Nintendo did some great PR over the weekend
Boca Raton isn't exactly the gaming epicenter. It's populated by old retirees with lots of money and a bunch of empty mansions that wealthy people use for two months out of the year. Still, here I am. This is my place of residence, and I have to deal with the shortcomings of the South Florida gaming scene.
So there I was at Town Center Mall with my wife and two kids – my one-year-old, Parker, and my four-year-old, Colton. Colton really wanted to go to the game store, which is GameStop, to see if they had a Sonic game. He's been asking for a Sonic game all weekend, but I'm holding out for a few reasons: 1) Christmas is coming; 2) he's currently playing LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Skylanders SWAP Force, Disney Infinity (all on the Wii U), and Mario Kart 7 on my 3DS; 3) I'm selfishly saving all my money for stuff on the PlayStation 4; and 4) we are getting him a 2DS for Christmas, so he can wait.
A little patience never hurt anyone (coming from the guy that sees something and has to buy it right away).
We go into GameStop, which, at this particular location, has an amazing staff of employees. While walking around GameStop and having every game that he wants pointed out to me, my friend Kelly and his four-year-old son, Aidan, came into the store. After browsing a little, we noticed a man in a Nintendo shirt near the Wii U demo station. There was a live demo event going on that day where people could talk to him and play Wii Party U, in addition to trying out some Mario Kart on the new 2DS. As we are walking out, he stops Colton and Aidan and asks them if they want to play Wii Party U on the Wii U. They said yes, because they're kids, so they, Kelly and the Nintendo guy played Wii Party U.
Let me set the scene for you. We're in a small GameStop store near the entrance. Surrounding us are shelves of games and racks of Disney Infinity figures. People are walking in and out. There we are, three adults and two children using the store as our living room. The mini-game we were playing was very active. In it, the GamePad was placed on the floor behind us. On its screen appeared a river. Using Wii Remotes, players are to run to the GamePad, scoop up water (you see a scoop of your assigned color on the GamePad screen), and then turn and walk it toward the TV, where there's a jar of the same color. The goal is to fill the jar with the water you've collected. You have to be careful when carrying the water, because tilting the Wii Remote too much will cause you to lose some of the water you've collected.
It was loud. It was chaotic. It was fun. The kids had a blast, and the Nintendo employee was patient and nice. Afterwards, he gave the kids Paper Mario sticker books and a Mario and Kirby tattoo.
Here's where things got interesting – the sales pitch to the adults.
Now, I'm quite knowledgeable of the Wii U games. I own a Wii U, so he wasn't about to sell one to me. Kelly was his target. Kelly is predominantly a PC gamer, but with kids in the house, he was considering purchasing a Wii U. Instead, he's bought his kids a Wii for Christmas (don't worry, they don't read yet) for $60. It's a good entry-level console for his kids, and for that price, a really good choice.
So the Nintendo guy – I think his name was Franc or France or something like that... I know, I'm a terrible person for not remembering his name – starts talking about Nintendo's “new” console, the Wii U. He explains that the game that the kids just played, Wii Party U, is only playable on the Wii U. Still, Franc (I think of the party planner from Father of the Bride every time I type that) listened to what Kelly was saying. Listened to his needs and concerns. Listened to where Kelly was coming from. And with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 coming out during the next two weeks, Franc positioned a place for the Wii U – something Nintendo really needs to do.
Not the Franc that played Wii Party U with us. Wasn't even the guy's name. But for the purpose of this story...
Franc said that the deal Kelly got for the Wii was awesome, and he made the right choice in choosing it over the Wii U considering his situation. Franc pointed out that after a couple of months, Kelly could always upgrade to the Wii U and still play the Wii games his kids enjoy – backwards compatibility is not something the PS4 and Xbox One can boast. He broke it down for Kelly what games are available to play on the Wii U that aren't able to be played on the Wii, for future consideration. Then he and I talked about the games coming out for the console in the future.
He was never pushy. He knew neither of us were going to buy a Wii U that day. But what he did was something Nintendo needs more of – kids playing their games. For 10 minutes, our kids and us played Nintendo games on the Wii U. Wii Party U had us spending fun, quality time together. There was no Call of Duty. No cursing over Xbox Live or PSN. Nothing I wouldn't want my young children to not do, see or hear. Just a fun time.
Franc, on behalf of Nintendo, got our kids interacting with a Nintendo party game on a console that needs buyers. Because of what he was doing there, kids and parents were becoming aware of the Wii U, the NEW Nintendo console, that does things the Wii can't. The best thing Nintendo can do is get the Wii U in consumers hands. That's exactly what happened.
Well played, Franc. Well played.