The Nintendo 64 (N64) was one of the first systems created by Nintendo. It was released in 1996 to compete with the Sony Playstation and the Sega Saturn. In a scholarly article titled, The Console Market, researchers found that the Sony Playstation was the best-selling console (Kirriemuir 241). However, out of all of the systems in this generation, the N64 had the lowest total amount of sales. Part of the reason for this can be attributed to the advertisements that were used.
The target audience for the N64 was clearly a younger demographic. In all of the ads for this system, kids and teenagers are the only real people shown outside of the gameplay. The Aristotelian appeals are a helpful toolkit for showing how effective Nintendo was at reaching this audience with visual arguments.
This is arguably the most prominent appeal in the N64 advertisement. An emotional reaction is trying to be instilled in viewers by using a lot of action shots. All of the game play that is shown is in very action-packed moments full of explosions, racing, and sports. The ad also depicts a military looking radar with an N64 getting closer and closer. There are also snippets of teenagers wearing sunglasses and sitting in cars intertwined with the radar to imply that it is something that these kids should be excited about.
Logos is used to provide a reason to purchase the system for its capabilities, not just because it looks cool. Key features such as real-time 3D, 4 player adapters, and rumble packs are emphasized to show how this system is technologically advanced. The end of the ad has text saying “The fastest most powerful games console on Earth,” which says the viewer should buy it because of its technological capabilities. These are some of the only moments text are used in the ad.
The Sony Playstation outsold the N64 by a substantial margin. In 2001, Nintendo attempted to improve their sales with the creation of the GameCube. This system had more powerful specs than its competitors at the time, which were the Xbox and Playstation2. The GameCube can be considered an outlier when it came to Nintendo’s marketing plan.
Sony had success targeting teenagers and young adults in their ads, and Nintendo tried to mimic this success within the ads for the GameCube. Most of the previous and future ads for Nintendo consoles are very family friendly and light hearted. The GameCube commercials are much edgier and abstract in comparison to their other ads.
Despite Nintendo’s efforts with the GameCube, the Playstation2 outsold it and the Xbox by a large margin. Nintendo went back to its roots for the Nintendo Wii, which made allowed the Wii to outsell the Playstation3 and Xbox360 by a rate of 2-1 (InformationWeek 1). It is also important to note that the Wii had significantly worse specifications and graphics capabilities in comparison to its competitors. Nintendo primarily focused on the concept of motion controls as they were the first to develop this concept. Gameplay is hardly shown in the Wii advertisements because Nintendo was attempting to sell the quality of the new technology, rather than focus on the inferior graphics that came with it.
In all of the advertisements for the Wii, groups of teenagers or families are the main people shown. It is particularly important to note that there aren't ever shots of people playing alone. This goes back to the idea of Nintendo emphasizing the uniqueness of their technology. That being said, Nintendo is focusing on their original demographic rather than trying to branch out like they did with the GameCube. Lots of bright and playful colors are used in the Wii and Wii U ads, which is a complete transformation from the dark and grungy colors of the GameCube ads.
The Wii commercial features groups of teenagers playing games together throughout the whole commercial. Mysterious men in suits show up at their door and present them with the futuristic looking Wii remote. The men in suits are always shown playing a game first, followed by the teens playing it as a group and smiling, clearly having fun. This is used to present the device as something modern and cool. None of the teens are ever pictured by themselves, showing that this is a system that will bring people together.
The Wii U followed a very similar marketing plan as it was a revamped version of the Wii. It didn’t receive nearly as much focus from Nintendo from an advertising perspective. That being said, it is still important to observe the visual arguments presented within this advertisement.
Similar to the Wii, all of the advertisements for the Wii U features children and their families in nearly every frame. Nintendo is continuing to stick with the original demographic like they did with the original Wii. The success of the Wii made it a logical choice to target the same audience. There are also lots of bright, light colors that are used in the Wii U ad to appeal to this audience.
Pathos is implemented within the Wii U ad by showing the experiences of the different players. In nearly every scene there are kids, and or parents, smiling and having fun playing different games together. It is important to get the viewer in a good mood with these commercials because our judgements when we are happy are much different than when we are upset (Roberts 7). The repetitious representation of groups of people having fun together is used to excite viewers and show them the experience of playing.
Nintendo is attempting to use logos to persuade the audience by highlighting the various technological capabilities of the new Gamepad, which is the tablet used with Wii U. There are several different scenes where the Gamepad is being used in different ways for different games.
Similar to the Wii, the Switch is a revolutionary and unique gaming console compared to its competitors at the time. No other system has created a perfect mix between a handheld portable system and a fully-functional home gaming console. Nintendo’s focus within this advertisement is on the experience of playing this system, and how convenient this technology is in terms of fitting it in to an individual’s daily life.
The audience for this system still consists of kids and their families, but Nintendo also branched out to reach young adults as well. The portability of the system makes it a perfect device for adults to be able to use in their busy day-to-day routine. This commercial switches between scenes of families having fun together, and young adults using it in a wide-range of settings.
The emotional appeal revolves around the experiences gamers will have playing this system. It is portrayed as something that an individual can do while doing chores such as cooking or laundry. It is also portrayed as something that is extremely fun to play in group settings. This is one of the only Nintendo commercials that portrays both the experience of playing alone and in groups.
The most powerful logical appeal used within this ad is focused towards the young adult audience. The problem with gaming for young adults is that it is hard for them to fit it into their schedule. This is explained in a scholarly article about adult gaming when author Helen Thornham states, “It is not only that adults are taking ‘time out’ to game, and therefore not acting in a way conducive to accepted notions of adulthood; it is that they are finding this activity pleasurable” (Thornham 156). This demographic enjoys the prospect of gaming, but they don’t have the time to do it; when young adults are shown playing while doing chores, or when then have down time, it is a logical appeal that this is a system where people will be able to make time to play it.
Outside of the emphasis on the technology, there is heavy emphasis on the actual games being played in the commercials. All of the titles featured are reputable and popular Nintendo titles, such as Zelda and Splatoon, which works to establish credibility for Nintendo fans. They recognize the games they have seen for years and years.