Indie Tip #6: Learn from the Wii

I’ve been trying to get a Nintendo Wii for quite a while, but no matter which store I went to, it was always out of stock. Stores often sold out of the Wii the same day a new shipment arrived – yet they always had the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 in stock.

Thanks to a local blogger who posted that Best Buy had the Wii in stock, I was finally able to get one this weekend. And the buzz about the Wii is well-deserved – it’s a great system, and its unique “get off your ass” gameplay is a lot more fun than sitting in a chair twiddling your joystick.

And that’s the key to its success. Nintendo focused on gameplay, not technology.

The Wii’s graphics are substandard compared to the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3. It doesn’t have the cutting-edge hardware of those other systems, yet it’s still a huge success not simply because it’s cheaper, but because it excels at what’s really important to the people who use it (it’s fun!). And by making the Wii more fun and less geeky, Nintendo has also made it more appealing to a broader audience.

Independent developers (actually, all developers) could learn from this. We focus far too much on using the latest, greatest technology. We’ll spend days – sometimes weeks – immersed in the geeky details of our work, but spend very little time focusing on the things that would really improve our software in the eyes of our customers (such as simplifying the UI, writing better documentation and getting rid of unnecessary options).

Outside of the geekosphere, people don’t care what technology we’re using to develop our software. They could care less whether we’re using AJAX or Flash. Their eyes glaze over when we spout acronyms at them. They just want our software to be easy to use and to do what it claims without scaring them.

5 thoughts on “Indie Tip #6: Learn from the Wii

  1. There’s also a lesson in there in marketing products to previous non-customers. By focussing on the “fun” part, the Wii managed to cash in on a universal quality of 99% of the world’s population: Wii all want to have fun!
    Also a good book to read on this point: Blue Ocean Strategy

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  2. The Wii is now outselling the PS3 by 3 to 1 in Japan. This backs up the fact that most people want a fun console and not just the latest (and costly) high-tech models.

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