With Nintendo having announced their E3 plans and deciding to not have an official press conference like last year, people up and down the Internet have been decrying Nintendo’s decision, with some even claiming that this may be the E3 which knocks them out of the 3 console race. But is their strategy that catastrophic or is it actually the right way to go?
Anyone who has been a Nintendo fan or has been at all interested in the industry knows that Nintendo has been taking an absolute beating in sales. The Wii U can be considered a flop at this point and while the 3DS is keeping them afloat, Nintendo has been dropping the ball when it comes to marketing the Wii U and dealing with communities outside of Japan. Be it their resistance to Youtubers last year or their attempt to shut down Super Smash Bros Melee at Evo 2013, Nintendo appeared to have their heads in the sand when dealing with the wider Nintendo fanbase which was basically providing the company free publicity.
This new direction that they are taking with E3 seems to be an attempt to gain back fan trust and repair their reputation after the débâcles last year. If you told someone last year that Nintendo would not only be holding an invitational Smash tournament in their usual conference hall of the Nokia Theatre during E3 but they would be adding features like the ability to upload Mario Kart 8 replays to Youtube, you would have said I was mad. Yet, Nintendo seems to be turning itself around (albeit slowly) when it comes to marketing themselves to an American audience. Of course, Europe and the wider world get no love at the moment but baby steps are better than nothing.
No live press conference means no cringe worthy performances of Wii Music at least.
Another element of Nintendo E3’s strategy that has got journalists especially riled up, is their Treehouse Live event, which has members of Nintendo development teams and other studios announcing games live on air throughout the show, straight to the consumer. Some have complained that this approach cuts out the need for the press to cover Nintendo at E3 as they are doing it all themselves which is surely a good thing? By doing this, it allows the consumers to see directly want they want and make their own decisions on whether a game looks good or bad, rather than having to stick to what press outlets show them and getting impressions through a third party. Nintendo will of course, spin the coverage in order to make the games they show look good, but this is very similar to how show floor demonstrations work anyway.
It gets rid of any chance of the press solely covering one game from the event and ignore others by allowing fans and consumers to see all of the games straight from the horse’s mouth without third party interference. While people will probably still go to sites for a summary of the Treehouse announcements, at the least the ability to hear the news straight from Nintendo is there. This may seem odd coming from a journalist but since I cannot attend E3, it also makes my ability to cover games easier as I am not reliant on other outlets to break news about Nintendo games first. I can just catch up on what Nintendo say themselves and then make my own decision, rather than being influenced by another outlet right from the start.
So, I believe that Nintendo’s new strategy of going straight to the consumer for game announcements and just getting the games out there without the formality of an official press conference is a much better idea, as even though faults and errors will be omitted from their coverage, it is giving the information direct to the fans, who are the most important at the end of the day. By doing things like a Smash Bros invitational or putting demos in Best Buy, they are taking the experience and information which is only usually available to a select few on the showfloor and giving it to more and more people. They are making E3 more inclusive and giving everyone the ability to make their own decision and see games straight from source, which I think is an admirable aim.