Nintendo has suffered through poor quarter, and Zynga has had another booming one. This article from AllThingsD quotes Michael Pachter, an analyst, speaking on the current state of the gaming industry and consoles:
Nintendo is living in the past, repeating what got them to where they are, and hoping that the recent downturn is a fad. They aren’t adapting to the times, and it’s hurting them.
The last line is common with many companies in the Old Boy’s Club: Microsoft, Nokia, RIM, Yahoo! to name a few. It is easy to say that companies who have been around and suffering a recent decline are simply not riding the wave of change. I have been critical of Nintendo, especially with the iOS boom and how Apple has changed gaming. But I think this article has one key paragraph that offers perspective:
Nintendo sells proprietary portable and home gaming units as well as the games that work on top of them. Meanwhile, Zynga gives away its games for free and lets them work across most computers and mobile phones. It makes money on advertising and microtransactions.
Nintendo sells an experience that requires a living room, and Zynga sells one that is both social and mobile. The two experiences require different strategies and lead to different results. Nintendo is also a brand that people have traditionally identified with, whereas Zynga is a platform that no one really thinks twice about. Instead, people focus on the flagship game they produce: Farmville. Farmville itself can make the bacon, but it doesn’t come close to Nintendo’s margins.
I am glad this perspective was brought to light. Nintendo continues to get a bad rap for being dissociated from the social gaming space, but there is a big reason for that: they don’t have core competencies in it. There focus will continue to be at selling games that people will continue to come back to, and exploring new types of interactions that are far from a mobile screen.