As the Blue Ocean states, competing diminishes profit and marketshare. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the competition would just go away?
And this is a big Hiroshi Yamauchi belief: entertainment should go where there is no competition. This is very important in video game business since competition is hyper aggressive.
In console hardware, each console company would keep putting out ‘better’ hardware for the purpose to make their competition go away, to make the competitor ‘obsolete’. Sony killed off game centric console companies because no one can compete, on a hardware basis, with a very large company that owns its own semiconductor manufacturing plants. Companies like Nintendo farms that stuff out to other companies. But Sony does it all in-house. This allowed the PlayStation to be sold at such a low price compared to Sega’s Saturn and was very much a factor in Sega leaving the business altogether. And then comes in Microsoft who can just lose 8 billion dollars on a game console for sport and swallow software development studios with cash.
In that example, you don’t have to be a ‘better product’ to kill your competition. Your competition just cannot compete at that level. It is why every analyst left Nintendo for dead at the start of the generation because Nintendo cannot compete, hardware wise, with Sony and Microsoft as they did with the PS3 and Xbox 360.
But it is likely Nintendo is guilty of doing the exact thing on the software side. The NES and even SNES eras are full of Super Mario Brothers competitors. Sonic the Hedgehog and Bonk are the more well known ones. There are too many to list.
Zelda also had a huge amount of competitors. Take a brief look at some of them here.
If you are Nintendo, how do you make the competition go away? It would be by making a game the competitors could not make. And this would explain Nintendo’s crazy obsession with 3d even though 3d isn’t leading them to the mainstream. 3d is, however, making the competition go away.
What competitor was there to Mario 64? There were some. But nowhere as many as, say, Super Mario Brothers or even Super Mario World.
What competitor is there to Ocarina of Time? Nothing. It takes so much time and money to make a game like Ocarina of Time, game companies cannot afford to do it.
This is called ‘buying marketshare’. Game companies do it all the time. Sometimes they do it in different ways. EA bought the rights to the sports games which killed the once vibrant competition. The focus on absurd production values often is a way to get rid of the competition. Origin ‘bought marketshare’ when it began to focus on Wing Commander and games past that time. Not soon after, the company went kaput.
The price of the 3DS is ridiculous and 3d visuals are adding nothing to gameplay, but it is a way to make the competition go away. It will be difficult to compete directly with the 3DS. And this is how Nintendo wants it.
We have seen games like 3d Mario radically dump the Super Mario Brothers fundamentals for completely different fundamentals just to get the game to 3d. Why? Why the rush? And who cares? If the purpose is to produce software that no one can compete against, then modern Mario and Zelda have been very successful
Do I agree with this? No. The true competition is against disinterest in gaming. Expensive production values or other media tricks are not going to make someone interested in gaming. Only good games will.
Since competition was so thick during Nintendo’s first decade as a console company, it is possible that all first party software is designed with the end goal to ‘make the competition go away’. It would be the only rational reason why 3d Mario replaced 2d Mario. It is hard to compete with 3d Mario. It is easier to compete with 2d Mario. And it has nothing to do with gameplay but everything to do with money and time.