E3’s is the premier event in the gaming calendar, where games developers come to flash their new stuff to the press and anyone who can nab a ticket, with the aim of surprising and wowing, the rest of us watch eagle eyed online. Despite arguments some years back it was becoming too big and needed to change and attempts were made to tone it down, it turned out that the gaming world still wanted its mecca of gaming unveiling and the worlds media still wanted to flock to it and treat it as a major event. E3 has largely gone back to normal as a result. Nintendo however have continued to deliberately make more lower-key appearances at the event, and there’s plenty to suggest this has been of detriment to them, it certainly hasn’t done them any favors.
If we consider last years event and how things have since played out, the PS4 appears to have benefitted considerably from the publicity and hype generated at E3. The interwebz declared PS4 victorious at E3 and in Europe at least launch sales suggest a considerable exodus of fans from Xbox to Playstation, PS4 launch sales have broke sales record.
Microsoft bombed at E3 but yes it has sold well in the US. However in response to the social media shit-storm caused by a bad E3 presentation Microsoft went on a heavy media campaign to repair their image, changing many of their unpopular decisions. E3 had a major impact on how Microsoft went forward and bad as their E3 was, it provided the best bit of market research they could have asked for.
Nintendo doesn’t really get feedback, they get questions, most of which start with ‘Where is…’ Their ‘quiet mode’ may help evade the forensic eye of the biggest audience they will reach each year, but as a result Nintendo go largely unnoticed during, and clearly so has the Wii U ever since.
Nintendo’s apathy towards E3 was contagious. Nintendo fell off the radars of just about everyone bar the fans. They have continued to remain off the radar except for when the media are reporting on Nintendo’s woes. A lot of the press have inexplicably condemned Nintendo to dismal future as a little studio making 99p smartphones games. That’s a little dramatic! Nintendo is hardly on its last legs, but there’s clearly been a PR breakdown and that obviously has considerable connections to E3.
Obviously many things contribute to the success or failure of any console or game, and the Wii U is a console certainly in need of games, but success at E3 plays a role, particularly in the eyes of the media. It’s one hell of a good start to have the worlds press on your side talking more often and more positively. That of course happens in lieu of increased reader interest because word has got around you impressed at E3, it’s free publicity! E3 can spark off a flurry of free positive advertising for your products. One that is sustained by the back and forth of supply and demand between readers and the media if you generate enough interest and gently sustain it with new tid-bits.
No other event ever manages to pull in so much publicity and hype for the gaming world, largely because no other event is so well-known by the public and the press. Even what passes for the worlds professional news outlets cover E3. E3 has become a tradition, an institution and Nintendo need to re-embrace it.
Nintendo desperately need to take E3 seriously again but you can’t of course wow us if you don’t have the games in development. It isn’t like they could do snap their fingers and be ready for this years event if they don’t have plenty of things, and the right things, in development. But even with limited things ready to show the only way is up when it comes to presentation, and sometimes, just sometimes, an amazing presentation can successfully polish a turd.
Now I’m not saying get rid of Reggie, god forbid, but the Wii U and 3DS are good examples of Nintendos inability to sell themselves. That’s not just in exciting us, Nintendo are bad at explaining what their products and what they do, it becoming consensus that confusion about the WiiU has hit sales badly as was true for initial 3DS sale. When everyone was looking at E3 they failed to make the right pitches for their new system and they suffered for it. Problems like these don’t need different people saying them, they need different people writing the script, they require better planning. That comes way before anyone explains to them how to ‘put on a show’ and generate a buzz.
Nintendo fans aren’t exactly somersaulting with excitement at the moment and yet 2014 is by no means going to be a bad year for the Wii U. With Bayonetta 2, X and Smash Bros already on the E3 roster, even if to fans all 3 feel overdue, it’s starting off with some big guns, but they aren’t going to turn new heads if they don’t take a new approach to how they promote them. They need to treat their time on stage at E3 as their broadway show. Yes, it’s about informing, but it is so much more about entertaining.
E3 still matters, no other games ‘convention/show’ attracts the public’s attention like E3, or gets such broad coverage from the media. Neither things are about to change either. While E3 isn’t the be all and end all to Nintendo problems, it is still a vitally important marketing tool they should be using right! E3 is also like a fanboy conference too, if you don’t please your fans at E3 they are less likely to be good ambassadors for your products for the rest of the year. Win over your fanboys and they’ll tell everyone who doesn’t want to listen to buy your shit! Win over the media and they will too, and by god do Nintendo need to win over the media right now.