Talking Point: What's in a Console Colour?
Posted by Jon Wahlgren
Hardware colour is crucial in getting your message across. What will Café don?
In today’s gadget-obsessed world, design is key. How a new piece of tech looks and feels communicates wonders about what type of product it is and the experiences it hopes to bring to the table. Form is important, but colour makes the most immediate impression: companies do not merely settle for a pretty shade when flipping through a Pantone booklet.
Of all game hardware manufacturers, Nintendo knows this best. Having put out more colourful bits of kit than both of its current competitors combined, the Big N is no stranger to the impact that colour can have on the air surrounding its products.
There is no more obvious example of this than the 3DS, launching in three-colour gradients dubbed Aqua Blue and Cosmo Black. What Nintendo plays on here is the handheld's stereoscopic 3D screen with the portrayal of dimensionality, and the shimmer of the top shell works quite well at communicating that what you are holding in your hands is capable of much more than its predecessor. In fact, it's no surprise that these two base colours were picked for the handheld's debut: the DSi launched in similar solid shades, and the 3DS's amped-up versions are almost like before-and-after shots from 2D to 3D.
Will Nintendo continue marching on with a casual-friendly white console?
The DS also saw its fair share of colours, launching in a rather dull grey and really picking up steam with the white DS Lite. An assault of colours followed, but when it came time to release the DSi XL Nintendo sought to target an older audience and tinted the jumbo-sized portable in classy shades of burgundy and bronze, changing the machine's image to appeal to older or more refined tastes.
Wii's white worked three-fold, aping the iPod's slick look, linking itself to the successful DS Lite while simultaneously presenting itself as an inviting form of entertainment for broader audiences that video games had yet to really crack. If the Blue Ocean crowd could be persuaded to pick up a controller, it need be presented in a familiar, friendly way, and if the Wii accomplished anything at all it was this. A black model was released over three years into its lifespan along with a price drop, hoping to draw in the crowd of players who may have felt overlooked as Nintendo had targeted new audiences.
For GameCube, Nintendo wanted to drive home the fact that it was a dedicated gaming unit designed for ease of play and good times among friends, which it communicated with a playful purple and lunchbox handle. Black units were made available for those who wanted their hardware to come in a bit more of a serious shade, and who knows who Nintendo was targeting with the "spice orange" model.
There are plenty more examples in Nintendo's history, such as the VR-inspired red Virtual Boy or the crisp silver of the Game Boy Pocket, but we've had enough of looking to the past for now. With Nintendo’s new piece of home console hardware ready for its E3 unveil in Los Angeles tomorrow, now is the perfect time to speculate wildly.
Will Café brandish a bold new colour scheme a la 3DS to show off its new experiences? Will Nintendo continue marching on with a casual-friendly white console, or take things to a more intimidating level with a darker shade? Or perhaps go back to a full-on transparent shell like the N64 eventually toted? Sound off in the comments!