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Why Nintendo Direct Was Better Than E3

by Neal Ronaghan - June 23, 2012, 8:28 am PDT
Total comments: 24

And trying to figure out why Nintendo did it this way.

The excitement over Nintendo Direct is always feverish. People's hopes go off the rails, but for the most part, as long as you have tempered expectations, none of them have been disappointing. They have all featured some cool new thing or announcement, whether it's New Super Mario Bros. 2, the 3DS XL, or Mario Tennis Open.

The most recent Nintendo Direct had great information and news, including the reveal of the 3DS XL, more information about New Super Mario Bros. 2, Kirby's Dream Collection, eShop sales, and more. Hell, we got information about the next Super Smash Bros. game! All in all, it was a more exciting event than E3 2012. It was simple, focused, and delivered clearly. The most "jokey" thing anyone said was the one guy from Nintendo of America's comment about the zen garden in their Redmond office!

E3 2012 was almost entirely focused on the Wii U. The only good surprises weren't even at the press conference (Project P-100, Game & Wario). The press conference grounded to a halt at several moments. The end of the show left people confused and disappointed.

Hell, just this would have been better than the Nintendo Land fireworks!

On the other hand, there was a tangible excitement following this recent Nintendo Direct that I didn't feel as much around E3. E3 left our staff angry and disappointed. This Nintendo Direct left us excited and looking forward to the next few months.

So why did Nintendo show everything off this way?

"At E3 we had very specific announcements that we wanted to focus on. We had a lot of things to talk about, and we had to decide which things were most appropriate for each method of announcement," A Nintendo representative told IGN. "E3 is just one of the many opportunities for companies to make announcements, and we’re always looking for the most appropriate ways to both inform and surprise consumers."

To me, the clear reason is that they wanted their biggest stage, E3, to be focused on their new system, the Wii U. That makes sense, and while they likely should have included some of the 3DS details revealed last night in their 3DS Software Showcase at E3, they wanted to keep the focus on Wii U.

Why leave out Smash Bros. info? Honestly, who knows. The reveal of Namco Bandai working on the game could have likely saved the dismal press conference conclusion. Just have Sakurai and the two Namco Bandai producers pop in on a pre-recorded video and be like "Yo. We making Smash Bros. right now, dawg." I guess the likely scenario could have been that Sora and Namco Bandai were knee deep in working on Smash Bros., or that the Namco Bandai collaboration was only set in stone very recently.

It would have been cool to know about the DLC at E3...

The greater issue is that Nintendo doesn't seem to care about E3 in the same way that they have in the past, or even that the gaming community at large does. Their focus is more on this careful, controlled distribution of information. Having these bi-monthly Nintendo Directs allows them to control the messaging very, very carefully, and only tell their fans and reporters what they want them to know. It's the same reason why we see more Iwata Asks and less outlets interviewing developers. 

Nintendo wants to control the message, just like every company in the industry. The difference is that Nintendo does this in a way where they try to benefit their fans, instead of doling out exclusives to various outlets.

Nintendo Directs are exciting, partially because they seemingly come out of nowhere and partially because hype builds up but doesn't linger long enough to be crushingly disappointing. I, for one, look forward to late August, when the next Nintendo Direct lays out Nintendo's plans for September and October while teasing the future. And from this point forward, I'll learn to get used to this new method where news is steadily revealed instead of saved for one gigantic June blowout in California.

Talkback

xcwarriorJune 23, 2012

Until I hear about Monster Hunter or Star Fox, they've been mostly disappointments. Thursday night's had a few nice things, and it is nice they do them every 2 months, but they are so underutilitizing everything not Mario right now it's hard to get behind their gameplan.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusJune 23, 2012

It didn't help that E3 was just plain sloppy as hell. There is no point controlling "The Message" if you aren't going to say anything.

NOA and by extension Nintendo Japan is so deep in the PR rabbit hole they have forgotten they are about the games. You have serious issues when people say that NOE is doing a better job than you when it comes to getting games and releasing them. Firing Reggie would help as it is obvious he has be promoted far beyond his ability.

ThePermJune 23, 2012

NOA needs to be something beyond localization and "hype management"

I seriously hope Retro gets built up to the point it can make 3-4 games at a time like Rare used to and how Nintendo does. Nintendo makes like 15 at a time now though...so I hope they haven't developed "the producers" mentality.

Chozo GhostJune 23, 2012

Was Non-Specific Action Figure the one who aborted the confetti drop at E3?

DarthBradyJune 23, 2012

I agree with the headline here, I think these Nintendo direct videos are a fantastic idea. that is, if we keep getting them. I feel that if Nintendo could keep it's consumers "in the loop" like this on a routine basis, it could go a long way in growing brand-loyalty (not considering the single analog 3DS XL "issue" announced in the last one, but that is a different topic).


I'd personally like to see this take the place of the old Nintendo Power days, when we had things like "pak watch" and things alike. I just feel like back in those days, they were more open about what they were doing. 


A good example to compare: PlayStation. They post daily on their blog about their consoles, upcoming games, updates. etc = and answer questions right there in the comments personally. every day. also, the playstaion blog "share" feature where you can recommend ideas for games, updates, ect, and have others vote it up or down, to show EVERYONE including Sony, what people seem to want the most (or least). If Nintendo had their own version of this, it could really make an impact in my opinion. Imagine if they implemented such a thing and used the Nintendo direct videos as a feedback tool for them....

TennindoJune 23, 2012

the 3DS XL is a decent idea. Its better then making a full Remake of the handheld. So for ppl who cant see to well on a small screen can enjoy the big screen. I know some ppl who loved the DSi XL and I'm sure they will love the 3DS XL. Cuz they have trouble seeing small screens.

CericJune 23, 2012

Quote from: Tennindo

the 3DS XL is a decent idea. Its better then making a full Remake of the handheld. So for ppl who cant see to well on a small screen can enjoy the big screen. I know some ppl who loved the DSi XL and I'm sure they will love the 3DS XL. Cuz they have trouble seeing small screens.

Except for Dr.Metts who wants 3DS Micro.

broodwarsJune 23, 2012

I think the difference between Nintendo's E3 Conference and the last Nintendo Direct is that, at E3, Nintendo didn't know what their message was.  They took the shotgun approach: randomly throwing out announcements and footage of what they thought "everyone" would have an interest in.  There was no real message or organization.  By contrast, I don't think the last Nintendo Direct was incredible either, but Nintendo clearly knew what their message was and stuck to it.  They focused on the games that their enthusiast audience would want to know more about, and they made announcements (like the 3DS Virtual Console event next month) that they knew "we" would want to hear.

DuskblaydeJune 23, 2012

" Nintendo wants to control the message, just like every company in the industry. The difference is that Nintendo does this in a way where they try to benefit their fans, instead of doling out exclusives to various outlets."

Exactly.

"I'll learn to get used to this new method where news is steadily revealed instead of saved for one gigantic June blowout in California."

I imagine we all will.

Bman87301June 23, 2012

Quote from: ThePerm

I seriously hope Retro gets built up to the point it can make 3-4 games at a time like Rare used to and how Nintendo does. Nintendo makes like 15 at a time now though...so I hope they haven't developed "the producers" mentality.

3-4 games like Nintendo does? Um, you do realize that Retro is a part of Nintendo so any game they make would be one of those 3-4?

Nintendo is a publisher, while Retro is just one of several developers that Nintendo owns (along with EAD, Intelligent Systems, R&D2, etc.) If you're going to look at Retro and Nintendo as separate entities, then Nintendo doesn't make any games at all-- they just handle the publishing.

As for Rare, they were 49% owned by Nintendo -- only 51% of Rare's funding and control came elsewhere. So on their own, one could argue they only really made 1-2 games at a time. It should also be noted that Rare was also notorious for over-stretching those resources and regularly missed deadlines and would almost always go over-budget which is what let to Nintendo parting ways with them in the first place.

So, hoping for 3-4 simultaneous projects from Retro isn't realistic.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorJune 24, 2012

http://pietriots.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/nintendoconferences.jpg?w=640&h=480

LittleIrvesJune 24, 2012

To DarthBrady's point about the Playstation blog and the "Share" feature that allows the community to recommend game ideas: That kind of thing is what likely made Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale a reality. "I want a Smash Bros but with Sony characters!" a thousand people wrote in. Sony exec: Let's make a Smash Bros clone! The people want it! And now there's one more uninventive game in the world. I say let the game designers design games, and let the players play them. Personally I don't want the same people who comment on game websites coming up with the ideas for games I'll be playing (no offense). Feedback and transparency is great from a company, but let's not make the boundary too permeable.

I think there are better ways for them to dispense information than by trickling it out over time. By constantly using the Nintendo Directs they never really build any hype; they just keep things at a constant yawn-inducing level that often results in little surprise for viewers, or at best a "Wow that's neat" reaction.

If they want to trickle out information, I'd rather have them do it at scheduled times throughout the year so that fans always have something to look forward to.  Not this "Oh, BTW, Nintendo Direct in two days LOLZ" stuff.

The Nintendo Directs have been on a set schedule, but they don't officially announce them until right before for some reason.

Chozo GhostJune 24, 2012

Quote from: UncleBob

http://pietriots.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/nintendoconferences.jpg?w=640&h=480

No one single event has been able to top E3, but I think everything since E3 including Nintendo Direct collectively more than tops E3, and between now and launch there's going to be a lot of more stuff happening, so in the end even though E3 may be a significant single event, it still accounts for very little of the whole.

rlse9June 24, 2012

The problem with their approach is that the only people that really care about and pay attention to Nintendo Direct are the people who are already Nintendo fans.  The rest of the gaming world saw a pretty pathetic E3 and has already lost interest in the WiiU and probably didn't know or care about this Nintendo Direct.  Not sure that much of what was announced would have made much of a difference in people's opinions but it couldn't have hurt.

LouieturkeyJune 24, 2012

Quote from: Chozo

Quote from: UncleBob

http://pietriots.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/nintendoconferences.jpg?w=640&h=480

No one single event has been able to top E3, but I think everything since E3 including Nintendo Direct collectively more than tops E3, and between now and launch there's going to be a lot of more stuff happening, so in the end even though E3 may be a significant single event, it still accounts for very little of the whole.

Weren't you saying that their E3 event was a failure and they didn't get the message out that the Wii U was a new system, not a Wii peripheral?  Now their strategy of releasing tiny bits of info at frequent intervals (which they pretty much said they would do before E3) is a good idea?  I'm confused.

Chozo GhostJune 25, 2012

Quote from: Louieturkey

Weren't you saying that their E3 event was a failure and they didn't get the message out that the Wii U was a new system, not a Wii peripheral?  Now their strategy of releasing tiny bits of info at frequent intervals (which they pretty much said they would do before E3) is a good idea?  I'm confused.

E3 failed to live up to the hype. Maybe the reason for that isn't so much E3's fault as it was our fault for expecting too much out of it. Does that make more sense?

AttentiveDistractionJune 25, 2012

Personally, I think Nintendo's trying to break away from E3.
On more than one occasion they've talked about how they didn't really prefer having to "battle it out" in presentations with Sony and Microsoft. They realized that if they present something big one year, the next year Microsoft and Sony try to fight them on the same field.

True enough that competition can only be good for business, but not when you're facing juggernauts like Sony and MS. Sony and MS can constantly lose money on expensive products that yields little profit due to how their business is more than just in video games: Meaning they can double-up on what Nintendo does and not care if they're at a loss - which always makes them look like the better company for consumers who want a bigger bang for their buck (Kind of like what SEGA tried to do with their consoles... but they weren't business juggernauts like Sony and MS...).

That said, it would only make sense that Nintendo start to wean themselves off of e3.
Anywhere that has direct competition with either of the other two could only be problematic in the long run for them (anything Nintendo can do, Sony and MS promise they can do "better"). If they keep their "best" (perspective-wise) ideas and news exclusive towards an isolated audience - there's much less to compete with.
AKA: Your consumers are no longer comparing what you have to show in relation to what the others have to show: Now they're just looking at what YOU'RE selling.

Notice how they kept pushing their website towards people even INSIDE e3?
It really feels like they want to move everyone away from those competitive marketing presentations... create a real Nintendo-only community (Kind of like Miiverse: doesn't connect with twitter and facebook... it IS its own twitter and facebook... inside your WiiU console, that is) - while still spreading the word out to those outside to join them on the inside.

Honestly, this is just speculation, but I think it's one that should be considered more...

ejamerJune 25, 2012

Quote from: UncleBob

http://pietriots.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/nintendoconferences.jpg?w=640&h=480

One thing that strikes me about this image is the background and how it illustrates what expectations are like for the different events.


Nintendo Direct: An online presentation that showcases a few "coming soon" announcements gamers might be interested in over the course of 20-30 minutes.


E3: The biggest annual gaming event in North America where all major platform holders and many notable software developers make key announcements about their plans for the coming year, spending many thousands of dollars (often more) on a week-long attempt to captivate the audience of influential media and industry personalities.


Maybe that is why Nintendo Direct exceeded expectations for many and came across as the "better" event.  Or maybe it's just because Nintendo spent too much of their E3 time talking about (a) old games already playable on other systems, (b) stuff that we already knew about, (c) casual games that we just don't care about.

Ian SaneJune 25, 2012

I expect a lot out of the last E3 before a new system launches.  I never really expect much from Nintendo Direct.  Like I assume we'll find out some nice new info but it won't be megaton stuff.  Traditionally E3 is the time where the big stuff drops.  Nintendo can only pleasantly surprise me with a Nintendo Direct, while with E3 there are expectations.

If Nintendo wants to get out of E3 to avoid competition with Sony and MS, they're fucking idiots.  They won't expand their audience if they just stick to Nintendo specific shows.  They can't just live in their little Nintendo bubble and pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist.  They said the Wii didn't compete with the PS3 or Xbox 360.  That was bullshit.  Nintendo doesn't choose their competition, it just happens.  They compete with companies like Apple that don't even make videogame systems entirely because the iPhone has games made for it.  Nintendo's announcements compete with Sony's and Microsoft's no matter fucking what.  If they just stick to Nintendo-only events then that is just going to help Sony and MS because they'll get the E3 coverage with the gaming media and Nintendo won't.  Nintendo Direct will only get Nintendo fanbase coverage.  At an event like E3 Nintendo is treated like an equal to Sony and MS and their announcements have a better chance of reaching all gamers, not just Nintendo ones.

I think a big reason Nintendo is so irrelevant with core gamers is because they distance themselves from the rest of the industry.  That's why they were kiddy before and they're casual now.  They act like they're their own thing and are thus treated like outsiders.  If anything they should demonstrate that they're part of the same scene, perhaps emphasize that they were synonomous with videogames while Sony was releasing shitty SNES games based on Cliffhanger.  They saved the industry, created a whole generation of gamers and now act like they're this seperate thing... and then wonder why core gamers don't give them the time of day.  If they want core gamers back, distancing themselves from E3 is exactly what they SHOULDN'T do.

StogiJune 25, 2012

Quote from: Ian

If Nintendo wants to get out of E3 to avoid competition with Sony and MS, they're fucking idiots.

Actually, all the biggest companies hold their own shows. And, people who have consistently gone to E3 say its in decline. So now maybe the perfect time to bail.

Let's think about this logistically and realistically. What has E3 ever really done for Nintendo? Almost every year, Nintendo's show never lives up to hype and then gets compared to the point of nauseam to the other presentations. Then you have thousands of journalists (almost always bias; either towards Nintendo or against) excitedly tired and crankily happy waiting in hour long lines to play 15 minutes of game they've been writing about for a year and then after playing it, they write an impression that can make or break a general video game enthusiasts hype.

Now let's compare that to something where Nintendo controls the whole shebangabang. They can have it whenever they want, which ideally is probably not the beginning of June. They can have as many as they want; why not have it twice a year? Four times a year? They can invite who they want; for instance, reducing the amount of journalists so Nintendo can provide more time and content to be examined for each journalist. And they can choose to NOT have a presentation after their competitors; because direct comparisons when it comes to Nintendo aren't healthy. It mostly becomes a feverish bitch fest with a thin line of civility but at the pitch a dog whines.

So really, they'd be stupid not to step out of it.

Ian SaneJune 25, 2012

Quote from: Stogi

Quote from: Ian

If Nintendo wants to get out of E3 to avoid competition with Sony and MS, they're fucking idiots.

Actually, all the biggest companies hold their own shows. And, people who have consistently gone to E3 say its in decline. So now maybe the perfect time to bail.

Let's think about this logistically and realistically. What has E3 ever really done for Nintendo? Almost every year, Nintendo's show never lives up to hype and then gets compared to the point of nauseam to the other presentations. Then you have thousands of journalists (almost always bias; either towards Nintendo or against) excitedly tired and crankily happy waiting in hour long lines to play 15 minutes of game they've been writing about for a year and then after playing it, they write an impression that can make or break a general video game enthusiasts hype.

Now let's compare that to something where Nintendo controls the whole shebangabang. They can have it whenever they want, which ideally is probably not the beginning of June. They can have as many as they want; why not have it twice a year? Four times a year? They can invite who they want; for instance, reducing the amount of journalists so Nintendo can provide more time and content to be examined for each journalist. And they can choose to NOT have a presentation after their competitors; because direct comparisons when it comes to Nintendo aren't healthy. It mostly becomes a feverish bitch fest with a thin line of civility but at the pitch a dog whines.

So really, they'd be stupid not to step out of it.

That comes across a little too much like "Nintendo might look bad in direct comparison" and Nintendo can't be scared of that.  Nintendo should be in a position so that they would want to invite direct comparison where THEY will look superior.  It isn't like Nintendo is some great company that is unfairly picked on.  I find that does somewhat happen but for the most part they bring it on themselves.  Is the Wii hardware noticably inferior to the other systems?  Did Nintendo refuse to go online when everyone else did?  Did they stick with cartridges when everyone else switched to discs?  YES!  And any criticism that came about from those decisions was perfectly valid.

Since the N64 era, despite the numerous obvious and avoidable mistakes Nintendo has made, they have been consistent at making great games and the reviews reflect that.  When comparing the best Nintendo games to the best Sony or MS games, Nintendo often does quite well in direct comparison.  Go to GameRankings and look at the top rated games off all time for all systems and companies, a direct comparison, and Nintendo has the top THREE games.  Nintendo does fine when they do a good job.  They just look like jackasses when they nail their own dick to the floor.

The whole "we're not competing" thing comes across as cowardly and weak.  Nintendo avoids direct comparison because they deep down know they'll look bad.  But why does it have to be that way?  Instead of ducking the competition, why not put yourself in a position where you will come across well in direct comparison?  Most of Nintendo's shortcomings are avoidable and self-inflected.  Quit shooting yourself in the foot and then you can make Sony and MS look bad in direct comparison.  But instead it's like Nintendo doesn't want to reveal their specs, for example, because it will look bad.  Well then make sure the specs don't look bad!  If you're scared about looking bad at E3, make sure to have a good show, which usually means having exciting product to demonstrate at the show.  What Nintendo is effectively admitting is that deep down they know that they are inadequate.

We see this with their games sometimes too.  Know why some games with no real motion control usage beyond waggle don't have classic controller support?  It's because the direct comparison will make the motion controls look bad.  Except if the motion controls suck so much that you don't want to put them up to direct comparison then you SHOULDN'T BOTHER IN THE FIRST PLACE!  If Nintendo feels they have to avoid the direct comparision then they're making the wrong decision.  The right decision will hold up to comparison.

Focusing on Nintendo Direct over E3 is Nintendo avoiding addressing their own shortcomings and mistakes.  Better to assume that E3 is just a big bully that should be avoided than to admit that they've occasionally made a poor impression at E3 because of poor decisions and mistakes they've made.  They're the ones that failed to excite with the Wii U at E3.  Whether it's because of specifically their presentation or their approach to the console itself, it is THEIR own doing.  It's not like they had an amazing show that the E3 crowd unfairly shit on.  But God forbid they admit fault.  Nope E3 is just hopeless so we'll go with Nintendo Direct and winning back gamers was hopeless so we went after casuals.  We, Nintendo, never make any dumb decisions or screw anything up and the whole world conspires against us.

StogiJune 25, 2012

I'm just saying, if you step back and look at it as objectively as possible then really no one comes away from E3 without a bit of shit on their loafers. And I'm not talking about only Nintendo. It's just how that place works. Yes E3 can and does excite people, but that's mostly because of what's announced and not how it's announced. The way I see it, Nintendo should bail on it all together.

Stupid decisions and mistakes aside, I think E3 just exasperates the gaming media into being judge and jury. And to your waggle point, you can have the general media shit on it, but it still becomes a huge hit. So why is Nintendo slogging through the mud to excite a base that shits on them at every moment, justified or not? They should go it alone. 15 minutes of a game isn't enough to understand it. Maybe it can get you excited, just like how an appetizer can make you want dinner. But it's not conducive for Nintendo, period. It's just not. That all or nothing shot with the gaming press is not worth it, especially considering just how much information is being pushed to us, the audience. It's easy to get lost in it all.

Nintendo Direct is, hopefully, their solution. It's concise, to the point, covers all territories and generally sells games well. And that's all you really need.

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