Nintendo’s highly anticipated successor to the Wii, codenamed “Project Cafe”, is causing a great deal of buzz across the internet ahead of its official unveiling at next month’s E3 expo in Los Angeles. Considering the slowdown in the release of first party ‘AAA’ titles from Nintendo for its incumbent platform, it shouldn’t be considered too much of a surprise that their top designers have been focussing their talents on Nintendo’s next strategic move.
What may be more of a surprise to some though is the shape “Project Cafe” may take. Nintendo’s chief, Saturo Iwata, has commented on the apparent changing tastes of consumers which it notes seem to increasingly prefer games that feature photo-realistic graphics and content. Speaking to Japanese investors last month, Iwata acknowledged there had been a decline in the influence that Japanese games, famed for their stylised ‘cutesy’ graphics, continue to play in the global Market.
Whilst speculation is rife as to the specs of the final console, it is clear that the rumoured 15GB proprietary storage media device will allow Nintendo to more effectively compete against Microsoft’s and Sony’s consoles following the release of their own ‘Kinect’ and ‘Move’ responses . It marks a step away from Nintendo’s ‘innovation strategy’ which successfully disrupted the market in the wake of Microsoft’s and Sony’s latest generation of consoles. Both of these had opted for a ‘product led’ strategy, arguably overshooting the market in the process, leaving Nintendo free to dominate.
Nintendo’s Wii ultimately turned out to be a shot in the arm for the long term creative health of the industry, successfully targeting an untapped market for more casual, social experiences that allowed for closer interaction with the end user. Considering the impact that the Wii had right across gaming, “Project Cafe” may perhaps provide a first glimpse of what the future of gaming may look like. If a company as smart as Nintendo are able to identify that content rich, highly detailed and immersive gaming experiences will continue to be the order of the day, what impact will this console have right across the Games Industry? Even in the increasingly competitive Social and Mobile space, developers may need to consider new, more sophisticated approaches to their graphics and marketing to help their products stand out.
Dave Cullinane, MBA