eWhile seen all over the world, in the Japan's Culture and entertainment, media mix is a type of marketing strategy to disperse content across multiple representations. This could include different broadcast media such as movies or anime, gaming technologies, mobile phone products, toys, and in some cases even theme parks. The term of Media Mix, according to Steinberg "became widely used in the late 1980s, however, the origins of this model can be traced back to 1960s with the proliferation of anime with its interconnection of media and commodity goods". (Steinberg, 2012)
This essay will look at the past, present and future of the media mix model and how current as well as future technology will change this model and it's behaviors. We will be using Pokemon, Death Note, and Nintendo as Japanese examples and how western influences such as Apple, Microsoft have changed the way they work. This essay will also look at Pokémon Go and Super Mario Run as examples of a new form of Media Mix both in Japan and the wider world. Plus how these new 'free to access'' apps have changed both the franchises and the companies that run them.
The term Media Mix as stated earlier is a term which can be traced back to the 1960's and is the Japanese term for a 'Media Franchise' as found in the west. Researchers argue that the 1963 Tetsuwan Atomu marked a shift in Japanese marketing: from the focus on the content of the commodity to "overlapping the commodity image with the character image". (Steinberg, 2012). Tetsuwan Atomu or Astro Boy is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka which originally ran from 1952 to 1968 and featured the first known 'project placement' in Japanese anime or manga, Astro Boy is still going today with video games, new manga, and anime, even a CGI film all coming out in recent years. Proving that the 'Media Mix model can survive and involve. While Astro Boy is still very well known in Japan, sadly he's less so around the world. So we are going to look at another Japanese Media Mix franchise; Pokémon.
Pokémon has been one of the biggest, not only anime but brands in the world for over twenty years. Pokémon is a media mix franchise managed by The Pokémon Company, a Japanese consortium between Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures. (Pokemon.co.jp, 2017). Pokemon was created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995 and is centered on fictional creatures called Pokémon. In this world, the player is known as Pokémon Trainer. The franchise began as games for the Game Boy back in 1995 in Japan and 1996 in the west. But in 2017 Pokemon spans video games, trading card games, anime and movies, comic books, and toys. All of this makes Pokémon the second best selling video game franchise (or Media Mix franchise) of all time. Cumulative sales of the video games have reached more than 280 million copies. (Pokemon.co.jp, 2017). The Pokémon Company International, which is a subsidiary of Japan's Pokémon Co, oversees all Pokémon licensing outside of Japan. They reported that as of mid-2016, the Pokémon Media Mix franchise has grossed over of ¥4.8 trillion worldwide (equivalent to US$46.2 billion). (Pokemon.co.jp, 2017) across all formats. So far this is all fairly standard for a very successful Media Mix model, however, this for before Pokemon Go.
Pokemon Go was Nintendo Of Japan's first full leap into the smartphone market, and for the first time, they had allowed their mascots to appear fully on another companies product. In the game, players use a mobile device's GPS ability to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player. The game supports in-app purchases for additional in-game items. In-app purchases or microtransactions have become incising overused aspect of smartphone apps in every territory. Free-to-play games that include a microtransaction model are sometimes referred to as "freemium". (Recode, 2017) The objective with a free-to-play microtransaction model is to get more players into the game and provide desirable items or features that players can purchase if they are interested in them. It is hoped that in the long term the profits from a microtransaction system will outweigh the profits from a one-time-purchase game. According to (Recode, 2017), A study found that over 92% of revenue generated on Android and iOS in 2013 came from free-to-play games.
Pokémon Go quickly became a global phenomenon much like the original did back in the 1990s and was one of the most used and profitable mobile apps in 2016, having been downloaded more than half a billion times. So how does Pokemon Go show a shift and a change in the Media Mix model? Well, because of Pokemon Go's success the demand and response to the rest of the back catalog of Pokemon which insane. Prices of retro Pokemon on eBay rose by %, the original anime series became of the highest streamed programs in 2016 on Netflix worldwide, stores like Forever 21 and Primark started stocking Pokemon branded clothing, an arm of the Pokemon Media Mix that has gone fairly untapped in the west.
Mouths after the Pokemon Go launch interest in Pokemon was still at an all time high. In Japan where a new Pokemon animated film and launch every July since 1998 the opening of Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel became the biggest Pokemon Movie opening of all time. In November 2016 new video games Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon launched worldwide and within 24 hours because of Nintendo's biggest game launch in history until the Nintendo Switch was released worldwide in March 2017. Also Nintendo's Share price "climbed 86 percent on the back of Pokémon Go's popularity. That's almost $15 billion (£11.1 billion) added to the company market value in a week". (Rodionova, 2017). This goes to show that little small change, or addition to the media mix model, can change both the past, present and future of an entire franchise.
Next up, Nintendo's biggest export Mario. Mario has been Nintendo's lead mascot since his birth in the late 1980s, while not experiencing the level of worldwide media mix that Pokemon has, The Super Mario series is part of the greater Mario franchise. This includes other video game genres as well as media such as film, television, printed media and merchandise. Over 310 million copies of games in the Super Mario series have been sold worldwide, as of September 2015, making it the best-selling video game series in history. (Morris and In, 2017). Bringing their pride and joy to a new platform wasn't an easy choice for Nintendo, but for seeing reaction that Pokemon Go received, they made the jump with Mario in late 2016 with Super Mario Run for Apple Devices. Financial analysts recognized that Super Mario Run would be more significant than Pokémon Go for Nintendo; whereas revenue from Pokémon Go must be split between Niantic and The Pokémon Company, nearly all revenue from Super Mario Run would go to Nintendo directly. After Super Mario Run's release date was announced in November, Nintendo's stock rose by 2.8%. (Reuters, 2017)
It was reported that Super Mario Run was downloaded 2.85 million times on the day of its iOS release, smashing Pokémon Go's previously held record for most downloads in a week, while also grossing over US$5 million. Up of that in the three days, it had been downloaded more than 37 million times. But yet over the holiday season, Nintendo's and DeNA's stock price dropped by more than 7% due to its poor market reception. By December 26, Super Mario Run was no longer the top grossing app in any nation, though remained one of the top downloaded apps in 63 countries. Nintendo's stocks had dropped over 18% within the first two weeks of release. (Nakamura, 2017).
Within three weeks, market analysis firm Newzoo estimated that the app had been downloaded over 90 million times, with approximately $30 million in revenue from around 3% who had purchased the full game. (Nakamura, 2017).
While Super Mario run receives similar praise and reception to Pokemon Go, it sadly did not strike the same nostalgia chord with the audience, both in the west and in Asia. It did not go to cause the same effect with Mario's past media mix. This could be down to the fact the Mario's mainly seen in video games and advertising and isn't known for the manga and anime outside of Japan. This could be further proof that while this new type of Media Mix, with apps for other technology, could work with franchises with huge, and multi-level products, like Pokemon or Astro Boy, it may not with franchises such as Nintendo's Mario, or Sega's Sonic The Hedgehog, who are mainly based or known to be contained in once media sector in this case video games.
Leaving the world of video games to one side for now, and the new world of apps. Let's take a look at a 'traditional' Japanese Media Mix, a manga called Death Note, which has spanned and grown across many platforms in the last 15 years including, Manga, Anime, Video Games, Live Action Films, a Musical, a Japanese Drama series, and even a Netflix Original Film.
Death Note is a Japanese manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The story follows Light Yagami now is a high school student. Light discovers a supernatural notebook from a Shinigami named Ryuk that grants its user the ability to kill anyone whose name and face he knows. The series focuses around Light's attempts to create and rule a world "cleansed of evil" as "God" using the notebook, and the efforts of a detective known as L to stop him. Death Note was first featured in a manga magazine in Japan called Weekly Shōnen Jump from December 2003 to May 2006. After this, the media mix machine kicked in and they started to produce manga books collecting the chapters from Weekly Shonen Jump. A light novel based on the series was also released in 2006. As well as a series of video games were produced and published by Konami for the Nintendo DS. The series was adapted into three live-action films released in Japan on June 17, 2006, November 3, 2006, and February 2, 2008, and a television drama in 2015. A mini-series entitled "Death Note: New Generation" and a fourth film were released in 2016. An upcoming Netflix original film is scheduled to be released in 2017 as mentioned earlier. Due to the nature of the show, and manga it is based on the characters are rarely used for advertising or anything outside of their own world, making this a very traditional Media Mix style production and strategy.
So it just goes to show that while the traditional Media Mix model, still works very well in Japan and Asia, as well as major media franchises we've looked at in the west too. However while in the current market the use of Apps is in its infancy it's clear, like with Pokemon Go they can breath new life into both currently instalments of the franchise and the entire back catalogue. However, should they new app be too far removed with the roots of the original material, it could prove to be a pointless endeavour, as seen with Super Mario Jump.
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