Nintendo brought four of the upcoming Wii U titles it showcased at E3 — Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze — to more than 100 Best Buy locations across North America earlier this month, and a Nintendo representative told Polygon this week that the event was a smashing success. But it was just one part of the company's multifaceted approach to marketing, a philosophy that's tailored to individual audiences and specific games.
"We've wanted to do that for a long time," said J.C. Rodrigo, senior product marketing specialist in Nintendo of America's product development department, speaking about the Best Buy demos in an interview with Polygon. "We really wanted to make sure we [brought] our experiences [to] the hands of people who want to try our stuff, as much as we could."
Nintendo was overwhelmed by the response to the promotion, through which fans had the chance to visit their local Best Buy stores to play the demos in four-hour periods on two days during the week of E3. "We had lines like crazy at each particular location," said Rodrigo, who added that fans appeared to be wondering why Nintendo hadn't tried this before.
The experiment seemed to be tied specifically to E3 — three of the games being demoed were announced during the E3 Nintendo Direct. Rodrigo concurred, and said that Nintendo always builds its software marketing around the games themselves.
This past April, the company said it would hold smaller, more directed events to highlight specific games; earlier this week, a Nintendo Direct presentation focused entirely on Pikmin 3 aired only in Japan. And Nintendo of America's Treehouse division, which handles localization of Japanese games, released a series of videos detailing features of Animal Crossing: New Leaf over the past few months.
"software sells hardware"
Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told Polygon during E3 that while the company decided not to hold a press briefing this year, it's having an "ongoing conversation" about its strategy for 2014 and beyond. Rodrigo pointed out that Nintendo had a three-pronged marketing approach for E3.
"You had the sales and marketing briefing for the people that needed to hear that information; you had the Nintendo Direct for people that really needed to know, generally, what was happening and what we're coming out with; and then you [had] the sampling at the Best Buy [stores] that got that information out as well," said Rodrigo. "So if you look at it from the content perspective and who needed to know, everyone got what they needed to know — just in different ways."
Seven months after the Wii U's launch, the console's software lineup looks like it will soon get beefed up with heavy hitters. Fils-Aime said during E3 that impressive first-party software will drive Wii U sales, which will encourage third-party development on the platform. Rodrigo echoed those sentiments.
"Software sells hardware, and focusing on the software is exactly what we're doing," he said.