Tag Archives: gaming

For Nintendo, Classic Means Old Fashioned

If you’ve read my blog before, you probably already know that I am something of a gamer. As such, I did my best over the holidays to track down a Nintendo Classic Edition, the mini NES gaming system that everybody wanted. I’m not sure if it was the selection of awesome classic games (Castlevania II!), the inexpensive price ($60) or just the powerful gravity of nostalgia that attracted the masses, but this little game system was impossible to find. People lined up at Wal-Mart and Target, but most of them left empty-handed. There is no question that Nintendo misjudged demand. They could have sold twice as many consoles as they did.

Now, just a couple of months later, the Classic Edition is old news as Nintendo prepares to launch its new “Switch” gaming system. (In related news, all of the 10-years-olds who got a Classic Edition for Christmas from grandpa have long since thrown it in the closet, either put off by the simple graphics or frustrated by the unforgiving difficulty level of these old games.) Chalk it up as a missed opportunity.

Nintendo’s mortal enemy, Sony, took a completely different – and distinctly more modern – approach to a similar product. The Japanese tech giant launched Playstation Now a few years ago, a service that allows you to stream classic Playstation games on your PC, your Playstation 4 or even a number of smart TVs and Blu-ray players. As long as you subscribe to the service, you have access to a growing number of games (nearly 500 at the time of this writing).

By using an old-fashioned business model, Nintendo gambled on the idea of scarcity as a motivator: “come and get it before it’s gone!” That’s how industrialism worked, for you history buffs. Supply and demand, that sort of thing. Unfortunately, that business model forces you to estimate demand as you build your supply. Nobody wants to get stuck with warehouses full of unsold inventory (just ask Atari and their unmarked desert grave filled with 700,000 E.T. game cartridges). The opposite is also true, of course, and that’s what sank Nintendo’s launch of the Classic Edition – they misjudged demand, sold half of what they could have and then watched as their window of opportunity snapped closed.

In stark contrast to industrialism, the modern information economy – informationalism, if you will – scales itself based on demand. If everybody in the world likes the new Beyonce song, then everybody in the world can pay to listen to it (either by purchasing it or streaming it on a service like Tidal). They never run out of records or cassettes or CDs. Nobody has to stand in line because supply is unlimited.

For those of you who follow Nintendo, you know that they do sell downloadable versions of the games we saw on the Classic Edition. However, you need to own one of Nintendo’s current devices, and you need to buy each game individually. It’s a step in the right direction for one of the world’s most beloved companies, but their handling of the Classic Edition proves that they still don’t completely understand the new economic realities (and opportunities) of digital content.

In one of the courses I teach at the local university, we focus a lot on this idea of scarcity vs modern digital delivery. It’s fascinating to see how the modern economy has evolved. Have you considered how your own business can evolve along with it? Do you have information to sell? Knowledge to provide? It doesn’t work for every product, obviously (we still need to buy hard goods after all), but lean manufacturing methods are even influencing supply and demand for non-information based products.

I think my point is that the web has changed everybody’s economic reality, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. Embrace this new paradigm, and you can succeed where others falter.

Gaming And The Connectedness Of Life

All of us here at Code Roadies are gamers to some degree. Some like old school video games (Mario!), others prefer casual mobile games (Clash of Clans!) , and some (me included, I suppose) fit the description of a “serious gamer” who partakes in almost all genres (Witcher 3!). Our lead developer used to work at a popular video game retailer, so it would be safe to say that he and his friends qualify as “hardcore gamers.” They’re the kind of guys who pay close attention to things like achievements and gamerscores, change the difficulty settings to “impossible, “beat controller-snapping games like Dark Souls without any trouble and crush me mercilessly when I venture online for attempts at Halo. It’s never a surprise, then, that they tend to be on the forefront of new gaming technology. Recently, they came across one of the first practical connections between gaming and the so-called “internet of things,” and it was pretty cool.

There is a game called Chariot for the XBOX One gaming console, and it interfaces wirelessly with Hue LED lights from Philips to change the color of the room lighting to reflect the environment of the game. You can see a demo of it here, but it doesn’t do justice to how cool the effect looks in real life (the lame “actors portraying gamers” don’t help).

The lights don’t necessarily make the game better (check it out mostly for the couch co-op), but they do make the experience pretty unique. Mostly, though, the gimmick gives us a peek at things to come. I’m not talking about games and lighting effects, here. I’m talking about your oven sending you an email that tells you that your turkey is almost done. The “internet of things” is about to mature, and we need to be ready.

Why does everything need to be connected? It doesn’t, of course. But this is about economics as much as it is technology. The folks who make washing machines need a reason for you to (a) buy a new washing machine and (b) pay them more for a washing machine. Presto! Internet-connected washing machines! But here’s the deal – when applied properly, the “internet of things” really works. Ask anybody who has a smart thermostat or smart locks on their doors, and they will rave to you about the peace of mind that they provide.

Here at Code Roadies, we’re not programming our websites to work with your fridge (yet), but we simply cannot ignore the ramifications of this impending connectedness. Why can’t a website check the contents of your fridge before suggesting a few extra purchases in order to prepare a delicious recipe? Why can’t it check to see if your TV is compatible with a new video service before suggesting a movie? I know it sounds a little scary (nobody is thrilled that their car can now get hacked), but I’m pretty sure it’s only going to get more prevalent in the future.

The web is growing. It may be starting with games and lights, but it will soon reach more and more into the real world. We can either cry “Skynet!” as we put on our tinfoil hats, or we can do everything in our power to make sure that the “internet of life” makes the world better for all of us. That’s what we’re going to do. Are you coming with us?