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How much does E3 really matter to Nintendo? [roundtable]
 
Since I took a long break from video game journalism and discussion before E3, I've been listening to a lot of podcasts and reading impressions about the convention. Everyone seems to agree that Nintendo really blew it at E3 and has tons of ideas about what they would have done to improve both Nintendo's big presentation(s) and their presence at the show in general. It kind of amazes how angry the rants are. Maybe it's because people flew out to LA for the show but I can't imagine my blood boiling the way some people seem to have reacted.

That said, I agree with some of the ideas I've heard and I thought some of them on my own, like thinking Nintendo should have started with Nintendo Land and finished with Pikmin 3 to please the "hardcore" gamers a little more or spending less time on Arkham City when it's old hat at this point.

But, does it really matter? Suppose, for example, that Pikmin 3 had never been discussed before E3. Would it being unveiled and giving the viewers a more exciting surprise actually matter for Nintendo's sales in anyway?

Or a common point I've heard is that Project P-100 should have been shown off during the presentation. Maybe so, but isn't it irrelevant at this point? In this day and age, we're not limited to big conferences for our news. Everyone who cared to know found out about Project P-100 literally minutes after the presentation ended. Does anyone think sales of the game or the Wii U in general are tied to whether the game was unveiled at the presentation or moments later?

Another complaint is that Nintendo didn't just make mention of a big game that will coming well after launch, like they did last year with Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. This announcement to me was completely meaningless. Everyone knew that Smash Bros. was eventually coming for at least Wii U, just as we know that 3D Mario, Zelda and probably Metroid are going to be coming down the line. I honestly don't think people are holding off on buying the Wii U because Nintendo didn't officially confirm those are in the pipeline.

Another complaint I've heard is that New Super Mario Bros. 2 should have been playable the whole convention instead of only being available the last day. NSMB2 is going to sell millions, guaranteed. I honestly think it won't make a lick of difference whether it was playable 3 days, 1 day, or 0 days. The game doesn't get its sales from E3 exposure.

I do think that E3 plays a role in gaining exposure for the video game industry in general (although not nearly what it used to), I'm sure there's back door dealings that I'm not aware of that might have a big impact, and smaller developers certainly can get some time in the sun that they might otherwise not see. But for something as big as Nintendo I think the importance of the event has been significantly reduced, particularly in how it will affect launch interest and sales.

Do you agree?

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Posted: 06/19/12, 04:44:50  - Edited by 
 on: 06/19/12, 04:45:02
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E3 is pretty much the Super Bowl of the gaming world. It's an event, not just a convention, and Nintendo has had some legendary moments. People were expecting something legendary at E3 from Nintendo this year since they have a brand new console launching at the end of the year. But it didn't happen. So it's understandable that people are upset. Is it the end of the world for Nintendo or Wii U? No not even close. Wii U is actually going to have a lot of strong software at launch. They just did a poor job of communicating that. I think E3 does matter to Nintendo but probably not as much as it matters to Nintendo fans who go into a tizzy in anticipation just about every year when E3 comes around.
Posted: 06/19/12, 05:01:05
Nintendo's new policy for only announcing games that are 6 months away from release is restrictive and it can hurt them at big conferences, but sometimes it does work for them. For example. this year, not much new was announced, but remember the year when NSMB Wii and Mario Galaxy 2 were announced at the same conference? It goes both ways. I'd bet on next year having big games announced at E3 for Nintendo.
Posted: 06/19/12, 07:12:06  - Edited by 
 on: 06/19/12, 07:13:29
Jargon said:
Another complaint I've heard is that New Super Mario Bros. 2 should have been playable the whole convention instead of only being available the last day. NSMB2 is going to sell millions, guaranteed. I honestly think it won't make a lick of difference whether it was playable 3 days, 1 day, or 0 days. The game doesn't get its sales from E3 exposure.
No, but other games might, smaller games might, as you yourself admitted. And while NSMB2 itself might not benefit much from being playable at E3 in terms of sales, the fact that it could draw people to and retain them in Nintendo's booth might have an impact on whether people hang around long enough to play those smaller demos and write about them.
Posted: 06/19/12, 07:41:54  - Edited by 
 on: 06/19/12, 07:42:19
I think it matters. Especially if you consider that if Nintendo has a weak E3 and if one of the other companies happened to have a strong E3 (they didn't) people would be talking less about Nintendo products and more about their competitors. Even in a vacuum though I still think a weak showing hurts them. We all know that the big hitters are in the rotation and it's just a matter of time but seeing something about them gives you a more concrete feeling about those actual titles.

Then there is the issue where what was expected can hype people up and get them thinking more about the Wii U. When Brawl was first shown off the trailer had a bunch of cool reveals: Snake, ZSS, Meta Knight, Pit etc. That gives people a lot more to talk about than just the mysterious Smash Bros on Wii. And if people are talking about that game the console is on their mind more and it's more likely they consider picking it up.

Before the Wii launched I believe we knew about Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3, and Smash Bros. That's a hell of a lot more compelling reason to buy in to the console than just Wii Sports and the Wii version of Zelda.
Posted: 06/19/12, 11:14:39
Reggie said Nintendo uses their e3 hype meter to help factor the price of their systems. Thisis why the 3ds was priced really high. Based off this law, the Wii U will be modestly priced because reception was not that strong compared to when 3ds was announced.
Posted: 06/19/12, 13:54:45
my 2 cents on where I think Nintendo was coming from:

Nintendo thought the most important thing at E3 was to show off the new system and what it can do. They would deliver this information and reinforce it when given a chance.
Nintendo wants to deliver information on the system and not confuse it. They believed that showcasing 3 different games would keep it simple: Pikmin 3 for core fans, New Super Mario Wii U for general audience, and Nintendo Land for the casual gamers.
Nintendo knows that competitors are watching and will be showing off & possibly releasing a more powered system next year. Holding back on upcoming titles will help reduce the chance of direct competition titles scenario ie Zelda announced for 2013/2014 & MS works on a Zelda Killer, Mario Kart announced and Sony announces another IP Karting game.

From a development standpoint we know that Nintendo worked on the hardware for the dev kits up until just a few months ago. We know it takes months more to years to fully develop a game. Not to mention developers are picking up on a new environment, some designers are working in new territory with HD, and further design considerations / functionality have to be worked out for the 2nd screen. Most likely we won't be seeing many titles until year 2 or 3 of the system.
Posted: 06/19/12, 14:22:18
It's hard for me to say. I personally think E3 is a big circus that doesn't really make a difference for any of the companies. I firmly believe any announcement that actually matters (i.e. a new console) could just as easily be shown off in a press release with some complimentary videos.
Posted: 06/19/12, 14:26:03
@Stephen
Funny enough the Wii U is looking to have a much stronger launch line up than the rather anemic Wii launch at this time (and yes, this is assuming ZombiU is the next Red Steel until proven otherwise), that's with the latter launching with a game originally developed on the Gamecube.

On the one hand it's nice to know about the future, on the other it's nevertheless the future and not what's coming down the pipeline soon and I always prefer people get hyped for something they can play within the next 6 months or less than something releasing over a year from now. Anyone still hyped for Last Guardian and Final Fantasy XIII Versus? How about all those people who claimed they bought an Xbox (the original) just for Perfect Dark?
Posted: 06/19/12, 16:31:32  - Edited by 
 on: 06/19/12, 16:33:23
I think this particular E3 should have mattered to Nintendo more than most. With a new console launching in less than six months, they should have taken this opportunity to really get people excited, to get people talking about it, and to build hype, and in that respect I think they failed. Obviously E3 is about more than just surprising reveals, but with a new console it's especially important to get people excited ahead of time.

Before E3 began, I already knew I would be buying a Wii U, as I'm sure many of us on NW did, and I assumed I'd be buying it with Pikmin 3 and a new Mario game. I expected E3 to really get me excited for the system, and it's launch line-up, and a taste of what's to come. A game I played last year like Batman: Arkham City doesn't excite me. An over-exposed series with a game coming out on another system WITHIN THREE MONTHS of the Wii U, like New Super Mario Bros., doesn't excite me. A mini-game collection like Nintendo Land doesn't excite me. Will I buy these games? With the exception of Arkham City, probably. But considering that most people are not huge Nintendo fans who were already sold, I don't know how excited the general population is for the Wii U.

Will these things hurt the Wii U in the long run? Maybe not. But I don't see how getting people excited for your system could possibly be a bad thing, and honestly, I'm not much more excited than I was before E3, and I think that's a problem. I know Nintendo has changed their way of doing things and they're only showing games from six months out, but I think they should have shown some games from what's to come. When I buy a console I'm buying a console for the next five years, and showing only games that are coming out in November is a bit disappointing. I know Zelda and Metroid and Smash are coming, but I still wish they had shown a taste.

But to the question at hand, how much does Nintendo care about E3? Probably not that much. People get excited for E3, but people get excited for their Nintendo Direct events, and their spring and fall events, and whatever else, so Nintendo doesn't need to show off everything at E3 -- they can show things throughout the year when people aren't also focusing on Sony and MS. Is that a good decision? I don't know, but it certainly seems that's the way Nintendo is going.
Posted: 06/19/12, 16:58:53
I can only speak for myself in that I wanted to be sold on Wii U at Nintendo's E3 conference.

Sadly I wasn't.

Perhaps that will change with future events and hands-on from gamers.

(Gui, this is your cue to accuse me of never wanting one.)
Posted: 06/19/12, 17:07:29
@New Forms

Your claims that you wanted one were never credible, no.
Posted: 06/19/12, 17:19:49
@New Forms

Yea...it was obvious you never wanted one.
Posted: 06/19/12, 18:31:31
Oh hey, this discussion. Again.

To the question posed in the OP... I think it matters, but not for the reasons that the online gaming community thinks.

Looking at some of the press and popular impressions of the Wii U, it's clear that there's confusion as to just what the thing IS. That's a pretty significant misfire.
Posted: 06/19/12, 18:52:53
@Kal-El814
Yeah, I'm beginning to think they should have just called it Wii 2. Speaks for itself.
Posted: 06/19/12, 19:29:24
I don't think Nintendo really cares about E3, and thats fine. Like it has been said a few times in here, a conference doesn't sell stuff. They made just as much money off of E3 as the other companies have so far.

And while the P-100 thing was confusing at the time ("why wait?"), anyone watching Spike got to see it near instantly, and obviously folks online found out about it soon after, too. Also, I think our ears kinda perked up when they said "we have a new game coming over here right now, unannounced, and never before seen or discussed." That might actually carry MORE weight in some circles than being nestled between Nintendo Land and 3DS news.

E3 might be the biggest thing of the year, but Nintendo knows what they're doing. People might get grumpy that they aren't being shown "the World," sure, but when Launch Day hits and there is a new game out there that you've been waiting for, you're going to be in line, or showing up soon enough.

Wooo, Nintendo!
Posted: 06/19/12, 23:22:52
@CPA Wei

I'm just saying that if they had shown some more projects for the future all it would have done (assuming they looked good) would have gotten people like me who will pick a Wii U up at some point thinking about getting it earlier.

I would say the reason this launch is so strong is because this current generation's games are in full swing as such a lot of the content I have access to regardless and so do a lot of other people. What is the actual exclusive launch content anyway? NSMBU, Zombiu, Pikmin 3, Rayman Legends (?) and Nintendoland. I think those were the notable ones. I am sorry but I would take the Wii's lineup of just Twilight Princess and Wii Sports over all of those. Personal preference and all that.
Posted: 06/19/12, 23:42:01
I don't think Nintendo like E3. They like to do things their own way, and E3 doesn't usually let them do that. Not only that, but more and more they are keeping things hidden until a few months before release. I actually think this is a good idea, it puts more focus on their current products instead of showing things that may be out in a year. Then if a game gets pushed back, people won't see it as a delay since they never knew about it. But maybe I like this only because I'm the same way, I like to live in the present instead of always looking to the future.

And that's why I don't like E3 in general. Why does there need to be an event where all announcements are saved up for one week of the year? I'd rather things just come as they are ready. More and more, it doesn't seem like this big event is beneficial to anyone, companies or consumers alike.
Posted: 06/19/12, 23:42:20
@Stephen

But if there is a good-looking project two years down the line, why magically buy a Wii U *NOW* if the only thing you care about is the good-looking project two years down the line?

Flawed logic/promises, surely. Its not just you.
Posted: 06/20/12, 00:11:48
@Mr_Mustache

Because there are other games I do care about. NSMBU looks fun and Pikmin 3 did look great too. As of right now though, those are the only 2 games I am interested in. For the Wii I had about 5 titles I was really looking forward to so I had no apprehension in buying it.
Posted: 06/20/12, 00:31:29
@Stephen

If there are other games that you care about now, you should get a Wii U when it launches. You KNOW there will be good games; why do you need to SEE proof of life? Project CARS is coming. Thats 3.
Posted: 06/20/12, 00:50:23
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