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WiiDS

Punch-Out!! and Starfy Are Getting a Whole Lotta Love

by Neal Ronaghan - June 8, 2009, 12:40 pm PDT
Total comments: 16

Punch-Out!! had an event at Nintendo World Store and had humorous commercials like the one seen below.

The very recent release of The Legendary Starfy for DS has also been getting commercials that have even reached the impenetrable video game force field of my parents. When I purchased the game yesterday, I showed my mom the case to which she replied, "Oh, I saw the commercials for that."

After talking to her more about it, I found out that apparently these Starfy commercials were playing on television and even being played at movie theaters before movies such as Disney/Pixar's latest UP. I think the last time I saw a Nintendo commercial before a movie was that crazy ass Wind Waker one.

Now the big question out of all this is why Starfy and Punch-Out!! are getting lots of love and games such as Excitebots are getting left in the dust. It seems that whenever Nintendo puts their weight behind a game*, it does well. I guess there is a method to their madness as they're pretty damn successful, but it still makes you wonder why some games get little to no support.

Unless their plan is to not mention Excitebots for an entire year and then get Lisa Kudrow to do a TV spot for it. Then, they'll stealthily release the sequel to the game and not mention it for another year.

I could probably ramble on about Nintendo's confusing marketing strategy for a long time, but hopefully this'll spark some commentary and we can ramble together in the forums.

*Well, maybe it doesn't work all the time, but then again, I don't recall ever having the urge to play Metroid Prime 3 in an airport.

Talkback

While my Photoshop skills kind of suck, I am proud of my crappy image that's in this.

I just have this picture of the squid's actual motivation being that he lives in Europe and wants to play Excitebots. So he figures if he kills Starfy, Nintendo will have one less franchise to worry about.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJune 08, 2009

This is very easy to explain...

Punch-Out is a revival of a classic and beloved NES title, the type of game that both the core and expanded audiences remember and love. Since 15 years have passed since the last PO game was released and its something fans have been wishing for years Nintendo felt obliged to create lots of awareness and hype over the revival of the franchise. In other words, the fact that Punch-Out Wii exists is a big, big deal.

As for Starfy, I think they are putting a lot of effort into the campaign because Starfy has a similar appeal and sense of charm that made Kirby so popular in the US. Its a colorful platformer on the DS, currently the most popular handheld on the market. So maybe the reason why they decided to market Starfy is because they believe the game can be popular enough to create a long running franchise in the US.

Note that this isn't the first time Nintendo has decided to hype up a random game. Rhythm Heaven also got a lot of exposure, and even got Beyonce Knowles to sell the game. Thanks to that the game sold very well despite being a quirky, silly little rhythm game that was nothing like the Guitar Heroes and Rock Bands populating the market . They also decided to advertise Professor Layton with Lisa Kudrow all of a sudden and the game hass seen significant success in the US because of it.

As for Excitebots, I think Nintendo didn't bother with it because they felt that while the game had potential for fun gameplay and gain a cult following it didn't have enough of an appeal to go beyond the core audience and reach the expanded audience. Sean Malstrom put it well when he said that the game didn't have a legacy or even a concrete theme that was easy to sell. Excite Trucks was easy to sell because everybody knows trucks and everybody knows trucks can be hardcore and take part in crazy events. Excite Bots on the other hand was too crazy and lacked a concrete theme that would reach audiences.

Long story short; its easy to sell Excite Trucks. Its hard to sell Excite Bots. So it seems that Nintendo's marketing team decided not to bother with it since they realized that it wouldn't reach a wide audience even if they put all their money and time into it.

And that's it for my analysis that I pulled out of my sleeve...with some of it being pulled from where the sun don't shine :) .

I forgot about Rhythm Heaven.

I thought that sold poorly, though...

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJune 08, 2009

Quote from: nron10

I forgot about Rhythm Heaven.

I thought that sold poorly, though...

No, it did very well and Nintendo acknowledged it in a press release about how the DSi was a massive hit.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusJune 08, 2009

Quote from: pap64

As for Excitebots, I think Nintendo didn't bother with it because they felt that while the game had potential for fun gameplay and gain a cult following it didn't have enough of an appeal to go beyond the core audience and reach the expanded audience. Sean Malstrom put it well when he said that the game didn't have a legacy or even a concrete theme that was easy to sell. Excite Trucks was easy to sell because everybody knows trucks and everybody knows trucks can be hardcore and take part in crazy events. Excite Bots on the other hand was too crazy and lacked a concrete theme that would reach audiences.

So why either make or release the game? I don't accept that as a valid reason to send the game out to die.

The game could easily have appeal, it's just a matter of marketing it to the right people the right way. aka, on Nickelodeon/Disney Channel to kids. Yeah it doesn't properly fit the demographic, but it would sell.

nickmitchJune 08, 2009

Wasn't the thing about Excitebots that Nintendo completely ignored it while promoting Punch-Out!! months in advance?

NovaQJune 08, 2009

It seems that there are games that Nintendo of America don't know how to effectively market and assume will only have a cult following at best, and so rely on some underwhelming Internet ads to push the titles. Perhaps their (odd?) market analysis tell them in these cases to make whatever small amount they can from Internet-dwelling Nintendo fans by "sending it out to die."

Or who knows, maybe it's simply the result of game favoritism by Reggie or someone at the top of NoA's marketing division. It's hard to come up with a good explanation considering the great first-party Wii games that have so far been given the cold shoulder (Metroid Prime 3, Wario Land , Excite Bots, and more?).

BlackNMild2k1June 08, 2009

I picture it to be a sick joke of a bet inside Nintendo like what happened in Trading Places with Eddie Murphy & Dan Akroyd.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJune 08, 2009

Quote from: NovaQ

It seems that there are games that Nintendo of America don't know how to effectively market and assume will only have a cult following at best, and so rely on some underwhelming Internet ads to push the titles. Perhaps their (odd?) market analysis tell them in these cases to make whatever small amount they can from Internet-dwelling Nintendo fans by "sending it out to die."

Or who knows, maybe it's simply the result of game favoritism by Reggie or someone at the top of NoA's marketing division. It's hard to come up with a good explanation considering the great first-party Wii games that have so far been given the cold shoulder (Metroid Prime 3, Wario Land, Excite Bots, and more?).

Actually, Wario Land Shake it received a surprisingly strong marketing campaign. They actually gave away free gas, raffled a Wii and a copy of the game and set up demo stations across many gas stations.

Quote from: BlackNMild2k1

I picture it to be a sick joke of a bet inside Nintendo like what happened in Trading Places with Eddie Murphy & Dan Akroyd.

Thread won.

Michael8983June 08, 2009

I think someone at Nintendo of America simply decided that ExciteBots was a sure flop that no amount of marketing could save and decided not to even bother.
It's a shame because it's a great game with tons of replay value, but the concept of racing mechanical bugs just doesn't appeal to most people. It has however gained a strong cult following and in time, I think, will sell well enough to justify its existence.
How about instead of complaining about Nintendo poorly marketing one game, we praise it for doing a kick-ass job marketing two others. It's about time Punch-Out gets a revival and Starfy comes to America. Let's hope the ads lead to strong sales and future sequels for both.

PeachylalaJune 08, 2009

Since Pap already hit the nail right on the head with his post, maybe I should give my two cents before this becomes another “NINTENDO MAKES IT’S OWN GAMES FAIL!!11” thread of doom.

I’ve mentioned in a couple of my previous posts that NoA’s marketing has ALWAYS sucked… but I didn’t mention it sucking in which area. It sucked massive in one area everyone is always bitching about: TV ads. As mentioned, Starfy’s commercial is…strange, but to me it captures the whimsy and cutesy of the series. What other series is like that? Kirby. NoA’s marketing is either hit or miss, quality wise. In print and interwebs, it’s the other way around. The web design of Nintendo’s game sites are fantastic (when I visit them out of curiosity), and the print ads get the point across.

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I do play a lot of games for the Wii. What’s on the Wii though? Nintendo Channel. I will acknowledge criticism towards this entire Excitebots mess, but… BOTS. Racing and bots aren’t exactly going to turn peoples heads. While I love Excitebots I think the entire premise is… strange, a bit TOO strange for a racing game. If the bots were F-Zero racers, then THAT would sell to a lot of people. PunchOut can sell to people who remember, well, PunchOut for NES and SNES, and Starfy will appeal to Kirby fans.

Pap might be able to carry the argument better though.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusJune 09, 2009

That's the whole point of this conversation. Why even make Excitebots if Nintendo already preordained it as a failure. Seems like a waste of time and money.

I predict that it's more likely that Nintendo thought it would succeed by word of mouth only because it was a sequel to Excite Truck. It seems pretty obvious that Nintendo is great at marketing a game when they try, but with Excitebots they didn't even try. God only knows why, too. The game is critically acclaimed by every major publication out there, so I can't imagine it would be hard to sell even with it being so weird.

At the end of the day, I think we are all getting to the same point: Nintendo's marketing is inconsistent as hell and operates without rhyme or reason, and has been working this way for as long as it has existed.

Quote from: pap64

Quote from: nron10

I forgot about Rhythm Heaven.

I thought that sold poorly, though...

No, it did very well and Nintendo acknowledged it in a press release about how the DSi was a massive hit.

I still don't know where you're getting this.

Nintendo acknowledged that the DSi was a huge hit, not Rhythm Heaven.
I think Rhythm Heaven sold under a quarter of a million units, which isn't awful, but that's kind of bad considering the marketing push.

Although Rhythm Heaven is a weird weird weird game, so maybe even Beyonce couldn't save that.

Dan_DollJune 10, 2009

Well, to really attempt to understand the reasons behind this, you have to think in terms of business (in terms of money).

It could be that Nintendo only spends X amount in marketing a title that it expects to bring in Y in profits. There might be a formula to it.

Me, I would've expected Excite Bots ads during Saturday morning kid's programming showing kids yelling "Cooool" and jumping around, but the reason it apparently wasn't there is probably the same reason as most things in business - money.

I'm sure NCL gives NOA a set annual marketing budget, and they try to get the best bang for their buck out of that.  They probably figured that pushing EB wouldn't result in a large enough corresponding rise in sales.

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