I suppose there’s something macabre about it, almost sadistic, but when I look to E3 and I think about what excites me most, when I think about the potential announcements that I’m looking forward to, I can’t stop thinking about the company under the most pressure. I can’t stop thinking about Nintendo.
E3 has always had a whiff of drama about it, and one of the key components of drama is high stakes. Make no mistake: the stakes are high for Nintendo. Compared to Microsoft and Sony, off the back of two successful console launches and near universal third party support, Nintendo are in the mire, Nintendo has its back pinned to the wall and, in a perverse sense, I’m interested to see precisely how it will respond to this level of pressure.
Of course Nintendo has been here before. Nintendo has always been criticised for its decision making, for being stubborn, for refusing to adjust to new technology, new ways of thinking. But this time? It feels different. The manner in which Nintendo, and CEO Satoru Iwata in particular, has responded to criticism seems to reflect a company in the process of humbling itself. Nintendo knows it has to change, but how?
I’m hoping we’ll see some sort of answer to that question at E3. It could be dramatic, it could be insane. It could be absurdly banal. That’s why it’s so exciting -- we simply just don’t know what’s coming.
Sony and Microsoft’s press conferences are a little more predictable. Sure, there’ll be a handful of new games, a few familiar IPs will make a glorious return, we’ll get updates on games we already know about. Sony might show off some new Project Morpheus stuff, shoehorn some Vita stuff in an attempt to convince us all it’s worth buying. Microsoft will focus on games, possibly bore us to death with some sort of mainstream multimedia pitch.
The biggest surprise that could possibly come of either conference is a game we did not know existed. The Last Guardian? Sure that would be big. A new Gears of War for Xbox One? Cool. Very cool.
But Nintendo? What is Nintendo going to do? It could do anything.
Nintendo isn’t having a conference this year. It seems to have abandoned that whole shebang for its own reasons, but its Nintendo Direct will be every bit as important as a conference and, in a sense, probably tailored a little better for the gamers glued to their monitors waiting to see what’s next.
I don’t expect Nintendo to unveil a new console. That’s simply not going to happen. I do expect Nintendo to reveal some new games. That will almost certainly happen. What we might get, if we’re lucky, is an insight into Nintendo’s future strategy. We might get a glimpse of the masterplan. Nintendo is hinting at a change -- what will that change be? Will it be a revolutionary change? Will it sell consumers its back catalogue via subscription, will it unveil something so strange that the internet will drown in an endless sea of five second GIFs? Will it just show the new Zelda and be done with it? It’s the mystery that creates the suspense. It’s the high stakes. It’s the drama. Nintendo could disappoint us with the most bland, pointless presentation in history but at this point we simply don’t know what to expect.
And that’s why it’s so exciting.