With the Wii U struggling, there were many that cried Nintendo had lost its touch.
Those cries were nothing new. For years naysayers have taken to saying the house of Mario isn't what it once was, and while there is some truth to that, the fact is that Nintendo is alive and well.
What's Nintendo's secret? Nostalgia.
This week has proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Pokémon GO is the most played mobile game in U.S. history, causing Nintendo's stock to skyrocket by 25 percent and bringing in huge sums of cash for all parties involved in its first week available. It's said the game has already earned more than $14 million, a number that is only continuing to grow with each passing day. Why is Pokémon GO such a huge hit? There are a number of factors, but one major reason that's impossible to ignore is the role of nostalgia.
For many playing the free-to-download mobile game, it brings back fond memories of playing Pokémon Red and Blue on the GameBoy Color. Many of the older men and women playing the Niantic-developed title haven't played a Pokémon game since the originals. Pokémon GO is their first taste of the franchise in decades, and to see the familiar 150 original pocket monsters on their phone makes for an addicting proposition.
The recent announcement of the mini-NES, which will be available this holiday season (rather than Nintendo's code-named NX console), is yet another example of how Nintendo is using nostalgia to forge a path forward. The mini-NES is just what it sounds like. It's a miniature version of the original 1985 Nintendo Entertainment System that many parents today grew up playing, and it comes pre-loaded with the full versions of 30 classic Nintendo games, all for $59.99.
It's a brilliant move. Parents and older fans who grew up playing the original Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. want to share those memories with their kids, and a $60 micro console packed with 30 excellent games sounds like a great deal for any parent gift-shopping this holiday season.
Nintendo's not likely to sell many Wii Us this holiday season given how the NX is expected to release in March, but this way they don't have to. Casual and hardcore fans alike will likely gobble up the mini-NES consoles faster than Nintendo can make them. Why? Because nostalgia.
In many ways, Nintendo marketing nostalgia is nothing new. Its major game franchises, like Mario and Zelda, regularly capitalize on the collective memories players have for previous installments in the series. But it seems like now, at a time when Nintendo has seen better days, nostalgia for times long gone may be what helps to catapult the company into a bright, bright future.