The launch of Nintendo Switch this year has led to many calling Nintendo a successful company, and we agree with that.
Nintendo has succeeded in many areas this year. For instance, they’re no longer making a loss, unlike the last couple of years. They have gotten their pacing of game releases right with the Switch, unlike the “droughts” that came with Wii U. Brand and IP recognition is getting better than ever, with collaborations with companies such as Universal and Uniqlo.
In this feature, we’ll take a look at the other areas that not many really talk about when it comes to Nintendo. These areas are still truly important in making Nintendo a company that stands with other globally recognized big and successful companies.
In this time and age, many companies are offering worldwide warranties for their products. Let’s take a look at Apple for example – say you bought your iPhone in Australia, but you’re now staying in the United States for 3 months. If it needs to be repaired, you can simply go to any Apple Repair Center in the US to get it fixed, no questions asked.
Nintendo warranty, however, is a huge mess. Every subsidiary and distributor has their own set of rules when it comes to warranty.
While most Nintendo subsidiaries provide 1 year warranty for the Nintendo Switch, Southeast Asia and Middle East Nintendo distributor Active Boeki (Maxsoft/Active Gulf) operates in a rather vague zone. The 1 year warranty only applies to the Nintendo Switch console itself, while the Joy-Con that came with the system have a separate 3 month long warranty, because the company considers the Joy-Con as accessories. This has caused confusion and anger among consumers, especially during the early days of the Switch.
Another example is how a Nintendo subsidiary may outright refuse to repair a set that was purchased in another region. While Nintendo of America does repair consoles that were imported from Europe or other regions (as long as they are still under warranty), Nintendo Co, Ltd (Japan) and Nintendo Hong Kong have a much stricter policy, as they do not repair consoles that come from another region unless payment is made.
To become a truly global company, Nintendo must ensure that warranty is global and not local to where the product was purchased from, and enforce a uniform set of policies on warranty implemented by all subsidiaries and distributors across the board.
Nintendo eShop, Nintendo Account, and Nintendo Switch Online
The map you are seeing above shows a bleak picture of Nintendo eShop support around the world. The entire Southern Hemisphere has almost disappeared.
There’s practically no excuse for Nintendo not to extend Nintendo eShop support to more countries around the world. Companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Sony and many others have done it.
For Nintendo to truly go global, their mindset has to change. The Nintendo eShop is a very important service that needs to be officially supported in countries with official Nintendo distributors. They can’t simply pretend that it “doesn’t exist” in other countries.
Official support is tantamount in building a strong base in countries and markets that are low on Nintendo support. Most of the countries that have submerged in the sea also happen to be strong markets for Sony’s PlayStation. The reason? Official support. It’s that simple.
Not providing official eShop support, Nintendo Account support, or worst, Nintendo Switch Online (which means people living in unsupported countries can’t even play online next year!), is similar to pointing a middle finger to people living in those regions. And what happens when that happens? They go straight to a competitor who does.
The small and mundane things are very crucial, and it means a lot to the fans and gamers living in “unsupported regions”. Opening a new eShop isn’t as difficult as opening a new subsidiary.
Now we all know that Nintendo’s marketing has improved by leaps and bounds with the release of Nintendo Switch. What we’re talking about here is the lack of marketing in some regions.
The same regions that lack Nintendo eShop support are the same regions that are gravely lacking in marketing. Most of these markets are serviced by distributors (who represent Nintendo in those countries) who are only concerned with their bottom line.
That’s where the problem comes in. When they only care about their bottom line, they have little regard in helping to market products for Nintendo. Traditional marketing is still a very important tool in reaching out to consumers who have never experienced Nintendo games, especially the younger generation who are mostly hooked to smartphones.
Types of marketing include advertising (newspaper, TV, public transport), organizing events to let consumers try out upcoming games, participating in local gaming conventions, and supporting the community.
In some cases, The Pokemon Company (partially owned by Nintendo) is actually doing a better job in marketing the Pokemon brand in unsupported countries. Examples include Thailand’s regular Pokemon roadshows, and Singapore’s Pokemon events in 2016.
Without marketing, these markets are unable to reach their full potential for Nintendo. Nintendo must ensure that distributors are going out in full force with marketing their products.
China, which has a population of over a billion people, is a large market that has yet to be fully exploited by Nintendo.
With proper care and attention, China has the potential to become a region as big and important as North America and Europe. I believe the Nintendo Switch is a good starting point to kickstart these efforts.
Fortunately, we can see that Nintendo is starting to take notice of the Chinese market. In Hong Kong, where the Nintendo Switch launched on March 3, upcoming first party titles are going to be playable in Chinese. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is another title that will be localized in Chinese early next year.
Of course, Nintendo has to make sure they go all out with everything we’ve mentioned in this article – full Nintendo eShop, Nintendo Account, and Nintendo Switch Online support, as well as the same standard of marketing they have been pushing out in their key markets.
Nintendo has yet to reach its full potential. While they’re still growing and maintaining their efforts in key regions such as North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia, they are turning a blind eye to affluent countries in the Middle East, and emerging markets in Southeast Asia and South America.
There is a lot of potential in these regions that Nintendo has yet to tap on. If Nintendo could simply add eShop support or show that they (at least) care a little with marketing, then their market share can be grown much more. There’s simply no reason to leave these markets for Sony to completely dominate and conquer.