The Electronic Entertainment Expo is arguably the biggest and most important event in the video game industry. It is the time and place where companies from everywhere come together to display their new upcoming titles for the following year. It is also traditionally the place where new gaming consoles are demoed and shown off to impress not only investors and industry professionals, but consumers who look forward to checking out the latest games from all three major console platforms. Yet there is a hint of change in the air, one that has led to some very weird and confusing actions from one “dinosaur company” of the gaming industry. That company is Nintendo.
In the past, Nintendo has always attempted to make a huge splash during the week of E3. They have always tried to showcase their lineup of games for their newest consoles and handhelds, particularly through a major press conference held the day before E3 officially starts. For the year of 2013 however, things are taking a very sharp turn for better or worst. Instead of hosting one major press conference, Nintendo has opted to instead host a few smaller events over the course of E3 week. Most of the major info that would have been delivered during a big press conference will now be obtained through Nintendo Direct and small gatherings on the E3 showroom floor. This decision by Nintendo has led to a barrage of speculation and confusion for many gamers and industry followers.
The biggest gripe many seem to have with this bold move is the state of Nintendo’s newest home console, the Wii U. With their competition’s next-gen consoles looming over the horizon, Nintendo is again at a disadvantage in hardware specs, and momentum due to lack of games in the Wii U’s current library. Many believe that having an E3 press conference could have been the platform for Nintendo to really justify and present a case for gamers to purchase the Wii U. This could have been done with showcasing more first party titles that many have clamored for since the system’s launch. At the same time, this could have also enticed more third party developers to become inspired to develop more games for Wii U, since the initial support from third party devs has dwindled since Wii U’s launch.
This ultimately begs the question that many fear Nintendo may not have an answer to. Can they deliver a great E3 presence with many new and exciting games, while still remain relevant without a major press conference that the competition will take advantage of? Nintendo has always gone away from the masses and looked for, and arguably achieved, success through their own approach to making games. This has been made valid through the success of the original Wii, which many have debated that despite the hardware disadvantages when compared to other consoles instead become a major success.
Also, while there is a large base of Nintendo faithful who are willing to tune into Nintendo Direct, there are many more that are not able to do so, or choose not to. Many outlets of media, gaming or otherwise, attend the press conferences and cover the news that comes out from them. Without a major conference at E3, Nintendo will lose out on the momentum they have gotten in the past from all the attention being focused on them. The amount of people who do tune in to all lot the Nintendo Directs, as well as the people actually in attendance of E3, may not be enough to make up for all the eyes that would have been on them were they just to have a large scale televised event like before.
Although things look very dire and bleak for Nintendo with this new direction, one mustn’t count them out of the race just yet. In many situations in the past, where the environment was dry of good games and faults in consoles were abundant, the Big N has always had a surprise up their sleeve. Many of the gripes and complaints of media and gamers alike are all too apparent for a major company like Nintendo to not realize and consider.
Hopefully the change in strategy for E3 will lead to a surprise and impactful splash that will get the attention of gamers who tune into the expo. The main goal for Nintendo now is to not only capitalize on the success of the 3DS, but to also flex the muscles of the Wii U with some great new titles that will get everyone excited. Let’s just hope that ditching a traditional E3 press conference is a bold successful approach for Nintendo, and not an arrogant failure at trying to be different.
Let us know your thoughts on this development down in the comments below. Is it suicide for Nintendo, or a smart decision we don't fully understand yet?