.  For comparison, a Super Mario page on Facebook has over 200,000 fans.  A new Super Mario game is coming out this June, and it would be amusing to have “Mario” tweet his thoughts and actions as the release date approaches.  This would be an easy tool to promote the game and build excitement.  Moreover, if the famous fictional Star Wars character Darth Vader has over 145,000 followers, surely Mario would have no problem building a Twitter following.

Flickr

Flickr is another site that practically begs Nintendo to take advantage of it.  Posting screen shots of popular and upcoming games and allowing users to comment would be a simple community-building (and free advertising!) tool.  It would also require minimal effort to manage and moderate.

In summary, for a company that is so innovative in how it uses technology, Nintendo’s social media presence is lacking at best, and there are definitely ways the organization could use it to improve the Wii’s attach rate.


Accessorize Your Wii Experience

April 22, 2010

This week in the Wii Blog For You, we will discuss a few more ways you can enhance your Wii experience with peripherals. More specifically, I will introduce the Wii Wheel and Wii Speak.

Wii Wheel

The Wii Wheel is a steering wheel accessory that enhances racing and driving games. As seen in the photograph, it works by simply snapping your Wii controller into the wheel. It definitely makes games in which you have to steer by tilting the Wii remote left and right easier to control. Additionally, holding an actual wheel while maneuvering your onscreen vehicle enhances the immersion and fun factor. Some of the better games that make use of the Wii Wheel are Mario Kart Wii and ExciteBots: Trick Racing. The Wii Wheel comes packaged with Mario Kart Wii or you can purchase it separately for $14.99. Games that are compatible with the Wii Wheel can be identified by looking on the back of the game’s packaging. Here is Nintendo’s official information page about the product: Wii Wheel.

Wii Speak

Wii Speak is a microphone that sits on top of your television and allows you to talk to other Wii users over your high-speed Internet connection. It connects to one of your Wii’s USB ports, so setting it up is a simple process. While it is definitely a neat accessory, the product’s downside is that only a handful of games are actually compatible with it. However, in addition to the games that use it, you can chat with your friends who also have the device through the Wii Speak Channel, which is free. Wii Speak costs $29.99, and some of the games that are compatible with it include Animal Crossing: City Folk and Endless Ocean: Blue World. Like with the Wii Wheel, check the back of a game’s packaging to see if it is marked as being compatible with Wii Speak. Here is Nintendo’s official information page about the product: Wii Speak.

That’s all for this week. Until next time, happy gaming!


Stream Movies and TV Shows on Your Wii Using Netflix

April 15, 2010

Starting this week, the Wii is no longer just for playing videogames. Thanks to Nintendo’s partnership with Netflix, you can now stream movies and television shows through your Wii. Therefore, this week’s blog will explain what you will need to do if you would like to take advantage of this new service.

Thankfully, it’s a surprisingly simple and painless process. First, as you probably could have guessed, in order to stream content over the Internet, your Wii will have to be connected to a high-speed connection. Every Wii is capable of connecting to the Internet, and for more information about that, you can read these entries of the Wii Blog For You: Connecting Wirelessly or Connecting Using a Wired Connection.

Next, you have to be a Netflix subscriber. The Netflix plans start at $8.99 per month, and the subscription allows you to stream as much content as you want. Additionally, the subscription allows you to have movies delivered to you through the mail. You can keep individual movies as long as you want (which means no late fees!), but the movie must be mailed back before you can have other movies sent to you. However, since you can stream unlimited content through your Wii, you may not ever even want to receive movies through the mail. If you would like to “try before you buy,” Netflix offers a free one month trial, which you can sign up for here.

The last thing you will need to do is order a free “streaming disc.” The streaming disc must be inserted into your Wii when you want to stream a movie or a television show. You can order that from Netflix by clicking here, and they will send it to you in the mail.

To start browsing for movies and television shows, all you do is:

1. Turn on your Wii

2. Insert the streaming disc into the Wii just as you would a game.

3. Click the Netflix logo that will appear in the upper left corner of the Wii menu whenever the streaming disc is inserted.

If you are a movie buff or like to watch several movies per month, Netflix on your Wii is a great feature. The $8.99 monthly fee is far less than you would pay to rent those movies from a store. Plus, you never have to worry about a movie you want to see being out of stock, and the hassle of driving back and forth from the movie store is completely eliminated. If you would like to read more about Netflix on Wii, here is what CNET had to say about it.


What are the Wii Balance Board and Wii Fit Plus?

April 9, 2010

The Wii has many different kinds of accessories and peripherals. One of the most popular that you probably have heard of is called the Balance Board. So, just what exactly is this device?

You can think of it as a very fancy scale. You stand on the device, which connects to your Wii wirelessly, and it tracks how your weight is distributed on your legs. So, for example, if you were to lean to the left, the Balance Board would know there is now more weight on your left leg than on your right leg.

What Nintendo has basically done with the Balance Board is turn the Wii into an exercise machine. It comes with a disc called Wii Fit Plus, which guides the user through various forms of exercise. For example, one program on the disc shows you how to do yoga poses, and as you perform the poses, the Balance Board tracks your weight distribution and gives feedback on how well you are performing the pose. To give another example, the disc also has “step aerobic” programs of varying difficulty, and the Balance Board serves as your “step” platform. Still another program has you do push-ups on the Balance Board. As you can see, there are a surprising number of ways this device can be used for exercise.

So, is it worth the $99.99 price tag? The answer, of course, is, “It depends.” Your deciding factor should be what your exercise goals are. If you are looking for a high intensity workout or are trying to lose a lot of weight, you should look elsewhere.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a lot of time in your schedule for exercise and want to squeeze some physical activity into your daily routine, then Wii Fit Plus is a viable option for improving your fitness, balance, and coordination. The simple, low-impact exercises are a nice way to unwind after work on those days when you cannot make it to the gym or on days when the weather is preventing you from going outside.

Another nice thing about Wii Fit Plus is that it tracks your weight and your performance over time so that you can follow your progress and see your improvement. It also takes up much less space than your typical exercise machine, which is nice if you don’t have a lot of room.

In short, if you’re looking for a simple way to do some light exercise, then Wii Fit Plus is a fun, unique option.

For more information here is the official site: Wii Fit


What is WiiWare?

April 1, 2010

A few weeks ago, the Wii Blog For You explained the Virtual Console, which is an online collection of classic games from video game systems of the ’80s and ’90s. This week’s blog defines another collection of downloadable games for your Wii called WiiWare.

So, what differentiates the Virtual Console from WiiWare? Quite simply, whereas virtual console games are old games made for video game systems that are no longer available in stores, WiiWare games are brand new and made specifically for the Wii. This means that, unlike Virtual Console games, WiiWare games can take advantage of the Wii’s unique, modern capabilities, such as motion control and advanced graphics capabilities. In other words, if you are feeling nostalgic for an old game, the Virtual Console should be your destination. On the other hand, if you’re in the mood for something more contemporary, head for WiiWare. Since WiiWare games are shorter and less complex than disc-based Wii games that you would buy from the store, they are also much cheaper than the $49.99 price tag of store-bought games. WiiWare games range from $5.00 to $15.00.

If you are curious about trying WiiWare but are not sure where to start, here are two games I recommend:

1. World of Goo
World of Goo is a difficult game to describe, but, in a nut shell, it is a puzzle game where the player must figure out how successfully build structures made out of, well, goo. Here is a link to the game’s official site. And here is a link to IGN’s extremely favorable review of the game.

2. Excitebike: World Rally
Excitebike: World Rally is an action-oriented racing game that is a remake of the 1986 classic that was originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Here is a link to the game’s official site. And here is a link to IGN’s full review of the game.

You can find WiiWare games in a few easy steps:
1. Once your Wii is turned on, click on the Wii Shop Channel.
2. Click Start
3. Click Start Shopping
4. Click the WiiWare button in the center of the screen
5. Browse for games

And, that’s all there is to it. Enjoy!


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

March 25, 2010

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!


What is the Virtual Console?

March 11, 2010

This week, the Wii Blog For You will explain one of the Wii’s most popular online features, the Virtual Console. Simply put, the Virtual Console is a huge library of downloadable games that were originally released on the old video game consoles from the 1980s and 1990s. Happily, to access the Virtual Console games, there is no need to purchase any additional peripherals or hardware for your Wii. Instead, all of the games were programmed to be purchased on the online Wii Shop Channel and immediately playable on your Wii upon download.

The Virtual Console is great if you are feeling nostalgic and want to play a game that you remember from when you were younger. It is also good for revisiting the original versions of games that have been remade for the Wii. For example, if you liked 2009’s New Super Mario Bros. Wii and are curious about the game that inspired it, you might think about heading over to the Virtual Console and purchasing the original 1985 Super Mario Bros., which was made for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It also acts as an impressive demonstration of just how far videogames have come over the past 30 years! For comparison, here are screen shots from both games:

Super Mario Bros. (1985)

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2009)

I get a big kick out of how games I thought looked amazing as a kid now look simply archaic.

Here is the complete list of old video game systems on the Virtual Console, along with the number of games currently available on each platform:

  • Nintendo Entertainment System – 86
    Super Nintendo – 55
    Nintendo 64 – 17
    Sega Mater System – 16
    Sega Genesis – 17
    TurboGrafx 16
    Neo Geo – 20
    Virtual Console Arcade – 12 (these are old arcade games from the 80s and 90s)
    Commodore 64 – 9
  • It is interesting to note that almost all of those were direct competitors of Nintendo when they were originally on the market, so it is somewhat amusing that 20 years down the road, their games are now playable on a Nintendo console. Obviously, Nintendo outlasted them all because none of those companies are making consoles anymore, and Microsoft (XBox 360) and Sony (PlayStation 3) are Nintendo’s main competition today. Perhaps 20 years from now, we will be downloading XBox and PlayStation games on a future Nintendo product.

    If you would like to explore the Virtual Console, here are the steps to find it:

    1. Once your Wii is powered on, click on the Wii Shop Channel.

    2. You will then be given the choice to return to the main Wii Menu or to continue on to the Wii Shop Channel by clicking “Start.” We want to do the latter, so click the “Start” button.

    3. After the Wii connects to the Wii Shop Channel, click the “Start Shopping” Button.

    4. You will then be presented with a screen that looks like this:

    If you have never made an online purchase on your Wii and would like to buy a Virtual Console game, you will need to add Wii Points to your account using a Visa or Mastercard. Wii Points are the currency you use to purchase the Virtual Console games, and one dollar equals 100 Wii Points. Virtual Console games, on average, range between 500 and 1,000 Wii Points.

    To add Wii Points to your account, click the “Add Wii Points” button in the center of the screen. The Wii will then guide you through the steps of making the purchase.

    5. Once you have added Wii Points to your account, return to the Wii Shop Channel screen shown above.

    6. Click on the “Virtual Console” button on the upper left side of the screen.

    You can now browse through the catalog and see if anything catches your eye and then make your purchase from there!

    Whether your feeling nostalgic for the games of yesteryear or want explore classic games you may have missed the first go around, the Wii Shop Channel is a great feature to have and one that is unique to the Wii. Nintendo adds games to the Wii Shop Channel every Monday, so check back regularly to see what is made available.

    That’s it for this week. Happy gaming!