Kyle Mercury worked with Nintendo of America on many major marketing decisions between 2001 and 2007, a tumultuous time in the company’s history where the GameCube struggled to gain footing. Mercury recently held an interview with NotEnoughShaders.com and gave readers a rare look into Nintendo’s internal marketing problems– from difficulties with GameCube and Wii U to the recent debacle of Super Smash Bros. Melee almost being pulled from EVO 2013 streams.
As far as Smash Bros. goes, Mercury said that Nintendo sometimes consider the franchise as a “dangerous” brand. On one hand, Nintendo knows that every Smash Bros. game will sell well– but on the other hand, it associates their beloved characters with violence. Mercury remarked:
Unlike most other fighting game characters, the Nintendo mascots have far-reaching brands and franchises unto themselves that have to be considered and protected in a bigger picture view. EVO would have taken the character representations out of the hands of Nintendo’s control, boiled them down to pure violence, and broadcast it directly to 125,000 people. It’s not hard to see why Nintendo would be a little gun-shy.
Mercury also pointed out that Nintendo might have been hesitant to think that a 12-year-old game was going to help promote current consoles. It’s quite interesting if you consider Nintendo’s perspective.
Of course, that’s not all Mercury discussed. He drew some very interesting parallels with the Nintendo GameCube’s marketing and the current situation of Wii U. The Nintendo GameCube was Nintendo’s worst selling home console ever, and some are speculating that Wii U might share its fate. Mercury also talked about some meetings with Reggie and Nintendo’s marketing team when they were discussing GameCube marketing strategies and games to push.
If you’re at all interested in the history of the Nintendo GameCube, it’s highly recommended you read the interview. Come for the Smash details, stay for the interesting history.