Nintendo needs to stop looking at Mario like he’s a character and franchise and start looking at him like a console. It doesn’t matter what the box says every generation, people are in line to buy a Mario. I don’t mean to buy a specific Mario title but to buy the idea of Mario.
Since the 80’s, Mario games have given us his take on our favorite genres. Each game is fun for all ages and has a level of quality we’ve come to love and expect. Throughout the years he’s given us 2D and 3D plat-formers (Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario 64), puzzles (Dr. Mario), racers (Super Mario Kart), party games (Super Mario Party), and fighters (Super Smash Bros.). If you own every Nintendo made console for the last 25 years and bought nothing but Mario titles, you’d have a fun version of just about any genre. Nintendo knows it, which explains why they release numerous games featuring our favorite plumber.
Sales show people love Mario games and buy a lot of them, but that’s only if they have the console and right now the Wii U and its Mario game are underperforming. As of now there’s only one Mario title on the console and it’s the 2D platformer, New Super Mario Bros. U. If you ask Nintendo fans who are still on the fence about getting one, the response is usually that they’re waiting for a specific Mario game. Since some are waiting for a Super Smash Bros. and some are waiting for Super Mario Kart, this means some people will get the console with the next Mario game and some will still wait.
During Sony’s debut they chose to highlight different types of games from critically acclaimed studios. Gamers watched and picked which game they’d want to play first. Ask one person and they might say “Killzone” for the multiplayer or “DriveClub” because they love racers. A buddy of mine was really impressed with the indie game The Witness while my other friend was all about Watch Dogs. The point is there are a lot of different types of gamers and Sony tried to appeal to each giving them the impression that there was something waiting for them.
Nintendo has a lot of different types of fans as well but they don’t have the must-have games from 3rd party developers to do what Sony did this week. Mario the console does. If there was a platform that only played Mario titles, when announcing a launch the company would make sure to have all types of different games. There’d be a Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., and a Super Mario Bros. from the beginning and the majority of fans would have a reason to buy it. Nintendo’s plan is to have gamers follow Mario to all these different grenres instead of having something for everyone to play.
I know people that only play sports games. They don’t own PlayStations, they own EAs. Each year EA will release enough games to appeal to almost every sports fan. Whether you’re into football or golf EA has something for you by the end of the year. EA doesn’t release a Madden game hoping fans of NHL will buy it to pass the time until what they really want comes out. Nintendo has been doing this for years and the Wii U is an example of players waiting for “their” game.
Nintendo needs to use Mario to reach out to each kind of gamer and not just fans of the character because it doesn’t look like other developers are going to do it for them.