Nintendo’s lesson: good ideas are sought, they don’t come by themselves

A holy alliance with the capital of Silicon Valley and then a hundred, a thousand startups. And as many ideas that, no matter how good, the engineers who work for a large multinational gaming entertainment company will never be able to imagine.

Nintendo’s strategy, the smallest but most cunning of the three big companies producing video game consoles at the moment, tries once again to outwit the opponents and find an original way forward. For decades he has been confronted with two giants such as Sony (Playstation) and Microsoft (Xbox), much larger companies with a much more substantial portfolio than his. Yet, Nintendo in the past has been able to give real master strokes with intelligence and imagination: the Nintendo DS, with touch controls and popular like Apple’s iPods (that was the time) and the Nintendo Wii, a console technically much more backward but has been able to innovate in the interfaces of its controllers.

Today Nintendo is teaming up with Scrum Ventures, an investment fund from San Francisco, in the moral capital of Silicon Valley, to look for startups that bring ideas to its Switch console, the hybrid (already brilliant in itself) between a living room console and a walking. Scrum operates a new technology incubator dedicated to the Nintendo console. The goal is “to seek new technologies that can be managed by Nintendo to make the experience for users of the Switch console even more innovative, be it hardware or software”.

From 12 April to 9 June, innovators can propose their ideas and, at the beginning of the summer, the first selection will be made to arrive at two months of development work, until autumn day for presentations to Nintendo managers. . “The selected teams will not be publicly announced,” says Scrum, who in this process of researching new ideas and talents developed with Nintendo opens a new page in the way in which innovative ideas are developed.


The video game sector today worldwide is worth 108 billion dollars (2017 data) compared to 40 billion for the film industry. And it is even stricter than the rules for the production of Hollywood blockbusters: you do not improvise, you do not deviate from the franchises that have sold the most in the past, new projects require very long development times and even longer evaluations on their opportunity. It’s one of the reasons why, for example, video game titles on the shelves of shops or online stores are almost always sequels to previous games: you play it safe, so to speak.

Instead, in a surprising move that Nintendo, perhaps the most conservative of the large console and video game producers, makes on purpose to try to collect more ideas, and support the sales of the Switch: presented about a year ago, sold around 300 euros / dollars, the console is basically a tablet that can be hooked up to the television and easily allows group play. The controllers are detachable and full of sensors (from accelerometers to very sophisticated vibration systems) and the console, however, until now has been mainly driven by the gaming experience of two great Nintendo classics: Super Mario and Zelda.

How to sustain sales in the near future? By leaving the usual channel of second and third-party developers (ie exclusively for Nintendo or not), the company shows that it wants to play the innovation card seriously and across the board. The results should be amazing. In February, Nintendo raised the Switch sales forecast from 10 to 15 million pieces and the new president of the company, Tatsumi Kimishima, indicated the threshold of 37 million pieces as a goal for March 2019. According to the company, sales of the Switch are proceeding at a pace comparable to the success that the Nintendo Wii had ten years ago.


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