Earlier this week, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto claimed his company had failed to "communicate the value" of the Wii U to consumers, a turn of phrase that struck me as quite amusing. As a fan of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, all I could think of was the first stage of Dennis Reynolds' system of seduction, the D.E.N.N.I.S. System, whereby he "demonstrates value" to sucker a woman into falling for him.
After thinking about it (and reading the Destructoid community's reaction to the Nintendo/Dennis connection), I started to realize Nintendo and Always Sunny's lecherous sociopath have way more in common, and that the D.E.N.N.I.S. System may well be applied to the company's business strategy in its entirety.
Nintendo might be taking lessons from the show as it perfects the art of seducing fans and breaking their hearts for its own sordid gains.
While the system is designed for Dennis to trick women into having sex with him before abandoning them, its applications in business are frightening, and Nintendo's mastery of it is absolute. Like Dennis, Nintendo is able to seduce and conquer its fans by demonstrating value, engaging physically, nurturing dependence, neglecting emotionally, inspiring hope, and then separating entirely. Do you remain skeptical? Read on and understand.
This one's easy, because we already know, by Nintendo's own admission, that it secures customer loyalty by demonstrating the value of its product. Through marketing promotions, competitive pricing, and pledging to offer the widest variety of games to the widest variety of consumers, Nintendo attempts to demonstrate its value to the user. More often than not, it succeeds.
In fairness, all videogame companies utilize the first step of the system. Duping the consumer into believing a product is worth the entry fee is what the game industry is all about. Nintendo's as committed as any when it comes to demonstrating its value.
No other company works harder to engage its customers physically than Nintendo. With the Wii, the DS, the 3DS, and the Wii U, Nintendo has been doing more to encourage physical interaction with users than any other company in the games market. Whether you're waggling a remote, tapping a touchscreen, or tilting screens left and right, when you're on a Nintendo system, you're 100% physically engaged.
Even those shy to embrace Nintendo's whimsical world of bodily nonsense are eventually suckered in. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword test the resolve of even the most adamant anti-waggle gamer, and the excellent Nintendo DS library has us all dragging styli around like they're little Weekend at Bernie's corpses! If you're a Nintendo customer, consider yourself physically engaged.
Nintendo has the key to the cage of some of gaming's most beloved and cherished franchises. Your inner child is Reggie Fils-Aime's bitch. Miyamoto is the way and the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Mario except through him. To get your hands on Zelda, Metroid, Kirby, and so many more, you depend entirely on so-called Big N.
Nintendo knows it, too. It knows what you like, and it knows you have nobody else to turn to. Games like Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. feed your nostalgia, remind you of happier times before you became an evil-hearted adult, and convince you to stay with Nintendo if you want to keep getting that sweet, sweet hit. One look at the dogged loyalty of Nintendo's most ardent fans will tell you this has already been achieved. They remain hopelessly in the thrall of their master, suckling at its red, cracked teats with all the gratitude of a freshly-fed dog.
We're halfway through the system, and Nintendo's three for three!
Nintendo's demonstrated its value to you. It's engaged you physically with its cool new toy. It's nurtured your dependence with the allure of childhood memories and honest-to-goodness gaming. What happens next?
Wii Music happens next.
Yes folks, you've just been neglected emotionally!
Satoru Iwata's band of merry men are wizards when it comes to this step, leading fans on for so long before totally cutting them off. After stringing gamers along, Nintendo does an about-face, making its press conferences and announcements all about family-friendly crap that nobody cares for. We get some maniac woman on a stage, grinning like a bargain basement Joker as she tells you she's going to put a smile on your face. We get promises of Pikmin 3, but no actual news, while other favorite franchises are completely ignored. Reggie tells us Animal Crossing is a hardcore game and can't understand why anybody's feeling shortchanged.
"Nintendo has abandoned the hardcore gamer," the cry rings out, over valley and hill. My Lord, why hast thou forsaken me? The answer is clear -- Nintendo's neglecting you emotionally.
Wait, they just announced Pikmin 3? Holy shit, was that a new Kid Icarus? New Donkey Kong? And what's with this Wii U eShop? It's, like, actually good. Nintendo's got a new online strategy, Nintendo's promising more core games. Nintendo's back, everybody! Nintendo finally gets it.
"Nintendo finally gets it." I've honestly lost count of how many times I've read that phrase over the years. After neglecting us emotionally, Nintendo makes some announcement or presents a fresh feature that has everybody (myself included) pull a U-turn and declare that, this time, Nintendo finally understands what we want, and at last knows how to give it to us. We are relieved. We are appreciative.
And then ... we bang.
Weeks without games. A sudden 3DS discount that pisses off everybody who supported the system early. The eShop turns out to be bereft of content and shit as always. A reality that fails utterly to live up to the promises we breathed in like sweet oxygen. And all the while, Nintendo sits there, deaf to our pleas, blind to our entreaties. It's working on something else now, and has cut its consumers loose.
It's okay, though. You need not be alarmed. Nintendo will be back, next time it needs to demonstrate its value to you.
And the D.E.N.N.I.S. System rises again.