Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Why is the 3DS struggling?

Let's face it, the 3ds is struggling. Nintendo slashed the price by nearly 40% in July amid poor sales. This has taken the industry by surprise due to Nintendo's usual dominance in the handheld market. In my opinion, there are various reasons behind its poor performance.

Market decline?
With mobile devices such as the Iphone becoming more and more powerful with every new version, developers are flocking to support the device. Combined with the hugely popular 'appstore', consumers have a huge choice in regards to what games to buy. Consumers do not need a separate gaming device now that their smartphone can do it all. The handheld gaming market is starting to become a smaller niche. The 'PSP vita' in my opinion will suffer the same fate. There is no doubt that it will have great games and appeal to the hardcore audience, however where is the value for the casual gamer? Why spend hundreds of pounds on a gaming device when your phone can satisfy the causal gamers desires? There are signs that Sony are becoming aware of this. Sony Ericssons 'Xperia play' combines  a gaming device with mobile phone functionality.

     ( Sony Erricson Xperia Play)

No Support

Another reason why the 3DS is faltering is because of the lack of 3rd party support. Unfortunately it is somewhat of a catch 22 for Nintendo. The poor launch sales means that developers will shy away from developing the 3DS until sales improve. The only way sales will improve is by producing great games. The simple fact is, the 3DS install base is just not large enough. Having said that, Nintendo getting 'Monster Hunter 4' onto the 3DS will prove to be a huge system seller in Japan.

Just another Gimmick?

There is no doubt that the entertainment industry is ramming 3D down out throat. The trouble is, the consumers aren't buying it. Box office takings for 3D films are declining along with disappointing 3Dtv sales, shows that consumers are not taking to 3D as once predicted. Although the option to turn of 3D is available on the new Nintendo handeld, does it really warrant spending money on a new handheld just for improved graphics and a 3D option?


It is clear to see that Nintendo rushed the 3DS. The lack of supporting titles after the launch has made 3DS sales stagnate. Nintendo should have waited until there was significant support from third parties, with games ready to be released in the months after the 3DS launch. There is still time to rectify the situation, however you have to wonder if the market is still as big as it once was. Apple are set to announce their new iPhone and it will be interesting to see if one Apple's main focus is promoting it as a gaming device.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Putting the customer first.

Many organisations realise the importance of building and maintaining a relationship with the customer however, for many organisations it’s generally superficial. They would love to maintain a relationship with the customer as long as you keep buying. Once that stops they aren’t interested. In some respects this is understandable. It costs organisations time and money to manage a relationship with the consumer so why should they do it? The answer is in the long run it still pays to do so.

We live in a networked society. Everyone is connected with each other. as such information gets spread very quickly. If a customer has had a good experience chances are they are likely to share it. If organisations can build an ethos around relationships then the holy grail of loyalty can be achieved. I am not talking about talking to a customer once in a while to make sure the product or service is okay or even setting up a forum so customers can chat about the brand or general topics. No, it has to be intertwined with how the company is run. This means treating employees like they are part of the family, and making sure you don’t squeeze suppliers so they can barely stay afloat.

So how do organisations put their customers at the forefront of everything? It’s certainly easier for some industries to implement. Industries which are heavily customer driven for example, a video game developer could engage with the consumer much more easily than a company selling wood varnish. Valve software who develop games such as Half life and Portal 2 are a company that I have studied and highly admire the way they are respected by all stakeholders. They always release a product that exceeds customer expectation (an important thing to remember) and they give of the sense that they are not in it for the money but they are in it to do something they love and therefore share their love for developing video games with customers. Public companies struggle to achieve this as they have shareholders who will always want the company to focus on short term profits.

When starting a business money should not be your main motivation. The main goal should always be how my product or service can bring joy to masses of people.
 Giving your customers a chance to feel part of the brand will create a brand community and will lead to the Holy Grail, brand loyalty.

Too many organisations either neglect their customer altogether or just make it seem like they care as it’s the status-quo. Organisations who really do put the customer first and I don’t mean by just saying you do on your website will be successful in the long run. Actions really do speak louder than words.

What are your thoughts about putting the customer first? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Bridging the gap between Video Games and Movies

Its hard to say that video games can catch the audience's attention the same that movies do. Sure they can be more addictive and can last longer but ask yourself when was the last time you cried or even felt emotional through a Video Game? Personally, despite playing through some of the most interesting engaging stories in a video game I have yet to feel a tiny bit emotional. Your main ally dies? so what. Video games however much they try just can not match Movies when it comes to emotional attachment to the story or the characters.

LA Noire's Facial Animation.

Video games have massive potential to appeal to the audience who see video games as a waste of time. This is mainly because there has yet to be a video game that can capture the audiences attention the same way movies do. All that is about to change. New technology ushered in by Rockstar studios has allowed full facial animation of a characters face which means every little facial movement can be captured and put in the game. The first game to use this is LA Noire, a crime thriller. Sure, the animations might not be ultra realistic and the characters faces might seem a bit odd but this is just the start. This game has the potential to bridge the gap between video games and movies in terms of story and audience engagement . As the technology develops and more studios start using it video games stories might become as enthralling as a Hollywood blockbuster instead of a mediocre B movie.

The video game industry have realised the need to have a good story in almost every genre, most recently the sports genre. The next Fight Night game from EA has a significant story element to it which has never been done before. You can tell by the level of excitement for this game that incorporating the story element into sports games is a new and highly popular idea. Why stop at boxing though? the next Fifa game should have a story that pits you as a young and upcoming youngster who overcomes problems to play football professionally. I believe Fifa's 'be a pro mode' which lets you create a player and play him throughout his career  is the first step to this. If the Fight Night game sells well, who knows it may just catch on.

Fight Night Champion

I do not think it will be a long time until we see A-list actors not only providing voice overs for video games but actually acting in them by capturing their facial animations. Imagine if Natalie Portman can give the same performance she did in Black Swan with a video game. Okay, so that might be a long way off but it is possible. When that happens I truly believe Video games will match Movies.