From oct 2010 my educational posts are published only on Pip

25 aug. 2011

The success of the GameBoy

I held a very short session in a composition of three today, filling in Björn Jeffery's talk on the Toca Boca research on bluckbusters. Here is an even shorter version of my preso:

There are lots of lessons to learn from blockbusters and I’ve been looking into the success of the Nintendo GameBoy.

I started by asking all my game savvy friends about it and they all answered short and direct in one word – Tetris.

Tetris was included in the GameBoy per default from the release in 1989. Nintendo run a long struggle for the rights with both the Russians and other parts, so the game was strategically important for them. But why were Tetris and Gameboy the perfect match when everyone else were doing cooler stuff? Tetris was and is considered a game for girls.

Other gaming consoles of different brands were all cool looking
black as something to steer a spaceship with. The Atari Lynx was released right after the GameBoy with mediocre success. They all offered the latest technology at the time, the coolest games and design - the kind of features that appeal to any hard core gamer. The target group was by that limited to primarily boys 16-30 years old, at most 10% of the population.

The Nintendo style was completely different. I’ve urged for everyone of their devices and I own them all. It's clear that they recognized a potential market much bigger than those 10%.

They made a toy that most people could possess and play. It could be carried in a pocket. It was cheap, easy to start and end and had long lasting batteries.
A tech device has wires and ports, a toy has batteries.

Long life time batteries are also important to let people bring it along to school, handle it to others and to get hooked to play for hours.

A toy has easy interaction for the inexperienced. No pre-skills demanded. It’s easy to get started. But to get that quick start you also need a fun short session game that is easy to get into.

The low price was prioritized to let everyone be able to own it. Cheaper weak processors didn't offer complex graphics and action games and Tetris was required to create the perfect match.

This Nintendo reciepy is most relevant today – keep casual games as casual as they can get for casual people.

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