There's no question about it - Nintendo know and have admitted it, fans are adamant about it - the Wii U needs to be better promoted and understood. The entertainment world, news and technology publications all turn to one event in the video gaming calendar in particular: The E3 Expo.
Nintendo turned heads this week by confirming a different approach to the annual affair by confirming that they will not hosting a traditional all guns-blazing conference during E3 2013. Gone is Nintendo's hour-long presentation at the Kodak Theatre (now known as Dolby Theatre), a triumphant Reggie Fils-Aime blaring out the latest sales figures and reveals of the latest titles in the Wii U and 3DS roster.
Nintendo will be holding smaller closed presentations, will have a both with playable demos and hold global Nintendo Direct presentations - the process remains similar, but the format has changed to fit with the Nintendo of today.
Is it a wise decision or a huge mistake? The Cubed3 Team discuss the potentials and pitfalls of a lack of Nintendo E3 presentation this year.
Jorge Ba-oh, Editor/FounderIs Nintendo's lack of E3 presentation a mistake? Yes. Will it hinder their performance at this year's biggest video games event? Probably not.
Many critics have revelled in the news, suggesting that Nintendo are effectively "bowing out of the race" by making it clear to both Sony and Microsoft that they aren't in the "big leagues" when it comes to the next generation. To some it may well seem that way, and the decision to not have a dedicated presentation in the traditional format could shift the general press towards the new hardware from both companies.
Nintendo have bases covered for the fans and for the duration of the show itself. Whilst the headlines will inevitably cover the new consoles for the very first days of the show, Nintendo are banking on the press actually sitting down (or in the case of E3, standing up) and sampling these new Wii U and 3DS titles first-hand. It's always been in the Nintendo philosophy that games should be played and not just seen on a screen. Newspapers, magazines, bloggers and websites big and small will be on hand to relay their impressions to the rest of the world. That's been the case since E3 began many moons ago, but is it enough?
Whether it's a cost-cutting exercise or a simple restructure of how Nintendo targets its fans, there will be a hole, albeit a small one that may end up being a case of lost opportunity. It would have been a chance to have all the press in one room, at one time and focusing solely at Nintendo. Whether or not they like what they see is one thing, but you have that sixty or so minutes to have the major press eating out of your hands, a chance to show off the latest games and get people talking. The presentation would be a succulent taster to lead these people to the show floor in a desperate bid to be the first to write a hands-on preview.
When wondering around the huge buzz of E3 itself, there's no way to guarantee a reporter or blogger actually taking attention to your stand, no matter how much Super Mario Bros. is on show. They will flock because it's Nintendo, but there are fears that Nintendo Direct and closed conferences could dampen what could potentially be the company's biggest E3 yet.
Despite this, Nintendo Direct will show fans just what they've been waiting over twelve months for - another look at The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, first glimpses at Mario Kart and a new 3D Super Mario Bros for the Wii U, plus The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past II and much more for the 3DS. Nintendo's PR departments will make sure that the press receive their screenshots and trailers, with dedicated gaming sites pumping out the news.
Despite the lack of presentation, all other bases are essentially covered, but there is some unease about it. This is a very, very vital year for Nintendo. Not make or break by any means, but critical in keeping the Wii U's health and lifespan healthy. I worry that Nintendo is still just waiting for people to come and give the games a go, perhaps with a twinge of arrogant expectation. But the way the industry is heading, Nintendo need to sing and shout - "come play Wii U", "give the 3DS a good seeing to", really do everything to grab fans and newcomers.
At the end of the day, the games will come to help boost the Wii U's profile and strengthen the 3DS's appeal, but we're still waiting for that big wave of power from the industry's greatest force. At the moment it seems like Nintendo are swimming in safe waters.
Adam Riley - Operations DirectorIt's quite a perplexing move by Nintendo, definitely, but whilst seemingly unorthodox, it does show some of the shift in the world of gaming in general. After all, E3 2013 is going to be about the glitz and glamour surrounding Sony and Microsoft's next generation hardware; it's basically going to be two massive adverts airing to the world. How could Nintendo compete with that? Year in, year out, Nintendo attempts to wow the world with its stage shows, but hey, Nintendo isn't really that sort of company, is it? It's more of a family entertainment company that wants to place the emphasis on engaging content that truly connects with gamers and families around the world. Is an all-singing, all-dancing stage show once a year really going to filter through to mum and dad sat at home wondering what to pick up for their child's next birthday, Christmas present, and so on?
Saying that, though, how well do the Nintendo Directs resonate with the general public worldwide? Well, they are available for viewing on Nintendo systems, and since Nintendo has finally got its act together in terms of making the online experience much more user-friendly, the infiltration rate of such shows should be much higher than ever before. Still, it's not the same as getting coverage on the BBC here in the UK or any other major TV networks around the world.
Bit of a dilemma, right?
Well, Nintendo is all about the games, and the best way to get great coverage of such games is to get people actually playing them, and that is what this year's E3 is going to be all about. Sure, let Sony and Microsoft prance around on stage talking about graphics that look more realistic than ever before and systems that constantly stay connected online to prevent piracy, so on and so forth. Nintendo will be there with a wide selection of great games that those attending will be able to jump straight onto and start posting impressions on various publications around the world.
Nothing drastic is going to change. People worried that Nintendo wasn't going to attend the Tokyo Games Show in the past, then people feared Nintendo would be losing out by not joining the line-up of the Leipzig Games Convention...This is simply more of the same, except Nintendo will still be there will all its content, simply choosing instead to make it more about the hands-on time than awkward stage shows and demonstrations.
Javier Jimenez, Feature WriterNintendo isn't going to E3! My god! This is huge, right?! I mean, Adam Sessler called it a huge mistake! Message board tro... "enthusiasts" have gone so far as to say it's Nintendo "giving up" and "admitting they can't compete with the PS4 and 720".
Personally, I don't think it means much of anything because, well, Nintendo is still going to E3 for one thing. They'll have smaller business presentations for reporters, where they'll do the regular finance babble we all love to hate. And they'll be on the floor showing off their games.
We'll see Mario 3D U, Mario Kart, Smash Brothers, Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, Wind Waker HD, Bayonetta 2 and more. People will play those games and write articles about them. Nintendo will release media kits, just as they have done for years. Websites will get videos and piles of screenshots and data sheets to propagate to the gamer masses and everyone will be happy.
Is it the smartest move for Nintendo to not do an hour long presentation? I don't know, honestly. Sony and Microsoft will both be revealing hardware. Nintendo would have a hard time getting attention with that happening. For a lot of people, new hardware automatically "wins" E3.
On the other hand, Nintendo is doing yet more Direct presentations before and during E3. That's something I think is smart. Almost every month this year we've seen a constant barrage of games, games, and more games. And, ultimately, that's what gamers really love, I think, be it in an hour long E3 stage presentation, complete with awkward pre-written speeches and bullet point agenda buzzwords, or through an hour long Nintendo Direct, with video after video of announcements and teasers and new info on the stuff we're most excited about.
Rudy Lavaux - Review and Feature WriterNow this certainly comes as a shock. When you have memories of past years, like the most epic announcement ever, the first trailer of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess in 2004 and the reaction of the audience, nothing can't quite beat that these days. And while part of me wishes that the next Legend of Zelda for Wii U, or even the new Super Smash Bros was revealed to as much fanfare, another part of me knows this is not happening. Not anymore. Not with the E3 we have nowadays. It's far from being a big deal like it was 10 years ago. Remember the event was drastically scaled back after E3 2006? Although it grew back again afterwards, it never quite met the same sheer scale it used to have, and kind of lost its magic. So for me, this isn't too big an issue.
However, like some of my fellow colleagues will surely point out, Nintendo Direct doesn't quite have the same reach as E3. Big announcements made at E3 sometimes even make the TV news that even your parents and grand-parents watch. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that the audience Nintendo is still trying to cater to with their new Wii U, and are struggling to convince that this Wii U thing is not just a new controller for the regular Wii, but is a totally new piece of hardware?
Sure, I will be watching whatever Nintendo Direct stuff they end up showing. Hey, I always do! However is that the best way to get their news across to those people who still need to be convinced? I don't think so. However, I do believe that E3 is not necessarily the only way to achieve that. Good advertising also works, but what they've been showing of Wii U so far hasn't been very convincing. Thinking back to the Wii days, even with a console much easier to understand, in retrospect the Wii commercials were done better. OK, I never had two Japanese chaps ringing at my door and telling me "Wii would like to play" but still, those worked!
Of course Nintendo will still be on the show floor with, hopefully, plenty of software for attendees to try out and report on, so that's not like a big mistake from them, but it still makes you wonder, doesn't it? Who, apart from Nintendo fans who most likely already own the console, and gamers around the web, knows that Nintendo Direct is sbeing aired, and when? It shouldn't be up to the consumer to look for that info. Nintendo should arrange things so that the info reaches the potential buyers out there. Of all the console makers out there, they still have some of the strongest and most recognisable mascots of the whole video game industry, franchises that resonate with the less hardcore audience like none other. To remain viable in the market, they definitely need to get the news of what's to come for their consoles into those people's heads.
We all know Nintendo is so rich they can go on for years, making losses, and they would probably still be there, so all the doom and gloom about Nintendo's demise is obviously premature. However, some of their recent decisions do concern me, and this is very natural. Should they decide to play their cards righs, like announcing new stuff in one Nintendo Direct before E3 and saying "that's what you'll be trying out at E3 in a week from now", and then showing off even more of what's going to be available in the immediate future right after E3 could potentially disrupt any announcement effect of whatever the other two could have reserved for E3. Nintendo's practically zero advertisements in the past few months lets you wonder if it's all part of a secret master plan, or at least that's what the gullible Nintendo fanboy inside me wants to believe. But as a money-making company, how could they knowingly let things go to waste like that unless they had another idea in store? That's also hard to believe coming from one of the biggest and richest companies in the world.
Could these "other ways" of advertising hide more stuff than we may think? I sure hope so. And if anything, this has me even more excited than for E3... We may not have to wait as long as we thought for some exciting news after all!