In 2003 about two dozen video game designers and engineers gathered in a room at Nintendo's (NTDOY) Kyoto headquarters to divine the future of the video game console. The company was three years away from launching a new machine, but hadn't decided on any of its core technologies yet. Naturally, the talk was heavy on chips, graphics, and software. Then someone mentioned moms.
Though kids had long been the main audience for Nintendo's consoles and games such as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, discussion quickly turned to what the company could do to woo mothers. After all, this critical constituency signs off on major purchases by its kids, and the idea of extending a console's franchise beyond hardcore gamers to novices had an obvious business appeal.
"When that happened, we talked about basic concepts and goals, not about the technical specifications of the console," recalls Shigeru Miyamoto, who heads Nintendo's entertainment analysis and development unit and is the mastermind behind some of its best selling games. Among the items up for consideration were affordability, low energy use, a wireless controller free of unsightly cords in the living room, and simplicity of use that even Mom or a younger sibling could jump in once in a while.