Nintendo have shocked industry observers and Nintendo fans alike…
They have announced that they will not be putting on one of their large 2 hour press conferences. Instead they will have smaller, closed meetings with distributors, and then a US press focused event where they will allow hands on previews of up and coming games. Their focus will be the WiiU, a system which needs a great deal of love and attention by Nintendo.
Whilst this at first this might be viewed as a ‘retreat’ from the mainstream, Nintendo have already started to make their announcements far more regularly than their competitors. By utilising the ‘Nintendo Direct’ format they are regularly able to update consumers on up and coming games, release dates and spend more time on the features of such titles. The problem they face is that Nintendo Direct is not a universally aware format that even all of their own consumers know about, and in addition E3 is the one time a year where gaming news becomes THE news, picked up by the BBC, CNN and other mainstream news agencies.
Perhaps though, Nintendo know that their buzz won’t be able to match the launch of two new console systems, the new Xbox and PS4. Microsoft and Sony will be disclosing fact after fact, game after game for these new systems. We live in a world where after every E3, we have media people and analysts discussing who ‘won’ the event. By not having a mainstream press conference Nintendo will hope that they can avoid being placed into that debate and will run to their own beat.
The 3DS seems to be flying, both in Japan and in the US and Europe, and if the price can fall another £25-£50 for Thanks Giving and Christmas, the system could do expectationally well, with a superb line up of games already on the system along with a strong 2013 when it comes to new releases.
The WiiU though, needs a huge push. It lacks a compelling software line up, with unique and new content (new HD version of Mario Kart and a new 3D Mario game will sell systems), a coherent and noticeable marketing campaign and a price point which is attractive against cheap PS3 and Xbox systems which it now competes against. Nintendo are clearly aware of this, but rather than using E3 as it’s arbitrary ‘reboot’, instead see E3 as an opportunity for a soft reboot, making use of the fact that so many industry people are in one place at one time, to regain their confidence in the system’s future. Yet when it comes to the mainstream consumer media, Nintendo will wait to enact it’s consumer campaign until all the parts; software, marketing and price are in line and ready to go live globally.