Boss Rush Banter: Should Nintendo Move Beyond Its Family Friendly Branding?

Here at Boss Rush Games, you know me as the Nintendo fan of the crew with a deep knowledge of playing their titles. From Mario Bros. on the Atari 2600 to Animal Crossing on the Nintendo Switch, I have purchased, written, defended, or in some cases, sided with them against gamers at times. While growing up with a Nintendo Entertainment System as a kid, I felt like they cared about a certain image that they have not only capitalized on all over the world, but its been their staple for the majority of their titles. The question is, Is it time for the “family” to grow up?

In my opinion, the answer to this question is no. Nintendo’s family friendly branding has been the reason they are an important part of gaming. In fact, it was their family friendly branding that saved the video game industry after the crash in 1983 caused by Atari. When Nintendo entered the scene and called their console an “entertainment” system, consumers started to realize it wasn’t a “video game system” and took notice of Mario and Luigi.

Kirby, Pokemon, and Animal Crossing have created communities for these franchises. Now, why have these titles been so successful and not some of their more “adventurous” titles? Well, their family friendly nature of playing together with friends and family seem more marketable and one of the reasons Nintendo creates games.

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That’s right! Nintendo knows parents and gamers have something instilled in them when they see those cute Mario Kart plushies, the big Yoshi’s Wooly World Amiibo,  and even their fitness line. All things that look safe, fun, and interactive–with a steep financial price of course–are part of their family friendly image. Nintendo does it so well.

Look, M-Rated games don’t do well with all gamers. E-rated games do. If Nintendo themselves did a M-Rated game in-house, it wouldn’t sell well due to comparisons to other companies and due to people feeling it’s not a true Nintendo game. Nintendo knows what works for them.

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Nintendo saw the failure of Sony and Microsoft trying to imitate their business at a point and time. Even with Sony and Microsoft telling deeper stories and images appealing to an older and mature crowd, Nintendo’s image seems welcoming and enduring. It allows all ages to play and enjoy their products.

If they got rid of their branding, who would they attract? The hardcore? More males in the adult age who view gaming in a certain way? Players who talk big but don’t support that much? There wouldn’t be a place for non-gaming parents, friends, and those who feel intimidated and anxious when it comes to video games. Nintendo would have to bring complexity to their work, and when you think of Nintendo, that’s far from their design.

Nintendo’s light-hearted representation of violence is in line with their family friendly brand.

In the end, Nintendo is doing it the best. Their ads are fun and engaging. The Nintendo Directs are charming; even their artwork feels friendly and welcoming. They don’t want to move away from it but continue to be creative. Look at the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate ad and how people took it and created their own commercials and marketing for the game. Look how children and families have been dressing like Link and engage themselves into the world of The Legend Of Zelda. Nintendo doesn’t want to lose it. We as gamers don’t want to lose it. Nintendo has the family friendly branding that makes us smile and continues to connect us in various ways. Just like a close family.

Should Nintendo shake off their family friendly image? Let us know in the comment section or on our Discord.

Image: CNET, Nintendo

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