What advanced old technology was very cool

How has Nintendo used “old technology” to innovate?

Zhihu has a question entitled "What two things in the story sound different than at the same time, but actually happened at the same time?" The answer with the highest praise is:

In 1889, Emperor Guangxu was in power and Nintendo was founded that same year.

That sounds like the standard beginning of a high and low story, no wonder there are so many likes. The fact is true. Nintendo, a centuries-old company, has seen too many ups and downs. You can see it on the share price chart. Summits and valleys alternated many times.

Even more legendary, Nintendo's various summits and the surge in its share price were not due to advanced technology. Game & Watch, Game Boy, Switch, etc. are examples of Nintendo’s innovation through old technology.

In today's internet age that worships "new technology" it seems so incredible.

"Old Technology" innovation

When you talk about Nintendo now, most people might think of Switch. Games like Fitness Ring Adventure and Animal Crossing Friends Club weren't in circles during the epidemic. Many non-gaming gamers are using Switch too. Fitness familiar Huan has even become one of the annual "financial products".

However, this best-selling game console has also been criticized by gamers. It's 2020. The Switch's screen resolution is still 720P, and the TV only supports 1080P resolution. In this mobile phone, 1080P and 4K TVs have become the standard. In this time it is a bit backward.

If you are an old Nintendo user or if you are familiar with Nintendo history, you are no stranger. The use of "old technology" has always been the traditional art and even corporate culture of Nintendo.

Yokoi Junhei, former head of Nintendo's first development department, once said: With technology that is mature and almost out of date for horizontal thinking, and applying it to completely different areas, it's easy to make bestselling products.

This set of concepts known as "Level Thinking with Blighted Technology" is reflected in Nintendo's best-selling products.

▲ Yokoi Gunpei

Let's go back in time to the 1980s when Nintendo released its first game console, Game & Watch, which used an LCD screen with a fixed background, which also made a game console only play one. Game.

Despite the technological advancement at that time, it is still one of the old technologies, but Nintendo has successfully opened the situation with Game & Watch. Worldwide sales of more than 43 million units are one of the best-selling handhelds in the world.

▲ Game & Watch has multiple styles, both single screen and double screen

In addition, Nintendo Game & Watch has brought an enormous innovation - the cross button. At that time, the handheld market was an emerging market and much of the content was learned from arcades. Most of the game interactions are based on joysticks, but Nintendo is the only way to improve the handheld is portable and easy to use, and the cross button is introduced.

Although the cross button doesn't have a joystick for flexibility, the button greatly reduces the size of the handheld, and the cross button can also meet the needs of 2D gaming at this point. Anytime, Anywhere and Ease has won the recognition of a large number of gamers for Game & Watch, which has fueled the steadily increasing sales.

The same goes for its successor, the Game Boy. Contemporaries like Atari and Sega have used color screens before, but the Game Boy screen can only display four colors: white, light green, dark green, and black. .

▲ Atari Lynx with color screen. Image by: Kotaku

With such a wide range of technological backwardnesses, Nintendo can still take the lead because of its insights into the gaming market and deeper control over gamers. As a portable device, portability and battery life are most important, even if Nintendo is still lagging behind. Screen, but it guarantees battery life.

In addition, the interactive innovation of the cross button and Nintendo’s continued investment in quality games have brought a comprehensive benefit in software and hardware integration.

What is interesting is that Nintendo's products with leading performance or technological advantages have not been recognized by gamers. Nintendo's N64 uses a 64-bit chip while being one of the best consoles for 3D performance, but it came across Waterloo. The turnover was mediocre.

Interactive innovations and gameplay innovations such as Game & Watch are widely used in Nintendo's products. The Labobox, the fitness ring and the current AR game "Mario Racing" have led to unexpected results. Most of them do not use cash technology but innovative applications of mature technology.

In the hands of Nintendo, the game console is not just a piece of computer hardware that offers functions, it is also a set of toys that can be expanded almost infinitely.

This may have something to do with Nintendo's experience as a toy maker. For toy manufacturers, it is not important that technology is fun, but that toys are fun.

It is more commendable that Nintendo insists on this concept.

Nintendo has embarked on a unique path to industrialization

Nobuyuki Takahashi, director of planning and production at Nintendo, once told the media that innovation is a by-product of Nintendo's work and that at Nintendo, creativity is the first in the entire creative process.

The persistence of good ideas has also had an impact on Nintendo's culture. Even at a time when mobile games are taking over the world and mobile game revenue is growing on the App Store and Google Play, Nintendo has never changed.

This doesn't mean that Nintendo doesn't make mobile games. On the contrary, Nintendo's mobile game "Super Mario Run" from 2016 has updated the App Store's fastest record, which has reached number one in the list of free games.

However, "Super Mario Run" and another IP game licensed by Nintendo "Pokemon GO" have a large void in commercial performance. According to data from the data research company for mobile applications, Sensor Tower, "Pokemon GO" And the derivative IP has captured over 2.5 billion US dollars from its emission in the years 2016 to 2019 to global players.

"Super Mario Run," which was launched in the same year as "Pokémon GO," had cumulative global sales of just $ 60 million through 2018, which is far from the $ 2.5 billion.

Both are Nintendo's IP games. Why is the difference so big?

This is analyzed using the business models and production companies of the two games. "Pokémon GO" is a product that Nintendo and Pokemon Niantic have authorized to develop and operate. Nintendo only offers a few suggestions.

"Super Mario Run" is a game that is developed and operated by Nintendo itself. Although both are free games, Super Mario Run still has to spend $ 10 to unlock all of the game content. "Dream GO" offers many in-app purchase methods commonly known as Krypton Gold.

Independent research and development by IP owners is not as profitable as authorized IP games. The reason is the business model. It is not without reason that Krypton has developed into a mainstream company in the field of mobile games. Its ability to attract money has been checked over and over again.

▲ Unboxing is a common mechanism in Krypton Gold games

Not deciding on the Krypton Gold model is Nintendo's active decision, and even partners will need to adjust the mechanism so that players don't spend too much money. According to the Wall Street Journal report, Nintendo requires such partners to protect their trademarks. Picture.

With buy-out games, players have to spend a lot of money at the same time, and the quality requirements for games are of course higher, which of course encourages manufacturers to improve the gaming experience.

The seemingly free Krypton game is different. Although the game itself is free to download and basically has no restrictions, game companies often set up various induction charging mechanisms in the game, e.g. B. important games to generate rewards and to form a loop props and equipment must be obtained immediately through Krypton Gold, which almost inevitably has a negative effect on the gaming experience.

Whether it's stubborn or proud, Nintendo as a game company isn't that interested in mobile games. It insists that the buyout business model applies to traditional games. The persistence of this model also indirectly fueled Nintendo's continuous exploration of good ideas.

Of course, the risk is not as low as with Nintendo. As with games, films, and other entertainment content products, the production cycle is long. A production cycle of three years is already normal for Nintendo, but it takes that long. Money and time investments all have to rely on selling games to recoup the cost.

If the money is burned out and the players don't buy it, the loss is not small. Throughout Nintendo history, there are products with the highest sales in the world and products with mediocre sales.

Fortunately, Nintendo has enough background to support its ongoing adventurous activities. Before that, there was a media inventory of the world's most profitable IP addresses. Nintendo's Pokémon and Mario also made the top 10 on the list, with the former reaching total IP revenues, the latter also reaching around $ 36 billion.

The recently opened Nintendo Super Park has also sparked a variety of topics on social media. Nintendo's IP continues to influence gamers and fans.

Games are the core business of Nintendo, but it's also the IP foundation. Every time a game is launched, it expands and strengthens the IP brand, and the great value of IP can also help Nintendo take risks over and over to get a better game.

Let me say that Nintendo is not stubborn or proud, just used to the industrial production methods of the past because it is known and doable. Why should it change?

Technology can't solve all problems

There is almost no benchmarking company with Nintendo in the games industry. Sony and Microsoft, both the three masters of the console industry, have different business models than Nintendo. Although they sell consoles and games, the console itself is not profitable. This year's PS5 and Xbox prices have been delayed, and there are reasons for the high cost.

What really makes the main revenue is the game rake. Games sold on PS4 and Xbox are required to submit approximately 30% of revenue.

Although Nintendo also sells Switch consoles and games, most of its sales come from first-party games from Nintendo. According to statistics from vgchartz, the top ten games sold on the Switch platform are all developed by Nintendo. Nintendo's financial report further confirmed this data: Around 85% of Switch software sales in 2019 were first-party games.

This is also in line with the perception of the outside world. Switches are mainly bought for games developed by Nintendo.

Compared to game companies, Nintendo is not a pure game content company. It continues to insist on bringing hardware products to market even if hardware gains are not high, and occasionally losses.

Imagine if The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is signed in on platforms like PS4 and Xbox, sales will definitely go up again, but Nintendo won't. It has always insisted on selling games on its own hardware platform.

The reason for this is that most of the games Nintendo developed, alongside the competing platform, are designed to run on their own hardware for maximum performance. "Fitness Ring Adventure" does not have a switch handle. Can it still be fun?

According to Nintendo's concept of "faded thinking on a technical level", hardware and software are equally important. They are both creative carriers. Whether the technology is new or mature enough isn't the first.

In contrast to the technological transition path of industrialization advocated by Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo has taken a unique path, relying on mature or even outdated technologies to be more creative in the strategy of integrating software and hardware.

Of course, this has a close relationship with the gaming market. The war between generations of console games has proven that game quality is the number one factor in player money. It is also common for Nintendo for games to report back to hardware. During this year's epidemic, fitness rings the bell, rising sales that are turning into annual "financial hardware" and driving increased sales of switches is the best evidence.

Nintendo has consistently innovated, made unexpected innovations out of ordinary things, and gained recognition from gamers.

That can't help but ask people is there really a need to highlight the cool "new technology"?

What Jobs said at the developer conference could be the answer to that question:

You have to start from the user experience and then push back the technology to be used instead of starting from the technology and then think about how the product is going to be sold

Technology is just a tool, especially in the content market. The most important thing is always the product quality. The basic "old technology" can continue to innovate.

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