The Nintendo Labo, a new gaming and construction toy platform designed to accompany the Switch, is challenging what we’ve grown accustomed to with modern AAA peripherals. Over the years we’ve seen the rise and fall of both the Kinect and Guitar Hero. If you find the term “fall” a bit on the dramatic side, I’m sure you’ll agree that the “plateau” of VR peripherals is certainly fair.
As game consoles (and gaming PC hardware) have become increasingly powerful and complex, companies have decided that peripherals need to follow suit. If it’s a new experience, or can be branded as one, neither the cost nor the exclusivity of the hardware matter. If you build it, they will come.
Unfortunately, this mindset has created a serious issue with the state of the modern gaming “lifestyle”. Not only does expensive hardware limit additional purchasing power of many consumers (e.g. limited to a single console, fewer games, etc.), more importantly, it fragments your communities and ostracizes players who can’t afford the more “luxurious” experience.
At the end of the day, hi-tech hardware doesn’t create experiences that fuel communities. It may be effective at creating some uniquely engaging experiences but that effectiveness doesn’t translate to generating organic community interaction and growth. Well, not unless your proprietary community explicitly supports the use of that specific hardware. For game developers, from indie to AAA, high tech accessories don’t facilitate the creation of user-generated content.
Enter the Labo: Affordable, Accessible and Creative
This is where the Labo steps in and breaks the mold. There’s no question that the Labo is just so… Nintendo. While the competition is focused on the most powerful hardware, sleek design, and exclusive titles, Nintendo simply does its own thing. From groundbreaking consoles (the Switch is looking to be the best selling console of all time) to some of the most iconic characters in gaming, Nintendo just knows how to have fun.
This was the mental fuel behind the Labo design and will ultimately be the reason for its success. But this isn’t just about the success of a unique product. It’s why (and how) the Labo stands alone in being a modern peripheral that actively facilitates community growth.
It essentially comes down to three main points:
A lower price point means more consumers can purchase the Labo, making it more accessible to a larger market. Larger markets mean larger communities, plain and simple.
While this may mean additional resources are needed for user base consolidation, that’s nothing compared to the time and money spent convincing the public that your accessories are worth the hefty price tag.
The Labo is cardboard. It’s durable, lightweight and strong. It won’t break anything or hurt anybody and it’s easily repaired. This all points to a key demographic and core focus in the modern AAA gaming scene: children.
It may seem surprising to some but there are a multitude of kids with serious gaming systems these days, and the simple children’s games of yesteryear aren’t entertaining enough for today’s consumers. If a peripheral can be safe enough for younger kids but robust enough to withstand less-than-delicate use, it can survive any demographic.
It directly encourages UGC, online and offline. The Labo isn’t pre-built; it’s a project. It encourages creation and creativity. There’s no factory paint job or giant logo... it’s simply cardboard. New users get the pleasure of building everything from fishing rods to fighting robots and then they can make them their own.
The genius catch is that as soon as they realize the versatility of the system, they’ll start tearing apart old boxes to build their own creations. What’s stopping you from improving an existing design or creating something completely original? The Labo is built for the young, creative, fun-focused mind.
And at the end of the day, where will these key users go to share their work? Your community.
While it might be some of the most expensive cardboard you’ll ever buy, it’s more accessible than any other peripheral on the market, attracts a range of content-creating demographics and encourages creativity. It doesn’t get much better than that.