Death to All Mascots

Nintendo does a lot right, it also doesn’t seem to move with the times. I could go on about it’s bizarre practice of not doing online gaming in a sensible way – still no voice chat on the Switch – but instead I thought I’d focus on Mario.

Not the games, they are still solid, but Nintendo still seems to hold onto the idea of the Mascot as part of the marketing mix. Some of this can be attributed to, at least in my impression, that Nintendo still thinks it makes toys rather than electronics. This mantra has probably saved the company. Sega went hardcore, only to be blown out of the water by “proper” electronics and IT firms like Microsoft and Sony.

The original e-sports player

Where has everybody gone?

And that’s probably saved the world’s most famous plumber and electrician mouse. The characters will no doubt be front and center at the Tokyo Olympics. But there the last in a dying breed. Master Chief was a totemic figure in the early Xbox days because back then, others had Lara and Sonic.

With gamers growing older, the use of such characters where put away as childish things, and one has to congratulate Nintendo on continuing to make it’s Mascots relevant. Whilst Lego and market forces have seen off Disney’s Infinity, Amiibos continue to battle against the insidious toys-to-life titan that is Skylanders.

They’re not toys, they’re collectibles

Nintendo aside, the death of Mascots is probably attributable to the changing demographics of gamers. The toyetic characters of the past are no longer valuable when younger gamers have migrated to mobile. Instead whether it’s the Switch, Yooka-Laylee, that snake game or the return of Crash, these characters have been subverted to capitalize on nostalgia of youth.

Don’t feel bad, gaming is a business and like Disney big business including gaming knows how to capitalize. By buying in, you’re acknowledging your childishness but given the solid game play offered you’re probably the real winner!


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