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.

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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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Discussion

2041 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.

ResusRex
ResusRex

To those who share the same incapability as Big Bang Theory's Sheldon, he is pointing out Nintendo's strong points, and the flaws of Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo is the true innovator.

Ka3DX
Ka3DX

@kbaily The amount of sarcasm in this post is killing babies

ChariotMan
ChariotMan

@JumpyLuweegee Yea Right! You Can't Be Serious!

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

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

You wish. Another SEGA/Atari is the last thing we need in the industry.

Diddyaa
Diddyaa

 @hitomo Ahh, the mindless fools you people are.

never-named
never-named

@jonzilla_basic Then I suggest you get your jollies elsewhere because E3 does not exist to solely cater to your needs.

vatorus
vatorus

@Lostat  "So, by not showing Nintendo's commitment to E3 and showing developers & investors they are serious about pushing the product" - did you mean serious about NOT pushing the product? And did you mean showing Nintendo is NOT commited to E3?

minty_cbo
minty_cbo

@Lostat They'll just pretend it's a Nintendo DS,  scrap the Wii U..and make a new upgrade of it...
Works for the handhelds every 6-9 months....why not the consoles?
(Nintendo DS,DSi,DSi lite,DSi XL,3ds,3dsxl,etc... the 2 older girls in the house have like 5 versions of the ds floating around each..)

But yeh...put a fork in it..it's done.

minty_cbo
minty_cbo

sad that this website allows only about 500 words per reply..I typed all that out in about 5 minutes...

setupdisk
setupdisk

@minty_cbo 
You do know that Nintendo could operate for about a decade without profit and still have resources. Plus that other thing the 3DS is selling well. People will always be saying Nintendo is doomed when they don't even look at the facts. This crap gets old after a while. I am pretty sure you are referencing the SNES CD drive/PS1 with Sony(which isn't that far back). In case you didn't know back in the 80's Sega was going to put Nintendo out of business as well.

Posts like yours used to be funny for a while but after so many years it's just tired.

Shadowmax889
Shadowmax889

@SolidusHo they are not going to make a big press conference but theuy are going to E3 and have small conference for the media and developers

vatorus
vatorus

@markrousseau21 " innovation (which has been their mantra for decades)" - Innovation or gimmicks?  Motion sensing games are dying out, even Nintendo abandoned then with the Wii U.

vatorus
vatorus

@tim1935 It cost millions to put on a press conference?  Dude, what planet do you live on?  I got a bridge to sell you...

amdreallyfast
amdreallyfast

@zyxe To an extent, big events like these can be a major blessing for the game developers disguised as a deadline headache.  Final Fantasy XIII was a communicative and development mess until the dev team had to throw something together for E3, at which point the team collectively said, "Oooooohhhh....ok."  I guess it depends on the team, but being forced to put together a presentable, interactive prototype can really pull the vision together for everyone involved.

minty_cbo
minty_cbo

@setupdisk Pretty sure I know the history of things here... Which leaves me with this little bit from my OP...

"Wii U is Nintendo's Sega Saturn..or is it their Dreamcast? we'll see... "

All I said in premise to the Wii U's ultimate untimely failure.. Was a question of will this be their last home set top box console? or do they have another to come later on? The Wii U is doomed..no doubt..just a matter of when. Maybe it did come off a bit as t- Is this their last? or will they make one more and flop?...OR since I'm looking like a hatter now? The original Wii was was the Saturn...and the Wii U was the dreamcast. Which isn't the case..I bought a Dreamcast and enjoyed it immensly..I won't touch the Wii U with a stick...

All in all..I want no parts of Wii U.. And Nintendo sems a bit timid about their state of affairs now aswell... (next gen graphical prowress of new consoles will no doubt be at the next E3 etc.)
Guess I'll have to wait until the next Nintendo console shows up..and if so? maybe I'll give them another go...But it needs to deliver...


 

minty_cbo
minty_cbo

@setupdisk The NES had Staying power...then the SNES came along and was superior graphically to the Genesis...Then Sega pulled a few stunts..Sega Channel (Which I had and LOVED..) the 32X (Which was to make the Genesis a 32 bit console..only to be over shadowed by sega Saturn in 4 months...that flopped I might add.) While nintendo went on with the SNES and Asked Sony for that Cd-Rom as mentioned, only not to happen. and Sony made their Playstation.
Meanwhile..nintendo had the N64 in the Works and was working with Rare and Silicon Graphics inc. to produce Games such as Donkey Kong Country (Which had awesome graphics for 16 bits!) And ultimately in conjunction with SGI (Silicon Graphics Inc.) Released the N64... The last Nintendo console I would have Loved...

minty_cbo
minty_cbo

@setupdisk As for the 80's... Ah...miss those days... what was Sega going to put nintendo out of business with? the Master System? (I owned one of those..was kinda fun..had Space Harrier pre-installed... ON the console itself..press pwoer with no cartridge inserted..bam..Space Harrier)
I am thinking you're referring to the LATE 80's...like 1989...turning into 1990 with the Genesis...
I remember the commercials aswell.. Mario ladda ladda jump jump jump...and sonic flies by..and they did the "You can play this (Boring ho-hum mario) Or you could play this! (Sonic flying by! fighting games etc)"

minty_cbo
minty_cbo

@setupdisk Who said I was trying to be funny?
And as for the DS? I know it's selling well..Two of my kids get the new one every 6 or so months when they ship (Other two are too young yet to play them)... Got like 6 of the things collecting dust.
In all honesty? I was a Nintendo Fanboy straight up to the Gamecube. Wii killed it for me.

I know Nintendo doesn't even need a Console system of any kind or platform at all to make money. They have Pokemon cards for Christ's sake (Not to mention other things)...

As for Sony? that you were correct on. Sony making Nintendo a cd-rom for SNES..Nintendo backed out because Sony wanted to make software for The snes...etc etc..
On it being "Not that long ago" ?
That was over 15 years ago.... not that long ago...  >_<

Did I say nintendo as a whole was Doomed? NO.
Did I say Sega ended up Doomed? NO...
(They ceased making hardware, And only make software since Dreamcast flopped.)

zyxe
zyxe moderator

@amdreallyfast @zyxe the key phrase there is "to an extent". as an engineer, i understand development cycles on some level, and sometimes a bit of the dog and pony show can be useful to get your stuff together and have a product to show. but when you decide that you are going to have a massive show every single year in spite of having lackluster games or have nothing huge to report on, i feel the energy put into the large conferences would be better spent on getting the big ticket items ready for the following year.