Pokemon, Microsoft and the Economics of Greed
Greed Economics: The uplifting or debilitating effect of the excessive desire of gain on the production, consumption and distribution of goods and services.
Solid proof that “greed economics” lives and breathes was recently found in Newswek’s Novmber 8th issue in an article entitled “Puffy’s Crowded Orbit”. Sean (Puffy) Combs is founder and CEO of the extremely profitable Bad Boy entertainment. In the billion dollar a year rap music industry, he is the cognac in a world of beer. In 1997, his first album, (carried by the hit “Missing You”), sold an extraordinary 6 million copies! But Comb’s who is known as much for his business savvy as for his musical talent, ignored the rules of “greed management” and recklessy expanded into publications, clothing lines and restaurants. The sale of his recent album “Forever”, despite a red-hot reputation and a 32-city promotional tour, was “weaker than weak”. Newsweek reports that in the first week of November “the album was No.27 on the charts.” The same article places his last years earnings at $53 million; well off his tyical $100 million-a-year earnings of the mid 1990’s. Sorry “Puff” the law is real. Greed affects quality.
Inner-city America finds it of some interest that this law does not favor the rich, the politically plugged in, or the “white” of this world. America’ richest man, Bill Gates received a stunning setback earlier this month when Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled against the $500 billion software company Microsoft, declaring that it violated antitrust law and was in fact a monopoly. In a Newsweek article dated November 15th rntitled “Bill Takes it on the Chin”, Judge Jackson stated: “Microsoft has demonstrated that it will use its prodigious market power and immense profits to harm any firm that insists on pursuing initiates that could intensify competion”. Why couldn’t Billy be satisfied with say a $100 billion company? The penalty for ignoring the law of “reed rationing” may include having the software giant broken down into a bunch of little midgets. Are you listening William? Greed attracts powerful enemies.
Well why not remove greed out of the equation altogether? Isn’t it ALL poison? Can’t we find a few cheerleaders for total greed celibacy? Not on your life. Why? Because economically speaking, greed isn’t all that bad. Take for example the hugely successful video game-toy phenomena Pokemon. Any 10 year old could tell you that Pokemon (which is short for pocket monster) is a handheld Nintendo game with its own cartoon series, movie, trading cards and toys. It is the creation of a 34 year old Japanese man named Satoshi Tajiri. He says that the idea for the game came from his two greatest childhood passions: watching “monster cartoons” and “collecting insects” according to a Time magazine article dated 22 November 1999. The genius of his marketing is that he blended “greed” into the game’s story line. This is how it works.
There are three existing versions of the game (Red, Blue, Yellow) with 151 Pokemons scattered among them. To play the game, you assume the role of the Pokemon trainer. You then travel the world trying to collect one of every species. You need a particular pokemon to capture another one. You have to trade between versions in order to collect all the Pokemons. Greed to own them all is the heart of the game. The Time article reports: “…the quest for all Pokemon grows as the product line expands.” With Gold and Silver versions coming out of the pot of greed within every 10 year old. Some would call it exploitation of kids and their parents, but it’s really just a classic application of the economics of greed.