In the middle of last night, Nintendo announced at its investors meeting following the announcement of its FY2013 financials that it wouldn’t be holding a press conference at E3.
Nintendo of America announced its presence would consist of two small-scale events for media and retail partners respectively, whilst the public would get its fill through various Nintendo Directs in the run-in to E3. This is a good thing. “Why,” you ask? Well…
1) Nintendo Directs are Nintendo’s E3 nowadays
That sounds like an odd thing to say. But think about it. The last two big Nintendo Directs have brought E3-scale announcements. In January, it promised Super Smash Bros for 3DS and Wii U – first announced during Wii U’s announce at E3 2011 – as well as Mario Kart Wii U and a new 3D Mario would be unveiled at this year’s coming show. Nothing was shown, but the promise was made.
But hold the phone. That wasn’t all. In that Direct, Nintendo announced the follow-up to Monolith’s Xenoblade Chronicles, X, as well as Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem and a HD version to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker in the intrim whilst a true Zelda Wii U game was being made.
And then, we come to the one held last week for 3DS. A new Yoshi’s Island and Mario Party announced, plus the localisations of Bravely Default: Flying Fairy and Professor Layton and The Azran Legacies and Shin Megami Tensei IV dated for Europe and US. Oh and the little matter of a new Zelda for 3DS, which is also a follow up to one of the most beloved games of all time in A Link to the Past.
Nintendo’s efforts in bringing its announcements to the core since it began Nintendo Direct last year have been well received in comparison to its press conferences at E3 in recent years. With the exception of E3 2010 and the unveiling of 3DS, which was near pitch perfect, every Nintendo presser since 2007 has been sub-par to okay at best (E3 2009 was heading for sub-par until Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M saved it).
While arguments can be made for what audience Nintendo is going for with each E3 press conference or Nintendo Direct – be they specifically for the straight up hardcore Nintendo fans or for a wider audience – there is no doubting the Directs have opened up a new route for the company in how it presents new announcements.
Of course, even if Nintendo did decide to hold a press conference, E3 2013 was always somehow going to be a two-horse race.
2) Nintendo carries the ballistic missiles, whilst Sony and Microsoft prep the nukes
Even Nintendo would have to admit it would struggle with the unveil of two brand new HD consoles from Sony and Microsoft in Los Angeles. The next segment of PlayStation 4’s coming out party and the first proper showing of software from Microsoft and its next Xbox was always going to be a challenge to go up against, even with Wind Waker HD, Smash Bros, Mario 3D, Mario Kart Wii U for an already released system.
Even after February’s PlayStation Meeting and its GDC outpouring of info, we’ve yet to find out a lot more on PlayStation 4, including the actual bodywork of the system. And you can very much bet that we’ll still be left with a great ton of questions regarding the next Xbox when Microsoft finally unveils the system on May 21 as we come towards June 10 and MS’s own E3 presser.
It would have been a gigantic effort for Nintendo to overcome the noise of the other two first-party’s next-gen drumming as well as the efforts of knowing what next-gen efforts EA and Ubisoft will be showing in LA.
So does this mean that from here on out we’ll no longer be seeing a Nintendo E3 press conference, replaced instead by Nintendo Directs? That is something for it to decide. But as somebody put it on Twitter this morning just as the news broke, it enables them to save a good deal of money – seriously, the cost of setting up something like this is in the hundreds of thousands – and to do something awesome and rad for the Nintendo fans out there.
They may not provide moments on par with Miyamoto and The Twilight Princess in 2004, My Body is Ready from 2007 or Ravi Drums in 2008 – *shiver* – but Nintendo Directs are seemingly working a lot better right now than any E3 press conference ever could, at least in the modern era.
And for Nintendo, right now, that suits them just fine.