You have no need to come up with a video game wish list this holiday season. Nintendo already did it for you. I found mine in last week’s Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times. The colorful flier asks “How Will You Play?”
The handout tasks you with taking its included stickers and inserting them into the Mad Libs-style letter on the back side. Then, you're supposed to give this “custom wish list” to a loved one … who’s ready to drop several hundred dollars on a gift for you. The silliest part of this little marketing gimmick, however, is it only really allows for two possible answers.
"Your 'custom' wish list" reads (where the words in parenthesis tell you which sticker to apply):
Dear Parent, _(star)_ Relative, _(star)_ Friend _(star)_
The holidays will be here before you know it! I know it’s hard to know EXACTLY what gifts I’d like, so here’s a handy WISH LIST to help you. One thing is for sure, this year is gonna be all about Mario!
On the top of my list is the _(system/console)_. It’s an exciting new way for me to really get into my favorite games. Speaking of games, I’d love to play _(game)_! That would be sooo fun!
Thanks for thinking of me this holiday season.
You’re my favorite _(character)_ of all!
Really, you should sign the letter as “Nintendo” since that’s who wrote it.
I get where the ad is coming from. It plays into the theme of Paper Mario: Sticker Star for the Nintendo 3DS. But that game and New Super Mario Bros. U for the recently launched Wii U console are the only two pieces of software represented in this promo. Nintendo is shamelessly banking on the strong Super Mario brand, and to me, the effort comes off as a bit too hollow.
The flier has no tangible information on the releases (besides two little screenshots) and doesn’t even make the titles very clear. I don’t think grandma will be able to look at the half-inch labels on these game-box-cover stickers and be able to decipher them. Furthermore, the two possible variations of this custom letter (a 3DS XL and Paper Mario or a Wii U and NSMBU) range between $240 and $410 before tax. Free stickers might be fun, but what’s not is shoving words into kids’ mouths so they ask for relatively expensive gifts during hard economic times.
Plenty of fans who fill out this little gift guide are in for disappointment if they have their hearts set on getting Nintendo’s latest console. “Broadly, as we look forward to the holiday, we expect that we’ll have some shortages of Wii U,” Nintendo’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, Scott Moffitt, told GamesBeat. The company’s “number one priority this holiday is 3DS and 3DS XL.”
Either way, I would have liked to see a more traditional ad from Nintendo. How about one that shows off a robust first-and-third-party software lineup. The flier could provide details like, oh, I don’t know, what the games are about? That way, fans can feel like they actually are making an informed, customized wish list. Or are things like that relics of the printed past, à la Nintendo Power Magazine?
Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I think kids should still compose their own holiday wish lists … or at least type them out.
At least I can use these cute stickers to liven up my holiday cards.
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!