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Why do we hate Nintendo’s E3 strategy again?


Since Nintendo announced their “Digital Event” for E3 2014 in June, a lot of people have been talking about how they are making a mistake by not holding a traditional E3 conference.

I’d have to agree that a traditional keynote tends to get more publicity. Non-gaming media outlets report on the latest hardware and game reveals, gaming news outlets report the smaller news stories out of the a press conference, all around an E3 conference can bring a lot of attention to your company and its products.

So I understand how Nintendo not having a “traditional” E3 event can be damaging to the company, after all these E3 keynotes are good marketing. But why can’t an online event like a Nintendo Direct or this new “Digital Event” which Nintendo says will be bigger than a Direct presentation, garner the same attention from the gaming industry?

I’m not talking about Forbes, CNN, Yahoo, or any non-gaming outlet. They won’t attend an E3 keynote at all and will instead only report the highlights of E3, like if a particularly big exclusive title is announced, a developer jumps from one console maker to the other, or if new hardware/services are announced. They won’t report on all the JRPGs coming to the PS Vita or whether Monolith Software has a real name for their upcoming RPG “X”.

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But why do outlets that report strictly gaming news care so much about whether Nintendo holds a traditional conference? It must be nice to go to these stage shows and get cool swag, but the gaming media often overblows this new Nintendo habit as if they’re getting no E3 presentation at all.

That was one of the worst things of 2013, how most gaming news outlets reported the news of Nintendo streaming a video instead of a stage show for E3 as “Nintendo is not attending E3.” That lead a lot of people who don’t read much more than headlines that Nintendo was throwing in the towel and not taking the fight for gaming dollars seriously. Gaming outlets have to be more aware of how they are wording things.

What’s so hard about an online video? Apple could hold a private stage show with nothing but Tim Cook cardboard cut-outs in an empty theater and so long as they stream this presentation online every single tech or gaming news outlet would report on what they had to say about their newest iPad or iPhone. Its not like the only people who get to report E3 news is the media members who actually attend these conferences so what gives? It seems like the gaming media in general doesn’t like the fact that Nintendo is doing things like this on their own terms and not playing ball the way they’re used to.

That said, I don’t think there is anything wrong with disliking the lack of a Nintendo “traditional” conference but in the end aren’t we getting the exact same information out of a more well prepared online video rather than a stage show where things can go wrong and we get pandered to by terrible celebrity cameos? Do we really want to hear Aisha Tyler (no disrespect to her, I really like her) talk about girl wood and see Usher come out to perform over seeing real live game developers talk about the software they’re making?

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You’ll never hear the words “Usha, Usha” spoken in a Nintendo Direct

Do you want to see an EA or Activision executive (not someone whose actually working on a video game) waste 15 minutes talking about how their upcoming gaming will be somewhat better on Playstation or Xbox and shove marketing buzz words down your throat?

I think that’s the thing fans dislike about Nintendo’s new no-stage show approach to E3, the lack of flash and glamour. A Nintendo Direct video is certainly less “sexy” than a stage show but it communicates exactly what Nintendo is suppose to be doing: Making video games that only they can make for their platforms.

Events like this cut out a lot of the bullshit that goes into an E3 stage show, letting the company focus on video games and video games only. No mistakes like Skyward Sword’s poor first impression in 2010 when interference in the conference room messed up the game’s controls. And I certainly hope there is no more Ravi on drums!

Thanks to these Nintendo presentations being filmed before E3, the company can cut out parts that just don’t work. They could plan for a segment to work out on stage but won’t really know if it will go over with the crowd until they are actually doing it live. With a video they can watch their presentation over and over again before E3, monitor fan feedback online and change things ahead of time. Look at the recent Super Smash Bros Nintendo Direct, it had several jokes and references to popular fan speculation on popular gaming sites like NeoGAF, something that a lot of fans really enjoyed.

I understand that this method of presenting Nintendo’s big E3 games isn’t “mainstream” or easy for some gaming fans who don’t follow the industry as closely as others. But those that will be debating who “won” E3 for all of June, why is watching an online video so hard in comparison to watching a live stream of Sony and Microsoft talking to a room of people you’ve never met on IGN, GTTV or Spike?

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Nintendo Land’s E3 2012 reveal didn’t come across very well on stage and was widely criticized as a bad choice for the final game reveal of Nintendo’s stage show that year.

I’m beginning to forget why gaming fans dislike Nintendo’s new approach to E3. I understand how it could be damaging to their products as a stage show provides a unique opportunity for marketing but I just don’t understand why its such a bad thing for the people who were going to watch whatever Nintendo put out there at E3 anyway. Do I miss the glamour of a Nintendo stage show? Sure. But we’re still getting hour long presentations with much less unnecessary fodder and less awkward moments like Nintendo Land’s crickets filled debut at E3 2012.

Ultimately I think Nintendo’s new approach to E3 is certainly an acquired taste but it delivers on what all gaming fans want from console makers every E3 and that is a steady flow of exciting and exclusive games. Isn’t that what we have all dreamed about, E3 shows that truly focus on gamers and the video games they want to play and actually putting these games in their hands to play like Nintendo’s past two years of Best Buy E3 events?