Thoughts On Nintendo's E3 Conference

Pikmin 3 looks cute — it's definitely Pikmin 3 alright. New Super Mario Bros U looks sharp and crisp, third party developers may be interested in the Wii U and Reggie Fils-Aime is a Clarke Griswold for a new generation. Those were my early thoughts on the Nintendo E3 conference.

Last night, at the time, I was brutally disappointed. Part of that feeling was to do with the fact that the conference ended on such an underwhelming note.

That note was NintendoLand — what appears to be a glorified set of mini-games set within a stylised PlayStation Home-esque environment. But, you know, I'm not entirely sure what it is, because they did that Nintendo thing of introducing a new feature with barely any real proper explanation.

I STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT SPOT-PASS IS!

(Okay, I do.)

(But not really.)

I don't really understand what Nintendo was getting at by finishing its E3 conference with NintendoLand. NintendoLand, I believe, is intended to be the Wii Sports of the Wii U. The piece of software that eases people into the new controller, and instantly teaches consumers why it's a valuable thing. But I couldn't understand precisely how NintendoLand would achieve that task. When you watched Miyamoto swing the Wii Remote to play Wii Tennis for the first time, that understanding was implicit, and ingenius. This time round I was simply confused. And you can bet consumers will be too.

For a conference that was supposed to be about the Wii U's launch line-up, there were remarkably few games. Nintendo's conference started at a furious pace, which led me to believe that Nintendo understood people's reservations and was setting out to dispel them.

New Super Mario Bros. U quickly followed Pikmin 3 and looked, in my humble opinion, absolutely fantastic. It looked precisely as you might expect it to but, at the same time, it was gratifying to see it in action — hi-res, crisp, playful.

Then we saw ScribbleNauts Unlimited, new Wii Fit stuff, and LEGO City Undercover — which actually looked pretty awesome, but at this point I began to wonder when Nintendo was going to unveil any big hitting first party titles.

But no. Nothing.

Much like the Sony conference before, Nintendo's E3 showing was defined by what was absent from the show.

No new Smash Bros., no new Zelda, no new game from Retro Studios, unconvincing third party support, no new IP from Nintendo. Very little to be perfectly honest.

It can't be a coincidence. All three conferences felt precisely the same — bogged down with software that didn't really interest us as we waited for surprises that never came. Part of it, I expect, comes from the fact that E3 has less relevance now than it ever did, but maybe there's another contributing factor...

Both Sony and Nintendo seemed to unveil all their biggest surprises before E3. Sony through pre-E3 press events where God of War Ascension and PlayStation All-Stars were revealed almost a month previous. Then Nintendo had that seemingly last minute, one hour presentation which discussed its online plans for the Wii U.

Had those surprises been left for E3 conferences, I wonder if we'd be left feeling as underwhelmed, or currently discussing how successful both conferences were?

It seems as though the 'big three', instead of competing for column/internet inches during E3, are becoming increasingly more content to pick their moments and reveal new content/IP when it suits them — not at an event where big announcements could possibly get lost in the all consuming noise of E3.

Maybe this will set a precedent for future E3s? Maybe we'll just have to get used to it, and adjust.


Comments

    I had no idea going in this year that Ubisoft would have the worst but also the best conference of the lot. Crazy.

    Ubisoft had the best conference. It's sad that it wasn't one of the big 3.

    I was so cut last night. I kept thinking, "they're saving something big for the end", with such high hopes that somebody from retro studios was going to come out and absolutely blow everything else shown at e3 out of the water, but we got nintendo land instead. Big ****ing deal. I'll play that maybe once or twice.

    I better get my animal crossing release date at the 3ds showcase, or I'm gonna be grumpy for a while.

    Was there any point in having an E3 this year? Pretty much everything that's been announced was known already. MS/Sony/Nintendo could have just saved money and told us what they told at E3 through a simple press conference. Dissapointing, but I'm warming to the Wii U. Also Sleeping dogs looks awesome.

      Lol damnit, I meant watch dogs...

    I actually think its been a slow year for releases. I keep an excel file - this time last year I'd bought 20 games. Ive bought around 10 this year and almost all are Indie. Way too many derivative sequels that failed to capture my interest.

    And thats why Nintendos conference was the worst. Of all the players, they needed a new IP the most.

    I found it intriguing Reggie mentioned 23 launch titles but after that there was nothing. Having spread out their conference over multiple sessions I thought surely they could fit a lot in, but sadly what we saw was stuff we were expecting and stuff that wasn't new.
    Sony, on the lead up to E3 said they were announcing 20 something games but I haven't seen anything like it.
    It may be just the case now where instead of presenting a half-assed product early and padding it out at a big conference and failing hard, they keep it until its ready which in my opinion is better.
    Last night on twitter Guerrilla Games mentioned they had something in the works, but weren't ready to show it yet which is obvious they wouldn't show it at E3.
    I think we would actually see more content at Gamescom and the Tokyo Game Show

    The final thoughts are true though, there is no much happening around E3, that alot of games will get lost in the crush. My thoughts on the situation though is that this E3 should have been Nintendo's for the taking, all the rumours pointed at Sony and MS not bringing any new hardware talk. Nintendo had a free pass to sweeping all the stories.

    I kinda want to believe that Sony and MS were playing it cautious though, with big game announcements earlier than E3 so they can get the exposure they wanted, when they thought the Wii U may have overshadowed them at E3 itself.

    That's the problem though, Nintendo didn't seem to do that at all. We must remember that the Wii launched in the US first, so this could have been the event for them to layout all the launch details (Price and Date), seeing as they expect to release this holiday season. The flipside is that the release date and price weren't announced until around TGS in Sept for the Wii, so looks like they will do the same again.

    Instead, they confirmed 2 controllers possible, but the system takes a hit, the controllers have an average battery life and still limited details on how users accounts will fully work and still an incomplete launch lineup, we know some more... but not enough of the important stuff it seems.

      Yeah, I think you're right.

      They were all pretty meh. I was expecting Nintendo to be the "winner" just by the fact they had new hardware and nobody else did, so was expecting a big show. But didn't get it. So in that sense, if there's a "loser" out of all this then it's Nintendo, simply because they had the most to lose by not winning. If that makes sense :P

        Nope, it really does... they had the opportunity over the other big 2, but they wasted it.

        It will be very interesting next year if both Sony and MS go head to head though.

    They had the chance to hit it out of the park but just gave it a bunt.

    I'm excited for the console, I want Mario Bros U and Nintendoland, but I really wanted to see at least something resembling a bigass Mario adventure or Zelda even if it was just some mockups.

    What I was dissapointed in was that nintendo's first party stuff didn't appear to be using the wii u's power to its fullest. I know Nintendo aren't known for having super realistic high quality graphics, but they could have made a new fire emblem (that's Nintendo right?) or something that could have shown off some final fantasy level graphics, as in it is still stylized and cartoonish how Nintendo likes it, but still with impressive high quality graphics.

    That's why first party Sony games always look great, because they have to make the ps3 look as impressive as possible, and Nintendo didn't show that.

    However, pikmen

      Woop, early post

      However, pikmen looked great, as did mario wii u, batman looked interesting, maybe worth a rebuy if I get a wii u, and mass effect was quite a surprise in my opinion.

    it was more than a bit underwhelming for me.

    Microsoft failed at showing any interesting games for me, Sony only showed 2, and i was kinda expecting a handful of great games from Nintendo on the wii u and a 3ds hardware update reveal.
    colour me disapointed.

    Where is the support from the big 3rd parties for wii u? i heard nothing about any specific Konami, Capcom, EA and Activision games.
    And as for Nintendo 1st party stuff:
    Nintedoland!!???? -not interested at all. Why develop this when you could make an fzero, icarus, metroid, zelda, donkey kong etc ? what a waist of a dev team!!! reminds me of that waste of space Wii Music vanity project that no one asked for.

    the hardware side -no in depth discussion of online services, back catalogue games, account carry over? the new screens going into half the resolution if playing with 2 at the same time. meh. no demo that they can get two controllers even working at the same time! the new pro hard caw pads are shiny. meh. no release date details and of course no pricing.

    nintendos biggest strength is its first party IP, not a new pad with a screen. They new this would be copiable. Vita can pretty much do this with ps3/4 and microsoft showed their Smartglass take.
    SO NINTENDO, WHERE ARE THE GAMES??? They definately shouldnt have talked last year about this console. It was way too early. A lesson both Sony & Microsoft appear to have clearly learned.

    Now, use all that lobster cash, hire some more programmers and get that firt party game production ramped up already!!!! so far im not even warmed towards this underpowered heap of plastic.

    I agree with the needing to show off what the console can do visually. Nintendo seems to be stuck in 480p land where they are trying to create an environment which takes full advantage of a standard definition console with visual trickery... just that now it's in HD and looks extraordinarily lame. They did a lot more work last year showing off what the console may be able to achieve, only to this year show off what the Wii of 2006 looks like in up-scaled HD. Perhaps they are trying to not steal the lime-light so that third-party developers feel as though they are getting attention for a change? After-all, the show definitely felt more like a third-party showing than a Nintendo one.

    Perhaps also need to update from their extraordinarily minimalistic 'home' and game/'app'-menu screens. The strange 360 degree view video they showed after the conference looked so terrible :'( Nintendooooo, do something that makes me happy :'( Wah :'(

    It's probably not only the sign of what the big three have to show but also the sign of how E3 is not the centre stage anymore. GDC Europe is growing, and in the previous years some big announcements were held back for GDC - there were even demos shown to journalists at E3 but kept confidential and under media embargo until the GDC time (Sony certainly did that with Heavy Rain back then). In the case of Nintendo, they still have the Tokyo Game Show where they need to shine. And they also need to keep significant ammo for 2014, where it's going to be the best time to deploy the heavy 1rd party stuff against the new MS and Sony hardware. It seems to be the trend with Nintendo now anyway, look at all the doom predictions after the 3DS announcement, and look at how they're doing now.

    Why the hell did I stay up late for this shit?

    I don't think anyone won E3 this year. Everybody lost.

    I was looking for better 3rd party support for the Wii U. Looks like its coming true. Im happy and dont care who deserves to win best at e3

    That from the sounds of things looks like Ubisofts award anyway

      My concern with all this newfound 3rd party support for Wii U is that a lot of it is games that will be a year (or more) old by the time they come out on Wii U. They're all ports of current gen games, which is relatively cheap and easy to do - once the new PS / XBox land I suspect a lot of this support will dry up. The Wii had a similar experience - lots of PS2 ports early on, but once developers moved on to PS3/360 they left the Wii behind.

        Thats this years games. Once there are more Wii Us out there developers wont see the risk of flooding a small user base with AAA titles. Its all about timing and user base and the best stuff is not usually available at launch (due to the small userbase). It only gets better with time.

        Sorry WHAT? just because microsoft and sony release their next console all of the suddent the Wii U's support dries up? What kind of nonsense is that? As long as people buys the games on the Wii U they will keep making games for the Wii U, and since the Wii U has similar game controls with the addition of touch screen and FHD graphics theres really no reason why developers would STOP all of the sudden. Thats crazy talk. The reason why no one made ports of top games for the Wii was
        1) Nintendo was a dying brand since GC
        2) Wii Required use of the Wiimote - The developers still preferred Dual analogue
        3) Crap graphics
        4) Competition

        Whats the difference? For the Wii U

        1)Nintendo is the #1 selling console maker
        2)Standard dual analogue controls (plus touch screen)
        3) Full HD graphics
        oh yeah 4) no competition till atleast end of 2014 (my prediction since no shows from either sony or microsoft) so they can build a very strong userbase which will be very attractive even when the competition arrive.

        See there is a reason why the Wii and the Wii U are different. Most of those ports you are talking about (for the Wii) werent big name games. The Wii missed out on all the best of the 3rd Party AAA titles PERIOD. It may have got some big games in name, but the game was a poor mans version. So its not the same.

        Anyway enough of my rant it just surprises me you would even fathom support all of the sudden up and leaving just because the ps4 or 720 comes out.

    All I know is that I'm left feeling LESS convinced to buy a Wii U than last year. I can't fathom what the strategies of the companies were.

    This is the only sort of conference that I sit down and watch all year, and I get extremely excited for it (and I know there are many like me). The media hangs on every word said at these conferences, so why not capitalise by unveiling all your awesome shit. Furthermore, I've never understood how casual games got such a prominent role in these events. Are the Wii fit and Just Dance crowd really watching these conferences? Probably not, so why the hell show it?

      100% agree with you.

      I like to imagine Iwata was backstage and spoke softly into the presenters earphone when it was time to show Nintedoland ... ""UNVEIL THE SHIT!""

    Everyone knows E3 is just all smoke and mirrors and marketing hype. The real games are in TGS!

    And there are 2 more nintendo conferences... er... well, one this morning and one tomorrow morning for here. Even though somewhere has said one of them is the 3DS software conference, the listings I've seen just say software conference, so more Wii U stuff in there?

    well at least pikmin3 finaly came out right? any pikmin fans out there.....

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