Analyzing big companies’ business decisions is one of my favorite pastimes. As a Naruto fan, Bandai Namco’s upcoming game, NARUTO X BORUTO Ultimate Ninja STORM CONNECTIONS caught my attention. But its business model has brought Bamco a ton of pushback.
Let me clarify: in no way is this a hate piece. I’m more interested in dissecting this game through the lens of a young entrepreneur, and helping readers understand business better.
The Business Model
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 24 years, Naruto is one of the most popular anime/manga series in the world. Since its meteoric rise to prominence, the Japanese video game company Bandai Namco launched a fighting game series called Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm.
Like old-school arcade fighting games, the Storm games build iteratively on top of one another, carrying over assets from past games, and adding new characters, stages, content, and sometimes new mechanics.
Why Consumers Don’t Like It
The Storm series has been around for 15 years, and the most recent game, Storm 4, came out 6 years ago. A significant portion of the content is reused assets. The only new characters we know of are from Naruto’s sequel series (which is often called a cash grab in its own right). With how much of the game is just taken from previous games, does this really merit paying full price for a new game?
Other fighting games have long since moved away from re-releasing games. Take a look at Street Fighter 6, or even Street Fighter 5. Even Bamco’s own Dragon Ball FighterZ has had multiple seasons of downloadable content and support.
Also, it’s not 2008 anymore. Gamers are used to the games they buy receiving new updates and content over time. Releasing entirely new games, instead of just continuing to support the existing games, Bamco loses consumer goodwill. I’ll touch on DLC more in the next section.
DLC: The Modern Alternative
You might argue that a new game is justified, because the previous installment came out 6 years ago, before current-gen consoles existed. And you’d be right on that. But if Bamco adds any more content to this game, they should consider going to the DLC route, for 2 reasons:
- Retaining existing customers is cheaper than trying to find new ones.
- Recurring updates and support encourage customer loyalty. In other words, if you release DLC, people who buy the first one, are likely to also buy the rest.
Have an idea for the next business model I should break down? Hit me up on Twitter.