Nintendo Magic: Winning the Videogame Wars Hardcover – April 27, 2010
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About the Author
Nintendo Magic: Winning the Videogame Wars is his first book.
- Item Weight : 13.4 ounces
- Hardcover : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1934287229
- ISBN-13 : 978-1934287224
- Dimensions : 5.72 x 1.03 x 8.86 inches
- Publisher : Vertical (April 27, 2010)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,203,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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In the different chapters Osamu leads us from the early days of Nintendo as a cards manufacturer company (more than 100 years ago). The company started growing and survived over the years due to its unique flexibility and innovative nature (similar to Apple's success in the last couple of years). The most interesting period is the 90th, as the company almost went under after two consecutive failures with the N64 and Game Cube, and manage to come back in the new millennia and take huge market share with the unique DS and Wii consoles. (DS is currently the most sold gaming device ever.)
One of the most interesting aspect for me was to encounter the unique and anti-western style of management, which can be mainly seen by Nintendo's managers ability to execute their personal vision, together with their lack of pretentiousness. The company's few managers, each ruling for a long period, had almost exclusive voice and ability to navigate the company to where they believe Nintendo should go. In the book there are examples of engineers working hard on a prototype just to see Miyamoto or Iwata throwing it away without a second though as it does not fit their vision. They were not afraid to make hard decisions, and embrace their responsibility for the company.
With respect to pretentiousness, the managers understand that a significant part of their success was,.. luck! In contrast to western style management that in times retrospectively builds a complete theory to explain their genius "business strategy", Nintendo's managers understand that luck had a large part in the success of their innovative ideas. It was extremely refreshing to see them admit in luck, which alongside their vision and innovative nature contributed to the company's success story. This also impact their business model as they keep a large amount of money aside for "dark hours" (instead of handing it over as dividends), in order to deal with future failures that will sure arrive.
The downside of the story is that the war is not over. I believe that Nintendo is currently in a crucial moment of their history, due to Apple's increasing dominance of the handheld gaming market. However, this aspect is not covered well in the book (we encounter it only in the last couple of pages of the book). It will be very interesting to follow the market in the next two years to see if Nintendo manages to reinvent itself, and see if the the newly announced "3DS" and the "Wii U" consoles are good enough answers.
Two other minor issues: first, the book is abit biased towards the company instead of taking a more critical views of some of their decisions. Secondly, there are some editorial problems with several repetitions and jumps from topic to topic. A better editorial work would have made the book more enjoyable.
Overall, pretty interesting book about a very interesting company. I recommend it to business managers as well as gamers.
It is this idea of function over form that allows Nintendo to take a chance and scale back top line graphics in an effort to expand their market into those who don't play video games with the DS and Wi. The idea of the brain drain series, Wi fitness and Wi sports were all seen as ways to expand the target market and create new pockets of gamers that the competition of Sony and Microsoft were not going after. The sleek design of the Wi and friendliness of the Wi remote were all aimed in this effort to expand. The only complaint I have about the book is since it was a series of articles the book feels disjointed and there is some repetitiveness in the chapters that could have been avoided. Overall though it is still the first real look we have into the company and for Nintendo fans this is not one to miss.
More than anything, Nintendo Magic reveals the people, philosophies, and business decisions behind the company's iconic characters and products, and even how it got into the video game business in the first place. Of course it covers the advent of the now iconic DS and Wii, but it just as importantly shows how a company that started out as a manufacturer of traditional Japanese trading cards became the king of a fledgling video game industry, only to fall from heaven at the hands of Sony, and how a shift in leadership and a re-emphasis on core principles allowed it to expand its audience to record-breaking size.
Along the way, a lot of interesting anecdotes are discussed about specific products and people that will particularly please Nintendo fans (like myself) but also give the general reader a more rounded understanding of such a mysterious company. For example, when the original DS was being developed, President Satoru Iwata demanded that it be durable enough to survive repeated falls onto concrete from up to five feet, highlighting Nintendo's obsession with durability. As explained in the book, that fixation on build quality stems from the company's core philosophy that as a toy company, a broken product is an invitation for a customer to never use it again.
As great as the book is, though, a few niggling details persist. Namely, there isn't much organization to the topics discussed, and chapters bounce around from present day to decades prior and beyond. Also, because it was originally written in Japanese, the translation results in some odd phrasing and occasionally bizarre choice of words.
Overall though, Nintendo Magic is a great book that pulls back the curtain on a company that has entertained countless children and adults alike. For nostalgia-seekers, you'll be rewarded with details you never knew about your favorite games and the people behind them. And for business readers, the author has done a thorough job of analyzing the philosophies and decisions that have brought a small company, relative to its competitors, so much success.