Round Table: Nintendo’s E3 Decision

What does the staff think of Nintendo’s decision to forgo a traditional press conference at this year’s E3?

By Nintendojo Staff. Posted 04/30/2013 10:00 3 Comments     ShareThis

During its financial results briefing last week, Nintendo dropped a surprise bombshell on its fans, announcing that it would not be holding a traditional “large-scale” press conference at this year’s E3. Reactions to this news, as you’d expect, were quick and divisive; some proclaimed it to a brilliant gambit, while others took it as an admission that the company would not be able to compete with Sony and Microsoft, and thus bowed out. Which side of the fence did the Nintendojo staff fall on?

Robin Wilde

I think that while everyone seems to be treating this announcement as unexpected, it’s really the culmination of Nintendo’s approach for the last couple of years. Namely, revealing the Wii U before the conference two years ago and showing off a lot of details in a Nintendo Direct the night before in 2012.

It’s actually quite a clever publicity move on their part. See, with two new consoles coming out, Nintendo can’t hope to compete head-on, even with such heavy hitters as Super Smash Bros. and Zelda. If they tried, they’d merely get squeezed out. In their absence, they create a sense of curiosity, a “what will they do next” factor which is very interesting for a lot of people who follow the show.

Even Link won’t be able to steal the spotlight from PlayStation 4 and the next Xbox.

It doesn’t hurt their case that Nintendo are aiming for a 100bn Yen profit this year, and staging an E3 show must be mightily expensive. Not to mention that their shows of recent years have been rather uneventful– the last one I can remember that really raised the roof was 2006 when the Wii was being demonstrated.

I’m sure they’ll put out a Nintendo Direct close to the show, and I look forward to seeing what they offer. Don’t mourn the loss of the presentation too much– it’s just the way things go now.

Andy Hoover

In terms of mass media attention, Nintendo really can’t compete with two brand new consoles. The latest and greatest will always grab the biggest headlines; however, the way E3 works they will still get a significant amount of attention because it is the one time of the year when the world in general takes notice of the industry. Considering this, it really doesn’t make sense to dump the time and money into a massive spectacle. Some might be afraid that Nintendo is ignoring this broad audience that contains a lot of the casual gamers that made Wii such a success, but I feel Nintendo is going to focus more on these folks around the holidays.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are you and me, the hardcore Nintendo fans who will go out of their way to watch a Nintendo Direct and jump up and down with glee. Nintendo no doubt has a Nintendo Direct or two planned for sometime around E3 and they know we are going to watch it and eat it up. Hell, they know that if they wrote all their announcements on a cocktail napkin and then placed said napkin on the Moon, we would all go out and buy high powered telescopes to look at it. In other words, they aren’t worried about reaching us.

Okay, maybe not that moon…

But what about the people in between, your general gamer who is really most interested in knowing what games to look forward to? I think Nintendo is actually going after these people, because while Nintendo is giving a smaller presentation to analysts and retailers, the journalists will be getting extra hands-on time with actual games. And, as someone who has had the privilege of attending a Nintendo E3 press conference, let me tell you this; as fun and exciting as it is, I would gladly have traded it for an extra hour and half with the games on the floor. This will allow journalists to get straight to the gameplay experience of what Nintendo has to offer and get actual play time with a plethora of Wii U and 3DS titles before they even have the opportunity to jump into the hour-long lines for the next-gen Call of Duty or Killzone.

Katharine Byrne

I’ll admit it’s going to be odd having no big Nintendo conference to look forward to this year at E3. It’s been such a big fixture on our calenders for so many years that it’s not surprising some fans are a little upset by the whole thing. At the same time, though, I think we can all agree that every Nintendo Direct progressively makes the world a better place. Whether it’s Shigeru Miyamoto trying to hoover up Satoru Iwata with a home-made Poltergust 5000 or Iwata simply staring at a bunch of bananas for no apparent reason, these are moments that should be cherished and encouraged. They instill a kind of intimacy with the company that other console manufacturers haven’t quite managed yet, and if I’m being honest, I’d happily swap all future E3 press conferences for more Nintendo Direct-style announcements.

The naysayers will no doubt be harking on about how Nintendo’s forgotten its fans or that this E3 no-show is just another symptom of Nintendo’s seemingly perpetual decline, but I don’t really see much changing in the grand scheme of things. Major news sites are still going to cover the important stories that come out of Nintendo’s broadcast, and the fans who really care will probably still watch it anyway, just as they would have done in the past with Nintendo’s main E3 presser.

Let’s not forget that both Sony and Microsoft are also showing signs of moving away from E3-heavy announcements. Just a few months ago, Sony held its own press conference in February to announce the PlayStation 4 and Microsoft has finally confirmed it’s doing exactly the same thing in May with the next Xbox. Sure, they’ll probably still be saving some hardware aspects to show off at E3, but it just goes to show how increasingly irrelevant E3 is becoming. It’s still important, sure, but all three console manufacturers have shown that it’s no longer the be all and end all of video game conferences. Nintendo is by no means going to miss out by not having a big fancy conference this year, so don’t count them out just yet.

Remember, we had the pleasure of both a press conference and a Nintendo Direct at E3 last year, and which one contained more surprises and squeals of Nintendo glee as we sat glued to our computer screens? Well, I don’t know about you, but it certainly wasn’t the one that tried to win us over with a Nintendo Land firework display. It may go against the grain of everything we’ve come to expect as fans, but if a move to more Nintendo Directs means even more Iwata jokes and Miyamoto pretending to be a plumber, then long may it continue.

Marc Deschamps

I’m torn on this one. As a video game journalist, I can totally understand the rationale. But, as a Nintendo fan, I’m still kind of bummed about it. I can’t deny the logic, but it doesn’t make me wish any less that Nintendo would be at E3 with a million, billion announcements (approximately). It’s like going through a breakup that you know is for the best. Sure, things are probably going to be better in the long run, but it doesn’t make it suck any less right this second.

Let’s be honest, Nintendo is probably better off playing on their terms. No matter how strong they came out of the gate at E3, it wasn’t going to be perceived as good enough. They weren’t going to steal any coverage from Sony or Microsoft. So, they decided to play a different ball game. And that is the smart call. How many E3 conferences have we dissected and realized “yikes, that was awful?” At a time where Nintendo needs some positive energy, even a decent showing was going to end up looking bad, and they can’t afford that right now. The last thing that Nintendo needs at this moment is an E3 conference on the same level of the GameCube/Game Boy Advance connectivity fiasco from 2003. Nintendo needs to charge up the fan base, but I’d rather see them give us something massive when they’re ready, not because it’s May, and we need something ready for E3.

What I’d like to see Nintendo do now is really focus their time and energy into pulling out all the stops on advertising during this fall/winter. If they’ve got big stuff on the way this year, they really need to let people know it. With E3 gone as a platform, they need to find a suitable replacement. Yes, the Nintendo Direct conferences are great, but they mostly appeal to the hardcore crowds. They need to get the non-gaming news media paying attention to what they’re doing. If Marvel Comics can get USA Today coverage when a superhero dies, Nintendo should be able to do the same for the next Zelda or Mario title, shouldn’t they?

I still think the Wii U can make up some big ground this year, and the best way to do that is to make sure people are paying attention. Go get ’em, Ninty. My body is ready.

Kyle England

I’m not too surprised that Nintendo has moved away from a traditional E3 press conference, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. Nintendo has always moved to the beat of its own bongos, so in a way breaking off from E3 is a welcome change. I’ll admit that seeing the spectacle of E3 is always exciting, but when you think of the money that is poured into these often underwhelming conferences, it’s a natural move. Many games can get completely lost in the hoopla and dubstep of E3, and by dictating coverage on its own terms, Nintendo is looking to the future. Why bother relying on traditional announcement platforms when you can disseminate the same information in a much more personal and attentive manner?

Nintendo Direct conferences allow for unparalleled detail, and they spread information over a period of time that’s just right. Nintendo is starting to become a master of building hype (it’s a shame these same skills aren’t shared by whomever is handling the advertising of Wii U). Direct not only brings better news to us faster, but it also establishes a real personal bond with us, the gamers. Various in-jokes and Nintendo quirkiness from Direct just wouldn’t be the same with E3 conferences.

We have Nintendo Direct to thank for Non-Specific Action Figure.

But ultimately, I think this move from Nintendo is indicative of an industry wide shift. As some writers above have mentioned, both Sony and Microsoft have started to have their own events. Many other game companies, like Valve and Rockstar, have done just fine without ever having a  large E3 presence.

If anything, this change is only bad in that it will lessen the excitement from E3. It’s like gaming Christmas, after all. But I’d rather be excited for new games every month or so than be force fed an entire feast of information in one afternoon. I’m excited to see what will come of this.

Now it’s your turn to weigh in. What do you think about Nintendo’s decision to forgo an E3 press conference this year? Are you disappointed that we won’t see the spectacle we’ve come to associate with its conferences, or is this a smart move on the company’s part? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

3 Responses to “Round Table: Nintendo’s E3 Decision”

  • 381 points
    Hyawatta says...

    Can’t argue with the logic.

    I was very unhappy with the news at first, but then I read about Nintendo’s reasoning behind why they are doing it. It makes perfect sense to use different roundtable type events for the distributers and the media. How often do you hear critiques about figures and numbers being presented during E3 presentations? Maybe I won’t have to take off from work in order to keep up with the E3 news this year.

  • 24 points
    HairyChest says...

    Ive always looked forward to the e3 conferances and the bombs bieng dropped by the big E3. And ive already requested time off ofwork to watch this years e3 at home because its THE event for gamers. I know we can get the same information from a nintendo direct. Hell, we can even get the same info from a press release or a miiverse postbut its just not the same. Its like saying why would i pay to watch a movie in the theaters when i could redbox it on dvd for a buck? Its an event thats why. Sad to see it go.

  • 1570 points
    penduin says...

    I generally enjoyed E3 for the same reasons I enjoy the Nintendo Direct videos now: Show me some exciting upcoming games, talk a bit about ideas and themes the designers are focusing on, and give me some idea of when I can expect to play whatever is being announced.

    E3, though, has become less about that kind of stuff, and more about investors and demographics and market trends, all kinds of crap that puts me to sleep.

    It’s not just Nintendo Direct, either. Look at the trailers and announcements coming out of Ubisoft, Konami, and Capcom… Pomp aside, the annual trade show seem obsolete. The suits and the general press can have their E3; we gamers are getting the goods straight from the horses’ mouths now. :^)

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