A small “brick” with a normal black-and-white screen, but Game Boy is the opening for a billion-dollar empire of Nintendo.
If you do not know, on April 21, 30 years ago, Nintedo launched their first handheld game console – Game Boy , it appeared but was a continuation of what NES has ever done. , as well as mark a brilliant era of Nintendo, when they created a giant empire from only this small, black and white “brick” in this seemingly insignificant.
In 1980, four years after the first Nintendo console was released (NES). With more than 28 million units sold worldwide, NES alone pulled Nintedo back into the gaming market. But everything was at a recession, when NES began to show signs of cooling, Nintedo was not ready to launch something like that.
In order to embrace the existing momentum of NES, Nintendo thought of its intention to create a brother gaming machine, but in the form of a handheld, capable of changing the game with magnetic and important tapes. Especially the compact size to be able to play anywhere. The object that Nintendo targets with Game Boy is teenagers, or even free office workers at lunch time.
With the influence and reputation available, Game Boy has no problem in the Japanese market, where people spend hours on the subway every day. But for the international market or specifically the US is another matter, Game Boy needs something to make people fall in love with it. This is the time when Tetris and Pokémon appeared, with only these two games Game Boy was enough to dominate the US market, as well as help Nintendo step up the ranks of the industry giants until 30 years later.
When Game Boy was planned to release in the US market, it was carefully calculated to become a handheld system that would have to be addictive for anyone to touch. The core of Game Boy, as described by Don Coyner (Nintendo America Marketing Manager), is described as:
One thing that people will want to play over and over again is not boring, for example, how many Tetris games you have played, there is definitely no stopping point.
One of the things that made Game Boy stand out at the time was the ability to connect the two devices to gamers so they could play together, three of the five games released for the US market at that time were Tetris, Tennis and Baseball. are fully taking advantage of this feature, making Game Boy unique at that time.
Nintendo has spent more than $ 20 million on advertising for their new console, which surprised even its American managers, as Nintendo has never spent so much money on it. According to Minoru Arakawa (president of Nintendo of America branch) at that time, he wanted to make Game Boy a special effect, which means that a large number of machines will be released to the market, but it will Not enough players’ needs.
The purpose of Minoru Arakawa is to make people curious about Game Boy, you have to go find it at the first store, then the second and go to the third store to get it, that’s what the president of Nintendo towards. He also innovated its approach, instead of targeting young people aged 9 to 14, Game Boy will focus on the older age of about 15 to 16 years old.
In Minoru Arakawa’s mind, he thought that the children would become more curious about something their brother had, than a normal gift from his parents. Nintendo used this strategy to target a market with big families like the US, which turned out to be a great fit for a handheld game console like Game Boy.
Nintendo spent more than 90% of its budget on broadcasting TV commercials before the Game Boy’s launch, the rest were on spots that allowed people to try Game Boy. At a time when the internet was a concept that didn’t even exist 30 years ago, TV advertising was something that people always believed in. Nintendo’s idea at that time was quite odd, when they showed a “multiplayer” screen between alien robots and Earth teenagers, fighting two Game Boy heads to play Tetris together.
Another Nintendo trick to bring about curiosity is to turn the device into a limited-edition item, the prestigious Wall Street Journal at the time quoted the managers of major retail chains. such as Toys R Us or Kay-Bee Toys about having more than 2 million pre-orders, while the number of Game Boy currently does not meet the requirements.
So what Nintendo did at that time, they only brought 1 million Game Boy to the US – that’s less than half the demand and they were sold out in just 3 weeks. Curiosity about a new handheld system capable of connecting multiple players, highly addictive games combined into an unstoppable one.
And like every other Nintendo campaign, their gaming machines will always revolve around a major game, like how NES is famous for Mario, Game Boy is the Tetris legend. In fact, before that Nintendo had not even thought about making Tetris as its flagship product, but they chose a safer game than Super Mario Land.
It was Henk Rogers (the holder of Tetris distribution worldwide) that persuaded Minoru Arakawa to change his mind, his argument was simple, that Tetris would make the world fascinated with Game Boy:
– If you only want kids to know about Game Boy, use Mario, but Tetris will make adults, men, women or even the whole world have to spend money to buy Game Boy.
Game Boy was more successful than Nintendo had expected thanks to Tetris, 1 million copies sold in 3 weeks and 10 times that number in the next 3 years, by 1998, there were 68 million units. Game Boy’s machines are sold globally, the most important thing being that since the launch, the phrase “Game Boy + Tetris” has always been connected.
It is Tetris that has brought an unexpected number of customers to Nintendo, who are working adults who have a little break in the middle of the hour, please contact Tetris as how you surf Facebook at the present time, It is absolutely addictive while not taking too much time. Without Tetris, Game Boy would not have been so successful, but in the next section we will talk about something even more horrible: Pokemon – the game that really turned Nintendo into a giant empire. giant.