Do you think Nintendo is making a mistake by not having a live show at this E3? Nick D. doesn’t and he explains why.
For the second year in a row, Nintendo has decided to skip out on the traditional live show at E3. Last year, Nintendo did so while relying on their Nintendo Direct service to broadcast their message directly to gamers, and this year it looks like Nintendo will be doing something similar. Instead of the live show, Nintendo has promised a digital event among other things. It’s not certain if this will be akin to a renamed Nintendo Direct, or something bigger. However, the premise is the same. This move has generated a lot of criticism among gamers, who see Nintendo’s strategy being more similar to giving up than trying something new. The way I see it, the best way to determine the consequences of this move is to look at the effects it will have on 1. E3 itself; 2. Gamers; and 3. Nintendo.
Along with the Tokyo Game Show and gamescom, E3 is one of the largest gaming events of the year. Of these conferences, E3 comes first in the year, making it more or less the vanguard for exciting announcements gamers will see all the way up to the holiday season. As such, E3 itself is very much a part of gamer culture. While Spike TV has the rights to broadcast the service, most gamers tend to watch E3 via live streams, or simply get their new through recaps that are updated frequently by every gaming site.
Some newer gamers may not remember, but E3 has had a roller coaster ride of relevance. Its attempt to be a more scaled back and serious event led to gamers largely being dissatisfied. The current, revitalized E3, has gone away from this model, choosing spectacle over substance in general, which has made it popular among those who wait at home, and less so for journalists forced to stand in an overcrowded, sweltering arena.
What’s important to remember is that Nintendo is going to have a presence at E3. While they won’t have a live show, they will be out with bells on the show floor. Thus, I don’t think E3 has much to worry about Nintendo’s lack of a show. While this does remove some of the spectacle from the event, it is unlikely to cause too much of a stir, especially since nothing catastrophic occurred last year when Nintendo did the same. While E3 has had some rocky times, I doubt that one of the live shows being cancelled is enough to sink or even dent the show.
It is no secret that gamers use E3 for gaming news. The excitement and speculation is vividly clear on every single message board. Unfortunately, this often leads to disappointment when E3 isn’t the groundbreaking conference people build it up to be. But that’s beside the point. What is clear is that E3 is the source of much hype and excitement in the gaming world.
An argument against Nintendo’s lack of a live show is that it isn’t in the best interests for gamers. After all, most E3 news is carefully collected by gaming sites and presented in easy to read forms. Unfortunately, this argument doesn’t hold much water since Nintendo’s digital event is likely to be presented along with the E3 news in the exact way. This is what happened last year, and nobody was prejudiced.
Of course, the last two points are mostly ancillary. When people disparage this move, they are often citing it as a failure of Nintendo, one which will spell the end of the Mario factory. The idea is that Nintendo moving away from a live show means that the company is either in trouble and unwilling to pay the costs of the show, or they are completely out of touch with what gamers want.
In reality, I would argue that Nintendo, for once, is actually more aware of what is best for gamers than the rest of the company. Nintendo is essentially throwing off the often comically awkward live show in favour of a scripted show and broadcasting directly to gamers instead of going through the middleman. There is very little difference other than the direct control Nintendo can exert over the broadcast. It’s important to remember that the vast majority of the gaming population is not able to attend the shows live. In other words, the major advantage to the live show, which is the live spectacle, is lost on a streaming audience.
Some have argued that, by not having a live show, Nintendo risks alienating gaming journalists, which may cause them to be hostile to Nintendo in their articles and reviews. This is stretching it in every sense I can imagine. These are professionals, and proud gamers. Even with bias, it is at the level of conspiracy nut to think that all professional reviewers are going to harbour a grudge against Nintendo for not having a live show.
Probably the biggest argument against Nintendo’s plan that I’ve heard is that Nintendo needs to promote awareness of its products, particularly the Wii U, and not having a live show may diminish their presence on the market. The idea is that Nintendo Directs are more targeted at current owners than trying to solicit new purchasers, and the digital event could likely be the same.
The problematic aspect of this argument is that, as mentioned before, most gamers get their news online and not by only watching E3. Nintendo’s announcements will be right up there on every gaming site along with all other E3 news. Nintendo’s games will be previewed as part of show floor coverage, and interviews with Nintendo executives will still occur. Mainstream, non-gaming media, isn’t going to care about whether there is a live show or not, and gaming media is too concerned with the barrage of announcements to weigh in one way or another. The only thing not present is the live show, which has been replaced. Therefore, I somehow doubt that this course of action will diminish Nintendo’s presence in the minds of gamers. Whether they are doing a good job at promoting awareness in general is another question. The point here is that their choice to rely on a digital event versus a live show will not affect them at all in this regard.
What’s important is that Nintendo have good announcements for gamers, not the medium they choose to do that announcing. This is especially true here since the news stemming from the digital event will be mixed in with the other major E3 announcements. Therefore, I don’t think that Nintendo is put in a worse position by replacing their live show with a digital event.