Applauding Nintendo for Stepping Off Center Stage

Tom Mc Shea praises Nintendo for calling off its E3 press conference and urges other companies to follow suit.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo is a hedonistic display of excess. Companies filter their beguiling messaging through self-aggrandizing charades, and we're all too happy to go along for the ride. We've grown enamored with this bombastic propaganda, we crave it; so when a company squashes our expectations, we raise our hackles. Nintendo, whose press conferences were the highlight of so many prior E3s, is now going in a new direction. No longer will Reggie Fils-Aime exchange cringe-worthy banter with one of his pliant subordinates, nor will Shigeru Miyamoto exude playful exuberance. The book has been closed on Nintendo's dog-and-pony festivities, and it's one small but important step toward reimagining this tired exposition.

When Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo outline their plans, everyone listens, because these three companies hold considerable sway over the future of the industry. And it's at their once-a-year press conferences where they reveal the bulk of their secrets. New hardware, accessories, games, business models, partnerships, and more are announced to the sequestered masses. But what is it that draws us to these events? Is it the discussion of sales data always delivered through a rose-tinted lens? Or maybe it's the impromptu dance numbers and workout routines? How about stilted teleprompter reading? Press conferences are an awkward tableau whose sole redeeming quality--game announcements--is shrouded behind a veil of painful marketing speak that only serves to puff up the presenter.

Nintendo should be commended for breaking this cycle. Instead of herding media members to a far-away locale, pouring copious amounts of time and money into an elaborate production, they can instead record a much more subdued presentation that cuts straight to the heart of why we so eagerly follow this event. A simple video showing upcoming Wii U games would be more than enough to excite those who bleed every color of the Pikmin rainbow, and we won't have to sit through the endless monologues that so often plague full-blown press conferences. Nintendo has shown they can deliver speedy announcements with the semi-regular Nintendo Direct series, so there's no reason to think they're taking a backseat at E3 just because they're eschewing the press conference format.

Press conferences are an awkward tableau whose sole redeeming quality is shrouded behind a veil of painful marketing speak.

The timing of this change is the lone issue that could cause Nintendo grief. Wii U sales are slumping, and not only has Nintendo failed to release the self-published games that were due within the launch window, but it has done a lousy job of courting third-party developers. So the most pessimistic could see Nintendo's retreat as a sign of weakness. It has so little to show, or is so intimidated by its competitors' entries into the next generation, that it's fleeing from the spotlight. When leaders make a decision, after all, it's because they're smart and forward thinking. But Nintendo, who has been playing catch-up since the Wii train derailed years ago, isn't allowed to buck tradition without meeting resistance. It's an unfair accusation, and one that Nintendo will be branded with until it delivers on the promises it has yet to fulfill.

Although Nintendo's stance is a bold one, there is still much more work that has to be done. E3 has grown fat and lazy with all the attention that has been heaped on it. Games, the reason we're so invested in this industry to begin with, should be the most important aspect of this annual event. But the inherent fun of checking out an expansive slate of upcoming experiences has been overshadowed by companies that continually try to dazzle our senses through other methods. Loud music blares through the convention center, scantily clad women patrol booths, and oversized television screens play prerendered trailers on a never-ending loop. Although such problems don't seem like a concern to the average person, they are. The suffocating stimuli hinders one's ability to think, so publishers are hurting their own chance for thoughtful coverage by using a megaphone to blast their message.

The video game industry is built on trends, so often a company currently playing second fiddle is happy to follow the leader. Now that Nintendo has decided to pass on the press conference shenanigans, maybe its competitors will think seriously about the advantages to leaving the pomp and circumstance behind. Sony's reveal of Uncharted 4 would be just as exciting without the gasps from its captive audience, and Microsoft would be able to show off the next iteration of the Kinect in an environment better suited to camera-controlled gaming. The press conferences are already streamed across the globe, so people are already able to share the experience together, and the benefit of a live audience is offset by the massive problems such productions create. Streams lag or stop entirely when demands are so high, and coordinating such an event takes more planning and money than its worth. These companies would be better off doing small-scale productions where the games, not the spectacle, bask in the spotlight, and it would make the entire experience more palatable for those who have had their fill of talking heads.

E3 has grown fat and lazy with all the attention that has been heaped on it.

Press conferences are just one area in need of renovation. Just imagine if one developer scaled back the desperate opulence of its booth. No more intimidating constructions or distracting lights vying for your attention, and no more beautiful models hired as dehumanizing eye candy. Instead, there would be consoles and games lined up in a neat and orderly fashion, and people from development teams would be on hand to answer any questions. If one publisher were to take this route, just one, and still had crowds on hand, maybe the rest would realize how silly their expensive and exploitative efforts were. The only reason that a company would need unnecessary fluff to attract attention is if its games weren't good enough to be worthy on their own, so publishers would be shamed into having a more straightforward approach lest we realize their lack of confidence.

The industry is going through a transition. There's no telling how this next console cycle will be met, or what new business models will be used to squeeze every penny from eager customers. But it's clear that companies have been taking themselves way too seriously and they need to take a step back. The Electronic Entertainment Expo is a time for the world to see how the industry functions, so it's important that we put our best foot forward. Nintendo has made a wise decision to forgo its customary press conference for something more grounded than what we'd expect, and we can only hope that other companies take strides in the coming years to ensure that games take center stage.

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2028 comments
dangk
dangk

They don't have time to make a show that needs at least a month preparation. They are hard at work making games.....

dr_jashugan
dr_jashugan

Hmm, maybe is JUST because Nintendo has NOTHING SPECIAL to show us at E3 2013. :-\

Shadowmax889
Shadowmax889

People here are just stupid Nintendo IS going to E3, they will not have a big press conference, but they will have saller ones for the press and the developers, so the mesage is going to be there, they are using the Nintendo direct series of videos to the gamers and the gaming media. They still have presence on the flor with demos and all. I think is samart for them to not have a big event where the mesage can be misinterpreted.

By the way, to all those Nintendo haters, and stick this on your pity heads:

NINTENDO IS NOT GOING, AND NEVER WILL BE GOING, 3RD PARTY, NOT EVEN HANDHELD ONLY. THEY PREFER GOING OUT OF VIDEOGAME INDUSTRY RATHER THAN THAT

have a nice day

gamer6130
gamer6130

i feel Nintendo should just stick with handheld their doing such a good job with it, its doing way way better than their consoles and like people said most of their great games came out on their handheld. I my self have not played any of Nintendo's consoles since gamecube, but their handhelds i have every generation. it might be more profiting to them if they devote all their attention on their handheld. lets face it the wii might have been revolutionary, but the wii u not so much. 

razama
razama

What I stated is not an opinion - it is a fact. "Nintendo's profitablity does not correlate with the amount of enjoyment its current products provide"  What you said in your previous post were facts too, provided they are correct - which I'll just go ahead and assume they are. However, just because a company is making money, doesn't mean people everywhere are enjoying their products. It is just an assumption, one that I can easily understand that someone would make, but isn't one you can accurately derive from a company's profitablity. Zanga made a lot of money at one point - did that mean people love the way their games were? Activision makes tons of money too. Are people satisfied with how their games became more and more stale uninnovative? 


When Nintendo makes money obviously that is going to come in part because there are people who enjoy their products, but it (making money) is not a direct correlation to their customer satisfaction. There are many companies that have great bottom lines with horrible customer satisfaction - many cable or satilite providers for example. Nintendo can be making great business choices, but that does not reflect how much people are enjoying their WiiUs or how much people want one. The only real indicator of how much people are enjoying their WiiUs would be to poll people who already have one or have played one. The way to accurately judge how much the WiiU is in demand is to look at its sales numbers... which speaks for itself.

kbaily
kbaily

Nintendo is so horrible.

They don't nickel and dime us with on disc DLC.

They don't force my console or game to be online all the time.

They don't punish me for buying used games with stupid online codes.

They don't make me pay to do something everyone else does for free. (XBLA)

Their systems are backward compatable.

Yeah what a horrible company. Why can't they just go third party so I can play Smash Bros. on my Xbox with all the homophobic teenagers like it should be and download NES games to my Iphone so I don't have to buy a "baby" device that disgraces my manhood?  Why can't they do those mentioned things to be more "hardcore?"

vatorus
vatorus

Who's Tom McShea?  Is he just an author for G-Spot?  Why would anyone care what he thinks?  Does he run a game studio?  Has he worked on any AAA titles?  I don't get it....why would we care if he applauds Nintendo?  Are you seriously telling me that he's just a nobody with an opinion and they post an article about it?

vatorus
vatorus

BWAAAHHHAHAHAHAHA, because Nintendo has nothing to tallk about or show...they are dying....

instigator81
instigator81

First, what SEGA games are you talking about.  I think Nintendo games could survive on other hardware but at some point that have to branch out.  Nintendo can't keep selling nostalgia because at this point that is all they are selling.  And just because you have the money to do it, if a business decision is bad, no company is going to do it.  I'm not saying making consoles is bad business at this point in time but it seems to be heading that way.  Wii U seems like it is going to bomb relatively speaking.  If they fail after that, two bad consoles in a row would be unacceptable to continue on with the console business.

Mkeegs79
Mkeegs79

Yeah but that time that it gets in those non-gaming publications is still impactful and Nitnendo needs to to really tell how many confuse that the Wii U is not an extension of the Wii. E3 is one of the few places they will give any media attention to games. Shunning a E3 without having a message for all the media that could be there under one roof is a huge miss opportunity but its obvious why they are not doing so and they won't say why because they have too much pride and it will negatively hurt their position.

JumpyLuweegee
JumpyLuweegee

Nintendo has finally given up, and that's a good thing.

Pabz117
Pabz117

Well said. I completely agree, live streaming is balls and the shows are slow and cringing so I end up just watching the trailers and snippets of footage where they finally reveal a console etc. afterwards. Nintendo were most likely cutting costs to do this, rather than leading a change in perspective. However, I think it will turn out great in their favour because it is a massive waste of money, which they all should be putting into development of their games anyway, then maybe all the games that had so much potential (Aliens Colonial Marines and Star Trek to nname just most recent shitty licenced games) wouldn't be receiveing such critical reviews! Hey ho.

houshidar
houshidar

Tom McShea likes to time travel to the present day on occasion but goes back to live in the 80s and early 90s where life still makes sense to him.

LtReviews
LtReviews

"The Electronic Entertainment Expo is a hedonistic display of excess"

No, E3 isn't *that* fun...

Zombrex
Zombrex

Hopefully this is Nintendo showing their hand and finally going the route of game development only like Sega.

*crosses fingers* Earthbound for Xbox.

I would also like to a see a move away from the akward presentations that the big 3 have clung to the past 5 years or so. Cut the pretty shows and just give us the info.

64-bit
64-bit

sorry Tom your talking to COD zombies teenagers here. only cares about bluffing propaganda and worthless specs. 

Endofme
Endofme

w/e still gonna play WiiU!

hitomo
hitomo

now its official, Nintendo sucks ...

jonzilla_basic
jonzilla_basic

Its hard to take Tom serious when he is complaining about "scantily clad women and oversized television screens". Sign me up for both please!

Lostat
Lostat

The Wii U is struggling a lot right now and 3rd party developers are considering if they should cut it loose.  Developers risk losing a massive amount of money by spending time & money to make a game if the market for those games (those who have bought a Wii U) is small and not likely to make much money.

So, by not showing Nintendo's commitment to E3 and showing developers & investors they are serious about pushing the product, why on earth would developers waste time on making their games?  Nintendo had a big important opportunity here to come out fighting, show investors & developers "hey guys, we're serious about our product, we really want you on-board making games for us, and we're prepared to come out to your show to prove to everyone the Wii U can work".  Nintendo may well discover in hind-sight that they've just killed-off the Wii U.

Oh well Nintendo, don't worry, there's always the drawing board to go back to eh?

minty_cbo
minty_cbo

Well..that's a big crock of crap....
Nintendo paid them how much to post this?
Please Sony And Microsoft..don't show yourself at E3..we're drowning here as it is..your E3 presence will kill us for sure.
Been saying it since Nintendo released specs etc. for the Wii U... This system is going to flop..and flop hard...
(Saying your new system is comparable in terms of power as a competitor's end-of-life cycle console is never a good thing...that console being the Xbox 360)
Almost looking like Sega when they finally lost their war vs. Nintendo.
Wii U is Nintendo's Sega Saturn..or is it their Dreamcast? we'll see...

When all is said and done. If Nintendo decides to end support for the Wii U? They can always make controllers/games for Xbox720.... If you go back in gaming as far as I do..you know Sony will want NO parts of their offerings.

Bonus for those who didn't buy a Wii U.. buy a 720 and get both  MS and Nintendo on one console..and the graphics could be a good bit better now for Ninttendo's games. (not like nintendo would use the extra oomph of GOOD hardware.. just saying)

 

SolidusHo
SolidusHo

disagree.  press conferences are consolidated events meant for the general public.  who has time to follow all the details of the big 3 everyday, other than industry professionals?  as we are all potential investors, trade shows are how you get the public's attention.  we need events like E3 to inform the general masses that would otherwise be left in the dark throughout the year to the mediocrity that gets shoveled out.

vgsak2005
vgsak2005

I agree that these conferences can be weird and sometimes just downright aweful sometimes. But I'm not for companies giving up on the format as  a way to make announcements and get press attention. Sometimes

vgsak2005
vgsak2005

Maybe Nintendo just doesn't have enough to show this year to warrant a press conference. :) I think they are probably doing a lot of planning right now to determine what their next step should be if the WiiU ultimately does not find an audience. I think if things don't spin a 180 by year end they might be looking at discontinuing the system prematurely.. which I think would be a first for a Nintendo home console.

markrousseau21
markrousseau21

Wait didn't the ESA try downsizing E3 in the mid/late 2000s? Didn't it meet with spectacular failure after 2 years of this downsized and muted format? Didn't it come back with a vengeance to its old format in 2009 after the "public" demanded the old format? Isn't that what these mega companies want to mold towards - the "public"? It would be amazing if a company like nintendo would break the mold and go the route of less AAA-ness and more towards innovation (which has been their mantra for decades) in the software department, embracing the more indie genre. This statement is at least a start.

tim1935
tim1935

I agree scaling it back wouldn't hurt.  Companies spend millions and millions of dollars for a presentation to a limited audience.  If this event was open to the public, then by all means go all out, but this is supposed to be an event for professionals.  They could put those millions into making better games or lowering the cost of them or getting rid of DLCs.

zyxe
zyxe moderator

i have to wonder how much time and energy is taken away from development and other functions of game companies for these once a year shenanigans. it will be nice to see some of this energy put back into the actual GAMING i used to love so much instead of all the bloated promises that fall flat when all is said and done.

Rod90
Rod90

I don't agree. Part of the exciment of the E3 is that is a media event. You know, like the oscars. Yeah, they could just say all the winners in 5 minutes and they are done "focusing on the movies", but it would be missing half of what makes it an "event".

Sashby
Sashby

Nintendo are following suit from MSFT who pulled away from their headline sponsorship of CES because they were a) being held to ransom by the event organizers on rates and b) didn't have anything suitable to announce at the time. I don't think Nintendo should be applauded for making a sensible business decision - this isn't part of a master PR strategy, they just don't have anything worthwhile to say, especially in light of the impending Playstation and Xbox announcements. This article seems to distract from the real issue, which is that Nintendo have fallen away from their nearest competitors in both hardware manufacturing and game development.  

Pierce_Sparrow
Pierce_Sparrow

The press conferences are the only thing I watch when it comes to E3. I don't care to take the time to watch streams on websites when they are typically full of things that I could give two cents about. Conferences are nice because, in a matter of an hour or two, I can find out everything I want to know about what each of the major companies has in store. To me, it seems more like Nintendo is trying to distance itself from everyone else in terms of the way they are providing information. But also, with the Wii U already out and eyes shifting towards MS and Sony's next gen stuff, Nintendo doesn't have much going on to build as equal the amount of excitement. That may not be true for N faithfuls, but the entire point of the conferences are to display, not just to those actually AT E3, but to those all around the world watching, the biggest and best these companies will have to offer on a single stage with all spotlights on them and the biggest audience they can get. How many people from around the world will tune in to watch Nintendo now, compared to if Nintendo were still doing a conference? My guess is not as many.

StarSfrife
StarSfrife

I totally disagree with this article. Part of the reason why E3 is such a big deal is because it's the one time of year when the games industry can attract mainstream press. No one watches Nintendo Directs; even among hardcore gamers. The only people who are watching these more "subdued conferences" are the core Nintendo fans that already own a Wii U. Wii U marketing is tanking as is, and it's not going to get better once the PS4 is out in full force. I just don't understand what audience Nintendo thinks it's going to get with this line of thinking. The Wii U doesn't have enough 3rd party support to attract core gamers, super-casuals think the Wii U is a new controller for their Wii, and everyone in between is lacking any excitement for the Wii U. 

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

I like the press conferences. I actually get annoyed by having to wait through a band performance or something that's strictly for entertainment. It's the partnerships, trailers and hardware announcements that excite me.

I've never been to E3, but it sounds like fun. Problem is that all that fun is at the expense of the people making the games.

Developers must work hard to get either a working demo or a badass trailer together before the show. This takes time away from development and is an unnecessary distraction.

The booth and the entertainment all cost money. Where does that money come from? The consumer. Theoretically cutting down on the spectacle will save the developer/publisher money and therefore they pass the savings on to the customer or use that money to make the game better.

I can't imagine how hard it is to be a game journalist trying to conduct business at E3. Is just too crazy and it's sounds like you need one person per piece of hardware or software to get everything done. It seems like it would be even harder to be a developer or publisher who is trying to have serious business meetings in the back rooms.

I like at Sny had their own conference for the first look at the PS4. I like that it was focused on Sony and emir console. I look forward to seeing how Microsoft goes about their May 21st announcements.

I think it's great that Nintendo has their weekly (?) channel detailing some of the latest stuff for Nintendo products.

These more focused sessions see more meaningful than the big show.

Should E3 go away? Probably not. But it seems like there is plenty of roof or refinement to improve the flow of information, better target audiences, and save everyone a bit of money and headache.

That said: I'm very much looking forward to this years conferences. Interested to see what Nintendos full plan is going forward.

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

My take on why Nintendo is scaling down their E3 presence is not nearly so charitable. Basically they are making the only smart move they have. No point in wasting money on a big production to have everyone compare them to all the hype surrounding the new Sony and MS gen launching later this year.

I don't think that's a comparison Nintendo wants to have right now and it's not one that will do them any good. They can use their marketing budget better to focus on whatever titles they have launching in Q3 and Q4 and appeal to the gaming customer that does not want to spend $600+ on a new console, controller and a game or two.

HerbalVideogame
HerbalVideogame

That's funny, "E3 has grown fat and lazy with all the attention that has been heaped on it."  Guess who is giving them that attention???  PRESS WEBSITES JUST LIKE YOU AND THE ONE YOU WORK FOR TOM MCSHEA.  These opinionated articles that G-Spot throws out are idiotic.  I'm sure if you dig deep enough you are going to find an article written by McShea himself that lauds how big and bad ass Sony's E3 Press event was when they were launching the PS3.  I GUARANTEE it.  

yienwae
yienwae

First off, N is not a 'no show' at the conference.  They are going smaller and are focusing primarily on the American audience and the West overall.  Does this mean they will not have some sort of presentation?  No, it means their presentation will be smaller and not the big orchestra that they had in previous years.  

In my opinion, N is going to do what they did last year for the 3DS.  They had the big presentation for the U and had a whole  separate  presentation for the 3DS that was smaller.  That was much more informative and they were able to demo a number of their titles in front of everyone.  Back in October of 2012, they did a similar presentation for the U in which they had a live demo of NintendoLand.  

What I picture them doing (and I may be wrong) is that they will do 2 smaller presentations.  One will be focused on the U, and the second will be focused on the 3DS.  The smaller presentation(s) give N the opportunity to make it more informative for the Western audience.  And if a number of their titles (be it 1st or 3rd) have demos there for viewing and play, all the better.

After E3, N has the opportunity to start a big commercial run the U.  I think it's a good strategy.  It's unique and it's out of the box from tradition.    

slicedbread117
slicedbread117

Eh Nintendo wouldn't have got much attention anyway with the PS4 and Xbox 720 being shown off.

OldKye
OldKye

As much as I agree with the point of the article did anyone else read it as "Nintendo didn't make enough money off the Wii-U to afford E3"? lol

Also i'm for letting people have the freedom of choice so women can choose to be dehumanizing eye candy if they want too shame on you sir hey they can have scantily dressed men dancing too if they want I'll be the first to admit I won't watch it but i won't complain.

How come only car shows are allowed to have attractive girls sell their products lol 

true_azbest
true_azbest

I think, Wii got a soul. Other consoles power, and outgrown form over content. Without ideas from Nintendo, other consoles will be dead.

swamptick
swamptick

Give me a break. They are stepping of center stage because they have nothing left to show. The WiiU is a joke like the Wii before it. They need to get serious and start making a serious console with real power. Gimmicks are only fun for so long and they have remade Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong and Kirby over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. 

grnsuperman4
grnsuperman4

Let's applaud their new strategy of......... wait, what's their strategy again? If it's stick your head in the ground and become invisible, it's partially working.

JukedSolid
JukedSolid

It's a nice argument for a minimalist "less is more" approach to E3 but it doesn't really do much for nintendo's position.  Lot's of people (including myself) have been saying that this E3 will be make or break for nintendo's future for the WiiU.  This decision makes it seems like nintendo realized that as well so they decided not to show up to the gunfight.  Although this could be a sign of nintendo changing gears toward their handheld market, which they are undeniably dominating.  

AzatiS
AzatiS

I repeat ...


If WII U was a SUPER SUCCESS , like Wii was , would have been on E3 press conference stage or not ..?!! 

The answer is YES!! And whoever thinks otherwise should stop being a fanboy

Shimazuxi
Shimazuxi

Honestly I'm a hard core gamer and I don't give three craps about E3. Either I'm a bad gamer or it's pointless.

VampireLord123
VampireLord123

At this moment it is pointless to make a press conference, NIntendo has been broadcasting with Nintendo Direct, one in february and another one this month, what are they going to show off if they already revealed their plans for the coming months.

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

Its baffling how people are trying to throw off Toms point because they want to force the move into a negative.

Technically, Nintendo isn't leaving E3, they are still there, they just aren't wasting time on a long conference when they can surround E3 with Nintendo directs that give us reveals on the get go and then have people play said games on the show floor.

Nintendo, as usual than anyone else, are always the ones to step into new directions and this is no different. Sure people will still love the essence of E3 , and there's nothing wrong with that, but Nintendo going for a more in-your-face approach with Nintendo directs in E3 instead of going through a conference that's half about sales because that's what investors want in the first place, isn't wrong either and it stinks any slight different thing Nintendo does automatically gets negativity.

Maytricx
Maytricx

Tom, stop trying to show how many words you  may have in your vocabulary and just write a better article. Reading it was like going to one of Nintendo's E3 press conferences.

Hey_Jay
Hey_Jay

What I take away from this is that Tom doesn't like people. I can't blame him, but frankly, it's a matter of he either likes E3 or he doesn't. He's basically saying shut it all down and just offer the bare essentials. Honestly, they should do whatever they want to do if what they have to say is worth saying. E3 is an event. It's a show. There's a reason for the frivolity. You just want a video presentation, Tom? That's what the internet is for. Come E3, just sit in the office and watch like everyone else. I say keep things the way they are, except modify the level of substance. Match the level of celebration with the level of content. After all, do we not want to celebrate exciting news at the biggest gaming event of the year? Is it not a big deal for us? What does it say about us if our "celebration" of a new wave of gaming is the bland and methodical conveyor belt that Tom would have? Frankly, he's looking at this far too black and white. We want a show. Just make the show worth it.

MadGamer132
MadGamer132

why u praise nintendo when u want sony and microsoft not do press events

B2K12
B2K12

Thanks for that. Please come back when you have a better sense of what you're talking about. Pomp and frivolity are exactly what Nintendo needs right now to get the attention of the "mainstream". Do they want to sell Wii U's or don't they. If they don't, then this is a fine move. The only "good" reason for not showing up with a "show" to E3 is because there is nothing incredible to show off. If we see a true Zelda, Mario, Metroid or StarFox sequel at all at the convention this year i'll be truly amazed. And don't feed me that "Wind Waker HD" bologna. That does not count. It's a very small step above shovelware at this point. I have loved every incarnation of Nintendo that has ever come down the pipeliine except Wii U which I have not touched and am therefore not qualified to judge. Unfortunately, lately, the only thing the corporate end of the brand does better than shooting itself in the foot is shooting itself in the foot again.